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Title: Tennessee at the Battle of New Orleans
Author: Watson, Elbert L.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                        Tennessee at the Battle
                             of New Orleans

                            ELBERT L. WATSON

                              PUBLISHED BY
                         COMMITTEE OF LOUISIANA


                          HISTORICAL BOOKLETS

            Editors: Charles L. Dufour and Leonard V. Huber

1. _New Orleans As It Was In 1814-1815_, by Leonard V. Huber.

2. _Sea Power and the Battle of New Orleans_, by Admiral E. M. Eller,
    Dr. W. J. Morgan and Lieut. R. R. Basoco.

3. _Major-General Sir Edward M. Pakenham_, by Val McNair Scott.

4. _Louisiana at the Battle of New Orleans_, by Powell Casey.

5. _Tennessee at the Battle of New Orleans_, by Elbert L. Watson.

6. _Plantation Houses on the Battlefield of New Orleans_, by Samuel
    Wilson, Jr., F.A.I.A. (Price $1.00)

7. _The Battle on the West Bank_, by Richard R. Dixon.

8. _Negro Soldiers in the Battle of New Orleans_, by Marcus Christian.

9. _The Weapons of the Battle of New Orleans_, by William E. Meuse.

                   Price (Except No. 6) 50 Cents Each
                             DISTRIBUTED BY
                         (NEW ORLEANS CHAPTER)
                            NEW ORLEANS, LA.


[Illustration: Major-General Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, by his great
victory at Chalmette, below New Orleans, on January 8, 1815 became “a
leader destined for future greatness.”]


                       TENNESSEE AT THE BATTLE OF
                              NEW ORLEANS


Few events in the history of our nation have left the imprint of
greatness upon participating individuals and groups as did the memorable
Battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1815, the culmination of the War of
1812. Out of the great victory, there emerged on the national scene, in
the person of Andrew Jackson, a leader destined for future greatness. At
the same time, those dissident Federalist voices which regarded disunion
as the solution to the ills facing the young republic were quieted. With
the battle over, the abortive Hartford Convention of December, 1814,
stood in mute contrast to the patriotic devotion to country rendered by
unlearned frontiersmen.[1] The question of the possession of legal title
to western lands acquired from France by the Louisiana Purchase in 1803
was quickly settled. Not the least result was the breaking of alliances
which had existed between the Creek Indians and their British and
Spanish allies.

It is impressive that so much could be accomplished for young America
from a military engagement which lasted little more than two hours. The
Battle of New Orleans, which occurred after the signing of the peace
treaty at Ghent in December, has been referred to as a useless
expenditure of life and time. One must remember, however, that the
issues leading to the battle evolved over a long period of time, many of
them dating back to the Revolution. A climax to the friction existing
between America and Great Britain was inevitable. In this conflict,
Tennessee played a prominent role, not only as a participant in the
final action of the war, but in the developments preceding it. Indeed,
it is important to note that Tennessee was influential in putting into
motion the machinery which brought about the dramatic event, from which
national attention was focused upon the Volunteer State and her
courageous sons.


Felix Grundy, Nashville’s vocal and eloquent attorney, was elected in
1811 to the United States Congress on a platform demanding war with
Great Britain. Grundy, a native Virginian who had also lived in
Pennsylvania and Kentucky, resented the policy of Spain and Great
Britain which was to incite the southern Indians against frontiersmen
who were inexorably pushing further to the west. Tennessee, then in its
early commercial development, was particularly concerned over this issue
because the trade routes to New Orleans and Mobile were under almost
constant attack by well-armed red men.

Once seated in Congress, Grundy wasted no time in pressing his attack.
He aligned himself with Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, William Lowndes,
and others who earned for themselves the title “War Hawks” by their
insistence upon war. To them, the time was ripe for such a step since
the Napoleonic War with England was in progress, and it offered an
opportunity for America to profit from the turmoil in Europe.
Unrelentingly the “War Hawks” pressed their cause until public opinion
forced a reluctant Congress and President James Madison to declare war
against England on June 16, 1812.[2]

Tennesseans had watched with dismay the significant success which
British troops enjoyed along the Canadian boundary, and across the
northeastern tier of states. Their concern was intensified with the
burning of Washington on August 24, 1814. Many westerners regarded
Federalist inertia toward the war with Britain as largely responsible
for the ineffective resistance being offered. Some Northern governors
had refused to answer the War Department’s call for militia, while
others would not assume their proportionate share of the financial

After the sack of Washington, the British vessels and troops disappeared
and left Americans wondering where the next blow would come. James
Monroe, the tough-fisted new Secretary of State, concluded that the
abrupt thrust against Washington and Baltimore was only a feint,
designed to confuse the government while the enemy concentrated his
forces elsewhere for a major invasion. With winter approaching, it
seemed reasonable to assume that the strike, if made, would be in the
South—probably at some point in the Gulf region where the defenses left
much to be desired. As Monroe contemplated the portentous days ahead, he
was relieved to know that the newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of the
Seventh Military District, comprising the states of Tennessee,
Louisiana, and the Mississippi Territory, was Major General Andrew
Jackson of Tennessee.[3]

Jackson had recently received national attention by the overwhelming
victory which he and his Tennessee militiamen, led by Generals John
Coffee and William Carroll, won over the Creek Indians at the Battle of
Horseshoe Bend on March 27, 1814. There the westerners struck a mortal
blow at the repugnant British-Indian alliance, which many believed was
responsible for the infamous massacre of men, women, and children at
Fort Mims.


[Illustration: General Jackson and his staff at headquarters on the
Macarty Plantation behind his fortified line along the Rodriguez Canal.]



On his return from Horseshoe Bend, Jackson was acclaimed throughout
Middle Tennessee for his victory, and was given spectacular public
receptions in Gallatin and Nashville. But his stay in Tennessee was
brief and he moved south again, this time to Mobile, where he
established headquarters in late August, 1814.[4] Jackson’s use of
Mobile as his base of operations was fortunate, for two weeks later
British vessels appeared at the entrance to Mobile Bay and made a
concerted attack on Fort Bowyer (now Fort Morgan). However, the tiny
garrison of 130 men stood fast and when one of the British frigates ran
aground, exploded, and burned, the fleet withdrew to an unknown area.
Jackson speculated over Britain’s future intentions.

The thrust against Mobile convinced Jackson that an invasion of major
proportions somewhere along the coast was imminent. A likely site, he
thought, would be Pensacola, which was still under Spanish control.
Spain, it will be recalled, was England’s ally against France but was
neutral toward America. Spain’s neutrality, Jackson believed, was only a
veneer for her selfish interests which she would direct against the
United States the moment a suitable opportunity arose. Then, too, there
were the Creeks. Jackson had broken their power at Horseshoe Bend, but
they remained in the vicinity, possibly ready to resume hostilities if
supported by a strong belligerent. Before leaving Nashville, Jackson had
conferred with Governor Willie Blount about sending a brigade of mounted
Tennessee militiamen under Brigadier General John Coffee to join him in
Mobile. Now he sent urgent word for the militiamen to come without

The fraternal feeling existing between John Coffee and Andrew Jackson
ran deep. Each man, completely devoted to the other, was willing to
undergo the most rigid personal sacrifice should the other command it.
Coffee, “tall, broad-shouldered, gentle in manner, but brave and
intelligent,” had executed the key move that bottled up the Creeks at
Horseshoe Bend.[5] With his usual alacrity, he once again answered his
country’s call to duty and ordered his troops to rendezvous in
Fayetteville on October 3. Patriotic feeling swept across Tennessee as
Coffee’s veterans, with the fire of battle still flashing in their eyes,
emerged from the hills, valleys, and hamlets to make the long trek
southward for the second time within a year. Most of them were simple
countrymen, armed only with their long rifles and knives and attired in
the clothing of the frontier. Their pantaloon pockets were filled with
bullets. In this manner they responded to the appeal to “come forward
... as there (could not) be a moment’s delay.”[6]

Jackson’s recall of the Tennessee militia, already schooled in the kind
of wilderness warfare which appeared forthcoming, was a wise decision.
Against the Creeks these men had subsisted for months in the Alabama
back country with only scanty supplies. Their mobility, loyalty, and
capacity to move upon their objective with a minimum loss of time made
Jackson confident that here was a fighting force well prepared to meet
any test.


[Illustration: General John Coffee, hero of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend
against the Creeks, was Jackson’s close friend and military “right arm”
and he led his Tennesseans gallantly at New Orleans. Portrait in
Hermitage, Nashville.]


At Fayetteville, Coffee mustered 2,000 men into service, and organized
two divisions under Colonels Robert H. Dyer and Thomas Williamson. At
dawn on October 5, the high-spirited troops began their long march
southward over the familiar trails which they had traveled the previous
year. During the march, their ranks were swelled by the addition of 800
more men, including four East Tennessee companies. Coffee’s men reached
Camp Gaines, 70 miles north of Mobile, on October 22, after having
traveled 470 miles in 18 days.[7] That autumn trip had been accomplished
with a minimum of sickness and no deaths, and the men were inspired with
the feeling that Nature’s blessing was upon them, however arduous the
campaign might be.

With the arrival of General Coffee, Jackson was ready to move against
the Spaniards at Pensacola. He did so with an awesome display of force
on November 7, and within a few hours declared the town in the
possession of the United States. With this blow, although it
accomplished little in the way of military success, Jackson confirmed
his “reputation as a man who could act boldly, assume vast
responsibilities, and move rapidly.”[8] Having quieted the aggressive
intentions of the Spaniards and Creeks, Jackson quickly returned to
Mobile where he expected a British attack at any moment. Coffee, in the
meantime, was instructed to proceed at once to the mouth of Sandy Creek,
about 20 miles north of Baton Rouge.

At this point of the campaign, Jackson had no idea that New Orleans
would be the focal point of a British invasion. He was convinced that
the landing would come somewhere to the east, and considered that
logically the invaders would align themselves with the hostile Creeks
and push through the back country to the Mississippi River near Baton
Rouge. There Coffee would be in a position to repulse whatever force was
thrown against him. Unknown to Old Hickory, however, the British had no
immediate designs upon Baton Rouge. At that moment, a great invasion
fleet of some fifty armed vessels and over ten thousand veterans of the
Napoleonic wars were being organized at Negril Bay in Jamaica: its
objective being New Orleans.[9]

However uncertain Jackson’s initial operations along the coast may have
seemed to the uneasy citizens of New Orleans, it was soon evident that
he did not intend to allow the city to go completely undefended. To
further bolster his army and make his coastal defenses adequate, Jackson
now called upon the trusted William Carroll. Carroll was only 26 years
of age at this time but his courage and intelligence had already
elevated him to the rank of Major General of the Second Tennessee
Division.[10] A veteran of the Creek campaign, Carroll made no effort to
conceal his destination in his strongly worded appeal for volunteers:

      Should any foreign power obtain a permanent possession of
      the City of New Orleans and the mouth of the Mississippi we
      may bid farwell (sic) to all our prosperity and anticipated
      greatness. Let our enemy ... place one foot in Louisiana and
      we are at once bestrode by a colossus who has too long
      rested the other in Canada; in fine let him command the
      Mississippi River, and we become the most dependent,
      degraded, and miserable people on earth.... You may add the
      immortal glory of conquering the boasted troops of a Lord

The 3,000 militiamen who met with Carroll in Nashville on November 13
were similar in appearance to those of Coffee. One eyewitness remarked
that they were “as fine looking men as any we ever saw, and a
considerable part of them (were) well armed, with muskets and
rifles.”[12] Another observer noted that they “have come forward with
that promptitude which has heretofore characterized the state.... They
are generally provided with arms, etc. at their own expense.”[13]

Six days after they gathered in Nashville, the troops embarked on boats
for New Orleans. The main diversion offered the Tennesseans during the
slow, tedious trip down the Cumberland, Ohio and Mississippi rivers was
the daily drilling which Carroll and his two subordinates, Brigadier
Generals Thomas Coulter and Bird Smith, gave the recruits. There had
been no time for training prior to their hasty departure.

Enroute the militiamen were cheered when they overtook a New
Orleans-bound keelboat laden with muskets. Thomas L. Servoss, a
prominent Natchez businessman, was responsible for this fortunate
occurrence. While visiting New York during the summer of 1814, he was
informed by a government official that New Orleans was considered the
likely site for a British invasion. Concerned for his family’s welfare,
Servoss had left for home immediately. At Pittsburg he boarded one of
two keelboats headed for New Orleans with large quantities of arms and
ammunition. Experienced in navigation himself and familiar with the
route, Servoss prevailed upon the captain to depart earlier than was
scheduled. By doing so, Servoss unintentionally insured that Carroll’s
troops were fully armed before their trip was completed.[14]


[Illustration: General William Carroll, later governor of Tennessee as
here portrayed, was only 26 years old during the Battle of New Orleans,
where he demonstrated the same courage and intelligence he had shown at
Horseshoe Bend. Portrait in Tennessee Historical Society.]



While William Carroll and his men were plying their way down the
Mississippi, John Coffee and his mounted militiamen were making their
way toward Sandy Creek. The 16-day march was worse than any Coffee had
ever experienced, because the area was interlaced with streams and
covered with heavy undergrowth.[15] Drenching rain fell for 20
successive days. At Sandy Creek, where quantities of corn had arrived
from Tennessee, the men ate their first adequate meal since leaving
Pensacola and the horses were foraged. Here they impatiently awaited
further word from Jackson.

By now the British plan was becoming clear to Jackson, who hastened from
Mobile to New Orleans. There, on December 2, he found the local
situation one of general turmoil and confusion. The citizens appeared in
a fighting mood and, on the whole, received him enthusiastically.

Jackson’s problems, however, increased immediately. There were only
about 700 regular United States troops in the city—hardly enough to pose
a threat to an invading veteran army—and the situation was made more
difficult when the New Orleans militia refused to serve under United
States officers. The offer of service by the Baratarian pirates made
through the local Committee of Defense was refused by Jackson because
the pirates were at that time being prosecuted in a Federal court. Since
the pirates possessed artillery in considerable quantities and were
proficient in its use, the Committee next turned to Federal Judge
Dominick Hall. He advised them to have the Louisiana legislature, then
meeting in New Orleans, adopt a resolution requesting that all charges
against the pirates be dropped for four months. The resolution was then
presented to Judge Hall, who, in turn, ordered the District Attorney to
suspend his prosecution for the designated period. This action made
possible the valuable contribution of the Baratarians in the defense of
New Orleans.

Jackson’s problems were intensified by his own health. He was wracked
with a high fever resulting from malaria which he contracted while in
Florida. Lacking sufficient sleep and rest, he was touchy and sensitive
to any criticism directed at him by the legislature or local groups.[16]

On December 15, Jackson notified Coffee that a large enemy fleet had
been observed arriving off Cat and Ship islands, a dozen miles off the
Mississippi Coast and 60 miles from the mouth of the Mississippi. In his
communication, Jackson thought it unlikely that the British would attack
up the river, because the approach from its mouth was guarded by two
forts, Bourbon and St. Philip. Major W. H. Overton, of Nashville, one of
Jackson’s capable subordinates, commanded St. Philip. Coffee was
skeptical that the invaders would try the other logical route open to
them, crossing Lake Borgne and marching directly on the city. In the
event that the British should choose this route he promised, “I shall be
ready to meet them, in the swamps, where one Tennessean can run down ten
sailors, and worn out Europeans, through mud, water, and brush,—I do not
believe they will ever land, but should they attempt it, I have no doubt
as to the result, being favorable to our army.[17]” Events proved that
Coffee’s confidence in his men was fully justified.

Jackson quickly augmented his New Orleans garrison by ordering Coffee to
make a forced march of 135 miles from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, a feat
which the latter accomplished in three days. Coffee encamped at Avart’s
Plantation, five miles upriver from the city, on December 20. Further
upriver, Carroll received a similar command to hasten his best trained
and equipped troops and additional arms to supply Coffee’s men, whose
arms and ammunition had been damaged by the heavy rain.[18]

After the defeat and capture of the five little American gunboats on
Lake Borgne on December 14, the road to New Orleans was open for the
invaders. The British secretly disembarked their troops between December
16 and 20 on Pea Island. Then on the 22nd, they boarded open boats and
cautiously crossed Lake Borgne, about 60 miles across. Under cover of
darkness the trip was made even more somber by the biting, penetrating
cold weather. Jackson, seemingly, lost sight of the British army’s
movements following its arrival at Ship and Cat islands. Arriving the
following morning at Fisherman’s Village (an extreme point on Villere’s
Canal) on the Bayou Bienvenue, the invaders with their movements still
unnoticed marched stealthily across Villere’s plantation toward the
Mississippi River. About 9 a.m., they surprised and captured Major
Gabriel Villere, and a detachment of troops. Major Villere managed to
escape into a nearby cypress swamp, and make his way to New Orleans
where he notified Jackson at his headquarters on Royal Street that the
British were below the city.[19]

Faced now with a sudden crisis, Jackson was equal to the occasion. It
was noon when Jackson learned that the Redcoats were at the Mississippi,
seven miles below New Orleans. About 2 p.m. he learned from Major Arsene
Lacarriere Latour, his chief engineer, that the British numbered between
1,600 and 1,800. Jackson, meanwhile had called in his troops from
various points on the outskirts of New Orleans. Coffee marched down from
Avart’s plantation in mid-afternoon to rendezvous at Fort St. Charles.
Carroll was sent to the upper branch of the Bayou Bienvenue to command
Jackson’s center. The conference between Jackson and Coffee was brief.
Jackson thought of awaiting the British attack, but acceded to Coffee’s
strategy of carrying the fight to the enemy by a night attack.
Thereupon, Coffee and his mounted infantry proceeded southward through
the city, where one observer remembered them as follows:

      Their appearance, however, was not very military. In their
      woolen hunting shirts and coperas dyed pantaloons; with
      slouched hat or cap made from the skins of raccoons or
      foxes; with belts of untanned deer-skin and in which were
      stuck their hunting-knives—but were admirable soldiers,
      remarkable for endurance and possessing that admirable
      quality in soldiers, of being able to take care of
      themselves. At their head rode their gallant leader, a man
      of noble respect, tall and herculean in appearance, mounted
      upon a fine Tennessee thoroughbred, was stately and

The main body of the British army, lighthearted and confident that their
movements were undetected, bivouacked the night of the 23rd on the upper
part of Villere’s plantation. To a man they were fully confident of an
overwhelming victory. A short distance away, however, the frontiersmen
crept and crawled into position under the brilliant moonlight which
enveloped the area. Drifting silently down river at the same moment was
the small American schooner, the _Carolina_, which suddenly opened fire
on the British camp about 7:30 p.m. The confused invaders were driven
back three or four hundred yards from the river’s bank by the unexpected


[Illustration: Determination is written all over the face of Andrew
Jackson in this portrait by Ralph E. W. Earle in the Brooks Gallery,


The _Carolina’s_ fire was the signal to attack. Coffee, guided by
Colonel Pierre Denis de la Ronde, whose plantation was near that of
Villere, skirted the edge of a swamp to attack the enemy’s right flank
while Jackson and Carroll struck from the front. Coffee’s powerful
thrust sent the British 85th regiment reeling backward, permitting the
Tennesseans to get behind the faltering line. Then by a “sudden movement
Coffee was able to penetrate almost to the very heart of the British
camp.”[21] The engagement quickly became one of great confusion.
Coffee’s riflemen were so determined in pressing their advantage that
they became somewhat disorganized, but never lost their poise. The
invaders, on the other hand, could not regain the initiative against the
surprise attack. Much of the battle was fought hand-to-hand.

A decided advantage to the Tennesseans was their use of long rifles
against the shorter weapons of the British. Jackson’s men kept up a
brisk, punishing fire for over two hours. Their excellent marksmanship
drew praise from Major Latour, who noted in one spot a half dozen marks
made by their rifle balls within a diameter of only four inches.[22]
Little, if any, random shooting was done by the deliberate riflemen, who
had been carefully schooled to take careful aim before firing.

The battlefield confusion became more pronounced when a heavy fog
settled over the area and soldiers of both armies were captured after
being separated from their comrades. The British gained some respite
from their punishment when their Second Division arrived from Bayou
Bienvenue and slipped behind Coffee’s rear. This advantage, however, was
lost when a British commander failed to extend his line for fear of
being cut off from the lake and boats. Finally, the Redcoats slowly
retired from the battlefield to shelter under a river levee. By this
time the fog was so heavy that pursuit would have entailed serious
hazards to the Americans, including exposure to the _Carolina’s_ fire
which had continued intermittently throughout the fight. Accordingly,
Coffee also left the field, withdrawing about a mile and a quarter to De
la Ronde’s garden to await the dawn.

Although the result could be regarded as indecisive, the Americans
considered the outcome a victory since only 1,600 of their men had been
pitted against some 3,000 British. There was also a considerable
difference in the number of casualties: American losses totaled 95
killed and wounded and 75 taken prisoner, while the British lost 400
killed and wounded and 100 captured.

The significance of the night action of December 23 was the indication
that a numerically inferior American force could hold its own against
British invaders. The Americans, many of whom lacked formal military
training, had faced British military might and had given no quarter.
They felt strongly that they possessed the mental and physical equipment
to withstand and, indeed, to hurl back almost any onslaught which might
be thrown against them. The only question remaining in their minds was
when their victory might come.

On the other hand, the outcome of the night struggle dismayed the
British forces to the extent that they became overly cautious, and
permitted Jackson valuable time in which to prepare his New Orleans
defenses.[23] They could, however, take some satisfaction from the fact
that they were not dislodged from their positions.

Some of the Tennessee casualties included Colonels Robert H. Dyer and
John H. Gibson, who were wounded, and the capture of Majors David
Hubbard and Charles Kavennaugh. The deaths of Colonel James Lauderdale
and Lieutenant Samuel T. Brooks were serious losses to Coffee.
Lauderdale, who had fought with unusual courage in the Creek War and was
wounded at Horseshoe Bend, was still recovering from his wounds when he
returned to active service with the Tennessee Mounted Volunteers. During
the engagement which took his life, Lauderdale customarily overexposed
himself in leading his men forward. But he fought to the last with the
instinctive skill of a battle-tested soldier. Many were the eulogies
expressed for Colonel Lauderdale, by none was more appropriate than that
which appeared in the Nashville _Whig_:

      With such examples as that of Lauderdale, which by their
      splendor and their number will soon constitute for us a
      national character capable of the sublimest efforts of
      steady fortitude and masculine courage, tho’ the enemy were
      to land a hundred thousand men on our shores we need not
      tremble—they would but serve to illustrate the invincible
      rigor of our free constitution, and the irresistible energy
      of our spirit.[24]


[Illustration: William Trousdale, who became governor of Tennessee, was
a dashing young lieutenant under Andrew Jackson at New Orleans. Portrait
in Tennessee Historical Society.]


There were, of course, many individual acts of heroism performed by
Tennesseans, some of which, fortunately, have been recorded. John
Donelson, Coffee’s brother-in-law, captured an important British
officer, Major Mitchell. Lieutenant William Trousdale, himself destined
for later fame as governor of Tennessee, was in the company which
captured a major, two lieutenants, and thirty privates. The intrepid
Trousdale barely escaped while leading a charge against the British who
were entrenched behind a fence and a river levee. Having already leapt
upon the fence, Trousdale glanced behind him only to discover to his
dismay that the company had been ordered to retreat, leaving him alone
in the enemy’s fire. He scrambled down from the fence and escaped back
to his lines amid a hall of bullets.

Again, as at Horseshoe Bend, the excellent teamwork of Jackson and
Coffee was evident. Coffee’s troops bore the brunt of fire and, as
disciplined fighting men, had carried the fight to the enemy. Their
outward simplicity concealed the marrow of the born soldier,
willing—perhaps eager—to endure any personal hardship to gain his
mission. Governor William C. C. Claiborne of Louisiana noted this
quality and wrote that the “Tennessee troops equal the high expectations
which were formed of them; nor is it possible for men to display more
patriotism, firmness in battle, or composure under fatigue and
privations.”[25] It was evident that even after the December 23
engagement, the British were still inclined to underestimate American
ability in massed battle array. It is just as well as they reasoned from
a faulty premise and lacked the benefit of Latour’s estimation:

      General Coffee’s Tennesseans, those modest and simple sons
      of nature, displayed that firm composure which accompanies
      and indicates true courage.... Instinctively valiant,
      disciplined without having passed through the formal
      training of reviews and garrison maneuvers, they evinced on
      this memorable night, that enthusiasm, patriotism, and a
      sense of a just cause, which were of far more avail than
      scientific tactics. The heroes of Wellington, who boasted of
      their military tactics and disciplined valor, were often
      doomed by woful (sic) experience, to appreciate the prowess
      of those warlike sons of the western country.[26]


Both armies now began in earnest to prepare for the impending big
battle. The British ferried in several thousand more soldiers, bringing
their number to approximately 8,000. General Sir Edward M. Pakenham, the
Duke of Wellington’s brother-in-law, arrived on Christmas Day eager to
add other laurels to his 22-year military career. His accomplishments
already included his decisive attack as division commander at Salamanca
in the Peninsula Campaign against Napoleon.

Jackson, although elated over the results of the initial encounter,
realized that the British had come to fight, not as a striking force
similar to that of the Washington foray, but as a conquering army bent
upon seizing the Mississippi Valley. When, early in the morning of
December 24, there was no move by the invaders, Jackson drew his army
back about two miles to a point between the McCarty and Chalmette
plantations and formed a line which extended from the Mississippi River
on his right to a cypress swamp on the left.[27] The Rodriguez Canal, a
large wet ditch five feet deep, ran in front of the works. There the
soldiers worked feverishly day and night to erect strong breastworks.
Carroll’s position was on an extension of the canal. Coffee, on the
extreme left of Jackson’s line after a scare on December 28, extended
his ditch and works into the swamp, eliminating almost any further
possibility for a flanking attack. The entire line covered about
three-quarters of a mile, with about two-thirds of this being across the
open plain.

Although no general action ensued immediately after the night battle,
conditions in the battlefield area were hardly tranquil prior to January
8. On the evening of December 27, the British rushed a strong force
forward, causing Jackson’s advance guard to fall back under heavy
cannon, rocket, and musket fire. Pakenham staged a reconnaissance in
force the next day and before it was called off the British were able to
install a sizable force behind a fence oblique to the American line.
Carroll instructed Colonel James Henderson and a detachment of 200 men
to sweep along a wooded area, make a turn to the right toward the river
and thus cut off the Redcoats. Unfortunately, Henderson’s slant to the
right was premature and left the British still well covered by the
fence, and his detachment several yards away from the protective
covering of the woods.[28] A burst of musketry killed Henderson and five
men and the others fell back into the woods. In the noisy and heavy
artillery duel of January 1, casualties on each side were few, but the
Americans at the guns proved as keen marksmen as the Tennessee riflemen,
and impressed the British considerably.

The British sentries were indeed terrified by the Tennesseans’ ability
with their rifles. These sentries called the Tennesseans _dirty shirts_
because their brown hunting dress camouflaged them in the thick
undergrowth and dry grass. These militiamen were not soldiers in the
European definition of the word. Many were frontiersmen who had battled
the wilderness and endured the merciless elements of nature. Small
wonder it is that they were not awed by the polished legions poised for
their defeat. In truth, their pride grew as they measured themselves
against the reputation of their heralded foe.

They gained considerable satisfaction, for example, from their
harassment of the enemy. One operation which they called the “hunting
party” amounted to nothing more than slipping out at night and disposing
of as many British sentries as possible. In one night’s effort, one old
Tennessean killed three sentries, took their arms and accouterments, and
returned before dawn boasting of his feat.

When Jackson was finally in position, his force of some 5,000 presented
a heterogeneous array of the unlikeliest components for an army. The
blue-coated American regulars anchored one end of the line and Coffee’s
militiamen the other. In between were various groups such as the
Louisiana militia; New Orleans volunteers; Mississippians; battalion of
free men of color; Louisiana Creoles; and the recently arrived
Kentuckians. The Baratarian pirates had their cannons, ranging in size
from 6- to 32-pounders, loaded and ready to fire on signal. The
breastworks were five feet high, and were considered by Jackson to be
impenetrable by small projectiles. Pakenham apparently did not share
this view. His plan of attack was now devised, and before the misty
morning of January 8 was gone, the Americans and British engaged each
other in their last great struggle.


General Pakenham, realizing that further delays would only give Jackson
additional time in which to make his position more secure, concluded
that a day-break frontal attack would break the resistance of the
Americans. He was still not convinced of their ultimate ability to
withstand Britannia’s veterans. Strangely, he was joined in this opinion
by his supporting officers, although they had witnessed the bravery and
skill of the American in arms in both night and day engagements.

Sitting in the top of a tree, surveying the American works on the
afternoon of January 7, Pakenham was inclined to agree with a deserter
to his ranks that the weakest point in the American position was the
extreme left, where some of Coffee’s militiamen stood knee-deep in the
swamp. So far as he could determine, the outlook appeared good that the
morning would bring a memorable victory. His plan called for three
columns to attack. The smaller one, numbering about 800 men, was to
invest the American right. Two thousand soldiers were in the middle
column, while the 4,000 on the British right were to storm Coffee’s
militiamen and attack Jackson’s rear. To begin the attack, 1,400 troops
would be transported across the Mississippi by boats brought in from
Lake Borgne to capture an American battery erected there to rake the
British ranks.

Jackson also was observing Pakenham on the afternoon of the seventh and
he concluded that a major assault upon his works was imminent. Fascines
and scaling ladders were in evidence, as were additional troops which
had arrived the previous day under the command of Major General John
Lambert, who had sailed from England at the end of October. Jackson’s
plan of defense, a simple one, was designed to frustrate and repulse the
British onslaught. The riflemen were numbered “one” and “two.” At the
signal, the “ones” would fire first, step back, reload, and then wait
for the “twos” to fire.


[Illustration: A typical mid-19th century conception of how the Battle
of New Orleans on January 8, 1815 was fought. The officer on the white
horse presumably is Sir Edward M. Pakenham, who commanded the British
forces. The sharpshooter with his knee on the parapet has delivered the
fatal shot that killed the British commander. This sketch, by an unknown
artist, appeared in Harper’s Weekly.]


The night hours wore slowly on until the first vestiges of morning light
which was hardly perceptible because of the low-hanging fog. Every
Tennessean fingered his trigger, checking occasionally to see if his
trusty long knife was in place should hand-to-hand struggle become
necessary. Finally, when the rolling mists parted, there was seen a red
line advancing across the plain of Chalmette toward the American
entrenchments. When Jackson saw this, he felt that the plan of attack
would fail because no frontal attack could storm his entrenchments.
Coffee strode up and down his line encouraging his men to remain steady
and to withhold their fire until “one could see their belt-buckles.”[29]
On and on the silent line flowed, until it seemed like a great red
carpet across the battlefield. Coffee recalled seeing the provocative
scene of Redcoats advancing “in solid column in superior numbers and
great order.” Within a few moments a mighty blast of artillery mowed
down entire columns, but failed to halt the now surging tide streaming
dangerously near the entrenchments. The British had come to within forty
yards of Coffee’s flank before he roared: “Now men, aim for the center
of the cross belts——fire!”[30]

The smoke from the long rifles hung so heavy in that misty morning that
Jackson, slightly to the right of center, could not ascertain the result
of the militiamen’s blast. So with Abner Duncan and Tom Overton he rode
to Coffee’s end of the line. A few moments later there was another
sharp, ringing volley, and Jackson increased his horse’s gallop. When he
was within 100 yards of Coffee, the smoke lifted just enough for the
surprised commander to see the British “falling back in a confused mass
with the first ranks of their column ... blown away.”[31] So far as
Coffee was concerned, the grape and canister were “nothing to the
carnage of our rifles and muskets when they (the British) reached them.”

General Carroll also caught the force of the attack when nearly 2,000
men bore down upon the center of his line. As before, his rifles
answered with an authority which inspired one officer to write: “The
determined firmness of the men, silent as death at their posts,
convinced me that on that day they would add fresh laurels to those
already won by Tennessee.”[32]

Regrouping, the British line advanced a second time only to be cut down
again. It was now apparent that Pakenham’s well devised plans had gone
awry. The depleted columns which did reach the works could not scale
them because an Irish regiment and a West Indian regiment, entrusted
with the responsibility of carrying the fascines and scaling ladders,
had failed in their duty. A major, a lieutenant, and twenty men finally
pressed across the ditch on the American left, and the two officers
started up the works. The major was riddled immediately with bullets,
but the lieutenant managed to scale the top and demanded the surrender
of a couple of militia officers facing him. To this demand they
suggested that he look behind him, which he did and discovered to his
consternation that the men whom he thought were following him “had
vanished as if the earth had opened and swallowed them up.”[33] Of
greater consequence to the British, however, was the death of General
Pakenham, who had been cut down as he attempted to arouse his stricken
troops for another assault.

During the struggle, several Tennesseans became mixed with the
Kentuckians and one of them was accidentally killed by a Kentucky
sharpshooter when a gun discharged prematurely. One Tennessean,
remembered only as Paleface, remained with the Kentuckians throughout
the battle. A gaunt little man, Paleface received the sword of a
surrendering British officer and, in the closing minutes of the fight,
killed at nearly 300 yards a retreating Redcoat who was making obscene
gestures at the defenders.

As the firing died down, captives began to trickle into the works, one
of whom was a young man about 19 or 20 years old, apparently in great
pain. He was assisted by several Kentuckians who sought to alleviate his
suffering by removing his accouterments. At the same time a Tennessean
returned from the river with a tin coffee pot filled with water. The
stricken soldier asked if he could have just a drop. “Oh yes!” said the
Tennessean, “I will treat you to anything I’ve got.” After taking two or
three sips out of the spout, the young man returned the pot, sank
backward, took a gasp or two, and died.[34]

By now, the tide of battle was receding as the aggressors retired from
the field “under cover of a very thick fog.”[35] When the smoke and fog
lifted, the gallant defenders witnessed a sight which would forever be
etched upon their minds. Before them were the tortured forms of the dead
and dying, many of them convulsing in the agonies of death. Across the
battlefield, there also arose sounds which would reverberate across the
years in their memories—the groans and lamentations of fallen men.
Witnessing that scene, few could dispute Coffee’s conviction that the
“famous campaign against Orleans is at rest at present, and has thus far
been marked with better fortune to the American arms than anything
heretofore known.”[36] Over 2,000 British were either dead, wounded, or
missing, while the American loss stood at seven killed and six

Thus, within two hours the Battle of New Orleans belonged to history.
General Lambert, the only remaining British officer of general rank,
covered the retreat and that afternoon assumed the melancholy task of
retrieving and burying the dead. The bodies were delivered to the
British lines by the Tennesseans and Kentuckians on the unused scaling
ladders they found strewn across the battlefield. The dead soldiers were
interred in a site on the Bienvenu plantation. Ironically, some British
officers were buried in Villere’s garden, which had been their
headquarters prior to the battle. It was not until the night of January
18, however, that the entire British army withdrew from its encampments
and returned across Lake Borgne to their fleet still anchored in deep
water between Cat and Ship islands. Their departure was carefully
observed by Jackson, who distributed his forces to protect every
approach to the city should the frustrated enemy attempt to strike
another blow.


On January 21, 1815, Tennessee was “revered, and General Jackson
idolized” by appreciative citizens of New Orleans who filled the city’s
streets to cheer the army during its victory march through the city.
Included in the festive occasion, arranged as an outpouring of the
city’s gratitude, was a “triumphal arch, adorned with wreaths, supported
by eighteen pillars (one for each state) and eighteen damsels, the
fairest in the city, bearing a motto emblematic of the state she
represented.”[38] Flowers were scattered in abundance along the entire
route. While the period of rejoicing was still in progress, Mrs. Jackson
arrived in the city on February 19th in time for a grand ball given in
the general’s honor on Washington’s birthday.

Praise was showered upon the Tennesseans, particularly the Coffee
militiamen who, from the inception of the campaign, had carried the
heaviest burden of battle among the American troops. From the time they
departed Fayetteville in early October, they had been almost constantly
in the saddle or on foot, often wading through muck, and stoically
enduring privation. This patient endurance of any test they were called
upon to face, drew from Robert Butler, Adjutant General, Seventh
Military District, this comment:

      To the Tennessee mounted gunmen, to their gallant leader,
      brigadier-general Coffee, the general presents his warmest
      thanks, not only for their uniform good conduct in action,
      but for the wonderful patience with which they have borne
      the fatigue, and the perseverance with which they surmounted
      the difficulties of a most painful march, in order to meet
      the enemy—a diligence and zeal to which we probably owe the
      salvation of the country. Ordinary activity would have
      brought them too late to act the brilliant part they have
      performed in the defeat of our invaders.[39]

Resolutions of thanks and gratitude were also tendered the Tennesseans
by the Louisiana Legislature which, however, failed to include any
recognition of Jackson. In a note to that body, Coffee courteously
thanked them for the recognition, but added that the highest honors
given to anyone connected with the defense of New Orleans rightfully
belonged to General Jackson.


[Illustration: The Natchez Trace at about the time of the Battle of New


On March 14, word finally reached Jackson that the war was officially
over. He thereupon released the Tennesseans from duty and instructed
Generals Coffee and Carroll to return them home immediately. Traveling
over the famed Natchez Trace, there was ample time for them to reflect
upon the momentous events of the past five months, and they may have
wondered what the result at New Orleans would have been had Tennessee
not been represented there. But there was one thing certain! No group
connected with New Orleans marched any harder, fought more relentlessly,
or endured hardship as long as did the Tennesseans. This being the case,
one could not blame them for musing a bit, and occasionally stroking
their long rifles, which had etched for each of them an honored place in
the golden annals of their country’s history.



  Jackson’s visit to New Orleans.

  General Jackson received a gala welcome in New Orleans when he
  returned victorious from the Plains of Chalmette.]


It is a long trail leading from the plain of Chalmette to January 8,
1965, but nothing that has happened over these years lessens the modern
Tennessean’s appreciation for the warriors who represented their state
so well at New Orleans. History has observed that of the approximately
5,000 Tennesseans in the vicinity almost 1,500 were on the line during
the battle.

With the exception of the 700 United States regulars, no group connected
with the campaign on the American side had the military training and
leadership which the Tennesseans already possessed by virtue of their
participation in the Creek War. If the British attack on the American
left, held by Coffee’s Tennesseans, had succeeded, the battle’s outcome
might well have been a different story.

The several groups comprising Jackson’s army performed capably. Each had
its unique talents and accomplished much of what was expected of it.
When considering the entire New Orleans campaign, however, one is
immediately impressed with the fact that no phase can be studied without
finding evidence of Tennessee’s participation. It is clear in
retrospect, as it was in 1815, that the role of Tennessee at New Orleans
was highly significant, perhaps the dominant force, in bringing the
campaign to a successful conclusion.



1.  O. P. Chitwood, F. L. Owsley, and H. C. Nixon. _The United States from
    Colony to World Power_, (New York, 1954), 218. Delegates from
    Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Hampshire
    met at Hartford, Connecticut, December 15, 1814, to declare their
    opposition to the war. Declaring that a state could interpose its
    authority against unconstitutional acts of the Federal Government, the
    Convention also proposed seven constitutional amendments and appointed
    a committee to go to Washington to negotiate with the Government.
    Shortly after the committee’s arrival, however, word came of the
    overwhelming American victory at New Orleans, so that the
    representatives retired without revealing the purpose of their trip.

2.  The northern states were more concerned with the infamous “Orders of
    Council” passed by the British Government permitting that nation’s
    navy to search any United States ship on the pretense of looking for
    English deserters, and forbidding any intercourse between France and
    America. The firing on the American frigate _Chesapeake_ in the summer
    of 1807 by the British warship _Leopard_ for the former vessel’s
    refusal to be searched, brought the two countries dangerously close to
    war, and Federalist apathy was almost swept away by an aroused public

3.  Charles B. Brooks, _The Siege of New Orleans_. (Seattle, 1961), 12.
    Jackson assumed command of the Military District on May 28.

4.  Enroute to Mobile, Jackson on August 10 concluded a peace treaty with
    the Creeks, requiring that tribe to reside on lands bordered by the
    Coosa River to the west, the Chattahoochee in the east, and to the
    south, by a line running east and west. It was thought that the Creeks
    and Seminoles would thus be separated, and contact broken with British
    agents. John H. DeWitt, “General James Winchester, 1752-1826,” in
    _Tennessee Historical Magazine_ I (1915), 183.

5.  Coffee was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia, June 2, 1772, and
    died at his home “Hickory Hill” near Florence, Alabama, July 7, 1833.
    Migrating to Tennessee in 1798 with his widowed mother, Coffee became
    a successful merchant and surveyor. In 1809 he married Mary Donelson.
    Their farm on Stone’s River in Rutherford County was 10 miles from the
    Hermitage. “Letters of General John Coffee to His Wife, 1813-1815,” in
    _Tennessee Historical Magazine_, II, (1916), 264-65. Coffee’s
    granddaughter, Eliza Croom Coffee, described him as possessing a
    commanding appearance with brilliant black eyes and a dark skin. “His
    expression,” she wrote, “was quiet and serious, but not sad, and
    showed deep thought. His manners were courteous and gentle.” Eliza
    Croom Coffee, “Sketch of the Life of General John Coffee,” Florence,
    Alabama, 1897 (Script in Manuscript Collection, Tennessee Historical
    Society, Tennessee State Library and Archives.)

6.  Nashville _Whig_, September 21, 1814, p. 3.

7.  John Coffee to Mary Donelson Coffee, Camp Gaines, October 22, 1814, in
    _Tennessee Historical Magazine_, II (1916), 285-86.

8.  C. S. Forester, “Victory of New Orleans,” in _American Heritage_ VIII,
    (1957), 8.

9.  N. Floyd McGowin, “Some Aspects of Waning British Influence in the
    Middle Gulf Region,” in _The Alabama Review_, IX (1956), 166-67.

10. Born near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, March 3, 1788, Carroll came to
    Nashville in 1810 to open a mercantile store. His fondness for
    studying military tactics endeared him to Andrew Jackson, then Major
    General of the Second Tennessee Division encompassing West (now
    Middle) Tennessee. When Jackson resigned in 1813 to command the United
    States Army in defense of the Southern frontier, Carroll received the
    appointment. Later, as Governor of Tennessee, Carroll distinguished
    himself for his frugality and business acumen.

11. _Nashville Clarion_, November 1, 1814, p. 3.

12. _The Clarion and Tennessee State Gazette_, November 22, 1814, p. 3.

13. Nashville _Whig_, November 16, 1814, p. 3.

14. Nashville _Daily Gazette_, November 10, 1858, p. 2. As the story goes,
    all of the Tennessee troops, including those of Coffee, were fully
    armed by December 21. The second keelboat, however, did not arrive
    until some time after the battle of January 8, leaving the
    Kentuckians, who arrived January 4, only partially armed.

15. John Coffee to Mary Donelson Coffee, Sandy Creek, December 15, 1814,
    in _Tennessee Historical Magazine_, II (1916), 289. The line of march
    was almost parallel to the sea coast, about 40 or 50 miles from the

16. Edward Larocque Tinker, _Creole City, Its Past and Its People_ (New
    York, 1953), 45-46. Jackson’s relationship to the legislature was so
    strained that, after the battle, that body refused to pass a
    resolution of commendation for the general’s services.

17. John Coffee to Mary Donelson Coffee, December 15, 1814, in _Tennessee
    Historical Magazine_, II (1916).

18. John Coffee to Andrew Jackson, December 17, 1814, Andrew Jackson MSS.,
    Manuscript Division, Tennessee State Library and Archives.

19. McGowin, _op. cit._, 167.

20. Major A. Lacarriere Latour, _Historical Memoir of the War in West
    Florida and Louisiana_ (Philadelphia, 1816), 88; Eliza Croom Coffee.

21. Benson L. Lossing, _The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812_ (New
    York, 1869).

22. Latour, _op. cit._, 99.

23. John Coffee to Mary Donelson Coffee, New Orleans, January 20, 1815, in
    _Tennessee Historical Magazine_, II (1916), 289-90. See also J. A.
    Trousdale, “A History of the Life of General William Trousdale,” in
    _Tennessee Historical Magazine_, II (1916), 123-24.

24. Nashville, _Whig_, January 11, 1815, p. 3. Of interest is the fact
    that Lauderdale County, Alabama, where John Coffee later made his
    home, is named after Colonel James Lauderdale.

25. _Ibid._

26. Latour, _op. cit._, 107.

27. Going down the river the following six plantations comprised the
    principal theater of action: Macarty, Chalmette, Bienvenu, De la
    Ronde, Lacoste, and Villere.

28. John Spencer Bassett, (ed.), _Major Howell Tatum’s Journal_
    (Northampton, Massachusetts, 1921), 115-16. One other man, presumed
    dead, was wounded, but arose three times and endeavored to escape
    under a heavy discharge of musketry. He was finally rescued by Major
    John W. Simpson, Captain Barbee Collins, and two privates.

29. Eliza Croom Coffee, _op. cit._

30. _Ibid._

31. _Ibid._

32. Nashville Whig, January 25, 1815, p. 2. This information was taken
    from a letter sent by an officer to a Nashville friend and reprinted
    in the _Whig_.

33. Rossiter Johnson, _A History of the War of 1812-1815_ (New York,
    1882), 344.

34. “A Contemporary Account of the Battle of New Orleans by a Soldier in
    the Ranks,” in _The Louisiana Historical Quarterly_, I (1926), 15.

35. John Coffee to Mary Donelson Coffee, New Orleans, January 20, 1815, in
   _Tennessee Historical Magazine_, II (1916), 290.

36. _Ibid._

37. Stanley Clisby Arthur, _The Story of the Battle of New Orleans_ (New
    Orleans, 1915), 247.

38. John Coffee to Mary Donelson Coffee, New Orleans, January 30, 1815, in
    _Tennessee Historical Magazine_, II (1916), 291.

39.  Latour, _op. cit._, Appendix, clxxxv.



                       Jackson Reports On Battle

                   Letter from Major-General Jackson
                        to the Secretary of War.

Camp, four miles below Orleans, 9th January, 1815.


During the days of the 6th and 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 and 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 and well-disciplined army. Although 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 repel it when it should be made,
and to defeat the object he had in view. General Morgan with the Orleans
contingent, the Louisiana militia, and a strong detachment of the
Kentucky troops, occupied an intrenched camp on the opposite side of the
river, protected by strong batteries on the bank, erected and
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 and
congreve rockets, advanced their columns on my right and left, to storm
my intrenchments. I cannot speak sufficiently in praise of the firmness
and 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 and severe as can be
imagined. The artillery, too, directed by officers who displayed equal
skill and 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 general Carroll, those of general Coffee and a
division of the Kentucky militia, and twice they formed again and
renewed the assault. At length, however, cut to pieces, they fled in
confusion from the field, leaving it covered with their dead and
wounded. The loss which the enemy sustained on this occasion, cannot be
estimated at less than fifteen hundred in killed, wounded, and
prisoners. Upwards of three hundred have already been delivered over for
burial; and my men are still engaged in picking them up within my lines,
and carrying them to the point where the enemy are to receive them. This
is in addition to the dead and wounded whom the enemy have been enabled
to carry from the field during and since the action, and to those who
have since died of the wounds they received. We have taken about five
hundred prisoners, upwards of three hundred of whom are wounded, and a
great part of them mortally. My loss has not exceeded, and I believe has
not amounted to ten killed and as many wounded. The entire destruction
of the enemy’s army was now inevitable, had it not been for an
unfortunate occurrence, which at this moment took place on the other
side of the river. Simultaneously with his advance upon my lines, he had
thrown over in his boats a considerable force to the other side of the
river. These having landed, were hardy enough to advance against the
works of general Morgan; and, what is strange and difficult to account
for, at the very moment when their entire discomfiture was looked for
with a confidence approaching to certainty, the Kentucky
re-enforcements, in whom so much reliance had been placed, ingloriously
fled, drawing after them, by their example, the remainder of the forces;
and thus yielding to the enemy that most formidable position. The
batteries which had rendered me, for many days, the most important
service, though bravely defended, were, of course, now abandoned; not
however until the guns had been spiked.

This unfortunate rout had totally changed the aspect of affairs. The
enemy now occupied a position from which they might annoy us without
hazard, and by means of which they might have been able to defeat, in a
great measure, the effects of our success on this side the river. It
became therefore an object of the first consequence to dislodge him as
soon as possible. For this object, all the means in my power, which I
could with any safety use, were immediately put in preparation. Perhaps,
however, it was owing somewhat to another cause that I succeeded even
beyond my expectations. In negotiating the terms of a temporary
suspension of hostilities, to enable the enemy to bury their dead and
provide for their wounded, I had required certain propositions to be
acceded to as a basis, among which this was one—that, although
hostilities should cease on this side the river until twelve o’clock of
this day, yet it was not to be understood that they should cease on the
other side; but that no re-enforcements should be sent across by either
army until the expiration of that day. His excellency major-general
Lambert begged time to consider of those propositions until ten o’clock
of to-day, and in the meantime re-crossed his troops. I need not tell
you with how much eagerness I immediately regained possession of the
position he had thus happily quitted.

The enemy having concentrated his forces, may again attempt to drive me
from my position by storm. Whenever he does, I have no doubt my men will
act with their usual firmness, and sustain a character now become dear
to them.

                                I have the honour to be, &c.

                                                         ANDREW JACKSON.

                  *       *       *       *       *

                   Letter from Major-General Jackson
                        to the Secretary of War.

Camp, four miles below Orleans, January 13, 1815.


At such a crisis I conceive it my duty to keep you constantly advised of
my situation.

On the 10th instant I forwarded you an account of the bold attempt made
by the enemy on the morning of the 8th, to take possession of my works
by storm, and of the severe repulse which he met with. That report
having been sent by the mail which crosses the lake, may possibly have
miscarried; for which reason I think it the more necessary briefly to
repeat the substance of it.

Early on the morning of the 8th, the enemy having been actively employed
the two preceding days in making preparations for a storm, advanced in
two strong columns on my right and left. They were received however,
with a firmness which it seems they little expected, and which defeated
all their hopes. My men, undisturbed by their approach, which indeed
they had long anxiously wished for, opened upon them a fire so
deliberate and certain, as rendered their scaling ladders and fascines,
as their more direct implements of warfare, perfectly useless. For
upwards of an hour it was continued with a briskness of which there has
been but few instances, perhaps, in any country. In justice to the enemy
it must be said, they withstood it as long as could have been expected
from the most determined bravery. At length, however, when all prospects
of success became hopeless, they fled in confusion from the
field—leaving it covered with their dead and wounded. Their loss was
immense. I had first computed it at fifteen hundred; it is since
ascertained to have been much greater. Upon information which is
believed to be correct, colonel Hayne, the inspector-general, reports it
to be in the total two thousand six hundred. His report I enclose you.
My loss was inconsiderable being only seven killed and six wounded. Such
a disproportion in loss, when we consider the number and the kind of
troops engaged, must, I know, excite astonishment, and may not every
where, be fully credited; yet I am perfectly satisfied that the account
is not exaggerated on the one part, nor underrated on the other.

The enemy having hastily quitted a post which they had gained possession
of on the other side of the river, and we having immediately returned to
it, both armies at present occupy their former positions. Whether, after
the severe loss he has sustained, he is preparing to return to his
shipping or to make still mightier efforts to attain his first object, I
do not pretend to determine—it becomes me to act as though the latter
were his intention. One thing, however, seems certain, that if he still
calculates on effecting what he has hitherto been unable to accomplish,
he must expect considerable re-enforcements; as the force with which he
landed must undoubtedly be diminished by at least three thousand.
Besides the loss which he sustained on the night of the 23d ult. which
is estimated at four hundred, he cannot have suffered less between that
period and the morning of the 8th inst. than three hundred—having,
within that time, been repulsed in two general attempts to drive us from
our position, and there having been continual cannonading and
skirmishing during the whole of it. Yet he is still able to show a very
formidable force.

There is little doubt that the commanding general, sir Edward Packenham,
was killed in the action of the 8th, and that major-generals Kean and
Gibbs were badly wounded.

Whenever a more leisure moment shall occur, I will take the liberty to
make out and forward you a more circumstantial account of the several
actions, and particularly that of the 8th; in doing which my chief
motive will be to render justice to those brave men I have the honour to
command, and who have so remarkably distinguished themselves. I have the
honour to be, &c.

                                                         ANDREW JACKSON.

[Illustration: Back Cover]


                           TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE

Punctuation, and spacing in abbreviations and initials, were normalized.

Variations in hyphenation were maintained.

The placement of the advertising material was re-ordered to occur after
the title page.

Spelling has been maintained, with the exception of the following
typographical or printers’ errors:

    Page 5: “resistence” was changed to “resistance”.

    Page 11: “collossus” was changed to “colossus”.

    Page 12: “occurrance” was changed to “occurrence”.

    Page 17: “or untanned deer-skin” was changed to “of untanned

    Pages 17, 20: “Bayou Bienvenu” was changed to “Bayou Bienvenue”.

    Page 19: “prise” was changed to “praise”.

    Page 21: “individuals” was changed to “individual”.

    Page 23: “Jqckson” was changed to “Jackson”.

    Page 26: “and further possibility” was changed to “any further

    Page 33: “striken” was changed to “stricken”.

A variation in the spelling of McCarty or Macarty was maintained.

Italicized words and phrases are presented by surrounding the text with

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