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There are many stories that explain the origin of Yankee Doodle...
The words to the "Yankey Song" were originally written by British Army surgeon Richard Shuckburgh in September 1755 at Fort Crailo New York, set to the "Doodledoo" song from "The Beggar's Opera" by John Gay in 1728. The words were composed as Dr. Shuckburgh cared for the wonded and observed the ragtag Colonial Militia as it returned to Albany after the victory of William Johnson's Army over the French at the Battle of Lake George. The satirical verses were meant to entertain the British officers and his hosts, the Rensselaers, whose daughter Katrina married Captain Philip Schuyler who had fought with Johnson's British regulars and Col. Phineas Lyman's Connecticut militia.
As the British Army picked up this song and drilled to it's music, another verse was added referring to the colonial militia putting feathers in their hats and acting like "Macaronis" that was the word used for foppish dandies in Britain. The word "Yankey" was a derogatory term used by the British to refer to the Scots, and now was applied to the American Colonial Militia. Other verses referred to the earlier "Cape Breton" campaign that captured Louisbourg, and to "Brother Ephraim" that was a reference to Col. Ephraim Williams of western Massachusetts who died a hero in the eyes of the militia at the Battle of Lake George.
The British troops added new verses when they landed in Boston in 1768 under the command of General Thomas Gage:
The British troops sang verses in 1775 on their way to Lexington and Concord about the rebel leaders John Hancock, John Adams and Dr. Joseph Warren:
But when the fighting started and the British troops retreated to Boston April 19, 1775, the American militia began to play the song and would add their own anti-British lyrics during the American Revolution:
Yankee Doodle cam to town, Riding on a pony.
Stuck a feather in his cap, and called it macaroni.
Yankee Doodle, keep it up.
Yankee Doodle dandy.