American Countryside: Hit Song Tells the Tale of Little-Known Battle

October 3, 2016 10:39 AM

It was December of 1814 and the British were closing in on the city of New Orleans, forcing a battle with the young United States.  The southern city was a mix of nationalities and loyalties…a melting pot that might support either nation.  That was the challenge facing a now famous general when he arrived to defend the local citizens.

Jackson assembled a truly multicultural force.  Free men of color, made up a third of the city’s population and were a vital part of his group, along with those of a variety of other backgrounds.

As 1814 turned to 1815, the British assembled south of city, preparing for attack.  But If not for a teacher named Jimmy Driftwood, the average American would perhaps know little about the battle that took place here.  In 1936 Driftwood wrote a song about the event to help his students learn more about it.  Johnny Horton later recorded it into a hit.

Andrew Jackson knew the British were on their way north from the Gulf of Mexico.  He picked his spot to make a stand at Chalmette Plantation just outside the city.

Although the Americans were outnumbered two to one, Jackson’s met stood their ground.  The battle lasted but two hours and the young nation won the last major battle of the war of 1812.  Jimmy Horton’s song hit number 1 in 1959.  The details of the battle, put to music, are still catchy lyrics today.

While it’s not the birthplace of the nation it may just be another beginning in the nation’s history.

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