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It is always dangerous to ascribe folk songs to particular events in history but the body of evidence is that it refers to the Opium Wars with China of 1840. Printed versions seem to date from that period and as song it has been collected fairly regularly in England. Mr Hacklett’s tune is striking, and has variants which show the inventive skill of the singer. It has been picked up by others as “The Yankee Man o’ War” or “The Fenian Man o’ War”. Grainger collected a version from Mrs Wixey of Buckland but the recording is too poor to transcribe.