GaspeeVirtual Archives
"YANKEE PRIVATEER"

The following balld is found in New England History in Ballads, by  Edward Everett Hale (Boston: Little, Brown & Co,1904, page 121), and is considered Public Domain by GoogleBooks.

"The incident referred to in this ballad is perfectly authenticated. Of the ten prizes taken by Whipple in succssive nights, nine arrived safely into Massachusetts harbors.

"Old Whipple" is Abraham Whipple, one of the Rhode Island Vikings. After the war he went out with Abraham Cutter to Marietta, and he is thus one of the founders of the State of Ohio. At Marietta he built the first ship which ever went to sea from Ohio. A good deal of ship-building was carried on in Ohio after the success of this voyage The ships were built where timber was plenty, and were then sent down the rivers to "Orleans" never to return to their birthplace."

Many thanks to Marc Bernier who posted this transcription on marcbernier.com. Marc is a professional musician out of Westerly, RI, specializing in folk and Irish music, as well as sea chanteys.

Yankee Privateer

Come listen and I'll tell you
How first I went to sea,
To fight against the British
And earn our liberty.
We shipped with Cap'n Whipple
Who never knew a fear,
The Captain of the Providence,
The Yankee Privateer.

We sailed and sailed
And made good cheer,
There were many pretty men
On the Yankee Privateer.

The British Lord High Admiral
He wished old Whipple harm,
He wrote that he would hang him
At the end of his yard arm.
"My Lord," wrote Cap'n Whipple back,--
"It seems to me it's clear
That if you want to hang him,
You must catch your privateer."

We sailed and we sailed
And made good cheer,
For not a British frigate
Could come near the Privateer.

We sailed to the south'ard,
And nothing did we meet
Till we found three British frigates
And their West Indian fleet.
Old Whipple shut our ports
As he crawled up near,
And he sent us all below
On the Yankee Privateer.

So slowly he sailed
We dropped to the rear,
And not a soul suspected
The Yankee Privateer.

At night we put the lights out
And forward we ran
And silently we boarded
The biggest merchantman.
We knocked down the watch,--
And the lubbers shook for fear,
She's a prize without a shot,
To the Yankee Privateer.

We sent the prize north
While we lay near
And all day we slept
On the bold Privateer.


For ten nights we followed,
And ere the moon rose,
Each night a prize we'd taken
Beneath the lion's nose.
When the British looked to see
Why their ships should disappear,
They found they had in convoy
A Yankee Privateer.

But we sailed and we sailed
And made good cheer!
Not a coward was on board
Of the Yankee Privateer.

The biggest British frigate
Bore round to give us chase,
But though he was the fleeter
Old Whipple wouldn't race
Till he'd raked her fore and aft,
For the lubbers couldn't steer,
Then he showed them the heels
Of the Yankee Privateer.

Then we sailed and we sailed
And we made good cheer,
For not a British frigate
Could come near the Privateer.

Then northward we sailed
To the town we all know,
And there lay our prizes,
All anchored in a row;
And welcome were we
To our friends so dear,
And we shared a million dollars
On the bold Privateer.

We'd sailed and we'd sailed
And we made good cheer,
We had all full pockets
On the bold Privateer.

Then we each manned a ship
And our sails we unfurled,
And we bore the Stars and Stripes
O'er the oceans of the world,
From the proud flag of Britain
We swept the seas clear,
And we earned our independence
On the Yankee Privateer.

Then landsmen and sailors,
One more cheer!
Here is three times three
For the Yankee Privateer!

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Originally Posted to Gaspee Virtual Archives 01/2010       YankeePrivateer.html