Battle of New Orleans was a significant battle in the
War of 1812. It was
a crushing defeat for the British, increased patriotism, and Andrew Jackson
emerged an American hero.
The United States acquired the Louisiana Territory
from France in 1803, thereby gaining control of the Mississippi River, and its
watershed at the golf of Mexico. The U.S. government realized how important this
was and its potential of becoming a great trading post. By 1812 this area called
New Orleans grew as expected in size and importance. In peace it was a
commercial outlet and trading center of the western United States.
British chose to attack the Americans from the north by way of Isle aux Pois in
the mouth of the Pearl River because this was the only only stable water they
had found that ships could ride and anchor. When hearing that the british where
coming this way, Lieutenant Thomas Ap Catesby Jones and his five gunboats went
to try and Barackade the Rigolets trying to make sure they wouldn’t enter. His
185 men and 23 guns awaited the British. At 10:30 on December 14th 1814 three
columns of British ships, 42 to 45, armed with 43 guns and 1,200 under the
command of Captain Lockyer met the American blockade. Fierce fighting began and
the British had finally captured the five American boats. Losses were 17 British
and 6 Americans killed, 77 British and 35 Americans wounded. This gave Gerneral
Andrew Jackson six days more to improve his defenses. The British at the very
beginning of the war had demolished almost all of Jacksons sea power. Jackson
only had the Carolina, Louisiana, and one gunboat left.
When Jackson heard
of the attack on Jones’ ships on December 15 he issued crises orders to forces
nearby. One General by the name of Coffee received orders from Jackson stating
“You must not sleep until you reach me or arrive withink striking distance.” The
next day Jackson placed New Orleans under Martial Law. When General Coffee
received his orders he immediately gathered his 1250 men and where off to help
Jackson. Each man brought with him a hunting knife and long rifle. The Tenessee
brigade commanded by Major General William Caroll arrived on 21st December. Only
one in ten of them had a firearm. At 10:00 A.M. 22nd of December, Lieutenant
Colonel William Thornton an officer in the British service, led his men from
Isle aux Pois to the mainland. He came about half a mile toward New Orleans and
stopped. He only had 1600 men.
By noon Jackson had found out that the
British where approaching and “ordered the town ransacked for firearms, and
every able- bodied man, enrolled in some military unit, called out.” ( Mahon
358) By night he had accumulated an army of about 2100 men.