Printed in Jedburgh in 1821, these poems were written by a Andrew Scott (1757–1839), a Scottish a shepherd boy who enlisted at the outset of the American War of Independence and served for the duration of the campaign. Of the many poems he penned there, most were lost, but ‘The Oak Tree’ survived and is printed here. It refers to a tree in Kemp’s Landing, Virginia, ‘of very enormous size, but not so much for its height, as for the large circular space described by its shadow upon the ground, so that many of our tents were pitched under the shade of it’. The tree describes its former master’s rebellious urges to ‘run for shelter / Under the banners of Washington’, and its new distinction as a home for the British. The British retreated to Kemp’s Landing in 1781 after suffering decisive defeats at Kings Mountain and Cowpens. Cornwallis intended evacuation, but the French naval victory in September deprived them of an escape route and a joint Franco-American army led by Rochambeau and Washington laid siege to the British forces at Yorktown. With no sign of relief and the situation untenable, Cornwallis surrendered in October 1781. Scott returned home unscathed.
For more details on the book, please see my recent e-list, The Romantic Background.