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Lyr Req: St. Clair's Defeat

DigiTrad:
THE BATTLE OF ELKHORN TAVERN
THE BATTLE OF PEA RIDGE


Related threads:
Lyr ADD: St Clair's Defeat (Bob Gibson Version) (7)
Lyr Req: Price's Last Raid (3)
Lyr ADD: Battle of Pea Ridge/St. Clair's Defeat (15)
Lyr Req: St. Claire was our commander (9)


Mike 18 Jun 02 - 06:32 AM
bigchuck 18 Jun 02 - 06:56 AM
masato sakurai 18 Jun 02 - 07:10 AM
PeteBoom 18 Jun 02 - 08:36 AM
Barry Finn 18 Jun 02 - 07:37 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Jun 02 - 07:42 PM
Hrothgar 19 Jun 02 - 03:54 AM
Mike 27 Jun 02 - 07:53 AM
Lighter 06 Sep 19 - 03:49 PM
Lighter 06 Sep 19 - 03:57 PM
Jack Campin 06 Sep 19 - 05:29 PM
Lighter 06 Sep 19 - 05:35 PM
Jack Campin 06 Sep 19 - 07:04 PM
Lighter 07 Sep 19 - 09:59 PM
Lighter 15 Sep 19 - 09:21 PM
Big Al Whittle 16 Sep 19 - 02:10 AM
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Subject: St. Clair's Defeat
From: Mike
Date: 18 Jun 02 - 06:32 AM

I'm looking for the lyrics to a song called (I believe) "St. Clair's Defeat." It commemorates in music the worst defeat the US Army ever had -- in 1791, when twenty-five percent of the active army was wiped out. The force was commanded by Arthur St. Clair, the battle (with the Shawnees) occured near Ft. Jefferson on the Ohio/Indiana border, and I heard the song on an album from the early '60s/late '50s called "At the Gate of Horn" or "Gibson and Camp At The Gate Of Horn."

Can anyone help?

Mike


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Subject: RE: St. Clair's Defeat
From: bigchuck
Date: 18 Jun 02 - 06:56 AM

I'll post the words tonight, If nobody else jumps on it first. Great song.
Sandy


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Subject: Lyr Add: SINCLAIR'S (ST. CLAIR'S) DEFEAT
From: masato sakurai
Date: 18 Jun 02 - 07:10 AM

I'm not sure whether this is the one asked for, but even if it isn't, it would be interesting. Score, MIDI and article are HERE (Scroll down to "St. Clair's Defeat"). The article is:

Sinclair's (St. Clair's) Defeat - The Battle of Pea Ridge

November the fourth in the year of ninety-one,
We had a sore engagement near to Fort Jefferson.
It was on March the Seventh in the year of sixty-two.
We had a sore engagement with Abe Lincoln's crew.

I found the words to Sinclair's Defeat in "The American Songster", published 1836. I immediately recognized the connection with the Civil War song The Battle of Pea Ridge. One of my favorite recordings of that ballad is on Cathy Barton and Dave Para's album "Johnny Whistletrigger: Civil War Songs for the Western Border, Vol. 1". The Battle of Pea Ridge is an Ozark variation of St. Clair's Defeat, which is said to have hung on the walls of many Ohio homes in the early 1800s. In its lament of the Confederate defeat at Pea Ridge, Arkansas, The Battle of Pea Ridge exaggerated many of the facts of that battle.

The song Sinclair's Defeat did not exaggerate. General Arthur St. Clair's men were camped near present-day Greenville Ohio. They consisted of regular regimentals, levies, and Kentucky militia men, all "badly clothed, badly paid and badly fed." In all, there were about 1400 men plus 200 women and children camp followers with the group. Although a reconnaissance party warned of imminent attack, and President Washington has cautioned him not to underestimate the tactics used by the Indians, St. Clair had few guards posted and his troops were completely unprepared.

At dawn, Little Turtle and Blue Jacket's forces attacked the militia, who collapsed and retreated in chaos through the middle of the camp of the regulars and levies. As they concentrated toward the middle of camp, they were surrounded by the attacking Shawnee and Miami forces, who deliberately targeted the officers. Their insignia and their visible attempts on horseback to rally their men made the officers easy targets. After three hours of fighting, the ground was covered with the dead. A wounded Major General Richard Butler was propped against a tree by his two brothers, but was soon tomahawked and his heart cut out to be eaten later by the tribes. Colonel William Darke reported that the "whole army ran together like a mob at a fair," breaking through to reach the road they had cut, and escaped because most of the Indians paused in the camp to loot, tomahawk, kill and torture the wounded, and the women and children left behind.

Of the 200 camp followers, only three women survived. 918 Army casualties included 623 soldiers dead, 258 wounded, 24 civilian employees dead, 13 wounded, and 69 of 124 commissioned officers killed or wounded. It was February of 1792 before a contingent from Fort Washington returned to the battle site to bury what remained of the dead. St. Clair's Defeat was the greatest defeat that U.S. Army ever suffered at the hands of the Native American Nations; and the losses surpassed those in any battle during the American Revolution. (Information from R. Douglas Hurt's "The Ohio Frontier".)

1. November the fourth in the year of ninety-one,
We had a sore engagement near to Fort Jefferson;
Sinclair was our commander, which may remembered be,
For there we left nine hundred men in the Western Territory.

2. At Bunker's Hill and Quebec, where many a hero fell,
Likewise at Long Island, 'tis I the truth can tell.
But such a dreadful carnage, never did I see,
As happened on the plains, near the River St. Marie.

3. Our militia were attacked, just as the day did break,
And soon were overpowered, and forced to retreat.
They killed major Ouldham, Levin, and Briggs likewise,
While horrid yells of savages, resounded thro' the skies.

4. Major Butler was wounded the very second fire;
His manly bosom swelled with rage, when forced to retire.
Like one distracted he appeared, when thus exclaimed he,
Ye hounds of hell shall all be slain, but what reveng'd I'll be.

5. We had not long been broke, when general Butler fell;
He cries, my boys, I'm wounded, pray take me off the field,
My God, says he, what shall we do, we're wounded ev'ry man;
Go, charge, you valiant heroes, and beat them if you can.

6. He leaned his back against a tree, and there resigned his breath,
And like a valiant soldier, sunk in the arms of death;
When blessed angels did await, his spirit to convey,
And unto the celestial fields, he quickly bent his way.

7. We charged again, we took our ground, which did our hearts elate,
There we did not tarry long, they soon made us retreat;
They killed major Ferguson, which caused his men to cry;
Stand to your guns, says valiant Ford; we'll fight until we die.

8. Our cannon balls exhausted, our artillerymen all slain,
Our musketry men and riflemen, their fire did sustain;
Three hours more we fought like men, and they were forced to yield,
While three hundred bloody warriors lay stretched upon the field.

9. Says colonel Gibson to his men, my boys, be not dismayed,
I'm sure that true Virginians were never yet afraid;
Ten thousand deaths I'd rather die, than they should gain the field,
With that he got a fatal shot, which caused him to yield.

10. Says major Clark, my heroes, I can no longer stand,
We will strive to form in order, and retreat the best we can.
The word retreat being passed all round, they raised a huing cry,
And helter-skelter through the woods, like lost sheep we did fly.

11. We left the wounded on the field, O heavens, what a shock!
Some of their thighs were shattered; some of their limbs were broke;
With scalping knives and tomahawks, soon eased them of their breath,
With fiery flames of torment soon tortured them to death.

12. Now, to mention our brave officers, 'tis what I wish to do.
No son of Mars e'er fought more brave or courage true.
To captain Bradford I belonged, in his artillery,
Who fell that day amongst the slain; - what a gallant man was he.

The Civil War song Battle of Pea Ridge made use of many of the same phrases from the original song, but the Confederate casualties were nowhere near the "ten thousand" mentioned in the lyrics, Confederate General Sterling Price was wounded but not fatally, and it was General Van Dorn, not Price, who ordered the retreat. Pea Ridge was near the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), and Cherokee, Creek and Choctaw Indians fought in the battle, under Confederate Gen. Albert Pike.

1. It was on March the Seventh in the year of sixty-two.
We had a sore engagement with Abe Lincoln's crew.
Van Dorn was our commander as you remember be.
We lost ten thousand of our men near the Indian Territory.

2. Pap Price come a-riding up the line, his horse was in a pace.
And as he gave the word "retreat" the tears rolled down his face.
Ten thousand deaths I'd rather die than they should gain the field.
From that he got a fatal shot which caused him to yield.

3. At Springfield and Carthage many a hero fell.
At Lexington and Drywood, as near the truth can tell.
But such an utter carnage as ever I did see,
Happened at old Pea Ridge near the Indian Territory.

4. I know you brave Missouri boys were never yet afraid.
Let's try and form in order, retreat the best we can.
The word "retreat" was passed around, it caused the heathen cry.
Helter-skelter through the woods, like lost sheep we did fly.

The sheet music and a playable midi file of St. Clair's Defeat/Battle of Pea Ridge are available on the music page.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: St. Clair's Defeat
From: PeteBoom
Date: 18 Jun 02 - 08:36 AM

There is a very good book out on the campaign (such as it was) called "The Battle of the Thousand Slain". I loaned my copy out some years ago and have not seen it since. No, I don't remember the name of the author.

I do remember that early in the book, preface or first chapter or so, there was a very good description that put the image in perspective - The writer said, effectively, that the warriors participating in this battle had been raised on stories of Pontiac's uprising in 1763 where most of the Western frontier posts of the British were attacked and destroyed within a few days of each other - Michilimackinac, Ft. Dearborn and roughly a dozen other places were attacked, captured and with few exceptions, the garrisons killed either in combat or after. (Detroit was the exception, they had a small amount of warning and succeeded in closing the gates and pulling in livestock and nearby residents before the attack came.)

The author then drew comparisons to Little Big Horn (1876) where Col. George Custer and elements of the 7th Cavalry were defeated. The largest single difference between the more famous Little Big Horn and St. Clair's fight was that Custer was leading a small portion of a much larger army. St. Clair's command WAS the army. The writer's point, compared to this battle, Pontiac's uprising and Little Big Horn were walks in the park - unless you were on the side that lost, of course.

The blame was placed on St. Clair's shoulders and not on the overall command structure. It's easier to blame the dead commander than to look at one's own actions. The problems which lead to the inept campaign and defeat would be repeated in 1812 and 1813. An organized structure to the American army would not develop until the winter of 1813-14, when a handfull of very young officers (Winfield Scott among them) came to the fore and forced reform on the handfull of veterans from the Revolution who were still in positions of authority.

Cheers -

Pete


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Subject: RE: St. Clair's Defeat
From: Barry Finn
Date: 18 Jun 02 - 07:37 PM

Search the forum using Pea Ridge, also see the DT. There has been soon intresting threads on these way back. Barry


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Subject: RE: St. Clair's Defeat
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Jun 02 - 07:42 PM

Any Shawnee songs about the victory?


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Subject: RE: St. Clair's Defeat
From: Hrothgar
Date: 19 Jun 02 - 03:54 AM

How did the Civil War get into this?


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Subject: RE: St. Clair's Defeat
From: Mike
Date: 27 Jun 02 - 07:53 AM

Thanks to all! I'd have thanked everyone sooner, but I was gone for a week: family reunion, getting a niece registered for college, and so on.

Mike


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: St. Clair's Defeat
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Sep 19 - 03:49 PM

PART I:

From Henry M. Brackenridge, Recollections of Persons and Places in the West (Phila.: James Kay, Jr., 1834), p. 73, describing Grant’s Hill racecourse, Pittsburgh, around 1804:


“The plain within the course, and near it, was filled with booths as at a fair, where every thing was said, and done, and sold, and eaten or drunk—where every fifteen or twenty minutes there was a rush to some part, to witness a fistycuff— where dogs barked and bit, and horses trod on men's toes, and booths fell down on people's heads! There was Crowder with his fiddle and his votaries, making the dust fly, with a four handed, or rather four footed, reel; and a little further on, was Dennis Loughy the blind poet, like Homer, casting his pearls before swine, chaunting his masterpiece, in a tone part nasal and part guttural,

        “' Come, gentlemen, gentlemen all,
        Ginral Sincleer shall rem'ber'd bee,
        For he lost thirteen hundred men all,
        In the Western Tari-to-ree.'

"All at once the cry, To horse! to horse! suspended every other business or amusement, as effectually as the summons of the faithful."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: St. Clair's Defeat
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Sep 19 - 03:57 PM

PART II:

Appended to Matthew Bunn's "Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Matthew Bunn, (of Providence, R.I.,) in an Expedition Against the North-Western Indians, in the Years 1791, 2, 3, 4 & 5. 7th ed. Revised – 4000 Copies." Batavia [N.Y.]: Printed for the Author, 1828, pp. 57-59.

(P. 56 reproduces Bunn’s sworn affidavit, dated Oct. 30, 1826, guaranteeing the veracity of his story of Indian captivity and escape; Bunn was 19 at the time of the battle.)

                                      PATRIOTIC SONG
                               ST. CLAIR’S DEFEAT—By M. Bunn.

November the fourth, in the year ninety-one,
We had a sore engagement near to Fort Jefferson;
St. Clair was our commander, which may remembered be,
Since we have lost nine hundred men in the western territory.

At Lexington and Quebec, where many a hero fell,
And likewise at Long-Island, as I the truth can tell;
For such a horrid carnage my eyes they never see,
As happened on the plains near the river St. Mary.

Our militia were attacked just as the day did break,
But soon were overpowered and forced to retreat;
Then they killed Capt. Oldham, Lament and Briggs likewise,
Such horrid shouts of the savages that sounded thro’ the skies.

Young Major Butler was wounded the very second fire,
Whose manly breast did swell with rage, and forced to retire;
Like one distracted he appeared, and thus exclaimed he,—
“Those fiends of hell shall win the field, or revenged I will be.”

We had not long engaged when General Butler fell,
He cries, “my boys, I am wounded, pray take me off the field;
My God! he cries, what shall we do, we’re murder’d every man,
Go charge my valient [sic] heroes, and beat them—if you can.”

He turned his back against a tree and there resigned his breath,
And like a valiant hero, sunk in the arms of death:
Ten thousand seraphs did await, his spirit to convey,
And through the bright ethereal they swiftly bent their way.

We made a charge, and gained the ground, which did our fears abate,
But soon were overpowered, and forced to retreat,
They took from us our cannon, which grieved our hearts full sore,
Such horrid shouts of triumph like hell-hounds they did roar.

We made a charge and gained our guns, we fought like hearts of steel,
Till many a brave American lay slaughtered o’er the field,
Then they killed Major Ferguson, which caused his men to cry,
Don’t be dismayed, says Capt. Ford, we fight until we die.

These words he had scarce uttered, when he received a ball,
And likewise our Lieutenant Spear down by his side did fall,
Stand by your guns, says gallant Ford, for I am not yet slain,
I will lay me down and bleed a while, and rise & fight again.

Says Major Gibson to his men, my boys be not dismayed,
I am sure the Pennsylvanians they never were afraid.
Ten thousand deaths I’d rather die, than they should win the field,
Soon he received a fatal ball, which caused him for to yield.

Our cannon balls were all soon spent, our artillery men were slain,
Our musketry and riflemen a firing did sustain,
Three hours or more we fought them there, and then were forced to yield,
Whilst three hundred bloody warriors stood hovering round the field.

Says Major Clark, my heroes bold we can no longer stand,
Therefore we will form in order the best way that we can.
The word retreat sounded around, which raised a hue & cry,
Then helter skelter through the woods, like lost sheep we did fly.

We left our wounded on the field, O heavens! what a stroke,
Some of their thighs were shattered, and some their arms were broke;
With tomahawks and scalping knives, they robbed them of their breath,
In fiery flames of torment then tortured them to death.

To mention my brave officers is what I mean to do,
No son of mars ne’er fought more bold, or with more courage true;
To Captain Bradford I belong, of the artillery,
He fell that day among the slain, and a valliant man was he.

There is Kelly and young Anderson, whose names shall be revered ;
They fought like brave Americans, but death was their reward.
Full twenty paces in the front they of their men did go,
Their enemy soon marked them out and proved their overthrow.

There is Purdy and young Bates, subalterns of great power,
So boldly they led on their men, three-quarters of an hour,
Till they were slain upon the field, like saints resigned were they,
There Bates smiling said, fight on while bleeding thus he lay.

Young Major Dark received a ball close by his father’s side,
These feeble hands shall be revenged on my son’s death he cried,
He quickly drew his sword in hand, and through the ranks he flew,
And like a brave Virginian the savage there he slew.

Of all the men that fell that day, young Major Hart was best;
One pleasing consolation, his soul has gone to rest,
No blooming chief was there to frown, alas, his glass is run,
He has gone to future happiness, and dwells beyond the sun.

The day before our battle fifteen hundred men we had,
But our old gouty general had used us very bad,
He whip’t, and hung, and starved his men, in barbarous cruelty,
Thus negro like he did behave, on the western territory.

Come all you brave Americans, lament the loss with me,
It was by bad mismanagement, as you may plainly see,
This is the ending of my song, excuse me if you please,
St. Clair’s Defeat it may be called, so praise it at your ease.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: St. Clair's Defeat
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Sep 19 - 05:29 PM

One of the songs about Scottish soldiers abroad that the Scots generally don't know is "Sinklars visa", a Norwegian dance-song about the Battle of Kringen in 1612, when a Scottish force under an officer called Sinclair attempted to invade Norway in support of Sweden. They decided to land their boats at the foot of a cliff in a fjord, and the local Norwegian peasants wiped them out by rolling rocks down onto them.

Any other notable military fuckups led by a Sinclair?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: St. Clair's Defeat
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Sep 19 - 05:35 PM

PART III:

"St. Clair's Defeat" seems to have entered the U.S. folk revival through Anne Grimes's 1957 Folkways album, "Ohio State Ballads." This looks like the earliest commercial recording of a song that had nearly disappeared. The song was popularized in a slightly rewritten form by Bob Gibson and Bob Camp. (I heard it in 1966 and was impressed.)

Grimes writes that she learned the song from the singing of Lottie Leas, of Greeneville, Ohio.

Grimes's tune is a variant of the well-known, nineteenth-century "Bonaparte Crossing the Alps" (or "the Rhine") - evidently an anachronism in this case.

A different (and possibly older) tune appears in Patrick Gainer's "Folk Songs from the West Virginia Hills." IIRC.

The derivative "Battle of Pea Ridge," BTW, goes to a version of "I Gave My Love a Cherry."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: St. Clair's Defeat
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Sep 19 - 07:04 PM

That "Bonaparte" tune derives from the Scottish Highland song "Mor nighean a Ghiberlain", from the mid-18th century ("Morag the beggar's daughter", at least some versions referencing Bonnie Prince Charlie). It spread pretty far, and would certainly have been known in North America.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: St. Clair's Defeat
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Sep 19 - 09:59 PM

Thanks, Jack. But if this is the tune you mean, it doesn't sound at all like what I'm thinking of:

http://abcnotation.com/tunePage?a=tunearch.org/wiki/More_n%27ighean_ghiberlain.no-ext/0001

This is more like it:

https://tunearch.org/wiki/Napoleon_Crossing_the_Alps_(1)

A 30-second sample of the Gibson-Camp version can be heard at Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Bob-Gibson-Camp-Gate-Horn/dp/B00124DU14/ref=sr_1_1?crid=104V0HFN7E6IB&keywords=bob+gibson+%26+bob+camp&qi


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: St. Clair's Defeat
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Sep 19 - 09:21 PM

PART IV:

Frank Cowan's "Southwestern Pennsylvania in Song and Story" (Greensburg, Pa., 1878) gives two texts of the ballad. The second is of some interest because Cowan's source, "John F. Beaver, Esq., of Ohio," said he'd received the song from "James McCalla, or Macauley, a popular, pock-marked Irish minstrel who flourished about the year 1808 in the neighborhood of Stoystown, Somerset County, Pennsylvania."

The text clearly comes at some point from an oral performance, because it contains a number of folk-style syllabic ornaments not generally seen on broadsides. The lyrics themselves are not very noteworthy, but here are the indicated "performing features" apparently representative of the U.S. frontier ca1800. Significantly, perhaps, Cowan never suggests that there's anything odd or, much less, ridiculous in such pronunciations:

fo-urth

engag-e-ment

commandi-er

Long Isla-and

St. Mari-ies

attackted

woundi-ed

soldi-er

warri-ors

Virgini-ans


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: St. Clair's Defeat
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Sep 19 - 02:10 AM

dog-err-el


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