Posted by: aprilcatherine2011 | November 14, 2011

CD: “Buckskin Heroes,” 2011

High time for a formal announcement: I’ve finished a CD, “Buckskin Heroes: Songs of America’s Wars Afloat.” It’s my Best of the Best selection of songs, ballads, and poems from wars in the Americas involving naval actions. Beginning in the French and Indian War and ending with the Civil War, the CD offers fifteen tracks of my unaccompanied voice.

I’ll be offering the CD for sale soon–watch this space for sales announcements. In the meantime, here are the first three songs, as a taster, with their liner notes. Click on the link to hear each song at archive.org.

1. Bold General Wolfe
Brigadier-General James Wolfe led the British expedition which ultimately succeeded in taking Canada from the French in the Seven Years’ War. Wolfe was only thirty-two when he was killed in the 1759 amphibious assault on Quebec. I’ve seen the suggestion that he suffered from tuberculosis and that his military daring was enhanced by the urge to die as a hero in battle. My version of the song comes from the Copper Family.

2. Hot Stuff
Wolfe is “the hero that goes to Quebec” and this song was written by one of his soldiers, Ned Botwood, of the 47th Grenadiers. The song seems to have been written in 1759, between the British seizure of Cape Breton and Wolfe’s assault on Quebec. It first appeared in print in 1774, in the New York Gazetteer. Despite his gloating, Botwood never made it into Quebec. He was killed in the first attack on the city, and probably scalped by the Indian soldiers whom he mocks in the song. I learned this song from George Ward, musician and historian. There is a fifth verse which both he and I omit. Look it up online if you want to lose a little faith in humanity.

3. Battle of the Kegs
The tune is “Yankee Doodle” but the words were written by Francis Hopkinson, author, songwriter, and signer of the Declaration of Independence. The kegs in question were floating explosive devices used by the American rebel army in 1778. The attempt to blow up British warships in the Delaware River was a failure for the Americans (most of the kegs floated past their targets). Still, Hopkinson found some laughs in the earnest British attempt to neutralize the threat.

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I’ll be back soon with the lyrics to all three songs.

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