The Ride of Jack Jouett

By Cary F. Jacob
In imitation of broadsides in circulation about 1800

There was a man of Charlottesville
(Jack Jouett was his name)
Who made a ride so perilous
It won for him great fame.

When Jefferson was Governor
With all his legislature
From Richmond they were forced to flee,
Though much agin their nature.

Cornwallis compassed them by night
And harried them by day;
For Washington’s Colonial Lads
Were many miles away.

In Charlottesville they made a stand,
These legislators forty.
Including Henry, Nelson, Lee,
And Harrison the Haughty.

About this time Jack Jouett said:
“To Cuckoo I’ve a mind
To travel on my huntin’ mare.
She’s sturdy, swift, and kind.”

“These forty miles won’t be too much
My filly for to travel,
The County Road has just been worked
And topped with sand and gravel.”

At Cuckoo Inn Jack did dismount
And led his mare to stable.
He’s ordered her a clean straw bed
And sat him down to table.

Nigh on to midnight there did come
A thunderin’ commotion
Immediately did Jack opine
Some mischief in promotion.

When he got up and cast about,
By George! What did he see?
Two hundred horse go sweepin’ past!
‘Twas Tarleton’s cavalry.

“They’re out to capture Jefferson
And his brave legislators!
They’ll hunt all down with sword and pike,
And hang the lot for traitors!”

Jack’s saddled up his huntin’ mare.
He’s led her from the stable.
“To Monticello we mus’ win
This night gin we be able.“

Them British took the Country Road
Jack knew a shorter way.
Though Injun trail and bridle path
Beset him with delay.

And once Jack heard a panter scream,
And once his filly neighed.
So nigh the County Road they were,
She almost him betrayed.

Through tangled vine and underbrush
That huntin’ mare has busted.
She’s jumped the gullies and the cricks,
But nowhar was she wusted.

The moon was up and at the full,
Or he never could have made it;
For when he reached Rivanna Ford,
He seen his mare was jaded.

Jack’s halted on the southern bank
Until his mare has rested.
Then up the bluff to Miltontown
Whar folks throught that he jested.

He’s galloped, shoutin’ as he sped:
“The British air acomin’!”
To Monticello he has spurred
And set all hands ahummin’.

Jack’s roused Tom Jefferson from bed,
(Daylight was hardly breakin’!)
And sent him, (family, coach, and all),
Escape to Blenheim makin’.

Jack’s drank a glass of good, strong wine,
(The best he’d ever tasted.)
Then down the hill to Charlottesville,
No further time he wasted.

He’s rid up to his father’s inn,
Whar the alarm he’s sounded.
The Assembly has toward Staunton fled
With nary a member wounded.

This ride occurred on June the third
And on the day that followed.
The year was seventeen–eighty-one,
Forever be it hallowed!

The Assembly voted Jack a sword
And pistols, a fair brace,
For savin’ them and Jefferson
From capture and disgrace.

God grant us peace! All war must cease,
Or we shall surely rue it,
Unless to us Thou send’st, dear Christ,
Ten thousand like Jack Jouett!

Cuckoo is a small unincorporated community in Louisa County, Virginia. It is located about eight miles southeast of Louisa, between Charlottesville and Richmond. The Cuckoo Tavern stood nearby. The tavern was named for the cuckoo clock on the wall – supposedly the first one in Virginia.

Copyright November 20, 1961
By Jack Jouett Chapter, NSDAR
Daughters of the American Revolution
Charlottesville, Virginia

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