The 8th of January

On December 23, 1814, American forces began a week-long defense of the city of New Orleans from British attackers. Neither force knew that a treaty ending the war was signed on December 24th, so the battle continued. U.S. forces under Major General Andrew Jackson were finally victorious on January 8, 1815. Frontier Americans commemorated the feat with a fiddle tune, “The 8th of January,” which entered tradition. In 1936, Arkansas schoolteacher and folksong buff James Morris (later Jimmy Driftwood) wrote a song about the battle to go with that fiddle tune, and Country-Western star Johnny Horton recorded it in 1959. If Americans know anything about the battle, it’s probably that song.


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