Primary Resource

"Parody" by St. George Tucker (March 20, 1781)

In "Parody," written on March 20, 1781, St. George Tucker satires a victory proclamation issued by the British general Charles Cornwallis after the Battle of Guilford Court House, fought on March 15. Tucker was wounded in the battle, which was an American defeat despite the fact that British forces suffered twice as many casualties.

Transcription from Original

  • By Charles, by title, Lord Cornwallis
  • The scourge of all rebellious follies,
  • Lieutenant-general commanding
  • The British forces of long standing
  • With those et ceteras at the end
  • Which mean more than you understand
  • Whereas by Providence divine
  • Which on our arms has deigned to shine
  • On Thursday last we fought a battle
  • With lousy, vile, rebellious cattle,
  • And, to our everlasting glory
  • (Unaided by a single Tory)
  • The rebel forces did defeat
  • And gain a victory complete,
  • Whereby His Majesty's command
  • Is reestablished in the land,
  • And Loyalty uprears its head
  • While cursed Rebellion goes to bed;
  • I, therefore, willing to uphold
  • The weak and to reward the bold,
  • Do issue this my Proclamation
  • Without regard to sect or nation.
  • Requiring every loyal Tory
  • To come to me and share the glory
  • And toil of bringing back to reason
  • The wretches guilty of high treason.
  • Whereby the government benign
  • Of Britain's Majesty divine
  • With luster primitive may shine.
  • Moreover, since I understand
  • That divers persons in the land,
  • By vile seducers led astray
  • Have left the true and perfect way
  • Which loyal subjects should pursue
  • And joined with the rebellious crew,
  • Grown sorry for their former fault,
  • Are anxious now to make a halt,
  • And, cured of their rebellious pride
  • Would wish to turn to our side,
  • To such, I hereby notify
  • (As God will judge me when I die)
  • That (murderers alone excepted
  • For whom no grace can be expected),
  • If they will to my quarters run
  • With their accoutrements and gun,
  • In thirty days, next from this date
  • They shall eschew a rebel's fate,
  • And be permitted to go back
  • With a parole, like pill of quack,
  • To cure the numerous disorders
  • That rage upon our army's borders;
  • Or, like a talisman to charm
  • Our soldiery from doing harm,
  • Tho' truth obliges us to own
  • They will not cure a broken bone,
  • Nor 'gainst the rebels yield assistance
  • Or keep their army at a distance;
  • If such effects they could produce
  • We'd keep them for our army's use.
  • But this is only by the bye;
  • On their effects you may rely.
  • Let no ill-natured imputation
  • Be cast on this Proclamation,
  • Because from hence with God's permission
  • I mean to march with expedition,
  • Tho' I confess we do not mean
  • To go in quest of Mr. Greene,
  • Who two miles distant, it is said
  • Weeps o'er his wounds and broken head.
  • Humanity, the soldier's glory
  • Which dignifies each loyal Tory,
  • Which fills each generous Briton's heart
  • In all my actions stands confessed.
  • Her voice forbade me to pursue
  • The frightened, naked, rebel crew
  • Who filed an half a mile or more
  • Before their panic they got o'er,
  • Humanity alike commands
  • Of bloody deeds to wash our hands,
  • And should we follow Mr. Greene
  • Much blood might then be split I ween:
  • Humanity commands to yield
  • The wounded whom we won in field,
  • Nay more she bids us leave behind
  • The maimed, the halt, the sick, the blind
  • Among our soldiers who might prove
  • A hindrance as we backward move.
  • Her high behests we then obey;
  • Now strike our tents and march away.
  • March the eighteenth, eighty-one
  • At Guilford Courthouse this is done.