Like Father, Like Son

On July 4, 1835 Junius Brutus Booth, founder of the Booth theatrical family, sat down and penned a letter to President Andrew Jackson.  Booth and Jackson knew each other and were friends, which makes the letter quite odd indeed.  The text of the letter:

To His Excellency, General Andrew Jackson, President of the United States, Washington City,

You damn’d old Scoundrel if you don’t sign the pardon of your fellow men now under sentence of Death, De Ruiz and De Soto, I will cut your throat whilst you are sleeping. I wrote to you repeated Cautions so look out or damn you. I’ll have you burnt at the Stake in the City of Washington.

Your Master, Junius Brutus Booth.

You know me! Look out!

Booth was one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of his day, and he often gave unforgettable performances.  However, he was often noted for his off stage escapades, usually fueled by copious amounts of alcohol.  I have little doubt that when he penned this missive Booth was quite drunk.  De Ruiz and De Soto had been convicted of piracy.  Many Americans had asked for clemency for the men.  De Soto did receive a Presidential pardon on July 6, 1835 after an interview with De Soto’s wife and defense attorney with Jackson.  In 1832 De Soto had saved the lives of 70 Americans aboard the burning ship Minerva in 1831 and that made him a sympathetic figure to the American public and Jackson.  De Ruiz and the other men convicted of piracy were hung.  Go here for the details of the piracy trial. (more…)

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Published in: on March 3, 2022 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Like Father, Like Son  
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January 7, 1815: Old Hickory and Our Lady of Prompt Succor

 

When one thinks of Andrew Jackson, Our Lady of Prompt Succor and the Ursuline nuns do not spring to mind, but they should. (more…)

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The Remarkable Andrew

One of the odder products of the Golden Age of Hollywood, The Remarkable Andrew (1942) was a comedy fantasy in which Andrew Jackson’s ghost, played by Brian Donlevy, comes back to Earth in order to aid Andrew Long, portrayed by a very young William Holden, fight political corruption.  Andrew Jackson had pledged to protect the sons of one of Andrew Long’s ancestors who saved the life of Jackson at the battle of New Orleans.  Virtue is triumphant, the corrupt politicians are defeated, with the help of Jackson and the ghosts of other American heroes, and Andrew Long even gets the girl.

The screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo, a Communist.  It was based on the novel of the same name written by Trumbo and published  in early 1941.  The novel was written before the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union, and Trumbo, slavishly following the party line, has Jackson warning against American involvement in the War.

Time Magazine in its sardonic review of the novel on February 3, 1941 noted Trumbo’s rigid adherence to the Communist party line:

Its plot is about the return of the ghost of General Andrew Jackson to help an admirer. Trumbo’s General Jackson agrees with Theodore Dreiser right down the line: 1) Europe’s wars are no concern whatever of the U. S.; 2) the U. S. has little interest in the British Fleet; 3) Great Britain is not a democracy; 4) if Hitler can’t even cross the English Channel, he can’t cross the Atlantic; 5) U. S. concern with fifth columnists is hysteria; 6) Ger many is not “an international outlaw”; 7) the U. S. didn’t help Loyalist Spain, therefore shouldn’t help any other country; (8) the U. S. Government is deceiving the electorate, etc.

General Jackson’s opinions need surprise no one who has observed George Washing ton and Abraham Lincoln zealously following the Communist Party Line in recent years. Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, John Marshall and Jesse James are also cast for bit parts in Trumbo’s production. If the devil can quote Scripture, surely an irritated screenwriter can dip into The Federalist. A chapter of The Remarkable Andrew is devoted to the remarkable Dalton’s attempt to outwit charges of Communism and pacifism with tedious parodies of Red-baiting. (more…)

Published in: on February 7, 2021 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Remarkable Andrew  
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Rachel Jackson

“I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God than live in that palace in Washington.”

Rachel Jackson, 1828

In 1791 Andrew Jackson married Rachel Jackson. Theirs was the great presidential love match. Jackson loved “his Rachel” to idolatry, and in his eyes she was perfection.

Born in 1767, she was the daughter of Colonel John Donelson, the co-founder of Nashville.   Her family were among the first settlers in Tennessee.  A great beauty in her youth, she attracted the attention of many suitors.  In 1785 she married Lewis Robards, a Revolutionary War veteran and a land speculator.  The match was not a happy one, with rumors abounding that Robards treated her with cruelty.  They separated in 1788.\, with Robards filing for divorce in 1790.

In 1794 the Jacksons learned to their intense dismay that  Robards, had not divorced her prior to 1791 as she and Jackson had thought, but had merely filed a document with the court stating his intention to divorce her. The divorce was not granted until 1793.  (Demonstrating how confused the whole process was, Robards had remarried on December 28, 1792 before the final decree of divorce was entered.) The Jacksons quickly remarried. His political enemies used the scandal against him for the rest of his life, to the intense and bitter anger of Jackson. He often said that he could easily forgive what his enemies said against him, but that he could never forgive their attacks against Rachel. As Rachel grew older she became more religious and caused Jackson to become more religious. By all accounts she was a very good and charitable woman, and it was the great tragedy of Jackson’s life that she died just before he left for Washington to assume his duties as President.

Published in: on August 16, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Rachel Jackson  
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Prelude to the Battle of New Orleans

 

Upon the commencement of the War of 1812, Jackson immediately volunteered for active service.  Nothing happened.  Jackson assumed he was not called to duty due to his vigorous opposition to many of the policies of Thomas Jefferson, Madison’s predecessor.  ( It probably didn’t help Jackson that Aaron Burr,  former vice-president and deadly enemy of Jefferson, had stayed three days with Jackson during his  treasonous trip to the West in 1805, although there is no evidence of Jackson’s involvement in Burr’s plot.)

Jackson’s chance for military action came in 1813-1814 during the Creek War.  After a very tough campaign, Jackson decisively defeated the Red Stick Creeks at the battle of Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814.  On the battlefield, Jackson found a two year old Creek boy with his dead mother.  Jackson adopted him as his son, named him Lyncoya, and brought him home with him to the Hermitage and raised him with his other adopted son, Andrew Jackson, Jr.  Jackson planned to have him educated at West Point, because he believed it to be the best school in the nation, but the boy died of tuberculosis in 1828.  Jackson, the great foe of the Indians, is the only American president to adopt an Indian child.  Jackson was nothing if not complicated.

The campaign against the Red Stick Creeks had made Jackson a national figure.  It also almost killed him.  Suffering from a chronic stomach disorder, Jackson could only get relief from the pain by bending a sapling and leaning over it with the sapling pressed against his stomach.  The campaign was arduous for his troops also, a mixture of militia and regulars.  On one occasion the militia decided they had had enough and began to march home.  Jackson used the regulars to stop them.  On another occasion the regulars decided they were through, and Jackson used the militia to force them to return to their duties.  When both militia and regulars decided to leave on yet another occasion, Jackson rode to the head of the troops, aimed a musket at them and made it quite clear that he would kill the next man to take a step.  The men looked at Jackson, Jackson gazed back at them, and they returned to camp.  Afterwards, Jackson ordered that the musket be repaired as it couldn’t have fired in any case.  Most of the men Jackson led were frontiersmen and had a great deal of experience in cutting down trees.  The toughest wood they knew of was Hickory, and Old Hickory, and doubtless some other unprintable ones that have not come down to us, is the nickname they gave their determined general.

While Jackson was crushing the Red Sticks, the War of 1812 was going badly for the country.  With the abdication of Napoleon, hordes of British veteran troops were sent across the Atlantic to teach the Yankees a lesson.  The burning of Washington in August 1814 was part of the lesson, and the American government had intelligence that a mighty British fleet and army were on their way to seize New Orleans.  In August 1814 a British fleet established a base, with the consent of the Spanish government, at Pensacola, Florida, and used it to supply Indians hostile to the US.  On November 7, 1814, Jackson seized Pensacola, chased the British troops out and destroyed the fortifications.  The British fleet sailed off and Jackson marched to New Orleans.

Jackson arrived at New Orleans with his rough frontier army of militia and regulars on December 2, 1814.   He had beaten the Brits to New Orleans but just barely.  The British fleet appeared in the Gulf of Mexico just off New Orleans on December 12.  The British force on board the fleet was commanded by Major General Thomas Pakenham, the Duke of Wellington’s brother-in-law.  Pakenham was a combat general and had received laurels for his courage and professionalism in many of the battles that Wellington fought in Spain.  Brushing aside a small American naval force that guarded access to the lakes that led to New Orleans, by December 23 an 1800 man vanguard of the British troops was ashore on the east bank of the Mississippi, nine miles south of New Orleans.  When Jackson learned of this, he did what he usually did when confronted with a sudden challenge:  he attacked.  Leading 2131 men in a short, sharp night attack, Jackson inflicted about 250 casualties in exchange for about the same losses on his part.  He then withdrew to the Rodriguez Canal four miles south of New Orleans and began to fortify it. (more…)

Published in: on August 14, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Prelude to the Battle of New Orleans  
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January 9, 1815: Report to Monroe

Battle of New Orleans 2

 

The day after the battle of New Orleans, Jackson wrote his report to James Monroe, Secretary of War.:

Sir: 9th Jan: 1815

During the days of the 6th. & 7th. the enemy had been actively employed in making preparations for an attack on my lines. With infinite labour they had succeeded on the night of the 7th in getting their boats across from the lake to the river, by widening & deepening the Canal on which they had effected their disembarkation. It had not been in my power to impede these operations by a general attack: Added to other reasons, the nature of the troops under my command, mostly militia, rendered it too hazardous to attempt extensive offensive movements in an open Country, against a numerous & well disciplined army.- Altho my forces, as to number, had been increased by the arrival of the Kentucky division – my strength had received very little addition; a small portion only of that detachment being provided with arms: Compelled thus to wait the attack of the enemy I took every measure to repell it when it would be made, & to defeat the object he had in view. Genl. Morgan with the Orleans Contingent the Louisiana Militia, & a strong detachment of the Kentucky troops occupy an entrenched Camp, on the opposite side of the river, protected by strong batteries on the bank erected & superintended by Commodore Patterson.

In my encampment every thing was ready for action, when early on the morning of the 8th the enemy, after throwing a heavy shower of bombs & congreve rockets, advanced their columns on my right & left, to storm my entrenchments. I cannot speak sufficiently in praise of the firmness & deliberation with which my whole line received their approach:-more could not have been expected from veterans, inured to war. For an hour the fire of the small arms was as incessant & severe as can be imagined. The artillery too, directed by officers who displayed equal skill & courage did great execution. Yet the columns of the enemy continued to advance with a firmness which reflects upon them the greatest credit. Twice the column which approached me on my left was repulsed by the troops of genl. Carrole – those of genl. Coffee, & a division of the Kentucky Militia, & twice they formed again & renewed the assault. (more…)

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Our Second War For Independence

 

And what a disastrous Second War for Independence the War of 1812 tended to be for the infant US with the major exception of the Battle of New Orleans fought after the treaty of peace was signed.  Theodore Roosevelt in his magisterial The Naval War of 1812, written when he was all of 23, understood this:

In spite of the last trifling success, the campaign had been to the British both bloody and disastrous. It did not affect the results of the war; and the decisive battle itself was a perfectly useless shedding of blood, for peace had been declared before it was fought. Nevertheless, it was not only glorious but profitable to the United States. Louisiana was saved from being severely ravaged, and New Orleans from possible destruction; and after our humiliating defeats in trying to repel the invasions of Virginia and Maryland, the signal victory of New Orleans was really almost a necessity for the preservation of the national honor. This campaign was the great event of the war, and in it was fought the most important battle as regards numbers that took place during the entire struggle; and the fact that we were victorious, not only saved our self-respect at home, but also gave us prestige abroad which we should otherwise have totally lacked. It could not be said to entirely balance the numerous defeats that we had elsewhere suffered on land—defeats which had so far only been offset by Harrison’s victory in 1813 and the campaign in Lower Canada in 1814—but it at any rate went a long way toward making the score even.

Jackson is certainly by all odds the most prominent figure that appeared during this war, and stands head and shoulders above any other commander, American or British, that it produced. It will be difficult, in all history, to show a parallel to the feat that he performed. In three weeks’ fighting, with a force largely composed of militia, he utterly defeated and drove away an army twice the size of his own, composed of veteran troops, and led by one of the ablest of European generals. During the whole campaign he only erred once, and that was in putting General Morgan, a very incompetent officer, in command of the forces on the west bank. He suited his movements admirably to the various exigencies that arose. The promptness and skill with which he attacked, as soon as he knew of the near approach of the British, undoubtedly saved the city; for their vanguard was so roughly handled that, instead of being able to advance at once, they were forced to delay three days, during which time Jackson entrenched himself in a position from which he was never driven. But after this attack the offensive would have been not only hazardous, but useless, and accordingly Jackson, adopting the mode of warfare which best suited the ground he was on and the troops he had under him, forced the enemy always to fight him where he was strongest, and confined himself strictly to the pure defensive—a system condemned by most European authorities, [Footnote: Thus Napier says (vol. v, p. 25): “Soult fared as most generals will who seek by extensive lines to supply the want of numbers or of hardiness in the troops. Against rude commanders and undisciplined soldiers, lines may avail; seldom against accomplished commanders, never when the assailants are the better soldiers.” And again (p. 150), “Offensive operations must be the basis of a good defensive system.”] but which has at times succeeded to admiration in America, as witness Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Kenesaw Mountain, and Franklin.

Published in: on May 31, 2018 at 5:13 am  Comments Off on Our Second War For Independence  
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Donald Trump and Andrew Jackson

Our Federal Union! It must be preserved!

Toast offered by President Jackson, April 13, 1830

(I originally posted this at The American Catholic and I thought that the history mavens of Almost Chosen People would enjoy it.)

Another tale in the ongoing annals of Trump Derangement Syndrome.  Let me say at the outset that I doubt if Donald Trump knows all that much about Andrew Jackson.  Like most Americans, his knowledge of American history is superficial.  Most politicians fit into this category.  Certainly Obama, who didn’t know how to pronounce medical corpsman and Joe Biden who recalled television addresses by Franklin Delano Roosevelt were in that category.  I regret this, but such ignorance is not considered newsworthy unless the politician displaying ignorance is Donald Trump or some other Republican.

Trump in an interview with the Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito, mused that if Andrew Jackson had been born a little bit later perhaps he could have stopped the Civil War.  Go here to read about the interview.  In the interview Trump fully displays his limited knowledge of history especially in regard to the Civil War.  Trump finds the parallels between himself and Jackson flattering and was attempting to play up his knowledge of Jackson and fell on his face while doing so.   The media has been having a field day with this, hauling out historians to denounce Trump.  What has been missed is that Trump was correct on his main point.

Andrew Jackson, born in 1767 ,was a veteran of the American Revolution, something that marked him for life.  When the Declaration of Independence was issued, he was picked to read it aloud to his largely illiterate frontier community.  Both of Jackson’s brothers fought in the War and died in it.  He served in the militia and at the age of 13, as a POW, refused to shine a British officer’s boots and received a saber cut on his forehead for his defiance.  Like most Americans who fought in the Revolution, his service inspired in him a deep love for the new nation he had helped to create.  For all his days he was an ardent American patriot and a defender of the Union.  His steadfast stance against nullification during the Nullification Crisis of 1832 was completely in character as was his threat to lead an American army against South Carolina if it seceded and to hang every secessionist he could get his hands upon.  Although he was pro-slavery, I have no doubt that if he had been alive at the time of the Civil War he would likely have fought for the Union.  His state of Tennessee was divided during the war with East Tennessee being a hotbed of Union sentiment.  The man who considered himself the political heir of Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, was the only Southern Senator to stand by the Union.  His admirers called him Young Hickory, and in that I think they were absolutely correct.  In his love for the Union he shared with Jackson a sentiment that would override all sectional allegiances.  Abraham Lincoln understood this aspect of Jackson.  He had spent his entire political life fighting the political party founded by Jackson, yet in his office during the Civil War, he had an engraved portrait of Jackson hanging over his fireplace.  If Jackson had been President in 1860 I have no doubt that he would have taken action to militarily quelch secession.  Whether he would have been successful is another question.  However if Jackson had been there secessionists dreaming of a peaceful withdrawal from the Union would have realized that this dream was a delusion. (more…)

Published in: on May 5, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Donald Trump and Andrew Jackson  
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January 8, 1815: Battle of New Orleans

 

The War of 1812 had been one with little glory for Americans.  The invasions of Canada all failed, often the officers in charge displaying shocking military incompetence.  Although the American Navy performed valiantly, the Royal Navy maintained control of the waves, and with the fall of Napoleon, veteran British troops from the Peninsular War were shipped across the Atlantic and inflicted such humiliations as the burning of Washington.  On January 8, 1815 Major General Andrew Jackson and his rude frontier army of regulars and militia, confronted a British regular force twice their size.  What followed was an amazing American victory.  One of the finest accounts of the battle was written by Theodore Roosevelt:

 

Battle of New Orleans

 

 

Packenham had under him nearly 10,000 fighting men; 1,500 of these, under Colonel Thornton were to cross the river and make the attack on the west bank. Packenham himself was to super intend the main assault, on the east bank, which was to be made by the British right under General Gibbs, while the left moved forward under General Keane, and General Lambert commanded the reserve. Jackson’s position was held by a total of 5,500 men. Having kept a constant watch on the British, Jackson had rightly concluded that they would make the main attack on the east bank, and had, accordingly, kept the bulk of his force on that side. His works consisted simply of a mud breastwork, with a ditch in front of it, which stretched in a straight line from the river on his right across the plain, and some distance into the morass that sheltered his left. There was a small, unfinished redoubt in front of the breastworks on the river bank. Thirteen pieces of artillery were mounted on the works. On the right was posted the Seventh regular infantry, 430 strong; then came 740 Louisiana militia (both French creoles and men of color, and comprising 30 New Orleans riflemen, who were Americans), and 240 regulars of the Forty-fourth regiment; while the rest of the line was formed by nearly 500 Kentuckians and over 1,600 Tennesseeans, under Carroll and Coffee, with 250 creole militia in the morass on the extreme left, to guard the head of a bayou. In the rear were 230 dragoons, chiefly from Mississippi, and some other troops in reserve; making in all 4,700 men on the east bank. The works on the west bank were farther down stream, and were very much weaker. . . .

All through the night of the 7th a strange, murmurous clangor arose from the British camp, and was borne on the moist air to the lines of their slumbering foes. The blows of pickax and spade as the ground was thrown up into batteries by gangs of workmen, the rumble of the artillery as it was placed in position, the measured tread of the battalions as they shifted their places or marched off under Thornton—all these and the thousand other sounds of warlike preparation were softened and blended by the distance into one continuous humming murmur, which struck on the ears of the American sentries with ominous foreboding for the morrow.

By midnight Jackson had risen and was getting everything in readiness to hurl back the blow that he rightly judged was soon to fall on his front. Before the dawn broke his soldiery was all on the alert. The bronzed and brawny seamen were grouped in clusters around the great guns. The creole soldiers came of a race whose habit it has ever been to take all phases of life joyously; but that morning their gayety was tempered by a dark undercurrent of fierce anxiety. They had more at stake than any other men on the field. They were fighting for their homes; they were fighting for their wives and their daughters. They well knew that the men they were to face were very brave in battle and very cruel in victory; they well knew the fell destruction and nameless woe that awaited their city should the English take it at the sword’s point. They feared not for themselves; but in the hearts of the bravest and most careless there lurked a dull terror of what that day might bring upon those they loved. The Tennesseeans were troubled by no such misgivings. In saturnine, confident silence they lolled behind their mud walls, or, leaning on their long rifles, peered out into the gray fog with savage, reckless eyes. So, hour after hour, the two armies stood facing each other in the darkness, waiting for the light of day.

At last the sun rose, and as its beams struggled through the morning mist they glinted on the sharp steel bayonets of the English, where their scarlet ranks were drawn up in battle array, but four hundred yards from the American breastworks. There stood the matchless infantry of the island king, in the pride of their strength and the splendor of their martial glory; and as the haze cleared away they moved forward, in stern silence, broken only by the angry, snarling notes of the brazen bugles.

At once the American artillery leaped into furious life; and, ready and quick, the more numerous cannon of the invaders responded from their hot, feverish lips. Unshaken amid the tumult of that iron storm the heavy red column moved steadily on toward the left of the American line, where the Tennesseeans were standing in motionless, grim expectancy. Three-fourths of the open space was crossed, and the eager soldiers broke into a run. Then a fire of hell smote the British column. From the breastwork in front of them the white smoke curled thick into the air, as rank after rank the wild marksmen of the backwoods rose and fired, aiming low and sure. As stubble is withered by flame, so withered the British column under that deadly fire; and, aghast at the slaughter, the reeling files staggered and gave back. Packenham, fit captain for his valorous host, rode to the front, and the troops, rallying round him, sprang forward with ringing cheers.

But once again the pealing rifle-blast beat in their faces; and the life of their dauntless leader went out before its scorching and fiery breath. With him fell the other general who was with the column, and all of the men who were leading it on; and, as a last resource, Keane brought up his stalwart Highlanders; but in vain the stubborn mountaineers rushed on, only to die as their comrades had died before them, with unconquerable courage, facing the foe, to the last. Keane himself was struck down; and the shattered wrecks of the British column, quailing before certain destruction, turned and sought refuge beyond reach of the leaden death that had overwhelmed their comrades.

Nor did it fare better with the weaker force that was to assail the right of the American line. This was led by the dashing Colonel Rennie, who, when the confusion caused by the main attach was at its height, rushed forward with impetuous bravery along the river bank. With such headlong fury did he make the assault, that the rush of his troops took the outlying redoubt, whose defenders, regulars and artillerymen, fought to the last with their bayonets and clubbed muskets, and were butchered to a man.

Without delay Rennie flung his men at the breastworks behind, and, gallantly leading them, sword in hand, he, and all around him, fell, riddled through and through by the balls of the riflemen. Brave tho they were, the British soldiers could not stand against the singing, leaden hail, for if they stood it was but to die. So in rout and wild dismay they fled back along the river bank, to the main army. For some time afterward the British artillery kept up its fire, but was gradually silenced; the repulse was entire and complete along the whole line; nor did the cheering news of success brought from the west bank give any hope to the British commanders, stunned by their crushing overthrow.

Meanwhile Colonel Thornton’s attack on the opposite side had been successful, but had been delayed beyond the originally intended hour. The sides of the canal by which the boats were to be brought through to the Mississippi caved in, and choked the passage, so that only enough got through to take over a half of Thornton’s force. With these, seven hundred in number, he crossed, but as he did not allow for the current, it carried him down about two miles below the proper landing-place. Meanwhile General Morgan, having under him eight hundred militia whom it was of the utmost importance to have kept together, promptly divided them and sent three hundred of the rawest and most poorly armed down to meet the enemy in the open. The inevitable result was their immediate rout and dispersion; about one hundred got back to Morgan’s lines. He then had six hundred men, all militia, to oppose to seven hundred regulars. So he stationed the four hundred best disciplined men to defend the two hundred yards of strong breastworks, mounting three guns, which covered his left; while the two hundred worst disciplined were placed to guard six hundred yards of open ground on his right, with their flank resting in air, and entirely unprotected. This truly phenomenal arrangement ensured beforehand the certain defeat of his troops, no matter how well they fought; but, as it turned out , they hardly fought at all. Thornton, pushing up the river, first attacked the breastwork in front, but was checked by a hot fire; deploying his men he then sent a strong force to march round and take Morgan on his exposed right flank. There, the already demoralized Kentucky militia, extended in thin order across an open space, outnumbered, and taken in flank by regular troops, were stampeded at once, and after firing a single volley they took to their heels. This exposed the flank of the better disciplined creoles, who were also put to flight; but they kept some order and were soon rallied. In bitter rage Patterson spiked the guns of his water-battery and marched off with his sailors, unmolested. The American loss had been slight, and that of their opponents not heavy, tho among their dangerously wounded was Colonel Thornton.

This success, tho a brilliant one, and a disgrace to the American arms, had no effect on the battle. Jackson at once sent over reenforcements under the famous French general, Humbert, and preparations were forthwith made to retake the lost position. But it was already abandoned, and the force that had captured it had been recalled by Lambert, when he found that the place could not be held without additional troops. The total British loss on both sides of the river amounted to over two thousand men, the vast majority of whom had fallen in the attack on the Tennesseeans, and most of the remainder in the attack made by Colonel Rennie. The Americans had lost but seventy men, of whom but thirteen fell in the main attack. On the east bank, neither the creole militia nor the Forty-fourth regiment had taken any part in the combat.

The English had thrown for high stakes and had lost everything, and they knew it. There was nothing to hope for left. Nearly a fourth of their fighting men had fallen; and among the officers the proportion was far larger. Of their four generals, Packenham was dead, Gibbs dying, Keane disabled, and only Lambert left. Their leader, the ablest officers, and all the flower of their bravest men were lying, stark and dead, on the bloody plain before them; and their bodies were doomed to crumble into moldering dust on the green fields where they had fought and had fallen. It was useless to make another trial.

The most brilliant American victory since Yorktown, the battle made Andrew Jackson a household word and launched him on his path to the White House.  The battle also may have given the British something to ponder when their interests clashed with American interests in the future.  All such disputes, in spite of usually a fair amount of hostility in both nations that could have resulted in war, were resolved diplomatically.  Neither country emerged from the War of 1812 with the assumption that any future war between them would be a cakewalk for either side.

Published in: on January 8, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Jackson’s Motley Army

 

I guess there may have been a more heterogeneous force that fought a major battle in American history than the one that Andrew Jackson commanded on January 8, 1815, but it does not readily come to mind.  Here was the composition of his army:

1.  968 US Army regulars-Many of these men were from the 7th Infantry Regiment that had garrisoned New Orleans during 1814 and had a reputation for being slackly disciplined hell raisers.  The remainder were from the 44th Infantry Regiment recruited in Louisiana.

2.  58 Marines.

3.  106 Sailors of the US Naval Battalion.

4.  1060 Louisiana Militia, including 462 free blacks.  The free blacks responded to an appeal from Jackson that said they would be treated precisely the same as white volunteers and not subject to sarcasm and insult.  Jackson was as good as his word, but the State of Louisiana did not give them the promised 160 acre land grants that white volunteers received.  Many of the white Louisianans spoke only French, but the language barrier did not stop them and their black comrades from rendering good service in the battle.

5.  986 Kentucky Militia-The Kentuckians gave a poor account of themselves in the battle but it wasn’t their fault.  Most of them were unarmed, the Army sending them to New Orleans and shipping their rifles and ammo separately.  These items arrived four days after the battle.  A disgusted Jackson said they were the first Kentuckians he had ever seen who didn’t have a rifle, a deck of cards and a jug.

6.  150 Mississippi Militia.

7.  52 Choctaw Warriors-The Choctaws did good service as snipers and killed at least 50 British soldiers.

8.  1352 Tennessee militia and volunteers.  The mainstay of Jackson’s army, many of them had served under Jackson throughout the Creek War in 1813-1814.

9.  Baratarian Pirates-Jean Lafitte’s pirates.  Jackson had offered Lafitte a free pardon for every one of his men who fought.  The pirates formed three artillery companies and also fought with the militia.  Their exact numbers are unknown, but my best guess would be 400-600.  The pirates won accolades for their fighting prowess in the battle, with Jackson singling out for praise Jean and his brother Pierre.

 

(more…)

Published in: on January 6, 2015 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Jackson’s Motley Army  
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