Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
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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,        5
Renegade and negro varlet,
    Rolling on;
There are regiments half savage
That had aided Ross to ravage
    Washington.        10
 
Broad their banners forth are streaming
  In the January sun,
Bright their bayonets are gleaming
  Over every deadly gun;
Bold marine and bolder seaman        15
Who had fought like any demon
    On the main;
Thousands more black with the pillage
Gleaned in many a hopeless village
    Back in Spain.        20
 
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,        25
Rape, and rapine as the devil
    And his dam;
At their head that hero-Briton
On whose brow success was written,
    Pakenham.        30
 
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—        35
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.        40
 
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        45
And the Creeks of Tallapoosa
    Know their glance,
Know the coonskin cap and rifle
And the bullet clouds that stifle
    All advance.        50
 
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;        55
On the night our army charges
    Into flame;
When their cannon are dismounted—
Thrice they’ve learned we can be counted
    On for aim.        60
 
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        65
With their muskets on their shoulders
    Hold their path;
’Gainst our right he leads his raiders—
Welcome now the bold invaders
    With our wrath!        70
 
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        75
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.        80
 
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,        85
All our batteries are flaming,
    For their fall;
But our hail of grape despising,
On they come, their broad front rising
    At the call.        90
 
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,        95
Sounds the signal for each hearer,
    “Tennessee!”
Hurled to hell in quick disorder,
Britons leave a crimson border
    As they flee.        100
 
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—        105
Hear our rifles, ceaseless humming!—
    Keane is slain;
Spreads the panic’s fitful pallor—
Pakenham in all his valor
    Low is lain.        110
 
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        115
We have won the odds tremendous,
    One to three.
Woe to him who dares to trifle
With the ’coonskin cap and rifle,
    Tennessee!        120
 
Talluschatches, Talladega,
  These our General’s victories,
Bowyer’s Fort, and Tohopeka—
  Now New Orleans is his.
Silence! then a noise of cheering—        125
Louder—louder—he is nearing—
    Jackson comes!
Hear the song of triumph growing,
Hear the blare of bugles blowing,
    Hear the drums!        130
 
 
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