American Ballads and Folk Songs: page - 0640

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American Ballads and Folk Songs
I can't take up my musket And fight 'em now no mo', But I ain't a-goin' to love 'em, Now that is sartin sho'j And I don't want no pardon For what I was and amj And I won't be reconstructed, And I don't care a damn.
"It is more than a century since Benny Havens first sold cakes and ale to the cadets at West Point, and over half a century since he went to his last sleep in the Highland Union Cemetery on the banks of the Hudson j but his spirit lives on in that matchless song which originated one winter evening around the convivial bowl in his tavern by the river. Generations of cadets sang it at Benny's and carried it with them from the Everglades to the Yellowstone j and today it has become an enduring and inseparable part of those old traditions which unite the corps of the present with the long gray line of the past.
"For some years prior to 1832, Benny Havens, who had served as first lieutenant of the Highland Falls company in the War of 1812, occupied a one-story cottage a short distance west of the old cadet hospital. It was here that Edgar Allan Poe, who often re­marked that Benny was the 'sole congenial soul in the entire God­forsaken place,' became devoted to him. At first Benny sold only ale, cider, and buckwheat cakes, but subsequently he dispensed a more potent beverage. As a result, in 1832, he was expelled from the military reservation.
"Shortly after his expulsion, Benny Havens opened a tavern on the river's edge below the cliffs of Highland Falls, about a mile and a half from cadet barracks. To this tavern, after taps and against regula-
*From the West Point Scrap Book, 1871 (New York: D. Van Nostrand) through Major Isaac Spalding-, Office Chief of Staff, Washington, D. C

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III