I Surrounded Them Myself

Pulling Down Statue of George III - Painter Unknown
Pulling Down Statue of George III – Painter Unknown

One of the most bizarre – if true – stories from the American War of Independence tells of a Sergent McCarthy on a mission for General Marion

Times were bad in the war, and to link up with Greene
Marion selected McCarthy to be scout…
As they held on by the woods to hold out best they could
To link with Greene McCarthy set out.
Some say it it true, more say its a tale,
Whether true or a tale the tale I tell,
For if true or a tale this tale I regale
Let it honour those who in that war faught and fell.

It was a hot August day as he made his way
Back from Greene to where he though Marions camp aught to be…
He heard voices about, being wary as a scout
He climbed for vantage the scene to see…
There not nothing to be seen, but the voices were clear,
So with caution onward he advanced,
All at once, in a clearing, at ease twenty odd English sat,
Not a sentry on this group upon which McCarthy chanced!

What luck for an Irishman, it got better he saw,
Down in a pile by the bushes were all their guns,
Lazing in the heat the trees shades beneath
Sat dozing some of Brittanias best sons.
Slowly, one by one, each gun McCarthy seized,
In undergrowth not far away there them he his,
Till with whistle to command men who were not there
As captives to obey him the English he bid.

“Prudence is the better part of valour” said McCarthy with a smile
“We have you in these trees here surrounded,
Turn your backs and follow the commands that I say”
Meekly the English obeyed, all dumbfounded.
“Step it on and stay looking forward” was McCarthys command
“Woe be to the fool who turns back his head,
For I shall and I am am an of my word
I shall shoot each and every one dead.”

In time on the march he reached Marions camp
The Captain came out of his tent,
Saw twenty one English amassed under gunpoint there stood,
Looked puzzled at that this all meant.
Were the deserters or what, was what went through his mind,
Then he saw McCarthy with the gun,
With a wry smile he looked at the chancer with a nod
To acknowledge the prisoners he had won.

McCarthy in army style preformed the salute
“In the name of God how did you do it…” the Captain cried
McCarthy just smiled, and enjoyed the moment before giving the retort
“I surrounded them myself” he calmly replied…
Irishmen fighting abroad have often done strange deeds,
Of them and more forgotten are stories told,
Up there with the best is McCarthys guile and gall
Whether true or a tale it will not grow old!!!


(i) General Marion – General Francis Marion

Story from “The McCarthys in Early American History”

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