Battle of New Orleans
Western Music
The Lone Writer  

Western Song: Battle of New Orleans

Jimmy Driftwood wrote the song The Battle of New Orleans. Many artists recorded it, but Johnny Horton is the singer who is most associated with this song. In fact, on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959, his version reached number 1 and became the No. 1 song for 1959. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the period mainly influenced by rock and roll music, The Battle of New Orleans became very popular with teens. Members of the Western Writers of America added it to their list of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

About the Song

The song depicts the Battle of New Orleans from the viewpoint of an American soldier; the song tells the story of the battle with a light tone and provides a humorous version of what happened there. A famous American fiddle tune called The 8th of January⁠ — the Battle of New Orleans’ date is where the melody is based. In an attempt to get the students’ interest in learning history, an Arkansas school principal with a passion for history, Jimmy Driftwood, set an account of the battle with this music. His attempt did not go to waste as he became well-known in the region for his historical songs.

Popular Recordings

Aside from Johnny Horton, several other artists have recorded this song. Famous versions include the following:

  • Vaughn Monroe
  • Lonnie Donegan and his Skiffle Group
  • Pete Seeger and Frank Hamilton
  • The Royal Guardsmen
  • American Sunshine Pop Band Harpers Bizarre
  • Doug Kershaw
  • Sunny Ryder
  • Johnny Cash
  • Les Humphries Singers
  • Leon Russell
  • Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen
  • Dolly Parton
  • Bill Haley
  • American Rock Group Sha Na Na
  • British Indie Rock Band Cornershop
  • Kingfish
  • Les Claypool

In Albums

The song has also been released in the tracklist of the following albums:

  • Nonesuch and Other Folk Tunes
  • Snoopy vs. the Red Baron
  • The Secret Life of Harpers Bizarre
  • America: A 200-Year Salute in Story and Song
  • Hank Wilson
  • Everyone Can Rock and Roll
  • Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast
  • Four Foot Shack

Listen to The Battle of New Orleans (Johnny Horton Version)

The Battle of New Orleans Lyrics

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 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 a 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 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 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 'til we looked 'em in the eye"
We held our fire 'til we see'd 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 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 'til 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 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, two, three, four
Sound off, three, four
Hut, two, three, four
Sound off, three, four
Hut, two, three, four
Hut, two, three, four

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