“The Banks of Champlain”


Singer hears guns firing on Lake Champlain, but despite her patriotism laments the danger to her lover Sandy,without whom her life would not be worth living. The cannons cease, the British retreat; she waxes patriotic once more as other women celebrate


This should not be confused with "The Siege of Plattsburgh." - PJS

For historical background on this part of the War of 1812, see "The Siege of Plattsburg" and references there.

Alexander Macomb (1782-1841) was Brigadier General in field command at Plattsburg (his superior being absent at the time of the fight). He went on to command the U. S. Army (such as it was) from 1828-1841.

Collected tunes for this piece are very few (JAF apparently printed one in 1939), but it appears to be "The Banks of the Dee/Langolee." - RBW

Historical references

  • Aug/Sept 1814 - Plattsburg campaign. As part of a three-pronged attack strategy (the other prongs being at Chesapeake Bay and the lower Mississippi), a British army of 11,000 regulars led by General Sir George Prevost and a naval force under Captain George Downie attack Lake Champlain.
  • Sept 6, 1814 - The British army reaches Plattsburg and awaits the navy
  • Sept 11, 1814 - Battle of Plattsburg. An American naval squadron under Captain Thomas Macdonough (1783-1825) defeats the British force in a fierce contest with very high casualties, compelling the British fleet to retreat in disorder. The British army retreats as well.

Cross references


  • Pete Seeger, "The Banks of Champlain" (on PeteSeeger29), a somewhat abbreviated version


  1. Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 161-162, "The Banks of Champlain" (1 text)
  2. cf. Gardner/Chickering, p. 477, "The Banks of Champlain" (source notes only)
  3. Roud #2046
  4. BI, RcTBOC


Author: unknown; attributed to the wife of Gen. Alexander "Sandy" Macomb
Earliest date: 1838 (Journal from the Nautilus)
Found in: US(MA)