Main Content

The Cumberland and The Merrimack


courtesy of - This shanty is sung about the battle between these two ships - each a marvelous boat for it's day - the Cumberland was sunk - read more about the American Civil War

Come all my jolly seamen, Likewise you landsmen too.
It is a dreadful story I will unfold to you
It's all about the Cumberland, The ship so true and brave
And it's many the loyal seamen That met a watery grave.

It was early in the morning, Just at the break of day,
When our good ship the Cumberland lay anchored in the bay
When the man from on the lookout down to the rest did say:
There is something like a housetop to the larboard she does lay

Then our captain took his telescope and he gazed far o'er the blue.
Turning 'round he said as follows  to his brave and loyal crew:
That thing you see over yonder just like a turtle's back,
Is that cursed Rebel steamer they call the Merrimac

Then our decks were cleared for action each gun was pointed true
But still that Rebel steamer came steaming o'er the blue
And on she kept a-coming till no distance did us part,
When she sent a ball a-humming that stilled the beat of many's the heart.

In vain we poured our broadsides Into her ribs of steel
But still no breach was in her no damage did she feel
Up stepped the Rebel commander in a voice of thunder spoke
Pull down your flying colors Or I'll sink your Yankee boat

Then our captain's eyes did glisten his face grew pale with rage,
And in a voice of thunder to the Rebel commander said
My crew is brave and loyal and by me they will stand
And before I'll strike my colors You can sink me an be damned

Then this ironclad she left us a hundred yards or more
The screeching and screaming of her balls, our wooden sides she tore
She struck us right amidships her ram went crashing through
And the waters they came pouring in on the brave and loyal crew

Then our captain turned unto his men and unto them did say
I'll not leave the Cumberland while she does ride the wave
It's you, my loyal comrades may seek your lives to save
But I'll go down with my gallant ship for to meet a watery grave

They swore that they'd not leave her and manned the guns afresh
And broadside after broadside poured till the waters reached their breasts
And as they down went sinking down in the briny deep
The Stars and Stripes still floated from the maintop's highest peak

The author of this website has put a lot of time and effort into gathering the greatest collection of sea shanties for the world to enjoy - There are songs that have been to sung to a job of work at sea for many, many years and collecting them has been a great endeavour. - Roger Chartier has made the effort out of his own interest and the requests that he has gotten to do this work from fellow musicians who wanted a good source of sea shanties to draw on and learn from. He has been told that for this effort he is a remarkable man.