The Battle of New Orleans

"The Battle of New Orleans" is a song written by Jimmy Driftwood. The song describes the Battle of New Orleans from the perspective of an American soldier; the song tells the tale of the battle with a light tone and provides a rather comical version of what actually happened at the battle. It has been recorded by many artists, but the singer most often associated with this song is Johnny Horton. His version scored number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959 (see 1959 in music). Billboard ranked it as the No. 1 song for 1959, it was very popular with teenagers in the late 50s/early 60s in an era mostly dominated by rock and roll music.

"The Battle of New Orleans"
Single by Johnny Horton
B-side"All for the Love of a Girl"
ReleasedApril 1959
Songwriter(s)Jimmy Driftwood
Producer(s)Don Law
Johnny Horton singles chronology
"When It's Springtime in Alaska (It's Forty Below)"
"The Battle of New Orleans"
"Johnny Reb"

In Billboard magazine's rankings of the top songs in the first 50 years of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, "The Battle of New Orleans" was ranked as the 28th song overall[1] and the number-one country music song to appear on the chart.[2]

Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.[3]


The melody is based on a well-known American fiddle tune "The 8th of January," which was the date of the Battle of New Orleans. Jimmy Driftwood, a school principal in Arkansas with a passion for history, set an account of the battle to this music in an attempt to get students interested in learning history.[4] It seemed to work, and Driftwood became well known in the region for his historical songs. He was "discovered" in the late 1950s by Don Warden, and eventually was given a recording contract by RCA, for whom he recorded 12 songs in 1958, including "The Battle of New Orleans."[5]

"The Battle of New Orleans" is often played during North American sporting events, and is commonly heard during home games of the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames. Original Horton 45 rpm discs of the song are now worth many times the original cost, partly because the price is inflated.

Chart performance

Chart (1959) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles[6] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 1
Australian Singles Chart 1
U.K. Singles Chart 16

Year-end charts

Chart (1959) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1

All-time charts

Chart (1958–2018) Position
US Billboard Hot 100[7] 37

Other versions

Covers and remakes

As noted, Johnny Horton's 1959 version is the best-known recording of the song, which omits the mild expletives and many of the historical references of the original. Horton also recorded an alternative version for release in British Commonwealth countries, avoiding the unfavorable lyrics concerning the British: the word "British" was replaced with "Rebels," along with a few other differences.

Many other artists have recorded this song. Notable versions include the following:


"The Battle of Kookamonga"

"The Battle of Kookamonga"
Single by Homer and Jethro
from the album Homer and Jethro at the Country Club
GenreCountry, Parody
LabelRCA Victor
Songwriter(s)Jimmy Driftwood, J. J. Reynolds

Country music parodists Homer and Jethro had a hit when they parodied "The Battle of New Orleans" with their song "The Battle of Kookamonga". The single was released in 1959 and featured production work by Chet Atkins. In this version, the scene shifts from a battleground to a campground, with the combat being changed to the Boy Scouts chasing after the Girl Scouts.

Other parodies

See also

  • American fiddle
  • In 1959, the novelty song Crazy Gator was released, performed by rockabilly artist Irvin Russ, written as a sequel from the point of view of the alligator that was used as a cannon.


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-09-13. Retrieved 2009-07-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-08. Retrieved 2008-10-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. Western Writers of America (2010). "The Top 100 Western Songs". American Cowboy. Archived from the original on 10 August 2014.
  4. Collins, Ace. Songs Sung Red, White, and Blue: The Stories Behind America's Best-Loved Patriotic Songs, p. 62-64.
  5. Collins, Ace. Songs Sung Red, White, and Blue: The Stories Behind America's Best-Loved Patriotic Songs, p. 66-67.
  6. Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 162.
  7. "Hot 100 turns 60". Billboard. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  8. "Concert Vault - Live Concert Recordings Streamed Online". Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  9. Video on YouTube
  10. "Clayton, Stew - My Canadian Home". Retrieved 2016-08-29.

Further reading

  • Collins, Ace. Songs Sung, Red, White, and Blue: The Stories Behind America's Best-Loved Patriotic Songs. HarperResource, 2003. ISBN 0060513047
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