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The 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.


The 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.

 image of map depicting The Battle of New Orleans

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