Two favorite Songs made on the Evacuation of the Town of Boston by the British Troops, on the 17th of March 1776
"Great Howe is a Miserable Wretch"
There is great celebration in Boston as the British troops retreat. Fewer than twenty of Washington's soldiers have died since he has taken command, and his strategy has prevailed. As the patriot army moves into the city, the soldiers take possession of needed medical supplies, ammunition, and even sixty working cannon which the British have abandoned in their departure. In Boston and in nearby towns, families are reunited with each other and their homes, and the sound of rejoicing is tuneful as a new set of broadsides proclaim the stories of the redcoats' flight.
Questions to Consider
1. The illustration used here was originally printed on a broadside from 1745. It was a poem that described the efforts of General William Pepperell and his New England troops in a successful siege of Louisbourg during King George's War. What kind of memories and emotions might the re-use of this illustration evoke in its viewers?
2. To what story does the first song refer when it compares General Howe to Pharaoh? What parallel does the author of the song seem to be drawing to the British troops and the Yankees?
3. What is your emotional reaction to these songs? What lines make them funny, sad, proud, or angry?
4. How is the mood of the second song different from the first? What different details does it offer?
5. Who isn't mentioned in these songs that you expected to be a character? Why might that be? Which characters did you expect to be in the songs? Why might they not have been mentioned?
6. Why is King-street an evocative name? What else happened here that was important to the patriots?
7. How has the sense of the word "Yankee" changed over the course of these events?