Battle of New Orleans

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Battle of New Orleans
Part of the War of 1812
Edward pakenham.jpg
The Death of Pakenham at the Battle of New Orleans by F. O. C. Darley shows the death of British Maj. Gen. Sir Edward Pakenham on January 8, 1815
DateJanuary 8, 1815 (1815-01-08)[1]
Near New Orleans, Louisiana
29°56′33″N 89°59′27″W / 29.94250°N 89.99083°W / 29.94250; -89.99083Coordinates: 29°56′33″N 89°59′27″W / 29.94250°N 89.99083°W / 29.94250; -89.99083
Result U.S. victory[2]

 United States

United Kingdom

Commanders and leaders
Bvt. Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson
Brig. Gen. Pushmataha
William C. C. Claiborne
Jean Lafitte
Maj. Gen. Sir Edward Pakenham 
Maj. Gen. Samuel Gibbs 
Maj. Gen. John Keane  (WIA)
Col. Robert Rennie 
~ 5,700[2] ~ 8,000[2]
Casualties and losses
13 dead
39 wounded
19 missing or captured[3][4]
Total: 71

285 dead
1,265 wounded
484 missing or captured[5]

Total: 2,034[2]
Chalmette Battlefield is located in Louisiana
Chalmette Battlefield
Chalmette Battlefield
Location in Louisiana

The Battle of New Orleans was fought on January 8, 1815[1] between the British Army under Major General Sir Edward Pakenham and the United States Army under Brevet Major General Andrew Jackson,[2] roughly 5 miles (8 km) southeast of the French Quarter of New Orleans,[6] in the current suburb of Chalmette, Louisiana.[2]

The battle was the climax of the five month Gulf Campaign (September 1814 to February 1815) by Britain to try to take New Orleans, West Florida, and possibly Louisiana Territory which began at the First Battle of Fort Bowyer. Britain started the New Orleans campaign on December 14, 1814, at the Battle of Lake Borgne and numerous skirmishes and artillery duels happened in the weeks leading up to the final battle.

The battle took place 18 days after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, which formally ended the War of 1812, on December 24, 1814, though it would not be ratified by the United States (and therefore did not take effect) until February 16, 1815, as news of the agreement had not yet reached the United States from Europe.[7] Despite a large British advantage in numbers, training, and experience, the American forces defeated a poorly executed assault in slightly more than 30 minutes. The Americans suffered roughly 60 casualties, while the British suffered roughly 2,000, including the deaths of the commanding general, Major General Sir Edward Pakenham, and his second-in-command, Major General Samuel Gibbs.


In August 1814, Britain and the United States began negotiations to end the War of 1812.[8] However, British Secretary of State for War and the Colonies Henry Bathurst issued Pakenham secret orders on October 24, 1814, commanding him to continue the war even if he heard rumors of peace. Bathurst expressed concern that the United States might not ratify a treaty and did not want Pakenham either to endanger his forces or miss an opportunity for victory.[9]

There was a major concern that the British and their Spanish allies wanted to reclaim the territories of the Louisiana Purchase because they did not recognize any land deals made by Napoleon (first the 1800 transfer of Louisiana from Spain to France and then the 1803-04 transfer of Louisiana from France to the United States) so that was a major reason why the British invaded New Orleans in the middle of the Treaty of Ghent negotiations. If the British had won the Battle of New Orleans they would have likely interpreted that all territories gained from the 1803 Louisiana Purchase would be void and not part of U.S. territory.[10]


Lake Borgne[edit]

Lake Borgne, Louisiana, 1720.

Sixty British ships had anchored in the Gulf of Mexico to the east of Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne by December 14, 1814, with 14,450 soldiers and sailors aboard under the command of Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane.[11][12] An American flotilla of five gunboats prevented British access to the lakes, commanded by Lieutenant Thomas ap Catesby Jones. On December 14, around 1,200 British sailors and Royal Marines under Captain Nicholas Lockyer[13] set out to attack Jones's force. Lockyer's men sailed in 42 longboats, each armed with a small carronade. Lockyer captured Jones's vessels in a brief engagement. Casualties included 17 British sailors killed and 77 wounded, while 16 Americans were killed, 35 wounded, and the remaining 86 captured.[14] The wounded included both Jones and Lockyer. Thousands of British soldiers under the command of General John Keane then rowed to Pea Island (possibly now Pearl Island) where they established a garrison about 30 miles (48 km) east of New Orleans.[15]

Villeré Plantation[edit]

Affair Below New Orleans: December 23, 1814[16]

On the morning of December 23, Keane and a vanguard of 1,800 British soldiers reached the east bank of the Mississippi River, 9 miles (14 km) south of New Orleans.[17] They could have attacked the city by advancing a few hours up the undefended river road, but Keane decided to encamp at Lacoste's Plantation[18] and wait for the arrival of reinforcements.[19] The British invaded the home of Major Gabriel Villeré, but he escaped through a window[20][21] and hastened to warn General Jackson of the approaching army and the position of their encampment. According to historian Stanley Clisby Arthur:

At the close of Major Villeré's narrative the General drew up his figure, bowed with disease and weakness, to its full height, and with an eye of fire and an emphatic blow upon the table with his clenched fist, exclaimed: "By the Eternal, they shall not sleep on our soil!"[22]

Plan of the city and suburbs of New Orleans : from an actual survey made in 1815
Plan of the city and suburbs of New Orleans from an 1815 survey[23]

Commencement of battle[edit]

Jackson's raid on the British camp[edit]

Following Villeré's intelligence report, on the evening of December 23, Jackson led 2,131[24] men in a brief three-pronged assault from the north on the unsuspecting British troops, who were resting in their camp. He then pulled his forces back to the Rodriguez Canal, about 4 miles (6.4 km) south of the city. The Americans suffered 24 killed, 115 wounded, and 74 missing,[25] while the British reported their losses as 46 killed, 167 wounded, and 64 missing.[26] Historian Robert Quimby states that the British won a "tactical victory, which enabled them to maintain their position",[27] but they "were disabused of their expectation of an easy conquest".[28] As a consequence, the Americans gained time to transform the canal into a heavily fortified earthwork.[29]

British reconnaissance-in-force[edit]

On Christmas Day, General Edward Pakenham arrived on the battlefield. Two days later he received nine large naval artillery guns from Admiral Cochrane along with a hot shot furnace to silence the two large U.S. Navy warships, the USS Louisiana and the USS Carolina, that were harassing the army for 24 hours per day the past week from the Mississippi River. The Carolina was sunk in a massive explosion by the British, but the Louisiana survived thanks to the Baratarian pirates aboard getting into rowboats and tying the ship to the rowboats and rowing it further north away from the British artillery. The large warship was not able to sail northward under her own power due to the attack. These ships were now no longer a danger to the British, but Jackson ordered the ships' surviving guns and crew to be stationed on the west bank and provide covering fire for any British assault on the river road to Line Jackson (name of the U.S. defensive line at the Rodriguez Canal) and New Orleans. After silencing the two ships, Pakenham ordered a reconnaissance-in-force on December 28 against the earthworks. The reconnaissance-in-force was designed to test Line Jackson and see how well-defended it was, and if any section of the line was weak the British would take advantage of the situation, break through, and call for thousands of more soldiers to smash through the defenses. On the right side of this offensive the British soldiers successfully sent the militia defenders into a retreating panic with their huge show of force and were just a few hundred yards from breaching the defensive line, but the left side of the reconnaissance-in-force turned into tragedy for the British. The surviving artillery guns from the two neutralized warships successfully defended the section of Line Jackson closest to the Mississippi River with enfilading fire, making it look like the British offensive completely failed even though on the section closest to the swamp the British were on the verge of breaking through. Pakenham inexplicably decided to withdraw all the soldiers after seeing the left side of his reconnaissance-in-force collapsing and retreating in panic. The British suffered 16 killed and 43 wounded and the Americans suffered 7 killed and 10 wounded. Luck saved Line Jackson on this day and this was the closest the British came during the whole campaign to defeat Jackson.[30] After the failure of this operation Pakenham met with General Keane and Admiral Cochrane that evening for an update on the situation. Pakenham wanted to use Chef Menteur Pass as the invasion route, but he was overruled by Admiral Cochrane, who insisted that his boats were providing everything needed.[31] Admiral Cochrane believed that the veteran British soldiers would easily destroy Jackson's ramshackle army, and he allegedly said that if the army did not do it, his sailors would, and the meeting settled the method and place of the attack.[32]

H. Charles McBarron, Free Men of Colour and Choctaw Indian Volunteers at New Orleans, Louisiana (1982)

When the British reconnaissance force withdrew, the Americans immediately began constructing earthworks to protect the artillery batteries, further strengthening Line Jackson. They installed eight batteries, which included one 32-pound gun, three 24-pounders, one 18-pounder, three 12-pounders, three 6-pounders, and a 6-inch (150 mm) howitzer. Jackson also sent a detachment to the west bank of the Mississippi to man two 24-pounders and two 12-pounders on the grounded warship USS Louisiana. Even so, the British greatly outnumbered the Americans. Jackson's total of 4,732 men was made up of 968 Army regulars,[33] 58 Marines (holding the center of the defensive line), 106 Navy seamen, 1,060 Louisiana militia and volunteers (including 462 Black people), 1,352 Tennessee militia, 986 Kentucky militia, 150 Mississippi militia, and 52 Choctaw warriors, along with a force from pirate Jean Lafitte's Baratarians. Jackson in the first week of the New Orleans land campaign that began on December 23 also had the support of the warships in the Mississippi River, including USS Louisiana, USS Carolina, the schooner USS Eagle, and the steamboat Enterprise. The naval warships were neutralized by the heavy naval artillery guns brought in by Pakenham and Cochrane a few days after Christmas. Major Thomas Hinds' Squadron of Light Dragoons, a militia unit from the Mississippi Territory, arrived at the battle on December 22.[34]

Artillery duel[edit]

Battery 4, in the middle of Line Jackson, contained the biggest American artillery gun, a naval 32-pounder that was transferred from the USS Carolina before she was sunk by the British.

The main British army arrived on New Year's Day 1815 and began an artillery bombardment of the American earthworks. Jackson's headquarters, Macarty House, was fired at for the first 10 minutes of the skirmish while Jackson and his officers were eating breakfast. The house was completely destroyed but Jackson and the officers escaped harm. The Americans recovered quickly and mobilized their own artillery to fire back at the British artillery. This began an exchange of artillery fire that continued for three hours. Several of the American guns were silenced, including the 32-pounder, a 24-pounder, and a 12-pounder, while some damage was done to the earthworks. The British suffered even greater, losing 13 guns (5 British batteries out of 7 total batteries were silenced by the Americans). The remaining British artillery finally exhausted its ammunition, and Pakenham canceled the attack. Major General Gibbs during the artillery duel sent soldiers to try to outflank Line Jackson on the right due to the near-success of the December 28 skirmish. A combined force of Tennessee militia and Choctaw warriors used heavy small arms fire to repel this maneuver. The Tennessee and Choctaw soldiers even moved forward in front of Line Jackson and counterattacked, guerrilla-style, to guarantee the British withdrawal. After yet another failure to breach Line Jackson Pakenham decided to wait for his entire force of 8,000 men to assemble before continuing his attack. (The 40th Foot arrived too late, disembarking on 12 January 1815. [35]) The British lost 45 killed and 55 wounded in the artillery duel and the Americans lost 11 killed and 23 wounded. British morale completely collapsed after expecting an easy, bloodless victory against an opposing army heavily composed of, in their minds, non-professional militia, pirates, and squirrel hunters during the past 3 battles in the previous 10 days. Hundreds of shell-shocked British soldiers refused to follow orders and retrieve damaged but repairable guns that were abandoned in the battlefield during the afternoon. Pakenham had to personally lead the soldiers to retrieve the guns later that night.[36]

Opposing forces[edit]


Jean Hyacinthe de Laclotte, Battle of New Orleans (1815)
Battle of New Orleans: Jan. 8th

The Americans had constructed three lines of defense, with the forward line four miles south of the city. It was strongly entrenched at the Rodriguez Canal, which stretched from a swamp to the river, with a timber, loop-holed breastwork and earthworks for artillery.[37][38]

Right Bank[edit]

The British battle plan was for an attack against the 20-gun west bank battery, then to turn those guns on the American line to assist the frontal attack.[39] In the early morning of January 8, Pakenham gave his final orders for the two-pronged assault. Colonel William Thornton was to cross the Mississippi during the night with his force, move rapidly upriver, storm the battery commanded by Commodore Daniel Patterson on the flank of the main American entrenchments, and then open an enfilading fire on Jackson's line with the captured artillery, directly across from the earthworks manned by the vast majority of American troops. Keane was to lead a column along the river, and Major General Samuel Gibbs was to lead a column along the swamp. The brigade commanded by Major General John Lambert was held in reserve.

The British dug a canal to enable 42 small boats to get to the river.[39] Preparations for the attack had foundered early on January 8, as the canal collapsed and the dam failed, leaving the sailors to drag the boats through the mud with Thornton's west bank assault force. This left the force starting off just before daybreak, 12 hours late.[40] The frontal attack was not postponed, however, as the British hoped that the force on the west bank would create a diversion, even if they did not succeed in the assault.[39]

The only British success of the battle was the delayed attack on the west bank of the Mississippi River, where Thornton's brigade of the 85th Regiment and detachments from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines[41][42][43][44] attacked and overwhelmed the American line.[45] Captain Rowland Money led the Navy detachment, and Brevet Major Thomas Adair led the Marines. Money was captain of HMS Trave, and Adair was the commanding officer of HMS Vengeur's detachment of Marines.[46] The sides of the canal caved in and choked the passage, so that only enough boats got through to carry 600 men,[47] being a third of the intended force.[48] Thornton did not make allowance for the current, and it carried him about two miles below the intended landing place. His brigade won their battle, but Thornton was badly wounded. This success had no effect on the battle.[49] Army casualties among the 85th Foot were two dead, one captured, and 41 wounded.[45] Royal Navy casualties were two dead, Captain Rowland Money and 18 seamen wounded. Royal Marine casualties were two dead, with three officers, one sergeant, and 12 other ranks wounded. By contrast, the defenders casualties were two dead, eleven wounded and nineteen missing. [50][51][52]Both Jackson and Commodore Patterson reported that the retreating forces had spiked their cannon, leaving no guns to turn on the Americans' main defense line; Major Michell's diary, however, claims that he had "commenced cleaning enemy's guns to form a battery to enfilade their lines on the left bank".[53]

General Lambert ordered his Chief of Artillery Colonel Alexander Dickson to assess the position. Dickson reported back that no fewer than 2,000 men would be required to hold the position.[54] Lambert issued orders to withdraw after the defeat of their main army on the east bank and retreated, taking a few American prisoners and cannon with them.[45][55] The Americans were so dismayed by the loss of this battery, which would be capable of inflicting much damage on their lines when the attack was renewed, that they were preparing to abandon the town when they received the news that the British were withdrawing, according to one British source.[56]

Left Bank[edit]

The Battle of New Orleans: Situation on 8 January 1815

The main attack began in darkness and a heavy fog, but the fog lifted as the British neared the main American line, exposing them to withering artillery fire. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Mullins, the British commander of the 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot, had forgotten the ladders and fascines needed to cross the eight-foot-deep and fifteen-foot-wide canal[37] and scale the earthworks, and the British forces fell into confusion.[citation needed] Most of the senior officers were killed or wounded, including Major General Samuel Gibbs, who was killed leading the main attack column on the right, and Colonel Rennie, who led a detachment on the left by the river.

E. Percy Moran, The Battle of New Orleans (1910)

The 93rd Highlanders were ordered to leave Keane's assault column advancing along the river, possibly because of Thornton's delay in crossing the river and the artillery fire that might hit them, and to move across the open field to join the main force on the right. Keane fell wounded as he crossed the field with the 93rd. Rennie's men managed to attack and overrun an American advance redoubt next to the river, but they could neither hold the position nor successfully storm the main American line behind it without reinforcements. Within a few minutes, the American 7th Infantry arrived, moved forward, and fired upon the British in the captured redoubt; within half an hour, Rennie and nearly all of his men were dead. In the main attack on the right, the British infantrymen flung themselves to the ground, huddled in the canal, or were mowed down by a combination of musket fire and grapeshot from the Americans. A handful made it to the top of the parapet on the right, but they were killed or captured. The 95th Rifles had advanced in open skirmish order ahead of the main assault force and were concealed in the ditch below the parapet, unable to advance further without support.

The two large main assaults were repulsed. Pakenham and Gibbs were fatally wounded while on horseback by grapeshot fired from the earthworks. Major Wilkinson of the 21st Regiment reformed his lines and made a third assault. They were able to reach the entrenchments and attempted to scale them. Wilkinson made it to the top before being shot. The Americans were amazed at his bravery and carried him behind the rampart. The British soldiers stood out in the open and were shot apart with grapeshot from Line Jackson, including the 93rd Highlanders, having no orders to advance further or retreat. General Lambert was in the reserve and took command. He gave the order for his reserve to advance and ordered the withdrawal of the army. The reserve was used to cover the retreat of what was left of the British army in the field.

Chalmette Battlefield: The main British attack was aimed just beyond the two farthest cannons at Batteries 5 and 6

The Battle of New Orleans was remarkable both for its apparent brevity and its casualties, though some numbers are in dispute and contradict the official statistics. Charles Welsh[57] and Zachary Smith [58] claimed that the British lost 285 killed, 1,265 wounded, and 484 missing in 25 minutes, a total loss of 2,084 men. The defenders of the Left Bank has casualties amounting to 11 killed and 23 wounded;[52] American losses were only 13 killed, 39 wounded, and 19 missing or captured in total,[3] Around 484 British soldiers had pretended to be dead; they rose up and surrendered to the Americans when the shooting stopped. The standard protocol of the British Army during the nineteenth century was to only include in the killed column the soldiers who died during the battle. Soldiers who died of wounds the following day or following week were not considered "killed" in the British casualties list. They were counted as "wounded" only. Colonel Arthur P. Hayne and Adjutant General Robert Butler were ordered by Jackson to count the British casualties immediately after the battle. On January 13 they both reported to Jackson that around 700 British troops were killed, and this was including British soldiers who died of wounds that were treated by the Americans. Many British officers who were counted as "wounded" in the official British casualties list succumbed to their injuries in the days after the battle as confirmed by written accounts of the battle by other British officers.[59][60]

Almost universal blame was assigned to Colonel Mullins of the 44th Regiment which had been detailed to carry fascines and ladders to the front to enable the British soldiers to cross the ditch and scale the parapet and fight their way to the American breastwork. Mullins was found half a mile to the rear when he was needed at the front. Pakenham learned of Mullins' conduct and placed himself at the head of the 44th, endeavoring to lead them to the front with the implements needed to storm the works, when he fell wounded after being hit with grapeshot some 500 yards from the front line. He was hit again while being helped to mount a horse, this time mortally wounded.[56][61]


Fort St. Philip[edit]

The British planned to sail up the Mississippi River to support the campaign. Fort St. Philip, manned by an American garrison and protected by privateers, defended the river approach to New Orleans. British naval forces attacked the fort on January 9 but were unsuccessful, withdrawing after ten days of bombardment.

British withdrawal[edit]

Three days after the battle, General Lambert held a council of war. Despite news of capture of the American battery on the west bank of the Mississippi River, British officers concluded that continuing the Louisiana campaign would be too costly. Deciding to withdraw, the British left camp at Villeré's Plantation by January 19.[62][63] The Chalmette battlefield was the plantation home of Colonel Denis de La Ronde's half-brother Ignace Martin de Lino (1755–1815). The British forces burned it, reputedly causing de Lino's death from a broken heart shortly after returning home three weeks after the battle.[64]

The British fleet embarked the troops and sailed toward Mobile Bay on February 4, 1815.[65][66][67] The army captured Fort Bowyer at the entrance to Mobile Bay on February 12. Preparations to attack Mobile were in progress when news arrived of the Treaty of Ghent. General Jackson also had made tentative plans to attack the British at Mobile and to continue the war into Spanish Florida. With Britain having ratified the treaty and the United States having resolved that hostilities should cease pending imminent ratification, the British left, sailing to the West Indies.[68] The Battle of New Orleans occurred after the Treaty of Ghent was agreed to by British and American diplomats and therefore could not have influenced the negotiations, however America's resounding victory did motivate Britain to abide by the treaty, which required both sides return all territorial gains made at the other's expense during the war. Accordingly, even though the United States fully occupied West Florida in 1813, the Treaty of Ghent did not force them to leave after the war since prior to the Battle of New Orleans, Louisiana and West Florida were, according to the pre-Napoleonic era, Spanish territory in the eyes of Britain and Spain. If the British had won the battle and captured New Orleans it is unknown whether or not they would've returned the city to the United States even after the Senate unanimously ratified the Treaty of Ghent on February 16, 1815. The prevailing view is had the British taken New Orleans they likely would have remained as neither they nor the Spanish then recognized the validity of the Louisiana Purchase, as it had been brokered by Napoleon. Following the French Emperor's final defeat in 1815, the United States were left as the only country in the world who formally recognized the Louisiana Purchase. The Battle of New Orleans forced Britain and Spain to accept that the Louisiana territory belonged to the United States.[69][70] Napoleon's escape from Elba on February 26 and return to power in France immediately involved Great Britain in a renewed war in Europe.[71]


Two samples of artillery on Line Jackson. The one on the right is naval artillery and the left one is army artillery. The Americans used both equally. The British used mostly naval artillery during the campaign and with the small wheels and large frames these guns became bogged down in the muddy fields of Chalmette.

For the campaign, British casualties totaled 2,459 with 386 killed, 1,521 wounded, and 552 missing, while American casualties totaled 333 with 55 killed, 185 wounded, and 93 missing.[72] The battle became historically important mainly for the meaning Americans gave it, particularly with respect to Jackson.[73] News of victory "came upon the country like a clap of thunder in the clear azure vault of the firmament, and traveled with electromagnetic velocity, throughout the confines of the land."[74] The battle made Jackson's political reputation. Popular pamphlets, songs, editorials, speeches, and plays glorified Jackson's new, heroic image. The Democratic-Republican Party used the victory to ridicule the Federalist Party as cowards, defeatists, and secessionists. In fact, the Federalist Party ceased to exist after the Battle of New Orleans. Before New Orleans the war was overall a bloody stalemate with not a single overwhelming land battle victory for the Americans against an elite British Army unit (Lake Erie, Plattsburgh, and Baltimore were won primarily due to naval ships and forts near lakes or the ocean). Almost everybody in New England was against the war and supported seceding from the United States to either become independent or join the United Kingdom. The New England states met at the Hartford Convention and decided to deliver a set of demands to the federal government in January 1815, and if they did not abide by them they would secede from the union. When the Hartford delegates were in Washington and on the way to see members of Congress and President Madison word of the Battle of New Orleans came and the Federalists and New Englanders were seen as traitors and anti-American and the convention was abolished. The Era of Good Feelings also resulted from the Battle of New Orleans. From 1815 to 1825 there was single-party rule in Washington and an overwhelming feeling of patriotism due to the extinction of the Federalist Party. The victory at New Orleans effectively kept the United States unified for the next 45 years until the American Civil War. The Eighth of January was a federal holiday from 1828 to 1861 and it was equally as important and celebrated as the Fourth of July.[75]

Near the end of Jackson's presidency, a Congressman asked Jackson whether there was a point to the Battle of New Orleans. Jackson replied, “If General Pakenham and his 10,000 matchless veterans could have annihilated my little army, he would have captured New Orleans and sentried all the contiguous territory, though technically the war was over. Great Britain would have immediately abrogated the Treaty of Ghent and would have ignored Jefferson’s transaction with Napoleon.” [76]

Poor British planning and communication, plus costly frontal assaults against an entrenched enemy, caused lopsided British casualties.[77] One source explains that, at New Orleans, "naval support continued to be a problem ... and though the British force led by Colonel William Thornton was able to take control of the artillery, they arrived too late. By the time the Royal Navy delivered Thornton’s troops, the battle was already lost". Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane subsequently filed two reports with his own version of the battle where he controlled an armada with 8,000 men. The American Naval History and Heritage Command does not lay blame on any individual in the British forces, but concludes that the "British then made a tactical error. Rather than pressing forward, they were allowed time to rest". This source also mentions that forces from the ships finally decided to attack with 1,200 British sailors and marines, but "after 36 hours of rowing, the invaders faced a hail of grape shot".[78] [79]

According to historian Thomas Perkins Abernethy the British had an ambitious colonization plan for the "Crown colony of Louisiana" if they had succeeded in capturing New Orleans and Mobile. British officers on the New Orleans expeditionary force confirmed after the war that a "complete British civil government staff" was on board the invading ships and they were to be installed after Pakenham's forces captured New Orleans. These colonial government officials included an attorney general, an admiralty judge, a secretary for the colony sent directly from Britain, a superintendent for Indian affairs who was to be transferred to New Orleans from Canada, and numerous other officials. Pakenham reportedly carried with him a dispatch case that contained a commission declaring him Governor of Louisiana, the promise of an earldom, and a proclamation from the Colonial Office declaring the sovereignty of Britain in behalf of Spain "over all the territory fraudulently conveyed by Bonaparte to the United States".[80][81]

At the same time that Mobile (this was the first British invasion route to New Orleans that failed) was under attack at the First Battle of Fort Bowyer in September 1814 the British successfully invaded and occupied most of modern-day Maine at the Battle of Hampden. They re-established the Crown colony of New Ireland and intended to annex this colony permanently. If the British had quickly captured Mobile and New Orleans as well as occupying New Ireland before the end of the Treaty of Ghent negotiations they possibly would have demanded a lot more than what actually happened as a result of them failing to capture Mobile and New Orleans.[82]

The hundreds of dead British soldiers were likely buried at Jacques Villeré's plantation, which was the headquarters of the British Army during the New Orleans campaign. Nobody knows exactly where their final resting spot is. The only deceased British soldiers transported back to the United Kingdom were Generals Pakenham and Gibbs and Colonel Robert Rennie.[83]

The Duke of Wellington faulted Cochrane and held that the attack could have succeeded were it not for his shortcomings. In a eulogy to his brother-in-law, General Edward Pakenham who died at New Orleans, he made this comment:

I cannot but regret that he was ever employed on such a service or with such a colleague. The expedition to New Orleans originated with that colleague…. The Americans were prepared with an army in a fortified position which still would have been carried, if the duties of others, that is of the Admiral [Cochrane], had been as well performed as that of he whom we now lament.[84]


Miracle at New Orleans[edit]

With the Americans outnumbered, it seemed that the city of New Orleans was in danger of being captured, so the Ursuline nuns and many people of New Orleans gathered in the Ursuline Convent's chapel before the statue of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. They spent the night before the battle praying and crying before the statue, begging for the Virgin Mary's intercession. Reverend William Dubourg offered Mass at the altar on the morning of January 8, and Mother Ste. Marie Olivier de Vezin, prioress of the abbey, vowed to have a Mass of Thanksgiving sung annually should the American forces win. A courier ran into the chapel during communion to inform them that the British had been defeated. General Jackson went to the convent himself to thank the nuns for their prayers. "By the blessing of heaven, directing the valor of the troops under my command, one of the most brilliant victories in the annals of war was obtained."[85] The vow made by Mother Ste. Marie has been faithfully kept throughout the years.[86]

The reason why this story of the nuns and the miracle of the victory is always discussed in history accounts of the Battle of New Orleans is because eavesdropping New Orleans civilians and escaped American prisoners-of-war talked to some British soldiers before the Battle of New Orleans and they allegedly told these Americans that the "beauty and booty" of New Orleans were guaranteed to them if they defeated the American forces. Former French and Spanish soldiers who migrated to New Orleans in the previous few years recounted to the Americans how the British Army notoriously sacked and committed massacres and rapes in many Spanish cities on their own Spanish civilian allies during the Peninsular War, most infamously at Badajoz, Ciudad Rodrigo, Vitoria, and San Sebastian. In defense of the British generals and officers like Pakenham and the Duke of Wellington they did not order their soldiers to do these war crimes, but the soldiers became impossible to control in the aftermath of so many battles during the chaotic Peninsular War. Many soldiers murdered their own officers who tried to stop them from engaging in war crimes. Almost all of these veteran British soldiers at New Orleans had fought in the Peninsular War so there was massive panic by the local New Orleans population. The British government and five British officers who served in the Battle of New Orleans officially denied that "beauty and booty" were promised to the British troops in a formal announcement in 1833.[87]

Distinguished service as mentioned in dispatches[edit]

In his general orders of January 21, General Jackson, in thanking the troops, paid special tributes to the Louisiana organizations, and made particular mention of Capts. Dominique and Belluche, and the Lafitte brothers, all of the Barataria privateers; of General Garrique de Flanjac, a State Senator, and brigadier of militia, who served as a volunteer; of Majors Plauche, St. Geme. Lacoste, D'Aquin, Captain Savary, Colonel De la Ronde, General Humbert, Don Juan de Araya, the Mexican Field-Marshal; Major-General Villere and General Morgan, the Engineers Latour and Blanchard; the Attakapas dragoons, Captain Dubuclay; the cavalry from the Felicianas and the Mississippi territory. General Labattut had command of the town, of which Nicolas Girod was then the mayor.

— William Head Coleman, Historical sketch book and guide to New Orleans and environs[88]

Among those who most distinguished themselves during this brief but memorable campaign, were, next to the Commander-in-chief, Generals Villere, Carroll, Coffee, Ganigues, Flanjac, Colonel Delaronde, Commodore Patterson, Majors Lacoste, Planche, Hinds, Captain Saint Gerne, Lieutenants Jones, Parker, Marent, and Dominique; Colonel Savary, a man of colour nor must we omit to mention Lafitte, pirate though he was.

— E. Bunner, History of Louisiana[21]

Over the course of several days, the logistically and numerically superior British force was repelled, in no small part to a small contingent of Marines led by Maj. Daniel Carmick and Lt. Francis de Bellevue of the New Orleans Navy Yard.

— 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit A Certain Force in an Uncertain World[89]

At the Battle of New Orleans, [Governor Claiborne's aide-de-camp] Marigny distinguished himself by his courage and activity. It is noteworthy that the glorious victory was reaped on the fields of the plantation of his Uncle de Lino de Chalmette.

— Grace King, Old Families of New Orleans[90]

The anniversary of the battle was celebrated as an American holiday for many years called "The Eighth".[91][92]

Orleans Square in Savannah, Georgia, is named in commemoration of the battle.


The Louisiana Historical Association dedicated its Memorial Hall facility to Jackson on January 8, 1891, the 76th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans.[93] The Federal government established a national historical park in 1907 to preserve the Chalmette Battlefield, which also includes the Chalmette National Cemetery. It features the 100 foot tall Chalmette Monument and is part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. The monument was supposed to be at least 150 feet tall but the very soft and wet soil limited it to 100 feet.[94] A five-cent stamp in 1965 commemorated the sesquicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans and 150 years of peace with Britain. The bicentennial was celebrated in 2015 with a Forever stamp depicting United States troops firing on British soldiers along Line Jackson.

Prior to the twentieth century the British government commonly commissioned and paid for statues of fallen generals and admirals during battles to be placed inside St Paul's Cathedral in London as a memorial to their sacrifices. Major Generals Pakenham and Gibbs were both memorialized in a statue at St Paul's that was sculpted by Sir Richard Westmacott.[95]

Chalmette Monument
Sesquicentennial issue of 1965
Bicentennial issue of 2015

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Stoltz, Joseph F. III (2014). The Gulf Theater, 1813-1815 (PDF). The U.S. Army Campaigns of the War of 1812. Washington, D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History. pp. 30–40. CMH Pub 74–7.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Battle of New Orleans Facts & Summary". American Battlefield Trust. Retrieved July 8, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Remini (1977), p. 285, quoting Jackson's report dated January 14, 1815
  4. ^ James, p. 563, quoting Adjutant General Robert Butler's casualty report .
  5. ^ James, p. 382, quoting casualty reports in the London Gazette.
  6. ^ "The Battle of New Orleans". National Geographic Society. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  7. ^ Mclemore, Laura (2016). [ The Battle of New Orleans in History and Memory] Check |url= value (help). Louisiana State University Press. p. 3. ISBN 9780807164662.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ . Retrieved 6 July 2021
  11. ^ Smith, Zachary F., pp.1-2.
    Smith describes the expedition as a fleet of 60 ships, nearly half of which were "formidable warships, the best of the English navy" that had transported some 18,000 men, including 14,450 soldiers and sailors, "veterans in the service of their country in the lines of their respective callings, to complete the equipment of this powerful armada" However, given that Britain was simultaneously heavily engaged in the Napoleonic Wars, it is unlikely that such a strong force would have been dispatched to America.
  12. ^ Refer to the map of Louisiana.
  13. ^ Quimby, p. 824.
  14. ^ Quimby, p. 826.
  15. ^ Russell Guerin. "A Creole In Mississippi". Archived from the original on March 24, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2017.
  16. ^ Lossing, Benson (1868). The Pictorial Field-Book of the War of 1812. Harper & Brothers, Publishers. p. 1032.
  17. ^ Remini (1999), pp. 62–64.
  18. ^ Quimby, p. 836.
  19. ^ Thomas, p. 61.
  20. ^ "NPS Historical Handbook: Jean Lafitte".
  21. ^ a b Bunner, E. (September 25, 2017). "History of Louisiana, from its first discovery and settlement to the present time". New York, Harper & brothers – via Internet Archive.
  22. ^ Arthur, Stanley Clisby; Louisiana Historical Society (September 25, 2017). "The story of the battle of New Orleans". New Orleans, La., Louisiana historical society – via Internet Archive.
  23. ^ Tom (March 18, 2015). "Rare 1815 Plan of the City and Suburbs of New Orleans". Cool Old Photos. Retrieved February 23, 2019.
  24. ^ Quimby, p. 843.
  25. ^ James, pp. 535–536.
  26. ^ Thomas, pp. 61–64.
  27. ^ Quimby, p. 852.
  28. ^ Quimby, pp. 852–853.
  29. ^ Groom, pp. 145–147.
  30. ^ . p.97-101. Retrieved 24 July 2021
  31. ^ Patterson, Benton Rain, pp. 214–215.
  32. ^ Patterson, Benton Rain, pp. 215–216.
  33. ^ "French Creoles - Battalion of Creoles 1".
  34. ^ Remini, Robert V. (1999), The Battle of New Orleans. p. 74.
  35. ^ Smythies, pp. 172-175
  36. ^ . Page 108-113. Retrieved 12 July 2021
  37. ^ a b Porter, p. 361
  38. ^ staff. "January 08, 1815: The Battle of New Orleans". Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  39. ^ a b c Porter, p. 362
  40. ^ Patterson, Benton Rain, p. 236.
  41. ^ Patterson, Benton Rain, p. 230.
  42. ^ "No. 16991". The London Gazette. March 9, 1815. - "Correspondence from Cochrane to Admiralty dated January 18, also in archives with reference ADM 1/508 folio 757, states 'the whole amounting to about six hundred men'"
  43. ^ Gleig, George (1840). "Recollections of the Expedition to the Chesapeake, and against New Orleans, by an Old Sub". United Service Journal (2). Gleig, on p340, uses the source document a report from Thornton to Pakenham 'we were unable to proceed across the river until eight hours after the time appointed, and even then with only a third part of the force which you had allotted for the service * viz 298 of the 85th, and 200 Seamen and Marines'
  44. ^ Duncan, pp.405-406, '[Pakenham] sent to enquire how many men had been embarked: and, having been informed that the 85th Regiment, with some Marines—amounting in all to 460—had been put on board, and that there was room for 100 more, he ordered that additional number to be embarked, and the whole to cross without delay.'
  45. ^ a b c "No. 16991". The London Gazette. March 9, 1815. pp. 440–446.
  46. ^ The Navy List, Corrected to the end of January 1815, pg 72. John Murray. 1814. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  47. ^ Hickey (1999), p.211
  48. ^ "Despatch from Colonel Thornton to Sir Edward Pakenham dated January 8, 1815". March 9, 1815. Retrieved December 3, 2021 – via London Gazette. We were unable to proceed across the river until eight hours after the time appointed, and even then, with only a third of the force which you had allotted for the service.
  49. ^ Roosevelt, Theodore (1882). The Naval War of 1812. New York: G.P. Putnam's sons. p. 204.
  50. ^ Greene (2009), p. 159, with reference to both Jackson's papers and Tatum's journal, both edited by Bassett
  51. ^ Bassett (ed)(2007), p.130 with reference to Tatum's journal
  52. ^ a b Bassett (ed)(1969), p.143 with Jackson's papers corroborating Tatum's figures
  53. ^ Reilly, Robin, p. 296.
  54. ^ Smith (1904), p. 92, quotes from a letter from General Lambert to the Secretary of State for War dated January 10, which mentions the original plan was to send over a larger force of a further 100 sailors, a further 300 marines, four cannons with gunners and the battalion of the 5th West India Regiment.
  55. ^ Patterson, Benton Rain, p. 253.
  56. ^ a b Porter, p. 363
  57. ^ Welsh, Charles (October–December 1899). "Rhyme Relating to the Battle of New Orleans". The American Folklore. 12 (47): 291. JSTOR 533063.
  58. ^ Smith, Zachary (1904). The Battle of New Orleans including the Previous Engagements between the Americans and the British, the Indians and the Spanish which led to the Final Conflict on the 8th of January, 1815 (19 ed.). Louisville, KY: Filson Club Publications. p. 85.
  59. ^ . Chapter Twenty-eight: The Forces and Losses. Retrieved 25 July 2021
  60. ^ . Retrieved 25 July 2021
  61. ^ Smith, Zachary (1904). The Battle of New Orleans including the Previous Engagements between the Americans and the British, the Indians and the Spanish which led to the Final Conflict on the 8th of January, 1815 (19 ed.). Louisville KY: Filson Club Publications. p. 105.
  62. ^ Gleig, p. 340
  63. ^ Latour, p. 184
  64. ^ "New Orleans Bar Association: Chalmette, by Ned Hémard; 2011, p. 3" (PDF).
  65. ^ Gleig, George Robert (1827), pp. 184–192.
  66. ^ James, p. 391.
  67. ^ Smith, Zachary F., p. 132.
  68. ^ Fraser, p. 297
  69. ^ Remini (1999), pp. 5, 195.
  70. ^ "Avalon Project - British-American Diplomcay : Treaty of Ghent; 1814".
  71. ^ Lambert, p. 381
  72. ^ James, p. 388.
  73. ^ "BBC - Radio 4 - America".
  74. ^ Ward 1962, pp. 4–5.
  75. ^ Joseph F. Stoltz, "'It Taught our Enemies a Lesson:' The Battle of New Orleans and the Republican Destruction of the Federalist Party." Tennessee Historical Quarterly 71#2 (2012): 112-127. in JSTOR
  76. ^ Fleming, Thomas (2001). "Andrew Jackson: Leading the Battle of New Orleans". HistoryNet.
  77. ^ "Alexander Cochrane". NPS. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
  78. ^ "Jan. 8, 1815 Battle of New Orleans". Indiana University. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
  79. ^ "New Orleans 1815". Naval History and Heritage Command. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
  80. ^ Abernethy, Thomas P. (1961). The South in the New Nation, 1789–1819: A History of the South. p.389-390.
  81. ^ . Retrieved 7 August 2021
  82. ^ Drez, Ronald J. (2014). The War of 1812, conflict and deception: the British attempt to seize New Orleans and nullify the Louisiana Purchase. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 362 pages, ISBN 978-0-8071-5931-6.
  83. ^ . Retrieved 7 July 2021
  84. ^ Holmes, Richard (2003). Wellington: The Iron Duke, Harper and Collins, p. 206.
  85. ^ Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, Volume 23, By American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, p. 128 (1912).
  86. ^ Arthur, pp. 239–242.
  87. ^ . Chapter Twenty-three: Beauty and Booty. Retrieved 28 July 2021
  88. ^ Coleman, William Head (September 25, 1885). "Historical sketch book and guide to New Orleans and environs, with map. Illustrated with many original engravings; and containing exhaustive accounts of the traditions, historical legends, and remarkable localities of the Creole city". New York, W. H. Coleman – via Internet Archive.
  89. ^ "26th Marine Expeditionary Unit sails south to New Orleans".
  90. ^ King, G. (1921). "Creole Families of New Orleans". New York, THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. p. 33 – via Internet Archive.
  91. ^ "The War of 1812", Northeast Regional Office, National Park Service, Eastern National, published in 2013, p. 147
  92. ^ Stoltz, Joseph F., III (2017). A bloodless victory : the Battle of New Orleans in history and memory. Baltimore, Maryland. ISBN 978-1-4214-2303-6. OCLC 1015897122.
  93. ^ "Kenneth Trist Urquhart, "Seventy Years of the Louisiana Historical Association", March 21, 1959, Alexandria, Louisiana" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 23, 2010. Retrieved July 21, 2010.
  94. ^ . Retrieved 22 July 2021
  95. ^ . Retrieved 27 July 2021


Further reading[edit]