Farewell to Kingsbridge
DESCRIPTION: Troops land in New York in November "to meet our foes at King's Bridge." "Like lambs... they cruelly slaughtered were." Soldier's wives and babies cry for their dead husbands and fathers. "God bless our gracious King... [and] our British soldiers"
EARLIEST DATE: 1860 (Reeves-Circle)
KEYWORDS: army war separation America children wife
Nov 16, 1776 -- Battle of Fort Washington? (see notes)
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Reeves-Circle 41, "Farewell to Kingsbridge" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Frank Kidson, Lucy E. Broadwood, Cecil J. Sharp and Ralph Vaughan Williams, "The Ballad Sheet and Garland" in Journal of the Folk-Lore Society, Vol. II, No. 7 (December 1905 (available online by JSTOR)), #11 pp. 90-91, "The Battle of King's Bridge" or "The North Amerikay" ("Dear Molly, read those verses that I have written here") (1 text, 1 tune)
S Baring Gould and H Fleetwood Sheppard, Songs and Ballads of the West (London, 1891? ("Digitized by Google")), #55 p. 119, xxix, "Farewell to Kingsbridge" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "North American Rebels" (shared lines and general theme)
NOTES: There are six lines shared between the Bodleian broadsides of "North American Rebels" and the "Ballad Sheet and Garland" text of "Farewell to Kingsbridge": wives "lamenting for their husbands" and children crying "mommy"; God bless the King, soldiers on land and sea, and our army in North America.
Joyce has a tune, "The North of Amerikay", which he learned in his childhood. He has an apparently Irish verse which was set to that tune, that is similar to the first verse of Reeves-Circle, but may be another song about soldiers sent to "fight the Boston rebels in the north of Amerikay." Joyce refers to "The Ballad and the Garland" for another version (source: P.W. Joyce, Old Irish Folk Music and Songs (Dublin, 1909 ("Digitized by Microsoft")), #15 pp. 10-11, "The North of Amerikay" (1 text fragment, 1 tune)).
Songs of the West has a minor rewrite of the Reeves-Circle text. I have included it for the tune. Baring-Gould's source for both Reeves-Circle and Songs of the West says he learned the song in 1868. He writes in 1891, "There are old men in Kingsbridge who can recall when soldiers were stationed there [presumably after the war]. The song belongs to the year 1778-80. It exists as a broadside by Such, but without naming Kingsbridge, so that probably it was a song of the time adaptable to other places as well. A form of the same ballad, beginning 'Honour calls to arms, boys,' refers to fighting the French in North America, circ. 1759, publoished on broadside by Hodges." I haven't found either of these broadsides.
Reeves-Circle: "This [Baring-Gould's statement] is confirmed by the Irish version in ["The Ballad Sheet and Garland"] which refers to the battle fought against the American rebels at Kingsbridge near New York in 1776."
Broadwood, in "The Ballad Sheet and the Garland" writes "The above was learned and noted in her youth by Miss Mary Oulton, who was 73 years old in the year 1892, when she sent me the tune and words here printed. She took them down from the singing of a very old Irish soldier. The ballad reflects some of the strong feeling which prevailed in Ireland against her people being drawn into England's war with America."
Broadwood in "The Ballad Sheet and Garland" has it that on September 15, 1776, British forces under General Howe captured and destroyed the fort at King's Bridge, north of New York [actually, east of the northern tip of Manhattan, across the Spuyten Duyvil Creek, in what is now the Bronx, and named for the bridge that carried the Boston Post Road across that creek], under George Washington; actually, she seems to be describing the Battle of Kip's Bay, on the East River around 34th Street in Manhattan. On the next day the American troops won the Battle of Harlem Heights, on the west side of Manhattan. Kings Bridge is much further north and east. Tieing in with the November date, common to the ballads, the battle in question is likely the November 16, 1776 Battle of Fort Washington, across the river from King's Bridge. Part of the attack was a Hessian landing from across the Harlem River [from near King's Bridge, which would explain the title "Farewell to Kingsbridge" ]. See Wikipedia articles "Landing at Kip's Bay" [Sep 15, 1776], "Battle of Harlem Heights" [Sep 16, 1776], "Battle of White Plains" [Oct 28, 1776], "Battle of Fort Washington" [Nov 16, 1776] and "Kingsbridge, Bronx." The battle around Fort Washington was "often called the battle of King's Bridge" (source: Danske Dandridge, Historic Shepherdstown (The Michie Company, Charlottestown, 1910 ("Digitized by Google")), p. 316).
There was a non-battle "action" at King's Bridge on July 3, 1781 (source: "Date in History: 1781" at the National Park Service "The American Revolution," "The Revolution Day By Day" site; at that site also see the relevant dates in 1776). - BS
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