"The Battle of New Orleans"
Single by Johnny Horton
B-side"All for the Love of a Girl"
ReleasedApril 6, 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"

"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 1950s/early 1960s in an era mostly dominated by rock and roll music.

Horton's version began with the quoting of the first 12 notes of the song "Dixie," by Daniel Emmett. It ends with the sound of an officer leading a count off in marching, as the song fades out.

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[2] and the number-one country music song to appear on the chart.[3]

Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.[4]

In 1959 at the 2nd Annual Grammy Awards, Johnny Horton won the Grammy for Best Country & Western Performance for his recording of "The Battle Of New Orleans".[5]. In 2002, the 1959 recording of the song by Horton on Columbia Records was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[6]


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.[7] 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."[8]

Chart performance

Other versions

Covers and remakes

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 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


  1. ^ a b Breihan, Tom (February 5, 2018). "The Number Ones: Johnny Horton's "The Battle Of New Orleans"". Stereogum. Retrieved June 5, 2023. ...but the biggest single of 1959...had nothing to do with rock 'n' roll. Instead, it was a novelty march...
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Billboard. Archived from the original on 2008-09-13. Retrieved 2009-07-08.((cite magazine)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Billboard. Archived from the original on 2008-10-08. Retrieved 2008-10-04.((cite magazine)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ Western Writers of America (2010). "The Top 100 Western Songs". American Cowboy. Archived from the original on 19 October 2010.
  5. ^ https://www.grammy.com/artists/johnny-horton/13170
  6. ^ https://www.grammy.com/awards/hall-of-fame-award#b
  7. ^ Collins, Ace. Songs Sung Red, White, and Blue: The Stories Behind America's Best-Loved Patriotic Songs, p. 62-64.
  8. ^ Collins, Ace. Songs Sung Red, White, and Blue: The Stories Behind America's Best-Loved Patriotic Songs, p. 66-67.
  9. ^ "CHUM Hit Parade - June 1, 1959".
  10. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944-2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 162.
  11. ^ "Johnny Horton Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 31 August 2022.
  12. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, July 25, 1959
  13. ^ Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 26, 1959
  14. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  15. ^ "Hot 100 turns 60". Billboard. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  16. ^ "Concert Vault - Live Concert Recordings Streamed Online". Concerts.wolfgangsvault.com. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  17. ^ Video on YouTube
  18. ^ "CHUM Hit Parade - July 27, 1959".
  19. ^ "Clayton, Stew - My Canadian Home". Mocm.ca. Retrieved 2016-08-29.

Further reading