Our campus has updated its Gator mascot to look more aggressive, and this old song came to mind… Samuel Woodworth (1784-1842) wrote the popular broadside ballad, “The Hunters of Kentucky,” originally known as “New Orleans,” as a tribute to Andrew Jackson’s decisive victory during the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

YE gentlemen and ladies fair;

   Who grace this famous city,

Just listen if you’ve time to spare,

   While I rehearse a ditty;

And for the opportunity

   Conceive yourselves quite lucky,

For ‘tis not often that you see

   A hunter from Kentucky.

Oh Kentucky, the hunters of Kentucky!

   Oh Kentucky, the hunters of Kentucky!


We are a hardy, free-born race,

   Each man to fear a stranger;

Whate’er the game we join in chase

   Despoiling time and danger

And if a daring foe annoys,

   Whate’er his strength and forces,

We’ll show him that Kentucky boys

   Are Alligator horses.

Oh Kentucky, &c.


I s’pose you’ve read it in the prints,

   How Packenham attempted

To make old History Jackson wince,

   But soon his scheme repented,

For se, with rifles ready cock’d,

   Thought such occasion lucky,

And soon around the gen’ral flock’d

   The hunters of Kentucky.

Oh Kentucky, &c.


You’ve hear, I s’pose how New Orleans

   Is fam’d for wealth and beauty,

There’s girls ev’ry hue it seems,

   From snowy white to sooty,

So Packenham he made his brags

   If he in fight was luckey

He’d have their girls and cotton bags,

   In spite of old Kentucky.

Oh Kentucky, &c.


But Jackson he was wide awake,

   And was not scar’d at trifles,

For well he knew what aim we take

   With our Kentucky rifles.

So he led us down to Cypress swamp.

   The ground was low and mucky,

There stood John Bull in martial pomp

   And here was old Kentucky.

Oh Kentucky, &c.


A bank was rais’d to hide our breasts,

   Not that we thought of dying,

But that we always like to rest,

   Unless the game is flying.

Behind it stood our little force.

   None wished it to be greater,

For ev’ry man was half a horse,

   And half an alligator.

Oh Kentucky, &c.


They did not let our patience tire,

   Before they show’d their faces;

We did not choose to waste our fire,

   So snugly kept our places.

But when so near we saw them wink,

   We thought it time to stop ‘em,

And ‘twould have done you good I think,

   To see Kentuckians drop ‘em.

Oh Kentucky, &c.


They found, at last, ‘twas vain to fight,

   Where head was all the booty,

And so they wisely took flight,

   And left us all our beauty.

And now, if danger e’er annoys,

   Remember what our trade is,

Just send for us Kentucky boys,

   And we’ll protect ye, ladies.

Oh Kentucky, &c.

The song became Jackson’s presidential campaign song in 1828, and the song found its way into popular culture when author James Fennimore Cooper mentioned it in his 1827 novel called The Prairie. He went on to write the classic broadside ballad called, “The Old Oaken Bucket” that was published in the New York Republican Chronicle on June 3, 1818 and was later set to music by George F. Kiallmark in 1826. Ol’ Samuel’s dream of crossing the country would eventually come to pass; he would find his way to San Francisco on the Pacific Coast posthumously.


From the ballad by Woodward called Hunters of Kentucky.

From the ballad by Woodward called Hunters of Kentucky.