Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Battle of Castle Hill

Words: John Dengate
Tune:  Traditional (The Maid of Fife)

I'll sing of Toongabbie, a place of renown
And events that occurred in the days fo yore.
Oh, the convicts working there lived a life of black despair,
It was all in the year of eighteen hundred and four.

Brave Cunningham said, "I will march at your head
If you'll throw off your fetters and follow me
And though Ireland's far away we will think of her today
As we fight for our lives and for our liberty.

The magistrate's house they burned to the ground.
'Twas a grand insurrection, a stirring sight
And it cannot be denied that the flogger's wretched hide
Was bruised and abused on that eventful night.

Parramatta here they come: so beat on the drum;
A rider spurs for Sydney and the loyalists arm
And without the least delay Samuel Marsden ran away
In a boat that he pinched from John MacArthur's farm.

There's a priest forced to ride by Colonel Johnstone's side
While the Rum Corps' red coast march in the rear.
Soon a bitter cup will spill on that road near Castle Hill
Where the convicts rest not knowing death is near.

See the dead on the road, hear the sharp command, "Reloa"
See the soldiers present, hear the volleys crash.
There's a dozen croppies more lying lifeles in their gore,
They're safe from the Reverend Samuel Marsden's lash.

This song from Singabout, Volume 6, Number 1, 1966.

Also known as the Battle of Vinegar Hill after the Irish rebellion of the same name, this was the first significant armed uprising by convicts against their military masters.

Wikipedia has a reasonable discussion of the rebellion and its surrounding events.

This site has further detail.

The illustration to this post is a contemporary sketch of the uprising.

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