Battles involving England - War of 1812

Songs connected with the War of 1812

Britain was already at war with France, the Napoleonic wars. Britain tried to stop America trading with France. British ships stopped American ships to search for deserters. Finally, Britain was supporting American Indians who were offering armed resistance to the expansion of the American frontier to the Northwest. During the course of the war, both the Americans and British launched invasions of each other's territory, all of which were unsuccessful or gained only temporary success.

In 1814, a series of British raids on the shores of Chesapeake Bay included an attack on Washington, D.C., which resulted in the British burning of the White House, the Capitol, the Navy Yard, and other public buildings. The British also attempted to attack Baltimore by sea on September 13 but were unable to reduce Fort McHenry, at the entrance to Baltimore Harbor. The fort was bombarded for 25 hours.The defence of the fort inspired the American lawyer Francis Scott Key to write a poem that would eventually supply the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner", the national anthem of the United States of America.

Battle of New Orleans 1815 (location)

Once Britain defeated France in 1814, it ended the trade restrictions and impressment of American sailors. Both Great Britain and the United States agreed to a peace that left the prewar boundaries intact. News of the peace treaty took two months to reach the U.S., during which fighting continued. In this interim, the Americans defeated a British invasion army in the Battle of New Orleans.

Ruins of the U.S. Capitol following British attempts to burn the building by George Munger, 1814
"Ruins of the U.S. Capitol following British attempts to burn the building" by George Munger, 1814

The Star Spangled Banner

Lyrics by Francis Scott Key, 1814

Oh, say! can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming;
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:
Oh, say! does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In fully glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution!
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust":
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Battle of New Orleans

Lyrics by Jimmie Driftwood in 1959

In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Col. Jackson down the mighty Mississip'
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in a town in New Orleans.

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

We looked down the river and we see'd the British come
And there musta been a hund'erd of 'em beatin' on the drum
They stepped so high and they made their bugles ring
We stood beside our cotton bales and didn't say a thing.

Old Hick'ry said we could take 'em by su'prise
If we didn't fire our musket till we looked 'em in the eyes
We held our fire till we see'd their faces well
Then we opened up with squirrel guns and really gave 'em ... Well -

Yeah! 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 that the hounds couldn't catch 'em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

We fired our cannon till the barrel melted down
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round
We filled his head with cannonballs and powdered his behind
And when we touched the powder off, the 'gator lost his mind.

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