James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

January 8

The Battle of New Orleans

By Wallace Rice (1859–1939)

THERE’S a blare of bugles blowing

And a hum of rumbling drums;

Red upon the green plain flowing,

See, the British army comes!

There are regiments in scarlet,

Renegade and negro varlet,

Rolling on;

There are regiments half savage

That had aided Ross to ravage


Broad their banners forth are streaming

In the January sun,

Bright their bayonets are gleaming

Over every deadly gun;

Bold marine and bolder seaman

Who had fought like any demon

On the main;

Thousands more black with the pillage

Gleaned in many a hopeless village

Back in Spain.

Here are Wellesley’s trusted henchmen,

Fiendish old Peninsulars,

Stained with blood of slaughtered Frenchmen

Through the long and bitter wars;

Rank and file as ripe with evil,

Rape, and rapine as the devil

And his dam;

At their head that hero-Briton

On whose brow success was written,


There are sixty warships heaving

On the Mississippi sound,

Near ten thousand warriors weaving

Through that tufted, swampy ground,

There are breastworks just before them—

One bold charge and they’ll be o’er them,

High or low;

Then an hour of British shooting

And a week of British looting,

Death, and woe.

But the frontiersmen with Jackson

See there’s powder in the pan,

They have never turned their backs on

Savage beast or savage man;

Craven Spain at Pensacola

And the Creeks of Tallapoosa

Know their glance,

Know the coonskin cap and rifle

And the bullet clouds that stifle

All advance.

For the fourth time now the Briton

Since his coming in the night

Is to see his bravest smitten

By the lightnings of our might:

When our gunboats meet their barges;

On the night our army charges

Into flame;

When their cannon are dismounted—

Thrice they’ve learned we can be counted

On for aim.

Yet they come in long ranks steady

To take up the battle brunt,

With their courage tried and ready,

Gallant officers in front;

Near the river Rennie’s soldiers

With their muskets on their shoulders

Hold their path;

’Gainst our right he leads his raiders—

Welcome now the bold invaders

With our wrath!

On our first redoubt they’re dashing,

Rank on rank they rush a-swarm:

Down their files our cannon crashing

Hurl an extirpating storm;

Thunder-stricken and astounded

They are hurled back crushed and wounded

By our lead,

Patterson in wide swaths mows them,

Humphrey’s grape in huge gusts blows them—

Rennie’s dead.

Steadily, not one a coward,

Gibbs’s men charge with a will;

Steadily our shrapnel’s showered—

They are coming closer still;

There Lafitte’s bold men are aiming,

All our batteries are flaming,

For their fall;

But our hail of grape despising,

On they come, their broad front rising

At the call.

Every rifleman with longing

Gazes on the lines in red

As they come in columns thronging;

But the word has not been said:

At two hundred yards, or nearer,

Sounds the signal for each hearer,


Hurled to hell in quick disorder,

Britons leave a crimson border

As they flee.

Pakenham rides up to rally—

He is wounded in the arm,

Gibbs shall never from that sally

Speed again to war’s alarm,

Quick to aid Keane’s men are coming—

Hear our rifles, ceaseless humming!—

Keane is slain;

Spreads the panic’s fitful pallor—

Pakenham in all his valor

Low is lain.

There ’s no blare of bugles blowing,

Not a hum of rumbling drum.

Bitter is their overthrowing,

Thousands lie forever dumb.

With raw levies to defend us

We have won the odds tremendous,

One to three.

Woe to him who dares to trifle

With the ’coonskin cap and rifle,


Talluschatches, Talladega,

These our General’s victories,

Bowyer’s Fort, and Tohopeka—

Now New Orleans is his.

Silence! then a noise of cheering—

Louder—louder—he is nearing—

Jackson comes!

Hear the song of triumph growing,

Hear the blare of bugles blowing,

Hear the drums!