Thursday, January 8, 2009

But Jackson, He Was Wide Awake, And Was Not Scared Of Trifles; For Well He Knew What Aim We take With Our Kentucky Rifles;

On this date in 1815 outside of the city of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson, commanding a mixed group of U.S. Army regulars and Artillery, Tennessee and Kentucky militia, Choctaw Indians, Free men of color, Creoles and almost anyone else who could carry a firearm stood behind fixed fortifications made of cotton bales, dirt and anything else that could stop a bullet and proceeded to cut to pieces a British Army sent to take the city. The casualties from this battle tell the tale better that anything else,

American Forces
Killed 13
Wounded 58
Captured 30
Total 101

British Forces
Killed 385
Wounded 1,186
Captured 484
Total 2,055

I think the thing that stands out most about this battle is the generalship of Jackson. Not that his tactics were superior to the British. (Most of the British Officers had fought under Wellington in Spain and knew how to fight) But rather Jackson WILLED himself not to lose and this was transmitted to the men under his command.

A study of Jackson's life leads me to believe that he had a almost pathological hatred for the British. He had been slashed in the face with a saber by a officer at the age of 11 while being held as a prisoner of war by the British in the Revolutionary War. His brother and mother died as a result of a disease picked up in a British prison camp. So pretty much everything he knew and loved had been taken away by the British. Jackson was NOT a forgive and forget kind o' guy and throughout his life would revenge himself on anyone that he thought had done him harm, injury or had insulted him. I think he sorta felt like he owed the British a little payback.
Well, he got it at New Orleans.

New Orleans was a strange battle in that it was fought AFTER the war was over. A peace treaty ending the war was signed in Ghent, Belgium on December 24th 1814 but the news didn't reach New Orleans until February. While it wasn't a big battle it's effects were all out of proportion to it's size. The effect on the American people was electric. The War of 1812 was pretty much a draw. The news of New Orleans changed that perception and gave the average American the feeling that they had won the war that some in America called the second American Revolution. The troops under Jackson's command because of the interesting mixture of backwoodsmen, Indians, Army regulars, Sailors, and even Pirates caught the imagination of the public and ushered in the "age of the common man".

Jackson of course became a national hero, who's popularity soon was to sweep him into the White House. But that's a story for another day.........


Andrew Duppstadt said...

Messmate! Speaking of the War of 1812, I just received assurances that we will be invited to the
195th anniversary Battle of Baltimore program at Fort McHenry in September. I think most guys in our unit will consider it a great honor to ply our craft at such a prestigious site. Hope you'll be able to go with us!

Mike W. said...

Damn right, I will be there. Bad knees or not.........