The Battle of New Orleans
The War of 1812 was undoubtedly one of the most vital wars that the United States has fought in and won. Despite being outnumbered numerous times and lacking overall power in comparison to Great Britain and their army, the United States still prevailed as the victor for the War of 1812. Another important aspect to note is that though the U.S. and Great Britain signed a treaty in Belgium in 1814 that officially ended the War of 1812, The Battle of New Orleans was the key component that helped seal the deal of the American victory over Great Britain. Once the British defeated Napoleon they focused all their attention on America. The British were then trying to gain control over all of the critical American ports, including New Orleans. If the British had won control over the ports than they would control all of the trade in and out of America. The battle of New Orleans was the key victory that prevented the U.S from being defeated by Great Britain in the battle of 1812. The War of 1812 was a fierce battled that involved both the United States and Great Britain. The main fighting that occurred within this war happened between 1812 until early 1815. The War of 1812 was officially declared on June 18th, 1812 and lasted a little over two years.
Throughout the gruesome war, there were three main areas that most of the fighting and battles occurred; north near the great lakes, east on and near the coast line, and in the south near the Mississippi. While these three areas are predominately where the most fighting happened, majority of the battles and conflicts occurred on the coast line or in the Atlantic Ocean. This was primarily because the British were utilizing their naval strength against the United States. While this war was gruesome and led to many causalities for both the United States and Great Britain, it did help settle a lot of the issues and complications between the two nations that had not been previously solved during the American War of Independence. One of the main reasons for the U.S. entering the War of 1812 was the fact that the British had been placing restrictions on U.S. trade. Britain wad seizing all of the ships that held cargo that was being traded with France. The U.S. found themselves in the middle of the French and British fighting, not being able to trade with either country. Under James Madison the U.S. declared war on Great Britain. British wanted to invade New Orleans because it was a key route to the recently bought land in the West. The British had wanted control over New Orleans and the Mississippi river to hold the trade over the south. Prior to the Battle of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson first arrived in New Orleans and realized that the city was completely defenseless and declared martial law in efforts to help get the city ready the impending battle against the British. By declaring martial law Jackson was requiring that every able body in the city was to take a gun and protect the city.
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Thousands of men came to fight including aristocrats, freed slaves, native Americans, and some pirates. Andrew Jackson essentially built an army of underdog soldiers into a battle against the world’s strongest military at the time. Most of the men were untrained militia men and volunteers. The U.S. used a mixture of fighters, frontiersman, freed slaves, Indians and even pirates to fight the British force. Jackson led a group of soldiers during a nighttime attack on British soldiers outside of New Orleans. Jackson was pushed back to the Rodriguez canal near the Chalmette plantation. In order to prepare for British attack Jackson used slaves to widened the canal, creating defensive trenches along with a seven foot wall made out of timber a mud. The actual battle of New Orleans was fought outside the city on a plantation called Chalmette. Jackson had the American troops split into two different groups. One the groups of soldiers positioned themselves on the east side of the bank along the Mississippi river. Jackson had the second group of soldiers positioned on the western side of the bank. Jackson was on the Eastern side of the bank where he had almost four thousand troops stretched alongside the Rodriguez canal. General David Morgan was in charge of the troops alongside the western side of the river.
Once Jackson had all of his men positioned he had them wait until the British attacked them. Lieutenant General Sir Edward Pakenham devised a two-part frontal assault strategy on Jackson’s men. He planned for a large portion of the men to march forward and attack and defeat American men on the front-line at the Rodriguez Canal. The rest of the men were to cross the Mississippi river and attack an American battery where they would take the stolen guns and attack the Americans from another angle and expose Jackson and his men to the crossfire from both sides. On January 8th, 1815, due to thick fog looming over the battlefield Pakenham decided that it would be the perfect time to charge ahead to attack Jackson’s men due to their vision being affected by the fog. Unfortunately, once the sun came out the fog and misty haze that was hiding the British soldiers as they advanced on the Rodriguez Canal let up and left the Pakenham’s men completely exposed to the Americans. With the fog gone, the American men had clear views of the British men and began firing. British soldiers began to go down quickly due to the mass and precise shots from the American men.
Pakenham’s elaborate plan began to fall apart. The multiple deaths of a powerful British Army leaders helped the U.S. take an advantage over Great Britain. Lieutenant General Sir Edward Pakenham, the main leader of the British in this battle was wounded on the battle field and later died. Colonel Robert Rennie’s immediate death as he led men up the riverbank to attack the Americans left his men in a panic and led to them retreating immediately. Andrew Jackson successfully fends off the invading army during the short but gruesome battle. The battle was reported to have only lasted a mere 30 minutes. This was the climatic final event of the War of 1812, though the war had officially finished in December of 1814. It is important to note that the Battle of New Orleans did not end the War of 1812. The Treaty of Ghent was signed before the battle occurred but news that the war had ended didn’t arrive until after the Battle of New Orleans. The treaty was signed on December 24th, 1814. The Battle of New Orleans helped Andrew Jackson become war hero and president. Due to the accomplishments and victory of the battle, this helped propel Jackson to be famous and an American hero. Later on, Jackson becomes the 7th President of the U.S.