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 British and American Commanders 

 and other important figures

 

 

 

 

Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane(1758-1832). A veteran of the American Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. He ordered the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland. He was the chief planner in the attempt to capture New Orleans. Cochrane had submitted a plan to the secretary of war stating that a British force could land in Mobile,be joined by Indians and disaffected French and Spaniards and drive the Americans out of Louisiana. Cochrane was unable to procure shallow draft flatboats he wanted to attack New Orleans from Lake Pontchartain, and decided to attack New Orleans from the south

. Cochrane departed with the invasion fleet before Pakenham arrived.

 

Sir Edward Michael " Ned " Pakenham (March 19,1778- Jan 8, 1815) Praised for his performance at Salamanca in 1812 . The battle involved a succession of flanking manoeuvres in oblique order, initiated by the British heavy cavalry brigade and Pakenham's 3rd division . This was one of the greatest British triumphs in the Napoleonic Wars . He also received the Army Gold Cross and clasps for the battles of Martinique, Busaco 1810 , Fuentes de Oñoro 1811, Salamanca, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthez, and Toulouse. He was promoted to the rank of major-general  to replace General Robert Ross ( 1766 - 1814 ) as commander of the British North American army, after Ross was killed by a sniper. At the time, Pakenham had resumed his seat in Parliament, representing Longford Borough, Ireland. The arrival of Sir Edward Pakenham in the English camp on Christmas Day revived the spirit of the troops. He found his army at a vast distance from the ships, cooped up in a narrow space, scarcely a mile in width, with the Mississippi on their left, an impassable marsh on their right, the enemy strongly entrenched in front. Pakenham was angry at the position the army found itself in, and would have liked to have attacked via the Chef Menteur Road. Admiral Cochrane believed that the British Army would destroy a motley American army and allegedly said that " If you wish. I will take the city with my sailors and marines, and the army can bring up the baggage." Pakenham scarcely believed in the possibility of success under the circumstances, but vowed that he would make the effort, let the consequences be what they might. Had the army had been withdrawn, and the enterprise abandoned as impracticable, there would have ensued popular outcry at home. Grapeshot from the hit Pakenham’s knee and killed his horse. As he was helped to his feet, he was shot a second time in the arm. After mounting his aide-de-camp’s horse, additional grapeshot fatally ripped through his spine, and he died as he was carried off the battlefield. His body was returned in a cask of rum and buried in the Pakenham family vault in Killucan in County Westmeath, Ireland.

 

General John Keane(1781-1844)

Born in Belmont, Ireland . Joined the army at age 11. Rose to  commanded a brigade in the Peninsular War for which he was awarded the Army Gold Cross . Keane could have attacked the city by advancing for a few hours up the river road, which was undefended all the way to New Orleans, but he made the fateful decision to encamp at Lacoste's Plantation and wait for the arrival of reinforcements. Commanded  the 95th, the light companies of the 21st, 4th, and 44th, and two black corps in the main battle, attacking the American lines closest to the river. Seeing the  plight of Gibbs's division near the woods, he obliqued across  the interval to their assistance. It was rashly considered but  bravely done in the face of the American fire. He was severely wounded in the battle. Lieutenant-General Keane served as commander-in-chief of the Bombay Presidency in British India from 1833-1839 and commanded the combined British and British Indian army ("The Army of the Indus") during the opening campaign of the First Afghan War and first Anglo Marri war. He commanded the victorious British and Indian army at the Battle of Ghazni on 23 July 1839 .

 

 

Major General Sir John Lambert (1772-1847) took command following the death of General Pakenham. His troops were held in reserve during the main battle and prevented an American counter-attack. Following the battle, the British army withdrew from Louisiana and attacked Mobile, Alabama. In the opening stages of the campaign, 1,000 British soldiers under Lambert won the Second Battle of Fort Bowyer  in Mobile Bay (February 7-12, 1815 ), the last engagement in the War. Lambert returned to Europe in time to command the tenth brigade of British infantry at the Battle of Waterloo.

 

 

 

Major General Samuel Gibbs (1771-1815)

He served at the capture of the Cape of Good Hope in 1795, was taken prisoner at Ostend in 1798, commanded the 11th regiment at the attack of St. Martin's in the expedition against the Danish and Swedish islands, and led a brigade in Travancore and the expedition to Java. He was second in command to Sir Edward Pakenham. Gibbs was in charge of the main British thrust against the American line held by Coffee close to the swamp, on Jan 8,  killed in battle 20 yards from the American lines.

 

 

General Sir Edward Nicolls ( 1779 - 1865 )

Known as "Fighting Nicolls", he had a distinguished military career, being involved in reputedly at least 107 actions across the world during his 40 years of service . During the War of 1812, Nicolls was posted to Spanish Florida as part of the British attempt to recruit local allies in the fight against the United States.  He took part in the action on the west bank of the Mississippi . He issued proclamation to the people of Louisiana, urging them to join forces with the British and Indian allies against the American government. As the war ended and after he returned to England in 1815, he attracted controversy by advocating for the Creeks and other locals who allied themselves with the British.

 

Colonel Robert Rennie (?-1815)

Led the advance guard column of about 2,000 light troops to attack the American right and redoubt in front on Jan 8. Killed taking the redoubt. One of Pakenham's most able officers .

 

 

Colonel William Thornton (1779 - 1840) Led the landing party at Bayou Bienvenu and urged an immediate attack upon the city, which Keane declined to do. Fought bravely in the Battle of the Dark Dec 23, 1814 . Led the attack with 1,400 men on the west bank on the Mississippi and seized the American batteries there, but too late to support the main attack on the east bank. Severely wounded in the battle.

 

 

Lt. George Robert Gleig (1796-1888) 19 years old at the time of the battle, where he served in the 85th Regiment. Had participated in the siege of Bayonne, France and the burning of Washington. Participated in the Night Attack of the 23rd, the east bank on Jan 8th and most other battles. Wrote an account of the Battle in The Campaigns of the British Army at Washington and New Orleans in 1827 and became a prolific writer. Earned his B.A. and became was appointed Chaplain-General of the Forces in 1844

 

 

Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Mullens. (d. 1823 ) Failed  to provide ladders and fascines which would enable the British troops to cross the ditch and scale the American ramparts. Court-martialed afterwards in Dublin . It was reported that General Gibbs  was overheard to say, " If I live till to-morrow, I 'll hang that cowardly rascal, Mullens , on the highest tree in the country."

 

Americans

 

 

 

Andrew Jackson in 1815, age 48. Painting taken from a miniature in ivory by Jean Francious Vallee just after the battle.

 

Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) was the American commander at the Battle of New Orleans. At 6 foot 1inches, yet only 130 to 140 pounds, he was an impressive figure. Jackson had a deep and abiding hatred for the British after his treatment as a POW in the Revolutionary War. The young Jackson and his brother,who was also captured,were nearly starved to death in captivity and Andrew's head and hands were slashed by a British officer's sword after refusing to clean the officer's boots. His brother died a few days after their release.

 

His mother died from cholera after nursing wounded soldiers. Andrew, whose father died before he was born,was an orphan at 14. Jackson's entire immediate family had died from hardships during the war for which Jackson blamed the British.

 

In 1787, he was admitted to the bar, and moved to Jonesborough, in what was then the Western District of North Carolina and later became Tennessee. He also served in the militia,fighting Indians. In 1796, he was elected to Congress from the newly formed state of Tennessee. In 1802, he won the election to become the major general of Tennessee's militia. He earned the nickname "Old Hickory" for his toughness, he gave up his horse to a sick soldiers and walked 500 miles from Natchez Trace to Nashville in 1813.

 

Around 250 settlers,slaves and friendly Indians  were killed in the Fort Mims Massacre, in Alabama by Creek Indians in 1813  In the resulting Creek War, Jackson commanded the Tennessee army,and impressed the army command with his victories in that conflict. The army appointed him major general in the regular army in May 1814 in command of the Seventh Military District, made up of Tennessee,Louisiana,the Mississippi Territory and the Creek Nation.

 

On Nov 22,1814, Jackson departed Mobile for New Orleans and arrived on Dec 1,1814, haggard from dysentery. He set up his headquarters at 406 Royal Street.

 

Jean Lafitte  (1776-1823?)  In charge of the privateers on Grand Terre Island, which he raided Spanish shipping, mostly for slaves, under Letter of Marque for France and latter the Republic of  Cartagena. The British attempted to bribe him to guide him to attack New Orleans from Barataria Bay. Warned the Louisiana Legislature of the impending British attack, despite a warrant being out for his arrest and his brother being in jail in New Orleans. Livingston and others urged Jackson to use the Baratarians but at first he considered him nothing but a 'banditti.' Jackson was convinced to accept his and the Baratarians services and respected Lafitte after meeting him. Laffite provided much needed flints,shot and other supplies then very low in New Orleans. The supply ship Jackson requested did arrive till 2 weeks after the battle. Became bitter after the U.S. government destroyed his Barataria base and seized his goods and ships there. Moved operations to Galveston Island in 1817. Rumored to have been killed in Battle with Spanish ships in the Gulf of Mexico in 1823.for more details see JeanLafitte.net

 

Major General William Carroll (1788-1844) only 26 at the time of the battle . Jackson's second in command in the Creek War and a Major General in the Battle of New Orleans. Governor of Tennessee from 1821 to 1827 and again from 1829 to 1835.

 

Dominique You (1775-1830) Half brother of Jean Lafitte and an artillerist in the army of Revolutionary France.. was appointed commander of a company of artillery, which was composed of the best gunners drawn from Lafittes' ships. His men fought with such courage and effectiveness in the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815, that they were mentioned in General Andrew Jackson's general order of January 21 as "having shown uncommon gallantry and skill in the field". Because of this, all charges against Dominique You were dropped, and he settled quietly in New Orleans where he became a politician and supporter of General Jackson. You died in New Orleans in 1830. He was given a military funeral paid for by the public.

 

 

Major Arsene Latour (1778-1837)

 A Frenchman, engineer and architect.  Was the Principle engineer of the 7th military district and prepared maps of the Gulf Coast region. Supervised the construction of a battery on the west bank. Advised Jackson on the defenses of New  Orleans. Wrote one of the first accounts of the battle in his Historical memoir of the war in West Florida and Louisiana in 1814-15 in 1816 and is considered one of the more trustworthy contemporary historians of the battle. He, along with Jean Laffite became agents for Spain, traveling the southern U.S. to gather useful information for Spain. He died in France in 1837.

 

Edward Livingston (1764-1836) A former Mayor of New York, moved to New Orleans and opened a law practice after  a scandal in New York for the dishonesty of an underling. Livingston spoke fluent French and became accepted by French Creole society. He used his influence to secure amnesty for Jean Lafitte and his followers upon their offer to fight for the city, and in 1814—1815 acted as adviser and volunteer aide-de-camp to General Andrew Jackson, who was his personal friend. He acted as negotiator for the release of American prisoners and was well liked by the British. In 1821 he wrote the Livingston Code. He became a U.S. Senator and minister to France.

 

Brigader General John Coffee

(1772-1833) Johnson's longtime friend and married Jackson's niece. John Coffee was a native of Nottaway County, Virginia, and entered the military service under Jackson in 1812. He was active with him in the Creek War, and in the attack on Pensacola in the autumn of 1814. He was distinguished in the battles near New Orleans. In March, 1817, he was appointed surveyor of public lands. He died near Florence, in Alabama, on the 7th of July, 1844.He took part in the bitter night fight of Dec23, which Jackson jokingly called a 'fandango' replying to a British boast that they would dine in New Orleans by Christmas. In the main battle he commanded the line nearest the swamp

 

Jean Baptiste Plauché

Commander of the Louisiana uniformed militia. Jean B. Plauché was a native of New Orleans, and was born there when it was a Spanish colony. He was a French Creole, and through life bore the character of one of the most esteemed citizens of New Orleans. After the war he resumed his vocation as merchant. He generally declined public offices, yet he was induced to take that of Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana.

 

 

General John Adair  (1757- 1840) was in charge of the Kentucky militia. Jackson , held a great respect for Adair and often consulted with him before the battle. In 1805 he visited New Orleans and arrested by General Wilkinson who was in charge of the military district, of being involved in the Burr Conspiracy. This was never proved.  His actions in the War of 1812 in Canada and the Battle of New Orleans helped restore his reputation. He had a falling out after Jackson condemned the route of the Kentucky militia and traded accusations in the newspapers. He went on to become the Governor of Kentucky and served in the Senate and the House.

 

 

 

 

 

 New Orleans before the invasion

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