“The Battle of Boulogne”

Alternate titles: “The Second of August”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1900 (Stokoe/Reay)
Keywords: sea sailor battle death ship
Found in: Britain(England(North))


"On the second of August, eighteen hundred and one, We sailed with Lord Nelson to the port of Boulogne." The forces attack a strongly entrenched position, and suffer heavy casualties. Nelson and crews work for better times for the wounded

Supplemental text

Battle of Boulogne, The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From Stokoe/Reay, Songs and Ballads of Northern England, pp. 178-179.
Note that this version gives the date as August 15, 1801, not
August 2 as in the common version.

On the fifteenth day of August, eighteen hundred and one,
We sailed with Lord Nelson to the port of Boulogne;
To cut out their shipping, which proved in vain,
For, to our misfortune, they were all moored with chain.

Exposed to the fire of the enemy we lay,
Whilst ninety bright pieces of cannon did play;
There many brace seamen did lay in their gore,
And the shot from their batteries so smartly did pour.

(Stanzas 1, 4 of 6)


For a conflict involving Lord Nelson (1758-1805), most histories have little to say about the Battle of Boulogne -- many histories of the Napoleonic Wars don't mention it at all. Nelson, always aggressive, attempted an attack on the French fortifications, and was bloodily repulsed, much as described in the song.

This song is known primarily from broadsides, but Greig at least had a traditional version. - RBW

Historical references


  1. Stokoe/Reay, pp. 178-179, "The Battle of Boulogne" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. ST StoR178 (Partial)
  3. Roud #3175
  4. BI, StoR178