Monday, September 16, 2013

“The Battle of ‘Ida Hill’” by John B. Green (1869)

Written for the Troy DAILY PRESS.


A Parody on the “Execution of Montrose.”


        [Suggested to the author by the circumstance, which are as follows: The boys of “Ida Hill” and of various other parts of the city, were in the habit of meeting in the fields back of the Old Mount Ida Cemetery nearly every afternoon after school and indulging in pitch-battles with slings and stones. The subject for the following lines was the occasion of a party of them being arrested by the police and brought before his Honor Justice Neary.]

Come hither, “Ida Hillers,” and stand beside my knee—

        I hear the Poestenkill roaring down the South Troy lea;

There’s shouting in the burying ground, the boys are rushing past,

        The fences groan beneath their weight, the stones are flying fast;

I hear the slingshot whizzing, and oh! most glorious sight—

        Mount Ida’s rushing onward, like a demon in the fight.

‘T was I that led Mount Ida’s hosts, as everybody knows—

        What time the Albia clans came down, to battle in the snows,

I’ve told you how all South Troy fled upon our opening road,

        And how we thrashed the Up-Town clan, by the College pond’s green shore;

I’ve told you how we swept down hill and tamed old Fifth Street’s pride—

        But never have I told you yet how the “Spirit of Chivalry” died.

Oh, Hiller recollection! A coward sold us in the storm!

        I charge you, Boys, if e’er you meet with a Blue-coat’s hated form—

Be it upon our own sweet Mount, or South Troy’s darksome glen;

        Stand he upon his beat alone, or backed by “C.P.” men—

Face him as you would face the fiend who wrong your bright renown;

        Remember from what clan you sprang, and stone the villain down.

They brought us to the Station House, guarded by war-like men,

        As though they held an army there, and not young boys of ten;

They took us to the Court House, to hear and read our doom,

        And marshalled us all forward in the middle of the room.

There was mud from felons’ feet upon that Court House floor,

        And Justice Neary filled the place where Flagg has sat before.

With savage glee came the “C.P., to lead us off to jail,

        But he dropped us, and looked up with a kind of plaintiff wail

As the Justice said: “Though the crime is grave, I think it much enlarged,

        And considering your youth, you are ‘lectured and discharged.’”

So, with light and happy hearts, we homeward took our way,

        But long rued all valiant “C.P.’s” the trial of that day.

Green, John B. “The Battle of ‘Ida Hill.’” Troy Daily Press. December 17, 1869: 1 col 4.

The "circumstance" of the poem's composition does seem true to life, sadly:

        Captain Quigley, after reading the article in the WHIG on Saturday, in regard to the contests between Ida Hill and South Troy boys in the Mt. Ida Cemetery, took patrolmen Duffy, Brodie, Carrol, Grimes and Sullivan, and with them visited the battle ground. The boys recognized the approach of the policemen and made a hasty retreat, but Officers Sullivan and Duffy succeeded in capturing two of the crowd, named Bruce Steward and Harry Witts, who were brought before Justice Donohue on Saturday afternoon. As they were very young they were sent to jail for only one day.

        Sergeant Burke with a posse of men made a raid near the same place Saturday afternoon and captured John Lyons, Patrick and Michael Fisher, and Philip Prenty, who were bailed to appear this morning.

“Raid on the Cemetery Stone Throwers.” Troy Daily Whig. April 13, 1873: 4 col 1.

        The Utica Herald says the boys who break tomb stones and fences in the Mt. Ida Cemetery, should be given a permanent home there.

“Local Briefs.” Troy Daily Whig. April 15, 1873: 3 col 1.

        Several boys spent an hour or so yesterday afternoon throwing stones at a memorial in the old Mount Ida burying ground. The tombstone, which the boys partially mutilated, contains the following words: “Sacred to the memory of Elias Badeau. Born July 18, 1756. He served his country as a faithful soldier in her struggle for independence, and died August 30, 1830. A faithful soldier of the cross of Christ. Aged 75 years, 1 month and — days.” It is hoped that when the soldiers decorate graves on Memorial day they will not overlook the last resting place of the Revolutionary soldier.

“City Notes.” Troy Daily Times. May 12, 1896: 3 col 1.

        Summer weather is again calling the boys of the neighborhood out into the fields for baseball and a good time, and again come reports of boys damaging property in their rush for freedom. In former years complaint after complaint has been registered relative to the depredations of boys that have despoiled the Old Mount Ida Cemetery, situated next to Prospect Park at the foot of Walnut Street. The boys have again started their destruction. An old cemetery seems to be a romantic spot for the playing of pirate chief and highwayman, and despite the warnings given in the past the boys are lured to the spot to play. The few remaining markers and grave stones make admirable targets for stone throwing or forts for “rallying.” The cemetery is the oldest in Troy. The city authorities will be asked to place a park policeman where he can protect the cemetery from further damage. At the City Hall this afternoon it was stated that action in the matter had already been taken. The park lines are to be extended to include the old burying ground, and just as soon as the full force of workmen is placed at work, the cleanup and restoring of the cemetery will be commenced. It was said that further damage would be prevented.

"Old Cemetery and Its Cleanup." Troy Times. April 26, 1913: 2 col 3.

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