Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Battle of New Orleans

"Well, in eighteen and fourteen 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 near the town of New Orleans"

This battle, that we learned to sing about in grade school or at camp, was fought on January 8, 1815 at what is now the Chalmette Battlefield just outside New Orleans. In fact, you can see the city, just up the Mississippi, from here:

I'm sure it looked quite different in 1815, but that is how far away the city is from the battlefield, which is directly behind me.  The city of New Orleans was the target of the British at this battle that would take place at the end of the War of 1812.  They only had to get past Jackson's ragtag army -- some soldiers, some creoles, some Indians -- and the prize would be theirs.  They had 7000 soldiers.  The Americans had 2000.  What could go wrong?

The battle took place on this field. The Mississippi runs behind the plantation house, and the ditch in the foreground is an old mill trace that the Americans dug deeper, and then used the dirt to create a berm for protection.

You can see part of that berm after the sidewalk ends in the second photo.

The British came, row after row, across this field towards the Americans waiting behind the berm.  The British did not have enough ammunition, and mistakes caused their supply lines to fail.  The Americans kept shooting.  And row after row fell.

"We fired our guns and the British kept a'comin.
But there wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to runnin'
down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico."

When it was over, 2000 British were dead, injured, or prisoners of war.  The Americans suffered 20 casualties.

And now, back to the present -- when we got to the Visitors' Center, John asked the young ranger behind the desk if they had any brambles here.  He got a blank look. "What about briars?"  A confused head shake.   "Do you know the song, 'The Battle of New Orleans?'"  Nope.  We sang a bit of it.  Nothing.

Don't they teach anything important to kids today?

"Well, they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn't go.
They ran so fast the hounds couldn't catch 'em
down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico."

And you're welcome for the earworm! Here's a link to Johnny Horton singing it if you need some help with that earworm.


Judy Luke Rinehimer said...

Loved your adding the song lyrics.

Ken Heritier said...

I remember hearing the song on the radio, often enough to learn the first verse but never heard it in school. In my grossly over-educated state, I managed to never learn anything about that war except that the Brits burned the White House and then this battle. It was mentioned in the forward of a book I just started re: the Napoleonic wars. The author suggested that that the Brits might have put up a better fight in 1812 and the French might have been more help if they all weren't so exhausted from dealing with the French Ross Perrot.

MrsDoc said...

I remember Johnny Horton's song from the 1960's when I was a kid. So my husband and I introduced it to our kids in about 1998 and it has been quite familiar in our family ever since! Love it! (Along with many of the "fun" songs of the forties such as Managua, Nicaragua and I Never See Maggie Alone...) So I could definitely relate to your post. Seriously, you write so very well that your posts are a refreshing find, no matter what the topic. Thank you very much!