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James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

April 8

On Captain Barney’s Victory over the Ship General Monk

By Philip Freneau (1752–1832)

  • One of the closing actions of the Revolution. On the 8th of April, 1782, off Cape May, the Hyder Ali, under Lieutenant Barney captured the General Monk, under Captain Rodgers.

  • O’ER the waste of waters cruising,

    Long the General Monk had reigned;

    All subduing, all reducing,

    None her lawless rage restrained:

    Many a brave and hearty fellow

    Yielding to this warlike foe,

    When her guns began to bellow

    Struck his humbled colours low.

    But grown bold with long successes,

    Leaving the wide watery way,

    She, a stranger to distresses,

    Came to cruise within Cape May:

    “Now we soon” (said Captain Rogers)

    “Shall their men of commerce meet;

    In our hold we’ll have them lodgers,

    We shall capture half their fleet.

    “Lo! I see their van appearing—

    Back our topsails to the mast—

    They toward us full are steering

    With a gentle western blast:

    I’ve a list of all their cargoes,

    All their guns, and all their men:

    I am sure these modern Argos

    Can’t escape us one in ten:

    “Yonder comes the Charming Sally

    Sailing with the General Greene—

    First we’ll fight the Hyder Ally,

    Taking her is taking them;

    She intends to give us battle,

    Bearing down with all her sail—

    Now boys, let our cannon rattle!

    To take her we cannot fail.

    “Our eighteen guns, each a nine-pounder,

    Soon shall terrify this foe;

    We shall maul her, we shall wound her,

    Bringing rebel colours low.”—

    While he thus anticipated

    Conquests that he could not gain,

    He in the Cape May channel waited

    For the ship that caused his pain.

    Captain Barney then preparing,

    Thus addressed his gallant crew—

    “Now brave lads, be bold and daring,

    Let your hearts be firm and true;

    This is a proud English cruiser,

    Roving up and down the main,

    We must fight her—must reduce her,

    Though our decks be strewed with slain.

    “Let who will be the survivor,

    We must conquer or must die,

    We must take her up the river,

    Whate’er comes of you or I.

    Tho’ she shows most formidable

    With her eighteen pointed nines,

    And her quarters clad in sable,

    Let us baulk her proud designs.

    “With four nine pounders, and twelve sixes

    We will face that daring band;

    Let no dangers damp your courage,

    Nothing can the brave withstand.

    Fighting for your country’s honour,

    Now to gallant deeds aspire;

    Helmsman, bear us down upon her,

    Gunner, give the word to fire!”

    Then yard arm and yard arm meeting,

    Strait began the dismal fray,

    Cannon mouths, each other greeting,

    Belched their smoky flames away:

    Soon the language, grape and chain shot,

    That from Barney’s cannons flew,

    Swept the Monk, and cleared each round top,

    Killed and wounded half her crew.

    Captain Rogers strove to rally

    His men, from their quarters fled,

    While the roaring Hyder Ally

    Covered o’er his decks with dead.

    When from their tops their dead men tumbled,

    And the streams of blood did flow,

    Then their proudest hopes were humbled

    By their brave inferior foe.

    All aghast, and all confounded,

    They beheld their champions fall,

    And their captain, sorely wounded,

    Bade them quick for quarters call.

    Then the Monk’s proud flag descended,

    And her cannon ceased to roar;

    By her crew no more defended,

    She confessed the contest o’er.

    Come brave boys, and fill your glasses,

    You have humbled one proud foe,

    No brave action this surpasses,

    Fame shall tell the nations so—

    Thus be Britain’s woes completed,

    Thus abridged her cruel reign,

    Till she ever, thus defeated,

    Yields the sceptre of the main.