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
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 .
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
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.
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.
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
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
next The British Plan
Index of Chapters
Sept 4, 1814
Sept 11, 1814
June 14 1814
Dec 14, 1814
Dec 22, 1814
Dec 23, 1814
Dec 23 - 27, 1814
Dec 28, 1814
Jan 15, 1815
Jan 8, 1815
by Captain Bobbie L. Ragsdale
next The British Plan
© Thomas Zimmerman 2009