Dreadnought, The [Laws D13]
DESCRIPTION: A song describing a run on the "Dreadnaught" from Liverpool to New York. Other than a concluding wish for captain and crew, most of the song is a catalog of places the ship visits
EARLIEST DATE: 1909
KEYWORDS: sea travel ship shanty sailor
1853- Launch of the Dreadnought, the most famous of the transatlantic packets
1869 - Wreck of the Dreadnought
FOUND IN: US(MA,MW) Canada(Mar,Ont) Ireland
REFERENCES (15 citations):
Laws D13, "The Dreadnaught"
Rickaby 42, "The Clipper Ship Dreadnaught" (1 text, 1 tune)
Dean, pp. 58-59, "The Clipper Ship Dreadnaught" (1 text)
Walton/Grimm/Murdock, pp. 97-98, "The Dreadnaught" (1 text, 1 tune, followed by several derived songs)
Doerflinger, pp. 126-128, "The Dreadnought" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Colcord, pp. 170-171, "The Dreadnaught" (1 text, 1 tune)
Harlow, pp. 101-103, "Cruise of the Dreadnaught" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hugill, pp. 122-123, "Goodbye, Fare-Ye-Well" (1 text, version D of "Homeward Bound") [AbEd, p. 106]; pp. 464-469, "The Flash Frigate," "The Dreadnaught," "The Liverpool Packet" (5 texts, 4 tunes and several fragments) [AbEd, pp. 344-348]; p. 124, "Goodbye, Fare-Ye-Well" (the "d" text is "The Dreadnought" with a "Homeward Bound" chorus) [AbEd, p. 106]
Shay-SeaSongs, pp. 102-104, "The Dreadnought" (1 text, 1 tune)
SHenry H194, pp. 99-100, "The Zared" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton/Senior, pp. 227-229, "The Banks of Newfoundland" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Creighton-Maritime, pp. 140-141, "Banks of Newfoundland" (1 text, 1 tune)
Smith/Hatt, p. 19, "Liverpool Packet" (1 text)
DT 614, DREDNGHT*
ADDITIONAL: Roger deV. Renwick, _Recentering Anglo/American Folksong: Sea Crabs and Wicked Youths_, University Press of Mississippi, 2001, p.77, "The Dreadnought" (1 text)
Stanley Baby, "The 'Dreadnaught'" (on GreatLakes1)
Bill Barber & Cadgwith fishermen, "The Liverpool Packet" (on LastDays)
cf. "Londonderry Love Song" (the ship Zared is mentioned in that song and some versions of this)
cf. "The Flash Frigate (La Pique)" (tune)
cf. "Yankee Tars" (tune)
cf. "The Schooner John Bentely" (form)
NOTES: The Dreadnought, one of the best-known of the packets, was launched in 1853 and wrecked off Cape Horn in 1869. It should not be confused with the later battleship (launched in 1905) which started the "Dreadnaught Revolution" and a pre-World-War-I arms race.
Huntington, in the notes to this song in SHenry, writes, "Perhaps Laws is correct in including 'The Dreadnaught' as American; however, it derives from a broadside ballad about a British naval vessel, 'La Pique.'"
That "The Dreadnought" and "The Flash Frigate (La Pique)" share a tune is undeniable, and La Pique was the earlier ship. I'm not sure that absolutely proves that "The Flash Frigate" is older, though.
There is some confusion about the spelling of the ship's name. Laws called it the Dreadnaught, and earlier editions of the Index followed him because, well, I didn't notice. Every reference I have checked, however, gives the title of the ship involved (as well as the later battleship) as Dreadnought (with an o rather than an a).
Incidentally, Dreadnought had about as interesting a career as a ship on the Liverpool/New York run could have. Howe/Matthews, between pp. 160 and 161, reproduces two paintings of the ship. It calls her a "medium clipper" (i.e. designed with capacity as well as speed in mind), built by the Massachusetts firm of Currier & Townsend (Howe/Matthews, p. 139). She originally sailed for the Red Cross line (Howe/Matthews, p. 140).
Her first captain was Samuel Samuels, who declared, "She was built for hard usage and to make a reputation for herself and me and I intended that she should do her duty, or that we both should sink" (Howe/Matthews, p. 140). Paine, p. 150, reports that his attitude caused her to be called "The Flying Dutchman" and "The Wild Boat of the Atlantic." Samuels stayed with her for nine years, despite the fact that she broke her rudder on two voyages and he himself suffered a compound leg fracture and was nearly swept away on one voyage.
She was a very profitable ship; Brinnin, p. 10, reports that she is said to have cleared $40,000. But, after a decade on the North Atlantic route, she was shifted to the San Francisco run; in 1869, she was wrecked off Tiera del Fuego (Paine, p. 40).
She was not especially fast; it generally took her nearly two weeks to cross the Atlantic eastbound, and three weeks to cross westbound, despite Captain Samuels and his tendency to keep a lot of sails up even in heavy weather. Nonetheless, Captain Samuels once challenged the famous Great Eastern to a race (Hoehling, pp. 41-42. The Great Eastern won the race -- but the Dreadnought had the last laugh; she made money, and carried plenty of passengers, whereas the Great Eastern was a white elephant that bankrupted various owners and only once managed to fill even 65% of her passenger space. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
- Brinnin: John Malcolm Brinnin, The Sway of the Grand Saloon: A Social History of the North Atlantic (1986; I use the 2000 Barnes & Noble edition).
- Hoehling: A. A. Hoehling, Ships That Changed History, 1992 (I use the 2007 Barnes & Noble edition)
- Howe/Matthews: Octavius T. Howe and Frederick G. Matthews, American Clipper Ships 1833-1858 (Volume I), 1926 (I use the 1986 Dover paperback reprint)
- Paine: Lincoln P. Paine, Ships of the World, Houghton Mifflin, 1997
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.