According to Hugill, the version we sing is from the Guinea Slavers. The “shone like silver” reference is said by some to relate to the custom of painting the lower masts white on yankee clippers, but Hugill asserts that it refers to the immaculate condition of those ships, which resulted from “a terrible discipline, in which the belaying pin was a gruesome factor”.
Congo River (also known as Blow, Boys, Blow)
Oh was you ever on the Congo River?
Blows boys blow
Black Fever makes the white man shiver
Blows me bully boys blow
A Yankee ship came down the river
Her masts and yards they shone like silver
What do think she had for cargo?
Why black sheep that had run the embargo
And what do you think they had for dinner?
Why a monkeys heart and a donkeys liver
Yonder comes the Arrow packet
She fires her guns can’t you hear the racket
Who do you think was the skipper of her?
Why Bully Hayes the sailor of her
Who do think was the first mate of her?
Why Shanghai Brown from Hells half-acre
So blow me boys and blow forever
Why blow me down the Congo River