And it’s pull, boys, pull, till your backs and arms are sore,
It’s pull, boys, pull, as we slowly leave the shore;
We’ll leave the lasses weeping as we sail over the main,
And we’ll be rich on Spanish gold when we return again.
And it’s pull, boys, pull.
We all set sail from Portsmouth Town the second day of June;
Three and forty Englishmen to seek a large fortune;
Our ship it was the Falcon, up in Liverpool she was made;
A finer craft was never launched to ply our bloody trade.
We set our course to Westward then, towards the setting sun,
We spent our days in planning raids and practice with the gun,
Eight weary weeks we’d sail along, no other ship we’d see,
Till we took a Spanish galleon off the Sea of Caribee.
And as we lay off Kingston Bay we heard of Vernon’s call
To navy men and freebooters, he did invite us all;
And being loyal Englishmen that served our country’s crown,
We hoisted sail and set a course for Cartagena Town.
And as we reached Columbia all on that fatal day
Eighty thousand fighting men dropped anchor in the bay
The Spanish flag was flying as we lay before the town,
The trumpets rang, the swords did shine, their armor brightly shone.
But Vernon swore he’d take the town no matter what the cost
To scurvy, pox, and fever thirty thousand men we lost
The stench of death surrounded every ship that sailed that tide
And I became the captain when the Falcon’s master died.
The Spaniard who led the foe, no braver took the field,
One eye, one arm, one leg he had, but still he wouldn’t yield;
He led the charge so bravely as we bitterly attacked
Until at length we won the day and Cartagena sacked.
And now we sit in Portsmouth Town, our glasses in our hands
A-drinking to the mates we lost in that far distant land.
We’ll kiss the lasses merrily and drink another round,
And spend the gold we won that day in Cartagena Town.
Another obscure folk song to share with you today. Sorry, no music file because I don't know how to do that, the one we have is of poor quality, and as far as I can tell, this song is totally unknown to the internet. But if you corner any member of the Chapman family except for Secundus, we'll cheerfully sing it for you. It is the ultimate family marching song. It works very well with chorus sung in harmony and solo verses. I taped it from a radio station in the D.C. market about 20 years ago - either WAMU or WETA, both of which fed my folk music fixation. I have Cornucopia listed as the group. But numerous attempts to Google them have turned up no folk music group called Cornucopia, and certainly no Cornucopia-Cartagena connection. I have listened to the CD Steve made from the old tape repeatedly and feel reasonably confident I have all the words right. So if you know of the group or the song, please let me know. I suppose it's comforting that there are still some areas of human endeavor that have not been transferred to the internet, but it's always a little surprising these days when you find them.
I did figure out that this song is a very pro-English, revisionist account of the Battle of Cartagena in the War of Jenkins' Ear, which I had never heard of before. And it's a pity, because how often does a war get named after someone's ear? Admiral Vernon led the English, and recruited madly from the American colonies as well as the English navy -- George Washington's half-brother, Lawrence, was one of the few Americans to survive and return home, to rename the family plantation after his commander. And the Spanish Admiral Blas de Lezo really did have one eye, one arm, and one leg. The outcome wasn't nearly so cheerful for the English as the song suggests, and frankly, one begins to question the competency of the British leadership in this action. But it's a great song.