SLS – “1814 Battle of New Orleans”

This week Jim Adams has prompted us with SONG THAT INCLUDES A NUMBER for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday. I chose “1814 Battle of New Orleans”.

In March, I wrote about another Johnny Horton song, North to Alaska for Song Lyric Sunday which also included the bizarre history of his death if you would like to read it here.

Jimmy Driftwood Photo credit: Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24761685

“1814 Battle of New Orleans” was written by Jimmy Driftwood who was a high school principal in Arkansas and had a passion for history. The melody is based on a well-know American fiddle song “The 8th of January” which is the date of the Battle of New Orleans. Driftwood wanted to interest the students in history and this was his attempt of doing so by putting the account of the battle into music form.

Great Britain had defeated Napoleon in Europe earlier in 1814 and had redoubled its efforts against its former colonies to launch a three-pronged invasion on the United States. The Battle of Baltimore which was the inspiration of the Francis Scott Key’s “Star-Spangled Banner”, now (The National Anthem of the United States) and The Battle of Plattsburgh were instrumental in ending the invasions and began the peace negotiations with the war ending in a stalemate. Congress ratified the Treaty of Ghent on February 16, 1815 and the War of 1812 came to an official end.

History of the Battle of New Orleans.

The major assault for the Battle of New Orleans was fought on January 8, 1815 which was the result of a month long series of skirmishes between the United States and British forces. It is a battle that should have never taken place because the Treaty of Ghent was signed on December 24, 1814 in Ghent, Belgium between the British and American officials, a major step to end the war. Because of the amount of time for news to travel across the globe, the news did not reach New Orleans until March, 1815. Technically, both countries were still in a state of war.

Battle of New Orleans – Illustration by Frederick Coffay Yohn, c 1922 – Library of Congress

The Battle of New Orleans began with a full on assault on US troops commanded by Major General Edward Pakenham. Major General Andrew Jackson (nicknamed as Old Hickory) declared martial law in New Orleans once British forces were sighted near Lake Borgne, ordering every available weapon and able-bodied man to defend the city. His forces soon grew to 4,500 – army regulars, frontier militiamen, free blacks, New Orleans aristocrats and Choctaw tribesmen. After some time, Jackson accepted help from the pirate smuggler Jean Lafitte after agreeing to pardon some of his men that had been arrested in the United States.

The fighting actually began on December 23, 1814, just one day before the peace treaty had been signed. Jackson’s pieced together army took on 8,000 British soldiers. After many small skirmishes, the major fighting began on January 8, 1815 with the British losing 2,000 men which included three generals and seven colonels in the span of 30 minutes. The US casualties were considerably less, fewer than 100 men. The Battle of New Orleans wasn’t the final time the British and American forces would exchange fire. Once the British were driven out of New Orleans, the fleet sailed east along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and launched an amphibious attack on Fort Bowyer on February 8, 1815. The fort guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay in Alabama. The fort’s commander surrendered to the British three days after the attack. British plans to seize the port city of Mobile were abandoned when the news of the peace treaty finally arrived.

SONG FACTS

  • It is often played at sporting events in North America.
  • Commonly heard at the home games of the National Hockey League’s Calgary Flames.
  • Reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and stayed there for 6 weeks.
  • Reached # 1 on the Australian Singles Chart, Canadian RPM Top Singles, U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles and the U.S. Cash Box Top 100.
  • Reached #16 on the U.K. Singles Chart.
  • It was # 1 on the 1959 Year-end chart on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
  • It is #37 on the All-time U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts from 1958-2018

“1814 Battle of New Orleans”

In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississippi
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 seed the British come
And there must have been a hundred of 'em beatin' on the drum
They stepped so high and they made their bugles ring
We stood behind our cotton bales and didn't say a thing
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
Old Hickory said we could take 'em by surprise
If we didn't fire our muskets till we looked 'em in the eyes
We held our fire till we seed their faces well
Then we opened up our squirrel guns and gave 'em
Well, 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
Yeah they ran through the briers 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
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico
We fired our cannon till the barrel melted down
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round
We filled his head with cannonballs 'n' powdered his behind
And when we touched the powder off, the gator lost his mind
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
Yeah they ran through the briers 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
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico
Hut, hut, three, four
Sound off, three, four
Hut, hut, three, four
Sound off, three, four
Hut, hut, three, four
Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Jimmy Driftwood / James Corbitt Morris

18 Comments on “SLS – “1814 Battle of New Orleans”

  1. A two-fer today. You and Padre. I was so excited to hear this today that I shared it to FB for my siblings to see. We sang along to this song, the lot of us. Good memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very educational, Lisa. Ah the good old days, before news was instantaneously broadcast across the globe. I remember this song from when I was a little kid.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I always liked this song, and fun to sing along to. The thing is, I never really knew what it was about except a long ago battle. Thanks for the information about it. Very good that the history was set to music, and it is easier to learn about things this way. 🙂

    Like

    • I would sing this while exploring at my grandparents house when I was a kid (tomboy). I never knew that I would actually join the military one day. Luckily for me, I was in mostly during peacetime. I love history and the novel I’m writing is set in American Civil War time. My published books show the history of Clearwater and Tampa over the years of change. I dabble! 🙂 Glad you liked it!

      Like

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