Thomas Thorbury War of 1812 poetry collection  ca. 1815
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of a single volume, which contains three fragmentary poems. The first poem (pp. 2-25), which is untitled, consists of 582 lines of rhyming couplets. Seven of its lines are unreadable due to paper degradation. In an extended satire of the conflict between the United States and Great Britain in the War of 1812, the poet described the savage feud between two farmers, Jack and Sam, indentified as the narrator's uncles. The conflict arose over the use of roads, bridges, and waterways, for which Jack charged tolls. Goaded by his wife, Sam hesitantly entered into battle with Jack, and defeated him on land and water, but only after both men suffered from wounds and exhaustion. They reached an agreement allowing Sam's sons to go unmolested to market, but how long the peace would last "no tongue can tell."

The second poem (pp. 26-43) is also untitled, and concerns a group of Americans taken prisoner on the shores of Ontario and held in Melville Prison. In the poem, Thorbury described their capture, the taking of their clothing, and the recording of their names and ranks by a British agent. He also recounted their separation into groups: "The Boatswain next in messes places/ Each one according to their faces./ The whites are separate from the blacks,/ And yanky Tars from monsier Jacks." The poem also gives descriptions of prison food, sleeping conditions, and fights among the prisoners. It ends with the declaration of peace and the return of 300 captives to the United States.

The final poem (pp. 43-44), entitled "Tom and Joe [a] Dialogue," is a small fragment, with only four legible lines, describing an autumn walk to meet a friend.

Also included with the volume are transcriptions of each poem and notes made in 2006 by the donor, David P. Harris, who provided annotations, background information, and a well-researched collection description.

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