Collected by: Merlyn B. Page James R. Hayes
Sung by: Oleavia Houser Fayetteville, Arkansas December 7, 1958 Reel 278 Item 10
Sons of freedom listen to me,
And ye daughters too give ear,
You a sad and mournful story,
As was ever told shall hear.
Hull, you know, his troops surrendered, And defenseless left the west;
Then our forces, quick, assembled,
The invader to resist.
Among troops that marched to Erie,
Were the Kingstown volunteers,
Captain Thomas then commanded,
To protect our west frontiers.
Tender were the scenes of parting,
Mothers wrung their hands and cried, Maidens wept their way in secret,
Fathers strove their tears to hide.
There was one among our number,
Tall and gallant was his mein,
Firm, his step, his look undaunted,
Scarce a bolder youth was seen.
One sweet kiss, he snatched from Mary, Craved his mother’s prayer once more, Pressed his father’s hand then left them, For lake Erie’s distant shore.
Mary tried to say, Farewell, James,
Waved her hand but nothing spake,
Good-bye Byrd! May heaven protect you, From the crowd at parting break.Soon they came where noble Perry,
Had assembled all his fleet,
There the gallant Byrd enlisted,
Expecting soon, the foe to meet.
Where is Byrd? The battle rages,
Is he in the strife, or no?
Now the battle roars tremendous,
Dare he meet the hostile foe?
See, behold him there with Perry,
In the self same ship they fight,
Though his messmates fall all 'round him, Nothing can his soul afright.
But, behold a ball has struck him,
See the crimson current flow,
Leave the deck, exclaimed brave Perry.
No, cried Bird, I will not go.
Here on deck I took my station,
Ne’er will Bird his colors fly,
I’ll stand by you, gallant captain,
’Til we conquer, or I die.
Still he fought, though faint and bleeding, Still the stars and stripes arose,
Victory having crowned our efforts,
All triumphant o’er our foes.
Then did Bird receive a pension,
Was he to his friends restored,
No, never to his bosom,
Clasped the maid his heart adored.
Better if poor Bird had perished,
Midst the battles awful roar,
Than to die in shameful fashion,
On lake Erie’s distant shore.
Continue JAMES BYRD
Reel 278, Item 10 (Cont’d)
Continue J A M ES BYRD
Reel 278, Item 10 (Cont’d)
Dearest parents, said the letter, This will bring sad news to you,
Do not mourn your first beloved, Though this brings his last adieu.
I must suffer for deserting,
Off the brigg at Niagarree,
Read this letter brothers, sisters, It’s the last you’ll have from me.
Sad and gloomy was the morning,
Bird was ordered out to die,
Where’s the breast not dead to pity, But for him would heave a sigh?
See him march and bear his fetters;
Harsh the clank upon the ear.
But his step is firm and manly,
For his heart ne’er harbored fear.
See him kneel upon his coffin;
Sure his death can do no good.
Spare him! Oh, God, they’ve shot him;
See his boson stream with blood.
Farewell, Byrd, farewell forever;
Home and friends you'll see no more.
But his mangled corpse lies buried On Lake Erie's distant shore.
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