The battlefield in 2008. 32 pounder from the Carolina.

The rampart was reconstructed in 1964.


On the 23d of December, 1814, at half past 1 o'clock in the

afternoon, the sentry at the door of General Jackson's headquarters

on Royal street in New Orleans, announced the arrival of three

visitors who had just come galloping down the street in great haste,

and desired an immediate  audience with the General. These visitors

were Major Gabriel, Colonel De la Ronde  and Mr. Dussau de la Croix.

They brought the stirring news of the  approach of the vanguard of

the British army, which was at that hour encamped on the

Villere plantation, nine miles below the city. These troops included

many seasoned units of the Duke of Wellington's army, considered

the best in the world. Jackson was astounded the British could reach

so far without discovery. What Jackson would do next would decide

not just the fate of New Orleans, but that of the war and quite

possibly the continued existence of America.


Although the War of 1812 ended with no territorial or political changes, it is widely considered decisive for the course of the history of North America. The United States faced one of the best armies in the world - the forces of the United Kingdom and managed to defend its territory, and took the first steps in becoming a global power.  The most critical battle of this war happened after the peace treaty was signed. During the battle of New Orleans fought in 1815, the future president of US Andrew Jackson led his ragtag undisciplined ragtag force against the world’s strongest military. 


The War of 1812, with the British blockade and American embargo

had been an economic and military disaster for the Americans.

Goods were rotting on the wharves and the government had

defaulted on its debt. States in New England were openly discussing

succession and making a separate peace with the British. American

invasions of Canada had been repulsed and far from annexing Canada

now large parts of Maine were under British control. Even Washington

had been taken and burned. 



View of the American rampart or parapet and the Beauregard

mansion, built in the 1840's. Jackson's headquarters was in the

MaCarty house(where the present day Chalmette Slip is now),

behind the rampart.



Miracle on the Mississippi: The Battle of New Orleans




The Possible Consequences if the British took New Orleans


The British never recognized Napoleon as a legitimate ruler and

deemed the sale of the vast Louisiana territory to the United States

to be fraudulent. Louisiana must be returned to Britain's ally Spain,

the former owner, or if Spain was too weak after the European

conflict to administer it, be given the Britain .  After taking New

Orleans, the British planned to head up the Mississippi Valley to

join troops coming down from Canada . Then, the Americans

would be surrounded and as Lord Castlereagh, the British foreign

secretary and the architect of the Louisiana invasion, put it ,

would be "...little better than prisoners in their own country." This

would probably bring about the end of the fledgling 30 year old

republic with its outlandish idea of a democratically elected

government, the only one of its kind in the world.


Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822)

British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs



Lord Castlereagh,  who was banqueting in Paris at the time the news

of the burning of Washington was received, exultantly and openly

 boasted that it would not be long before Louisiana and the

 Mississippi River would become the conquered province of Great

Britain ! So certain were the British of success that a small army of

administrators were sent along with the fleet. British speculators had

brought ships to carry away the booty of New Orleans, estimated to

be worth 14 million dollars .

Latour Historical memoir of the war in

West Florida and Louisiana in 1814-15 .


The British knew the New Orleans invasion was in the works when

its commissioners left for Ghent to meet with the Americans for

peace negotiations. A victory such as the one anticipated would

allow the British to dictate peace terms. A neutral Indian state

buffer was to be created and territory in the Great Lakes were to be

added to Canada. Perhaps a new British colony could be established

in Louisiana or New Orleans at least could be detached to the

empire, giving the British a stranglehold on the Mississippi. The

price of peace could have been ceding the Louisiana Purchase

territory to the British, setting up a Louisiana "India."



"The Battle of New Orleans" from "Hero Tales from American History" by Theodore Roosevelt .

 This video was shot entirely on location. The locations used were:

Chalmette BattlefieldNational Historic Park,

Chalmette Living History Park, Forts Toulouse/Jackson

 State Park, and on board Privateer Lynx.

"Mr. Clay, one of the Commissioners of the Treaty of  Ghent,

had but little faith in the honor of the British Government,

knowing that its treaty obligations were never  respected whenever

conflicting with its interest and policy.  He is said to have

expressed the belief that, if General Jackson had been defeated at

New Orleans, with the Mississippi  River in possession of the British

fleet, England would no more have hesitated to nullify the Treaty of

Ghent than she  did the Treaty of Amiens with Bonaparte. It is fair to

presume, therefore, from the great effort that England made for the

conquest of Louisiana, that if the British flag had ever once  floated

over New Orleans it would never have been hauled  down without a


 The history of the wonderful battle of the brig-of-war

General Armstrong with a British squadron, at Fayal, 1814  

Samuel Reid, 1893



 The Battle of New Orleans

The Battle of New Orleans was the last major battle of the War of

1812, which was declared on June 16, 1812.  The decisive American

victory at New Orleans restored American confidence in their new

republic after the burning of Washington and other defeats in the

war. It made Jackson a popular hero and made him the first populist

president. The battle is largely forgotten in England, a sideshow

overshadowed by the Napoleonic Wars.


Patriotic Fire : Andrew Jackson and Jean

Laffite at the Battle of New Orleans

Winston Groom   2006

Groom is a novelist (Forrest Gump) and popular historian, with

 a string of well-reviewed books on war . He is also a descendant of

 Elijah Montgomery, who served in Jackson's army. He has written a stirring and

often moving account of the battle and the events surrounding it, and his main focus

is on the roles and personalities of Jackson and the enigmatic pirate

 turned patriot, Laffite .



The British did not really accept the fact of American independence and felt if it

weren't for the threat of Napoleon, would had dealt with the upstart republic already.

The British were also irritated that the Americans did not join them in the war

against Napoleon, and viewed the Americans as cowardly and greedy wa

r profiteers. Stopping and searching American ships to impress English sailors

( and sometimes Americans as well ), a major cause of the war,  showed the

contempt for which they held the Americans.


The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson

and America's First Military Victory

 Robert V. Remini  1999

Robert Remini, a noted and prolific scholar on Andrew Jackson, has narrowed

 his focus to write a colorful and informative account of the Battle of New Orleans .


A share of the booty from the rich city of New Orleans could set an officer up with a

nice estate and soldiers could count on a nice payday as well. This lure made the

British put up with awful conditions: a long 36 hour, 60 mile row from the fleet,

camping out in cold, wet conditions and bravely marching into a maelstrom of

withering fire. The women of New Orleans took to carrying daggers

after hearing the tales of looting and raping that occurred after

battles in such places as Hampton, Virginia on June 26, 1813 by

British soldiers.


 The War of 1812

The Battle of New Orleans on Jan 8, 1815 was a major British

 defeat in which a British army of around 10,000 with around 8,000

deployed was repulsed by an American force of around 3,000. The

Battle left nearly 300 British dead and 13 Americans killed. This

was a small battle compared to those in the Napoleonic Wars, bu

t large for North America at the time.


The British were making objections at the negotiations to drag

the process out, counting on a victory at New Orleans . A British

victory might even tip the New England states into succeeding,

perhaps even ending the American 'experiment and bring the

colonies back into the English fold. Louisiana was sold by

Napoleon to the United States in 1803 for $15 million.


In 1812, it became the 18th state admitted to the Union. Barely a

month after admission, President James Madison declared war

against the British. The embargo and subsequent British blockade

made smugglers such as Jean Lafitte rich, but there was little

action till the British planned to invade in 1814. The war had

been a disaster for the Americans up to this point. The embargo

and blockade wrecked the economy, the invasions of Canada had

failed and Washington itself had been invaded and the

White House burned . New England states were threatening

succession .








next The British Plan

of Attack



Need a citation ?


 Link to us


Index of Chapters



The British Plan of Attack  


New Orleans before the invasion


  British and American Commanders   


Warning from Jean Laffite  

 Sept 4, 1814


 Attack on Lafitte's base  

 Sept 11, 1814


 Jackson placed in command   

 June 14 1814


Battle of the Gunboats  

 Dec 14, 1814


  Jackson and the Baratarians


 The British Arrive   

 Dec 22, 1814


The Fight in the Dark  

 Dec 23, 1814

 The Carolina   

 Dec 23 - 27, 1814

 The Grand Reconnaissance

 Dec 28, 1814

Battle of New Years Day  

Jan 15, 1815

 The Main battle  

 Jan 8, 1815

A Critical Analysis of British Tactical Failure

at The Battle of New Orleans

by Captain Bobbie L. Ragsdale

 Weapons of the Battle


  Map of the Battlefield

Visiting the battlefield




Books and Sources for

 the Battle of New Orleans

  Battle of New Orleans audio books


  Quiz on the Battle of New Orleans


Battle of New Orleans activities 2016  


  re-enactments & photos  


 What if the Americans lost?


next The British Plan

of Attack




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© Thomas Zimmerman 2009