BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANS
“The Battle of New Orleans” is the name of a song written by Jimmie Driftwood. The
song details the 1815 Battle of New Orleans from the perspective of an American fighting
alongside Andrew Jackson against British forces, but the tone is lighthearted. It has been
recorded by many artists, but the one most often associated with this song is Johnny
Horton. The melody has its roots in a well-known American fiddle tune The 8th of
January, which was the date of the Battle of New Orleans. Jimmie Driftwood, a school
principal in Arkansas with a passion for history, set a historical account of the battle to
this music in an attempt to get students interested in learning history. It worked, and
Driftwood became well known in the region for his historical songs. He was “discovered”
in the late 1950s by Don Warden, and eventually signed to a recording contract by RCA,
for whom he recorded 12 songs in 1958, including “The Battle of New Orleans”.
In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip.
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.
We fired our guns and the British kept a’comin.
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to runnin’ on
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.
We looked down the river and we see’d the British come.
And there must have been a hundred of’em beatin’ on the drum.
They stepped so high and they made the bugles ring.
We stood by our cotton bales and didn’t say a thing.
Old Hickory said we could take ’em by surprise
If we didn’t fire our muskets ’til we looked ’em in the eye
We held our fire ’til we see’d their faces well.
Then we opened up with squirrel guns and really gave ’em … well
Yeah, they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go.
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.**
We fired our cannon ’til the barrel melted down.