It’s the 8th of January . . . and this is why it’s important.

Today is January 8, 2024

It’s the 8th of January and not just any ordinary day.

Here’s why:

“The Eighth of January” is a fast-paced fiddle song dating back to the Nineteenth century.

My great-grandmother, Theodosia Iles, was the Beauregard Parish Fair fiddle champion for most of her adult life, and she owned “The 8th of January.”  Years later, one of her younger competitors, Aubrey Cole, told me, “Son, when your grandmother started swaying and doing a little two-step while she played, none of us had a chance.”

You probably don’t think you’ve heard this fiddle song, “The 8th of January.”

But you have.


“The 8th of January” celebrates the American army’s defeat of the British at the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815.  Ironically, the Battle of New Orleans occurred after the warring parties had signed a peace treaty earlier in December 1814 (thereby ending what we call the “War of 1812”.)

You know the story: Colonel Andrew Jackson and a motley American army routed the British that day.

It’s also the last time shots were fired in anger between us and our English cousins. We’ve been rock-solid allies through thick and thin since.

But I have to admit that the Southerner in me relishes the thought of those red-coated professional soldiers getting their cans kicked by an assortment of volunteers, pirates, and ruffians.

If you’ve ever heard the fast-paced fiddling on the  “Eighth of January,” you can nearly “hear” the rout taking place.

.Here’s the best part of the story:

An Arkansas history teacher, Jimmy Driftwood, composed ballads to help his students learn American History.  He wrote a song about the Battle of New Orleans and put it to the tune of our fiddle song, “The 8th of January.”

The first lines are memorable,

“In 1814, we took a little trip

Along with Colonel Jackson

Down the mighty Missipp.

We took a little bacon, and we took a little beans

And we fought the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.”


Every American knows “The Battle of New Orleans.”  You’ve sung, whistled, and hummed it all of your life. “The Battle of New Orleans” became the biggest country hit of 1959 by Johnny Horton and has had an enduring shelf life.


And it’s set to the tune of the fiddle song, “The Eighth of January.”

I wore out the 45 rpm Johnny Horton version on my parent’s phonograph as a child. I can still hear the drums and soldiers marching in the background.

My favorite part of the fiddle tune is when the “8th of January”  switches keys and goes off on a wild ride.  Jimmy Driftwood chose that section to insert my favorite lines  of the song:

“Wellll, they ran through the briars

And they ran through the brambles

And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go.

Ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ‘em

Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.”


I’m an old man now, but my six-year-old mind still sees those British running for their lives “Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.”

So happy January 8th to you.

It’s not an American holiday, but it could be. Maybe it should be.

And while you’re celebrating, listen to both “The Battle of New Orleans” and the “8th of January” on Spotify, Pandora, or iTunes.

There are literally dozens of renditions of both songs. I heartily recommend the original Jimmy Driftwood “Battle of New Orleans” version. It has about four extra hilarious verses.

But I must warn you: if you listen to the song(s), you’ll hum them for the next 28 days. The young people call it “getting an earworm.”

You have been warned.

So, happy 8th of January to my friends and readers scattered across the world.

From Theodosia Iles’s great-grandson,

Curt Iles


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We’ll leave the screen door unlatched for you.



Tall Pine
I come from the Land of the Pines.


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