Spirit & Heritage In Song – ‘Cornwallis Country Dance’ – 1780


Spirit & Heritage In Song is a series highlighting Traditional American Music.

In the last half century many of these traditional songs have been forgotten in a flood of contemporary music and international cultural influences. Yet these songs, ballads, melodies and hymns reflect the events, cultural backgrounds, aspirations, land and faith that make up the soul of the American People far more than the strains of moderne music that have washed upon the nation’s shores. This series is offered as a reminder of the Spirit of America as given voice in song.



” And all his men now curse the day
they jigged to our shore, Sir.
Now Tories all, what can you say? Cornwallis is no griper,
But while your hopes are danced away,
’tis you who pay the piper. ”


Cornwallis Country Dance

Nathanael Greene

This Revolutionary song has British General Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis as the object of it’s lively jibes and ridicule. The lyrics portray the General in a dance that galavants from battle to battle with American Revolutionary heroes such as General Nathanael Greene and General George Washington.

The song ends with a parting shot at the General’s soldiers who would rue the day they stepped upon American shores and at the American Loyalist Tories who would find their hopes dashed of King George’s scepter held in might over the colonies.

The author of this entertaining and history rich song is unknown, as may be fitting for this tune of destiny.


Lyrics below


Revolutionary War Ballad (Cornwallis Country Dance)


Cornwallis Country Dance / Fisher’s Hornpipe

by Anne Enslow & Ridley Enslow
Music of the American Colonies

Cornwallis Country Dance / Fisher’s Hornpipe


Surrender of Lord Cornwallis by John Trumbull - Wikipedia

Image: This painting depicts the forces of British Major General Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis (1738-1805) (who was not himself present at the surrender), surrendering to French and American forces after the Siege of Yorktown (September 28 – October 19, 1781) during the American Revolutionary War. The United States government commissioned Trumbull to paint patriotic paintings, including this piece, for them in 1817, paying for the piece in 1820. Rotunda of the US Capitol, Washington D.C. Source Wikipedia.


See other songs of the American Spirit in History and at Music



Cornwallis led a country dance, its like was never seen, Sir
Much retrograde and much advance and all with General Greene, Sir.
They rambled up, they rambled down, joined hands and off they run, Sir
Of General Greene to Charlestown, the Earl to Wilmington, Sir.

Greene, in the south, then danced a set, and got a mighty name, Sir
Cornwallis jigged with young Fayette but suffered in his fame, sir.
Then down he figured to the shore, most like a lordly dancer
And on his courtly honor swore, he would no more advance, Sir.

Quoth he “My guards are weary grown with doing country dances,
They never at St. James had shown at capers, kicks or prances.
No men so gallant there were seen while saunt’ring on parade, Sir,
Or dancing o’er the park so green, or at the masquerade, Sir.”

Yet are red heels and long-laced skirts for stumps and briars meet, Sir?
Or stand they chance with hunting-shirts or hardy veteran feet, Sir?
Now housed in York he challenged all, at minuet or allemande
And lessons for a courtly ball his guards by day and night conned.

Good Washington, Columbia’s son, whom easy nature taught, Sir,
That grace that can’t by pains be won, nor Plutus’ gold be bought, Sir.
Now hand in hand they circle round the ever-dancing Peer, Sir,
Their gentle movements soon confound the Earl, as he draws near, Sir

His music soon forgets to play, his feet can’t move no more, Sir,
And all his men now curse the day they jigged to our shore, Sir.
Now Tories all, what can you say? Cornwallis is no griper,
But while your hopes are danced away, ’tis you who pay the piper.


America remember and honor your history – it will give direction,
purpose and security to your future.


Plow & Hearth


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