Battle Of New Orleans The 8th of January 1815 marks the Battle of New Orleans in the 1812 War, when Major General Andrew Jackson’s 4,732 Americans defeated Major General Sir Edward Pakenham’s 8,000 British. Jackson deployed behind a series of barricades. A cypress swamp held his left. The Mississippi’s east bank held his right. On the far bank, a 20-gun battery covered his position. He led 968 regular soldiers, 164 sailors & 3,530 militia. Also present were 52 Choctaws & a number of Jean Lafitte’s pirates.
Pakenham arrived on New Year’s Day.
He expected his veteran soldiers to win an easy victory. He bombarded Jackson’s lines. Jackson won the following artillery duel, destroying 5 of 7 British batteries. A British attack on Jackson’s flank was driven off. The attack’s failure devastated British morale, they temporarily abandoned their guns. Pakenham personally led a retrieval party. He’d lost 45 dead, 55 wounded. Jackson lost 11 dead, 23 wounded.
Pakenham awaited reinforcements, which arrived on 5 January. He planned a new attack. Col. Thornton would lead 1,800 men across the river, seize the American battery & turn it on Jackson’s line. The enfilading fire would devastate Jackson. British columns would then proceed up the near bank & along the swamp, breaking both Jackson’s flanks. A general attack would complete the victory. In addition, the morning mist would conceal the British from Jackson’s guns & sharpshooters.
Engineers dug a canal to let Thornton’s boats reach the river. But it collapsed, forcing him to drag the boats overland, costing him 12 hours. Eventually he landed 600 men of the 85th Foot, Royal Navy & Marines on the far bank. General Morgan’s 700 Kentucky & Louisiana militia were badly deployed & easily routed. Thornton lost 6 dead, 76 wounded (including him). Morgan lost 2 dead, 11 wounded, 19 missing. He spiked the guns as he fell back, preventing Thornton from using them.
Pakenham’s main force attacked on time. The 95th Rifles formed an advance party. The fog quickly lifted. Jackson’s batteries & riflemen opened fire, causing devastating losses. Furthermore, the ladders meant to scale Jackson’s batteries had been misplaced.
Only a few British soldiers scrambled to the top & were easily repelled, Pakenham & his 2nd, Major General Samuel Gibbs, were killed.
3 assaults failed.
Major General John Lambert took command & ordered a retreat. His reserve covered the British as they fell back. Thornton also retreated.
Jackson lost 13 dead, 39 wounded, 19 missing or captive. Lambert lost 291 dead, 1,262 wounded, 484 missing or captive. The overall campaign cost Jackson 55 dead, 185 wounded, 93 missing or captive, and the British lost 386 dead, 1,521 wounded, 552 missing or captive, Lambert called the campaign off. Shortly after, news of the Ghent Treaty ended fighting. News of the victory spread throughout the US. In conclusion, it remains one America’s most famous battles.