The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)
Information: A dance.
From: An Elegant Collection of Contras and Squares, by Ralph Page (Lloyd Shaw Foundation).
The dance commemorates the battle between the USS Constitution and the English ship Guerriere commanded by Capt. Isaac Hull and Capt. D'Acres, respectively. The two were acquaintances and met frequently before the War of 1812 in ports of the Barbados and Bahamas. The rival captains wagered a brand new beaver hat to go to the winner in case they ever met in battle. A new beaver hat in those days was a badge of distinction and a much treasured item of a gentleman's wardrobe. After the death of Captain D'Acres, his estate contained a paper stating that he had paid to "Capt. Isaac Hull, US Navy, one new beaver hat."
The August 19, 1812 battle earned the Constitution the name "Old Ironsides." The American public needed cheering as the British recently had won battles near Detroit.
Details about that battle and Sackett's Harbor occur in naval histories such as that by Willis J. Abbot, The Naval History of the United States, 1886.
Two other sources, more modern and specifically on the battle:
Yankee magazine, August, 1983.
American Heritage, December, 1964.
The balance forward and back represents the firing and the recoil of the cannons.
A broadside on the engagement to the tune "Lass of Fyvie" relates the American victory. When Shannon defeated Chesapeake, British balladeers retaliated with an account of THEIR triumph to the same tune.
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