Yankee Doodle Dandy-O (The Constitution and Guerriere)

TITLE: Yankee Doodle Dandy-O (The Constitution and Guerriere)
AUTHOR: unknown
CATEGORY: Traditional, Public Domain
KEYWORDS: sea, war, battle, ship
EARLIEST PRINTED OR RECORDED REFERENCE: Broadside Printed and Sold by John Lane, 1813, a copy in the US Library of Congress, Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 113, Folder 15a.
HISTORICAL REFERENCES: Aug 19, 1812 – the 44-gun Constitution defeats and captures the 38-gun Guerriere

constitution-vs-guerriereThe Constitution and Guerriere tells the tale of a battle that took place some 600 miles East of Boston during the War of 1812 on August 19, 1812. According to legend it was during this battle the Constitution earned her nickname, Old Ironsides. An observer is said to have noted that British shot bounced off the ship and cried, “Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron!” 

According to Burl Ives, after the battle Captain Hull of the Constitution refused to take the sword of Captain Dacres in surrender. Instead he took his hat and wore it in his next fight against the British. The two men later met in Rome as friends. (from The Contemplator)

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Yankee Doodle Dandy-O (The Constitution and Guerriere)

It oft-times has been told,
That the British seamen bold
Could flog the tars of France so neat and handy, Oh!
But they never met their match,
Till the Yankees did them catch
Oh, the Yankee boys for fighting are the dandy, Oh!

The Guerriere, a frigate bold,
On the foaming ocean rolled
Commanded by proud Dacres, the grandee, Oh!
With as choice a British crew
As ever a rammer drew
Could flog the Frenchmen two to one so handy, Oh!

When the frigate hove in view,
Says proud Dacres to his crew,
Come clear the ship for action and be handy, Oh!
To the weather-gage, boys, get her.
And to make his men fight better
Gave them to drink, gunpowder mixed with brandy, Oh!

Then Dacres loudly cries,
Make this Yankee ship your prize,
You can in thirty minutes, neat and handy, Oh!
Twenty-five’s enough, I’m sure,
And if you’ll do it in a score
I’ll treat you to a double share of brandy, Oh!

The British shot flew hot,
Which the Yankees answered not
Till they got within the distance they called handy, Oh!
Now, says Hull unto his crew,
Let us see what we can do,
If we take this boasting Briton we’re the dandy, Oh!

The first broadside we poured
Carried her mainmast by the board
Which made this lofty frigate look abandoned, Oh!
Then Dacres shook his head,
And to his officers said,
Lord! I didn’t think those Yankees were so handy, Oh!

Our second told so well
That their fore and mizzen fell,
Which doused the royal ensign neat and handy, Oh!
By George! says he, We’re done!
And they fired a lee gun
While the Yankees struck up Yankee Doodle Dandy, Oh!

Then Dacres came on board
To deliver up his sword.
Tho’loth was he to part with it, it was so handy, Oh!
Oh! Keep your sword, says Hull,
For it only makes you dull,
Cheer up, and let us have a little brandy, Oh!

Now, fill your glasses full,
And we’ll drink to Captain Hull
And so merrily we’ll push around the brandy, Oh!
Johnny Bull may boast his fill,
Let the world say what it will,
The Yankee boys for fighting are the dandy, Oh!


  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books


NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg

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