A short poem by Francis Hopkinson



It was during that winter that the amusing circumstance occurred which drew from the pen of Francis Hopkinson his famous satirical poem entitled "The Battle of the Kegs." In January (1778), while the channel of the Delaware was yet free of ice, some Whigs at Bordentown sent floating down the river a few kegs filled with gunpowder, and so arranged with machinery, that on rubbing against an object, they would explode. It was hoped that some of these torpedoes, touching a British vessel, might explode and sink it. One of them, touching some floating ice in front of the city, blew up, and produced intense alarm. Hopkinson, in his satire, say:

"Now up and down, throughout the town, Most frantic scenes were acted: And some ran here, and others there, Like men almost distracted. Some Fire! cried, which some denied, But said the earth had quaked; And girls and boys, with hideous noise, Ran through the streets half-naked."

For twenty-four hours afterward, not a chip or stick could float down the stream without being fired at by musket or cannon by the British:

"The cannons roar from shore to shore, The small-arms loud did rattle; Since wars began, I'm sure no man E'er saw so strange a battle."





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