Battle of New Orleans

Album: The Spectacular Johnny Horton (1959)
Charted: 16 1


  • The Battle of New Orleans was a real event. Near the end of the War of 1812, British troops attacked the city, but were defeated by American forces. The song was written by Jimmy Driftwood, an Arkansas high school principal and history teacher who loved singing and writing songs. He often wrote songs to help students learn about historical events like this battle.
  • When he performed the song, Driftwood would sometimes include this narrative: "After the Battle of New Orleans, which Andrew Jackson won on January the 8th eighteen and fifteen, the boys played the fiddle again that night, only they changed the name of it from the battle of a place in Ireland to the 'Eighth of January.' Years passed and in about nineteen and forty-five an Arkansas school teacher slowed the tune down and put words to it and that song is The Battle Of New Orleans and I will try to sing it for you." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Patrick - Tallapoosa, GA, for above 2
  • Soon after he was awarded a Gold Record (then given for sales of one million copies of singles) for this, Horton asked the person who gave it to him (RIAA's Bill Gallagher) if he could trade it for four "Golden Guitar" awards, given by the RIAA for a Country single that sold at least 250,000 copies. Horton's wife thought the Gold Record didn't fit the home decor, but the Golden Guitar did.
  • This won the 1959 Grammys for Song of the Year (for composer Jimmy Driftwood) and Best Country and Western Performance for Johnny Horton. A parody version by Homer and Jethro ("Battle of Kookamonga") also won a Grammy for Best Musical Comedy Performance. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Brad Wind - Miami, FL, for above 2
  • British skiffle star Lonnie Donegan had a #2 hit in the UK in 1959 with his live version recorded at Bristol Hippodrome. His version was originally banned by the BBC as it contained the word "Ruddy." Once Donegan substituted the word "Blooming," the BBC started playing it.
  • Horton died on November 5, 1960 in an auto accident after playing at the Skyline Club in Austin, Texas, which is the same place Hank Williams made his final appearance. Horton's widow Billie Jean Jones Eshlimar was once married to Williams. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France

Comments: 47

  • Ralph from Corvallis, OregonI'm pretty sure the song actually says "Mississip" rather than "Mississippi". It has to rhyme with "trip". It's a clue to the audience that what follows is somewhat whimsical.
  • Kenneth R Calfosr from Unin City PaI have always liked this song, one of our Boy Scouts used to sing this around the camp fire back in the 1980s.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1959 {July 24th} Lonnie Donegan's "Battle of New Orleans" peaked at #2 on the United Kingdom's Singles chart, the #1 record that week was "Dream Lover"* by Bobby Darin...
    The two weeks after being at #2 it was at #3, then it moved back up the chart to #2, and #1 record for that week was "Living Doll" by Cliff Richard and the Drifters...
    Between 1955 and 1962 the Glasgow, Scotland native had twenty nine records on the U.K. Singles chart, seventeen made the Top 10 with three reaching #1, "Cumberland Gap" for 5 weeks in 1957, "Gamblin' Man" for 2 weeks in 1957, and "My Old Man's A Dustman" for 4 weeks in 1960...
    Anthony James 'Lonnie' Donegan passed away at the age of 71 on November 3rd, 2002...
    May he R.I.P.
    * And from the 'For What It's Worth' department; "Dream Lover" peaked at #2 {for 1 week} on America's Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, the week it was at #2, the #1 record for that week was "Battle of New Orleans", but not Lonnie's version, it was Johnny Horton's version in the top spot...
  • Tom from PaJackson became a general on 6/8/1814, approximately 6 months before the Battle of New Orleans.
  • Kae from PaJackson did not become a general until about the civil war.
  • Ginny from NmLove, love, love this song - I was 10 yrs old at the time it came out on radio & if you think about it, this song was a great history lesson for all of us. We kids always got a chuckle out of the line, "and really gave 'em , well we, etc..." We weren't allowed to say that "word" but it was fun to sing the song & substitute "well". I could manage all of verse one but had a hard time recalling all of the words to the other verses - once I saw the words, I then thought, oh yea that was it. So sorry to hear of Johnny H's car accident & his premonition of it. MT going on'.
  • Brenda from IowaSo I'm trying to figure out why General Jackson was referred to as "Colonel" Jackson in the song? Anybody?
  • Susan from Atlanta, GeorgiaThis was my very first favorite song outside of the nursery songs set. I was two years old when it came out, and I had an older cousin who lived with us (coincidentally, also named Johnny like Mr. Horton) that had a vast collection of 45s, including this one. He would play this one, and then we'd sing the chorus to each other. Years later, I was at a street festival with a friend who had never heard the song, and when the band started playing it, she was amazed at my being able to hit all the words and notes right. Later, another friend came by and he and I started singing it to her together, to her astonishment. Still one of my all-time sentimental favorites.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 15th 1968, "The Battle of New Orleans" by Harpers Bizarre entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #95; one week later it was still at #95 and that was its last week on the Top 100...
    Between February 1967 and September 1968 the group had five Top 100 records, with "The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feeling' Groovy)" being their biggest hit, it peaked at #13 {for 2 weeks} on March 26th, 1967.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 7th 1959, Johnny Horton performed "The Battle Of New Orleans" on CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    Two months earlier on April 21st it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
    And thirteen days before this appearance on the 'Sullivan' show it peaked at #1 (May 26th) and remained in the top spot for 6 weeks...
    On May 12th it also reached #1 (for 10 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart...
    It was a track from the album, 'The Spectacular Johnny Horton', and one other track from the album, "When It's Springtime In Alaska (It's Forty Below)", also peaked at #1 (for 1 week) on the Country chart...
    R.I.P. Mr. Horton (1925 - 1960) and Mr. Sullivan (1901 - 1974).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 8th, 1815, the Battle of New Orleans began...
    The war had actually ended two weeks earlier, but because there was no 'Facebook' at the time the news of the peace treaty did not reached the British Army in time to prevent their attack on New Orleans...
    *** 'We filled his head with cannonballs and powdered his behind' ***
  • Coy from Palestine, TxHorton played his last show at the Skyline Club in Austin, Texas. This is the same club where Hank Williams played his last show. Horton had married Hank's widow, Billie Jean. Hank died in the backseat of a car on the way from the Skyline club to Canton, Ohio. Horton died when his car was hit by a drunk driver on a bridge in Milano, Texas after leaving the Skyline Club. Horton was very religious and had "spiritual" premonitions of his death. He told Merle Kilgore he would be killed by a drunk and he tried to call Johnny Cash his last night at the Skyline Club. Cash refused the call and regretted it the rest of his life.
  • Laura from El Paso, TxMy favorite line in this song "We looked down the river and we seen the British come, and there must have been a hundred of them beating on the drum" makes it amazing to realize this is exactly the way the British fought. Americans were practically fighting guerrilla warfare in comparison. I love this song. It brings back memories of the music my parents listened to.
  • Penpal from Chambersburg, Pa"Despite Johnny Horton's wild-at-heart looks and voice, he was a man haunted for years by ominous premonitions of his own death. He often promised those close to him he would contact them from beyond the grave...Like the psychic he claimed to be, Horton came eerily close to predicting the manner of his ..He believed he would be killed by a drunk.. He died on November 5, 1960, in an automobile accident at the Little River Bridge on Highway 79 .... James Evan Davis was driven a pick-up truck that smashed head-on into Horton's car.. Horton was alive when ambulances arrived at the scene but died en route to hospital....Davis, the driver of the truck, was charged with intoxication manslaughter ; he was drunk at the time of the accident." -- (from "The Eerie Demise of Johnny Horton" by Clay Coppedge)
  • Penpal from Chambersburg, PaForgot one more song on the album: "Battle Of Bull Run"
  • Penpal from Chambersburg, PaThis song can be found on the album : "Johnny Horton Makes History" (now on CD)..The songs are: 1. Johnny Freedom (Freedomland) * 2. Jim Bridger * 3. Comanche (The Brave Horse) * 4. Snow-Shoe Thompson * 5. O' Leary's Cow * 6. Battle of New Orleans * 7. John Paul Jones * 8. Young Abe Lincoln (Makes A Tall, Tall Man) * 9. Sinking of The Reuben James * 10. Johnny Reb * Sink the Bismarck .
  • Jim from Jennings, OkBillboard Magazine holds "The Battle of New Orleans" as the No. 1 Pop and Country record of 1959. It's the only record to ever hold the top spot in both fields. Also ranks as the No. 1 Country song for the last 50 years.
  • John from St. Paul, KsGreat singer who died way before his time. He had more great songs in his short lifetime than most of the musicians out there. "Battle of New Orleans" is a great song, but "Whispering Pines" is my Favorite.
  • Mel from Fredericton, NbI have a question about Lonnie Donegan version of the Battle. On youtube he switches Jacksons name and replaces it with Pakenham, who was the British Major-General who attacked Jackson (and died) at New Orleans. Now I am guessing a song quipster like Donegan did it purposely, but it would be interesting to find out the real story on this. I thinks the battle still lives on in the song.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyThree covered versions of this song also made Billboard'S Top 100; Vaughn Monroe reached No. 87 in 1959, Harpers Bizarre just barely at No. 95 in 1968, and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band peaked at No. 72 in 1974 {The flip side of Horton's was 'All For The Love Of A Girl', a great ballad!!!
  • Fred from Laurel, Md... That is, except for "but" where it should be "and."
  • Fred from Laurel, MdJay of Brooklyn is exactly right -- the 1st two lines of the chorus go, "We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin'/There wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago."
  • Phil from Edmonton, AbTo Patrick - Neither side won the war, both parties agreed to end hostilities as the reasons for the war were no longer in place in 1814.
  • Cyberpope from Richmond, CanadaThe Edmonton, Alberta, Canada comedy troupe "Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie" used this tune as the basis for their parody "War of 1812"
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyIn 1991 The Mormon Tabernacle Choir covered this song for their ablum 'Songs from America's Heartland'...
  • Mike from Franklin County, PaIn the song , "Colonel Jackson" relates to the future President , Andrew Jackson . .. " Old Hickory " was a nickname they used to called him during his Presidency .
  • Jay from Brooklyn, NyIt has been years since I have heard this song, so I may be remembering incorrectly, but I thought the refrain was "We fired our guns, but the British kept a-comin'/ There wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago."
  • Dave from Williamsburg, VaThis song was and is a "hit" around our house as my mom is English so we play it every now and then to just wind her up. Love all of Johnny Horton's songs ..... good ole fashioned ballads in my book!
  • Kutter from Thomasvile, Hii love jhony hortons songs cause my teacher used them to teach us about the civilwar and war of 1812

  • Kutter from Thomasvile, Hii love all of jhony hortons songs because my teacher taught us about the civil an war of 1812 with his songs jhony reb and battle of new orleans
  • Walter from Antwerp, BelgiumSome sources claim Driftwood (1907-1998) wrote this already back in 1936 !! Anyway, he recorded if first on October 27, 1957 with backing from Chet Atkins on guitar and Bob L. Moore on bass. It was included on his first album 'Newly Discovered Early American Folk Songs' issued in the summer of 1958. Unsurprisingly, it didn't get much airplay with "hell" and "damn" in the lyrics. The 1959 hit version by Horton was more polished and much shorter.
  • Alex from New Orleans, LaParody version by Ray Stevens released early 2006,which was originally done by radio personalities Walton and Johnson.
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrThis is a good song with a history lesson to it. I think I might become a big fan of Jimmy Driftwood seeing as how I love history and music.
  • Steve E. from Des Moines, IaAs a child growing up I can remember having a 45rpm of this record... I stole it from mom and dad's pile!
  • Rodney from Mountain Home, ArJimmy Driftwood, the composer actually wrote this to help teach history to his students at a small rural school in Timbo, AR. I can actually see the top of Driftwood's mountain from my deck about 20 miles away.
  • Howard from St. Louis Park, MnThis was one of Johnny Horton's historical hits along with North to Alaska and Sink the Bismarck. It's a shame he died in a car accident. He would have had many more songs in that genre.
  • Joe from Ne Pa, PaThis song was actually banned in England - Horton recorded an alternative "British Version" with lyrics such as "chase them Yank's back to New Orleans" that eventually was released in the UK.
  • Steve from Austin, TxLeon Russell did a version in the 70's. The entire album was country songs under the name of Hank Wilson, I believe.
  • Joe from Kent, OhThe melody for "Battle of New Orleans" was taken from an old fiddle tune called "The Eighth of January" (which is actually the date when U.S. forces defeated the British at the Battle). The tune was commonly played, and is still played today in traditional fiddling.
  • Easy from Kennesaw, GaFor any UGA football fans, there is also a parody that describes the Bulldogs win over the Fighting Irish in the 1980 Sugar bowl for the National championship.
  • Barry from New York, NcKingfish a band that featured Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead for a few years frequently perfomed this tune live. Bob Weir sang lead. Although it was not on the "Kingfish" LP that was released in 1976, it was included on a double live CD recorded at the Beacon Theatre in NYC on April 3, 1976 (Presented by King Biscuit).
  • Jo from Newcastle, AustraliaD'y think the animal activists would be happy to hear an alligator being used as a cannon?
    V.funny verse that one!!
  • Ake from Ostersund, SwedenBill Haley recorded this in a very good version for his very last album in 1979.
  • Jude from Thomasville, GaLord, what memories this brings back! My mother had an entire album called "Johnny Horton Makes History" that she would play for her high school classes in an effort to drum up interest. I don't know if it worked for the students, but my brothers and I know this song, "Sink the Bismarck", "Comanche The Brave Horse", "Jim Bridger" and "Johnny Freedom" by heart. Dee, I found the album on CD and gave it to my youngest brother a couple of Christmases ago. Good luck!
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InI love this song. It's so much fun to listen to and to sing along to as well. I think more history should be put to song, you'd be amazed how many people can remember names and dates when put to music. It's a great road song as well.
  • John from Sydney, AustraliaHe married Hank Williams Sr.'s first wife and followed Hank to the grave not long after.
  • Patrick from Conyers, GaRelates to a battle that was fought during the War of 1812. This battle, fought after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, helped to confirm America's victory in the war.
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