[REVOLUTIONARY WAR]. A Song Composed by the British Soldiers, After the Battle at Bunker-Hill, on the 17th of June, 1775. N.p., n.d. [Boston: Printed at Draper's printing-office, 1775].
Folio broadside (15 7/8 x 6 in.), deckle edges preserved. Woodcut of a battle scene at top of sheet (1 3/16 x 2 7/8 in.), text in a single column in roman type, printer's ornament at bottom of the sheet. (Margins frayed with several tears and small losses, not affecting text, several small holes along old folds with tiny losses just catching a few letters.)
A RARE BUNKER HILL BROADSIDE: "LIKE REBELS STOUT, THEY STOOD IT OUT, AND THOUGHT WE NE'ER COULD BEAT THEM..."
The stridently derisive verses here presented were employed by both sides in their broadside wars: one version, no doubt printed by the rebel Americans, is headed "A Song Composed by the British Butchers" (see Winslow 68). With a minimum of change the story was told from the point of view of either side. The narrative poem, certainly by an eyewitness and evidently the work of a British soldier who participated in the battle, consists of 12 four-line stanzas. Lines 1 and 4 of the first stanza read: "It was on the seventeenth by break of Day, the Yankees did surprise us...Like rebels stout they stood it out, and thought we ne're could beat them." Subsequent verses recount the issuance of arms, and the transport across the bay: "With three good flints and sixty rounds, each man hop'd to discharge them We marched down to the long wharf, where boats were ready waiting, With expedition We embark'd, our ships kept cannonading." The British cannonade is described, and the poet boasts of the frigate Glasgow "With her grape shot and cannon balls, no Yankee e're could stand 'em." The only British officers named are Sir William Howe ("brave Howe") and Pigot; the commander, Gage, is oddly omitted. The final successful assault on the American earthworks is described: "And when their works we got into, and put them to the flight, sir, Some of them did hide themselves, and others died with fright, sir...."
The poet, in his final lines, alludes by name to two of Boston's foremost patriots: "And as for their King that John Hancock, and Adams if they're taken, Their heads for signs shall hang up high upon that hill called Beacon." Two variant settings are recorded (see below). In this version, there is no comma after "Song" in the heading and line four of the sixth stanza reads "O'er hills & dales & mountains high." Evans 14465; Ford 1934; Lowance & Bumgardner 23; Wegelin 779 (variant); Winslow, American Broadside Verse 68779 (variant).