Historic Niagara Digital Collections

Chapter 21

Item

Title
Chapter 21
Identifier
http://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/show.asp?b=1&ref=oo&id=298090
page
338-393
Type
Text
extracted text
338

Mi4.414TARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

CHAPTER XXI
Expedition to New Orleans,British at Pensacola
and Barataraia
" =Trick played by the Barataria
commandant
ecret act of the American aggress to take possession of West Florida—Possession taken of Mobile—Erection of Fort-Bour
—Attack upon it by four British sloops of war
—Loss of the Hermes—Brief description of
Louisiana and New Orleans—Arrival of the
British fleet off Chandeleur island—Capture of
five American gun-boats near Lake Borgne. Proclamation of martial law by general. Jackson
.-:,,Scheming flag of truce,fts object defeated 7
Disembarkation of the first ,division of Britis4
frpops—Descriptian of the grourol of operations
—Arrival of British advance at Villere's—q,2r
neral Wilkinson's strictures upon the route chosen
by the Britisk,-Deception as to the strength of
Petite Coquille fort—Accidental low estimate of
• the British force at Villere's—Prompt advance
of major-general Jackson—U. S. schooner Caro•
Tina—Battle of the 23d of December—Destruction of the Carolina by hot shot—Escape of the
U. S. ship Louisiana—Arrival of sir Edward Pa.
kenham—Strength of the British forces—Pro.
posed attack in the rear of New Orleans — Its
non-adoption—Description of general Jackson's
lines of defence—Demonstra tion of the 28th ofDe.
cember—Destructivefire of the Louisiana--Arne-.
rican batteries on the opposite side of the river-Arrival of ship-guns, and es ection of battery by the
British—Continued cannonade—Mutual rein7

.

339

forcements-.--General Morgan's lines on the opposite bank-43ritish and American forces—Battle
of the Sth of January—Fatal neglect to ,bring up
the fascines and ladders—Death of major-generals Pakenham and Gibbs—Misbehaviour of two
regiments—Gallant behaviour of a division of the
left brigade—Repulse of the British—Strictures
upon the attack, by American officers—Launching of the boats into the Mississippi—Successful
attack upon the American intrenchmenls on the
right bank—Fatal difference of opinion respecting the possibility of holding that position---Its
immediate evaeuation,--Short suspension of hostilities —Bombardment of Fort St. Philip—Retreat
of the British from before New Orleans---r.The total
loss on both sides—American bombast.-French
general Humbert—Some particulars relative to
general Jackson—His honorable conduct—Departure of the British fleet—Surrender of FortBowyer without a shot's being fired at it—Treaty
of peace —Canadian preparations for the ensuing
campaign—Brief remarks on the treaty, and on
the advantages which the Americans have gained
by the war.

FROM the paragraphs that appeared in several
of the London prints of May and June, 1814,
there is no doubt that the conquest of Louisiana
had been submitted to the British government,
as a measure of no difficult attainment. it
was thought, perhaps, that the Louisianians,
consisting chiefly of French and Spaniards,
were disaFfectnl towards the government of the
z2

340

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.
MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

United States, and would rather aid, than oppose
the landing of a British army. This hazardous,
and, as it proved, fallacious conjecture, was
suffered to over-balance all apprehension of
danger from the thousands of armed inhabitants
of the west and north-western territories, that
could descend the Mississippi, and prevent any
thing like a' permanent Occupation of the capital of Louisiana. There were not, it is true,
any American 74s, or 60 gun frigates, building or
lying blockaded at New Orleans ; but those
who suggested the expedition well knew that,
as the cotton :crops of Louisiana, and of the
Mississippi territory, had been for some years in
accumulation, the city-warehouses contained
merchandize to an immense amount. Indeed,
considering that New Orleans was the emporium
of the annually increasing productions of a great
portion of the western states, the enormous sum
of 30000001. was, perhaps, not an over-estimate
of what, in the event of even a temporary possession of that city, would have been shared by
the captors.
:1
Scarcely had the people of New Orleans read,
in the pages of their newspapers, admiral Cochrane's threatening letter and its reply, and been
assured by their governor, that the British had
expressed a determination " of wresting Louisiana from the hands of the United States, and
restoring it to Spain," than accounts arrived,


-

:

.

,

341 •

that the Britislm were exciting the Indians, and,
by proclamations dated from Pensacola, in West
Florida, endeavouring to persuade the in►abitants of Louisiana and Kentucky, to shake off
their allegiance, and join the British standard.
Almost at the same instant they received accounts
that some British officers had been trying to gain
over theBaratarian freebooters, upwards of 200 in
number ; not only as pilots for that intricate coast,
but as active allies in the contemplated invasion.,
Laffite, the commandant, played a deep,
game with the British officers. He received,
with seeming acquiescence, all their communications on the subject, and then forwarded them
to the governor ,of Louisiana. Ile had, at that
time, in the gaol of New Orleans, loaded with
irons, a brother ; whose 'liberation he, no doubt,
hoped to effect. In short, Mr, Laffite not only
betrayed the British, but offered the services of
himself and his hardy band, in defending the
important point of the state of which they had
taken possession. These men fulfilled the pledge
given by their commandant to governor Claiborne ; and, along with Mr. Laffite's brother,
received, in the end, a full pardon from the
president of the United States.
It is necessary now to mention, that a secret
law passed the congress of the United States, as
early as the 12th of February, 1813, authorizing
the president " $o. .occupy and hold all that



342

mitLititEir otottRuktsicivi

tT'ACt countr±,

tailed West Florida, which
lieg vFeSt of the Peedido, not now in the possesskirt of the United States."'* On the 14th of
Mara, the 'order to take possession reached
major-general Wilkinson, then the commanding
officer of the United States' troops within the
territories of New Orleans and the Mississippi;
and, on the 15th of April, taking with him a
strong naval and military force, the general
pOssessed himself,. without opposition, but not
without remonstrance, of Fort Charlotte, near
the town of Mobile. General Wilkinsoon, soon
:therwards, constructed a' fort upon MobilepOint, forming the extremity of a peninsula,
which is joined to the continent by an isthmus,
four miles wide, dividing the river and bay of
AMSeconrs from the bay of Perdido.
Thii fort, named Fort-Bowyer, mounted, in
Septeiriber; 1814, says at American editor, twb
24; gi* 1-2, eight 9, and four 4-pounders; and
contained a gartisou of only 130 men ;t yet,
When we took possession of Fort-Bowyer, in
February, 1815, op to which date no reinforcement of guns appears to have been sent to it,
the fort mounted, eXclusive of one long 24,
and two 9-pounders outside, three 32, eight
six 12, five 9, and one 4-pounder ; also one
8-inch mortar, and one 52-inch howitzer ; total
:

-

• Wilkinson's•Mem. Vol. III. p. 340.
4- Latour's 'War In Louisiana, p.

343

GREAT` BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

BETWEEN

28 guns. Its garrison, under the same commander too, consisted, at this time, of 375 officers
and soldiers.*
On the morning of the 12th, M. M. S. Hermes;.
Of 22, Carron, of 20, and Sophie and Childertii
of 18 guns each, under the orders of captain W.
II. Percy, of the first-named ship, anchored on
the coast, about six miles to the eastward of
Fort-Bowyer ; which this officer had unadvisedly
determined to attack. The ships, with great
difficulty, owing to the narrowness of the chart
nel, and the numerous shoals, arrived, on the'
afternoon of the 15th, in the neighbourhood of
the fort. The Hermes, at last, gained a station
within musket-shot distance ; the Sophie, Carron,
and Childers, anchoring in a line a-stern of her.
Previously to this, a. detachment of, not " 120" t
but 60 marines, and not " 600"t but 120 Indians, with a 52-inch howitzer, but no 12pounder," under the orders of major Nicolls, of
the marines, had disembarked on the peninsula.
Sixty of the Indians, under lieutenant Castle,
had been detached to secure the pass of Bonse-•
tours, 27 miles to the eastward of the fort; so
that major Nicolls had, under his command, not
730, t but 120 marines and Indians.
The great distance at which the Carron and
Childers had unavoidably anchored, confined the
effective cannonade, on the part of the British, to
"

,

,

* Appendix, No. 112.

Latouetliiir in Louisinns;

rrr

40:

344 MILITARY

OCCURRENCES BETWEEN
,'

the Hermes and Sophie ; nor was the latter's fire
of much use, as, owing to the rottenness of her
timbers, and her defective equipment, her car.:
ronades drew or turned over at every fire. The
Hermes, before she had fired many broadsides,
". having her cable cut, was carried away by
the current, and :presented her head to the fort.
In that position she remained from 15. to 0
minutes, whilst the raking fire from the fprt
swept, fore and aft, almost every thing on deck."!
Soon afterwards the Hermes grounded, directly
in front of the fort. Every means to get her off
having failed, captain Percy; taking out of her
the whole of his wounded, set her on tire. He
had but one boat left, and that with only three
oars. As a proof of; the •American captain
Lawrence's " characteristic • humanity," the
fort, on this " 'memorable day for the garrison," fired round and .grape. at the boat,
till she got out of gun-shot. The Lermes and
Sophie were the, only vessels, that sustained
any injury. The loss of the one was 25 men
killed, and 24 wounded ; of • 'the other, six
killed,. and 16 wounded ;• total, with one marine killed on shore, 32 killed, and 40 wounded:
while the American, editors, major Latour inclusive, have made ::the British loss before FortBowyer, 162 killed, and 70 wounded.t The
Americans acknowledge a loss of four killed, and
four wounded. t . No event of the war has been

GREAT :7BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

made more of than the indiscreet attack upon
Fort-Bowyer. Major Latour, misnaming one
vessel, and converting into frigate-built ships Ole:
corvettes Hermes and• Carron, gives each of the
latter " twenty eight 32-pound carronades,".!,
and crews in proportion. •; He, then, states the
whole " effective British force at 92 guns, and
1330 men ;"* which he modestly opposes to eight
guns, (all that he says would bear,) and 130 men.
Where did this writer learn, that both broadsides ,of a ship can act together, upon a single
object:' Major Latour, palpably ridiculous as
his statements are,,hos,,however, no criticism to
dread in the United States of America.
• The attack upon Fort-139wyer unmasking, at
once, the designs of the British upon Louisiana,
major-general Jackson, of, the United. - States
army, who, having superseded general #ilkin,
son, was at this time at Mobile, began : making
defensive arrangements ; and, among., them,
adopted the extraordinary resolution of taking
possession, " without waiting for the authority
of his government," t of the Spanish. post- of
Pensacola, and the contiguous forts. . Having
assembled 4000 :troops, he was enabled, through
the treachery of the Spanish governor, to effect
his object, on the 7th and 8th of November,
without bloodshed. . Leaving garrisons in the
captured forts, • the major-general, with the
:

,

.

* Latour'sWar in Louis. p..40: .r + Sketches of theWar, p. 346.


* Latour's War in Louisiana p. 38
)

zIhid. p. 40.

6ktAt grittkiikt Io46 AntriltiOA4 ,

644 ritittlAAV ottavittigNtS BETWEEN

remainder of his troops, departed for New Orleans ; where he arrived on the 2d of Decem
ber . Since the 10th of the preceding month,
the governor of Louisiana had informed the lo
gislature that the British were about to attack:
the state, with from 12 to 15000 men ; and that
lie was in daily expectation of considerable rep
inforcements from Kentucky and Tennessee.
Without a brief description of Louisiana, and
particularly of the line of maritime invasion to
Whith New Orleans is exposed, the important
operations about to be detailed, will not be so
teadily understood. The boundaries of Loui.
siana may be seen upon any map of the North,
American continent : it is only necessary here
to state, that this great expanse of territory has
a frontier, with the Spanish internal provinces
of 1900 miles ; a line of sea coast, on the Pacific
Ocean, of 500 miles ; a frontier with the British
dominions of 1700 miles ; thence, following the
Mississippi, by comparative course, 1400 miles;
and along the gulf of Mexico 700 miles : from
the mouth of the Perdido to the 31° N. latitude,
40 miles ; along the latter parallel, 240 miles;
having an outline of 6480 miles, and 1352560
Square miles of surface.* The parish of Ne'►v
Orleans is bounded north by Lake Pontchartrain
and the Rigolets, east by lake Borgne and the
parish of Plaquemines, south-east by the gulf
,

.

;

-

* Darby's Louisiana, p. 12.

of Metiesti, and west by the parisheg of f. hetJ
►iard and the interior` Of Lefortrehe ; possessing'
an area of 1300 square miles. The city of NOVO'''.
leans, the capital of the parish, and of the state
Of Louisiana stands upon the left bank of the
Mississippi, 105 Miles, following the stream, and
90 miles, in a direct line, from its mouth. The
present population of the city is estimated at
23242 persons. * The line Of Maritime invasion
extends from Lake Pontchartrain, on the east,
to the river Tesche, on the west, intersected by
several bays, inlets, and rivers, which furnish
avenues of approach ter the metropolis. But the
flatness of the coast is every where unfavorable
for the debarkation of trOcriA ; and the bays and
inlets being all obsiincted by shoals or bars, no
landing can be effected, but by boats; except
up the Mississippi ; and that haS- a bar at its
mouth, which shoals to 13 or 14 feet water..
On the 7th of December, commodore Patterson, the naval commander at Netv Orleans; received a letter from Pensacola, dated on the 5th,
stating that a British fleet of 60. sail, having on
hoard a large body of troops, had arrived off the
bar, and were destined for New Orleans. The
commodore i mmediately ordered the gun-boats
At the station to proceed to the passes Mariana
and Christiana, leading into lake Borgne ; by
_which, and lake Pontchartrain, it vrvs thought'
,

;

Darby's Lluisiana, p. 185.

348 MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN
GREAT =BRITAIN AND AMERICA. 349

the British would make their approaches. As
an additional protection, the Rigolets, forming
the communication between lakes Borgne and
tontchartrain, were defended by a small work,
named Petite Coquille fort. Detachments - of
troops had also been sent out, to fell timber
across every small bayou or creek, leading from
the lakes ; and through which a passage for
boats could be afforded. The precaution was
even taken, in some of the bayous, to sink large
frames, and then fill them with earth. To prevent
any approach, by the Mississippi, general Jackson. went himself to superintend the direction of
the defences at Fort St. Philip, situated on the
left bank of the river, about 40 miles from the
Balize. Besides increasing the strength of this
fort, the general ordered the immediate construction of two batteries on the opposite side of the
river. It is now time to attend to the progress
of the expedition.
. On the 8th of December, vice-admiral Cochrane, in the Tonnant, along with several other
ships, arrived and, anchored off the Chandeleur
islands. On the same day, two of the American
gun-boats fired at the Artnide as she, along
with the Seahorse and Sophie, was passing down,
within the chain of small islands that runs
parallel to the shore, from Mobile towards Lake
Borgne. :Three other .gun-boats were presently
discovered crui*ing in the lake. On the 10th,
;

11th, and 12th, the remainder of the men-of-war
and troop-ships arrived ; the 74s anchoring off
Chandeleur island; the frigates and •smaller vessels between Cat island and the main, not far from
the entrance to Lake Borgne': -The commander of
the American gun-boats, fearing an attack, had,
since the 11th, put his boats in the best possible
condition.* The bayou Catalan, or Bienvenu,
at the head of Lake Borgne being the contemplated point of disembarkation, the distance
from the anchorage at Cat island to the bayou
62 miles, and the principal means of transport
open boats, it became impossible that any movement of the troops could take place, until these
gun-boats were destroyed. It was also an
object to get possession of them in a serviceable state, that they might assist, as well in
transporting the troops, as in the attack of any
of the enemy's forts in the route ; therefore,
42 launches, armed with 24, 18, and 12-pound
carronades, and three unarmed gigs, carrying',
altogether, about 980 seamen and marines,
placed under the orders of captain Lockyer, of
the Sophie, left the ships on the night of the 12th.
For the details of the short battle, ending in_
the capture of five gun-boats, and an armed sloop,
the reader is referred to the British and American
official accounts ;1 upon the latter of which we
shall proceed to make a few observations.
-

,

* Latour's Wai in louisiana, p 59;
t App. Nos. 78. 79. 80. 81. and 82•

GREAT BRITA,RT ,41■IERICA: Ogr,i

.050 miwAny OfpyRRiENF IE? BETWEEN
It does „not

appear, by captaip Lockyer's

Letter, than any attack was ode ppm' the $on

t

-horse,Hdtucinfore,byhic
mander, could only have been from a dread that
she would be attacked; or, if she was attacked, no
difficulty, and no casualties beyond her destruction, occurred on either side. This is confirmed,
PS well by the American return of loss, as by
the proceedings of the court of inquiry, held upon
captain Jones and 10 4 9tUeers ; in which neither
the Seahorse nor Mr. Johnson, her commander,
is at all named. Captain Janes seems to have
mistaken the hour at which captain Roberts
was detached to take the Alligator, for the time
of her capture : from which service the division
of boats did not return, till the capture of gun,
boat No. 156 had been effected. The " deliberate fire" from one long 32, and four long 24s,
did, owing to the tardy approach of the boats
against " the force of the current," produce
" much effect ;" and, till the latter came within
range of their carronades, could not be re,
turned. It is singular that a writer, who gives
captain Jones's letter in his Appendix, should
describe the latter's c' objects of so small a size,''
as " barges almost as large as the gun.boats
themselves."* Captain Jones says, " two boats
.sank."
We can assure him, that no other
boat sank than the Tonnant's launch ; and

',wry man in her was saved. The court or

iitquiry has preferred " several barges"* to "two?
hoats." Major Latour himself thinks f‘ a great
number of barges and launches" t better than
either. Captain Jones's account of the duratioy
of the action must include the. ime during which,
for the reasons already given, he had the firing
all to himself. In less than 20 minutes after
the British got alongside of the flag gun-boat,
the whole five vessels were in their possession.
The defence of the commodore's gun-boat did
credit to all on board ; nor could the others, when
Ate was captured, have possibly withstood the
Force operating against them. It is captainJones's
commentators with whom we have more particularly to do. This officer must efeuse us for
re4narking, that ,his " correct statement" wool)
ketter have deserved the nataie, had h e pc•qtrA*4
e nature and caliber, as well as the nomber,
of his own, with the number and caliber of his
flW 1113I'S guns.. Why pwit t nnXi.C.e tUP n
/Rive's, or half-pounders, or the two 4i inch
.40tfitzers, which were captured among his gyps?
We will not dis pute the numbers of his " effective"
Arms; yet, according to irnajor Latour, the
affective crew of gun-boat Xo. 65, which h a d
been left to assist in guarding the Mississippi,
Intoulited to 40 inen.$ This gentleman's zeal
.

!

* Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 61.

Latour's War in Louisiana, P. IWO"
p.

at.

352

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

has carried him rather too far. Oa-t of the state.
went in captain Jones's letter, that his vessels,
at 2 P.M. on the 13th, " were in 12 or 18 inches
less water than their draught," the major has
made out that, in the action on the 14th, " it
was impossible for the gun-boats to manoeuvre,"
because " several of them were sunk 18 inches
in the .'tnud ;" ' and this, in spite of captain
Jones's statement :" At 3,30, (on the 13th,) the
flood-tide had commenced ; got under weigh,
making the best of my way towards the Petite
Coquille."§ Captain Jones, in his estimate of
our loss, rather over-rated the prowess of his
men, as will be seen by the British returns1
Major Latour, as a proof how much he is influenced by " the duty of impartiality" and a "due
regard to truth," scruples not to account for
nearly two-thirds of this loss, by, what he calls, the
"plain fact,"—that " 180 men went down in one
of the barges which were sunk." After having
f
already stated that no barge was sunk, nor men
drowned, we have only to add, that the largest
number of men in any one of the barges was 31.
If we seem to pass over our old friends Messieurs
Thomson, O'Connor, and Smith, it is not because their statements are less extravagant than
those of our two new acquaintances, but because
the latter enter more largely into the events of
4

t Hid p. 235.
* Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 61.
§ App. No. 80.
App. No. 79.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

353

the Louisiana war. Mr. John Henry Eaton, the •
biographist of general Jackson, taking the hint
from major Latour, about the American gunboats and _British barges being nearly :of the
same size, presents his readers with the follow-•
ing statement :—
,

" The British
had
The Americans,

Boats,
43
5

Men.
1200
182

Guns.
43
23

38

1018

20".*

Nothing could happen better ; beeause it gives
as an opportunity of exhibiting a statement also.'
Supposing Mr. Eaton not to have known, that'
the smallest of his " boats" was 75 tons bin-then,;`
the History of the Tripolitan War Would have'
informed him, that two Or three of theni had
crossed the Atlantic and back in safety. 'Now
.
fur our statement :-- .do
-

"His Britannic Majesty's
United States' 4C boat"
brig Hunter." +
No. 23.
16
Broadside-metal 5 long guns,
50
in pounds,
9
12
carronades,
— 28
59
39
41
Complement,
112
Size in tons,
74
.

And did not the American commodore Macdonough, in an official letter, designate two
British vessels, the largest of which was two
tons smaller than: Mr. Eaton's " boat," as " two
sloops of war" t We need only add to what
has already appeared respecting the state of
* Eaton's Life of Jackson, p. 261.
+ Nay. Hist. of the United States, Vol. I. p. 249
I. James's Nay. Occur. p. 420.
VOL. II.
AA

354

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

equipment of American gun-boats,* that those
taken by captain Lockyer had polished mahogany
traversing gun-carriages, and were lavishly sup.
plied with ordnance-stores of every descrip•
tion.
The capture of the gun-boats having thusleft
open the entrance by the lakes, great consterna.
tion prevailed at New Orleans. General Jack.
son, with a promptitude highly to his credit,
redoubled his exertions ; and, with what, in
our despotic country, would be considered a
stretch of power, proclaimed martial law. By
way of sounding the British as to the route they
meant to take, commodore Patterson, on the
15th of December, sent a purser and doctor of
the navy, with a flag, under pretence " of
obtaining correct information as to the situation
of the officers and crews made prisoners on board
the gun-boats, and of endeavouring to obtain
their being suffered to return to town on parole."
Admiral Cochrane -very properly told them,
that their visit was unseasonable, and that he
could not permit them to return, until the
intended attack was made, and the fate of New
Orleans decided."-t This was construed into a
" wanton outrage on propriety," and all sorts of
abuse lavished upon the British character.
On the 16th the first division of troops, consisting of the 85th regiment, landed at Isle aux
Poix, a small swampy spot, at the mouth of
* See p. 200.
+ Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 75.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA. ,

355

the Pearl river ; about 30 miles from the anchor-.
age, and nearly the same distance from the
bayou Catalan, or Bienvenu, intended as the
point of disembarkation. Various causes, as
detailed in admiral Cochrane's letter,* delayed
the arrival of the boats at the fishermen's village,
near the entrance of the bayou, till midnight on
the 22d ; when, immediately, the advance, consisting of 760 rank and file of the 4th, 402 rank
and file of the 85th, and 396 rank and file of the
95th regiments, also 100 sappers, miners, and
artillery men, with two 3-pounders, and 30
racketeers, in all 1688 men, under the command
of colonel Thornton of the 85th, commenced
ascending the bayou Mazant, or principal
branch of the Bienvenu ; and, at four o'clock
on the following morning, landed at the extremity of Villere's canal, running from the bayou
Mazant, towards the Mississippi.
As the country around New Orleans possesses
very peculiar features, a slight digression may
be necessary. The bayou Bienvenu is the creek
through which all the waters of a large basin,
or swamp, about 80 miles in extent, bounded on
the north by the Mississippi, on the west by
New Orleans, on the north-west, by bayou Sauvage, or Chef-menteur, and on the east by Lake
Borgne, into which it empties. It receives the
streams of several other bayous, formed by the
* App. No. 99.
AA

2

357

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICAi.

356

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

waters of the surrounding cypress swamps and
prairies, as well as of innumerable little streams
from the low grounds along the river. It is navigable for vessels of 100 tons, P2 miles from its mouth.
Its breadth is from 110 to 150 yards, and it has
six feet water on the bar, at common tides, and
nine feet at spring tides. Its principal branch
is that which is called bayou Mazant, which
runs towards the south-west, and receives the
waters of the canals of the plantations of Villere,
Lacoste, and Laronde, upon which the British
afterwards established their principal encamp.
ment. The level of the great basin, on the bank
of the principal bayou, is usually 12 feet below
the banks of the Mississippi. The overflowing
of the waters of all those bayous and canals,
occasioned by the tide of the sea, or by the winds
raising the waters in the lake, forms, on all their
banks, deposits of slime, which are continually
raising them above the rest of the soil ; so that
the interval between two bayous is below the
level of their banks, and the soil is generally
covered with water and mud, in which aquatic
plants, or large reeds, of the height of from six
to eight feet, grow in abundance. It sometimes
happens that the rains, or the filtrated waters,
collected in these intervals, or basins, not finding
a vent, form what are called trembling prairies;
which are at all times impassable to men and
domestic animals. The land in Lower Louisiana
slopes in the inverse direction of the soil of other

countries, being most elevated on the sides of
the rivers, and sinking as it recedes from them.
The Mississippi, at New Orleans, periodically
swells 14 or 15 feet ; and is then from three to
four feet above the level of its banks. To confine its waters within its bed, dikes or ramparts,
called in Louisiana levees, have been raised :on
,

its banks, from the highlands towards its mouth,
a little above ,the level of the highest swells
without which precaution, the lands would be
entirely overflowed, from four-to:five months in
the year. The reader will now be_ better able
to appreciate the difficulties ••- our troops.- and
seamen had to encounter, in transporting themselves, their baggage, provisions, and artillery,
to the scene of operations on the left bank
of the Mississippi.
The spot at which the British advance had
landed, was about a mile from a cypress wood,
or swamp, of nearly a mile and a half• in depth,
running parallel to the Mississippi;: between
which and the border of the wook is a slip
of land, from 13 to 1700 yards wide, intersected by strong horizontal railings, and several wet ditches, or canals, and principally
planted with sugar canes. Several large
houses, with their out-offices and negro-huts,
are scattered, at irregular distances, over this
tract ; along which passes, near to the levee, or
bank of the river, the high road to New Orleans.
.

358

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

At about noon on the 23d, the piquets of the
British advanced division arrived at M. Villeres
house, standing upon the road-side, at the distance of about six miles from the city. Here a
company of the 3d regiment of militia was
surprised and captured. Soon afterwards,
colonel Thornton, with the remainder of his
division, arrived, and bivouacked upon the
higher ground of the plantation, or that nearest to
the river. This point had been reconnoitered,
since the night of the 18th, by the honorable
captain Spencer, of the Carron, and lieutenant
Peddie, of the quarter-master-general's department. These officers, with a smuggler as their
guide, had pulled up the bayou in a canoe, and
advanced to the high road, without seeing any
persons, or preparations.
After general Wilkinson, whose local knowledge in this quarter no one will dispute, has
stated, that lieutenant Jones, of the late American flotilla, in answer to the particular enquiries
put to him respecting the strength of Fort- •
Coquille, defending the entrance to Lake Pontchartraine, reported it to mount, instead of eight,
—" 40 pieces of artilley," and to be garrisoned
by, not 50,—but " 500 men," and that, in consequence of the supposed strength of that position, the British determined to advance by the
bayou Bienvenu, he says :—" To this direction
of the invaders, and their halt after they had

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

363

9 and 6-pounders, the heaviest artillery which
had then been got up, was, by day-light on the
morning of the 27th, in readiness to act. The
second hot shot lodged in the schooner's mainhold, under her cables, and presently set her on
fire. Soon afterwards, her crew, with the
loss of one killed and six wounded, took to their
boats, and reached the shore. By some gross
mismanagement on our part, the artillery,
instead of being, immediately that the Carolina
was seen to be on fire, directed against the
powerful ship Louisiana, whose " powdermagazine was above water," continued to
play upon the flaming wreck. When the latter
exploded, which was not till an hour after
the commencement of the firing, the British
guns were directed against the ship ; but her
commander, aware of the danger to which the
situation of his magazine exposed him, had
wisely employed " 100 men of his crew,"' in
towing the Louisiana out of gun-shot.
Since the evening of the 25th, major-general
sir Edward Pakenham, and major-general Gibbs,
had arrived at head-quarters ; the former to
take command of the army, now augmented, by
fresh arrivals from the anchorage, to about,—not,
as major Latour says, " 9 or 10000,"f but--5040,
rank and file. The prevailing frosts had greatly
improved the road from the landing place ; anct
* Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 118.

+ Ibid. p. 125.

364

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN
GREAT ;BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

rendered a passage across the swamps, in most
directions, less difficult than usual. At this
time the real strength of Fort-Coquille was generally known in camp ; and some one proposed
for the army to be moved back, by a route
pointed out, to Lake Pontchartrain ; and thence,
after taking the forts Coquille and St. John, (in
which there would be no difficulty,) to proceed
down bayou St. John, to the rear of New Orleans.
The attack in front, with such an army, was,
however, thought to be the readiest, as it cer,
tainly was the boldest mode.
There is no means of judging of the strength of
the American position, but by a full description.
Fortunately, we are enabled to give that in the
very words of the engineer who superintended
the construction of the lines. By way of still
further elucidation, we have made use of major
Latour's plan or sketch ;* which, although it has
reference to the operations of a subsequent day,
represents, except as to some of the guns, the
same lines which were now about to be attacked.
—" Jackson's lines, within five miles of the city
of New Orleans, and running along the limits of
Rodriguez's and Chalmette's plantations, were
but one of those antient mill-races so common
in Louisiana, extending f'rom the bank of the
river to the cypress swamp. It has already been
seen, from my description of the form of the soil
.■ See Plate VII.
.

365

in Lower Louisiana, and from its shelving from
the river towards the swamps, that, when the
Mississippi is swelled to its greatest height, the
level of the surface of its waters is some feet
above that of the contiguous soil, and from 12
to 15 feet above that of the praries and bayous,
which, at those periods, receive the waters flowing from the Mississippi. To add to the mass
and the force of the water, the planters dig
canals a few feet deep, throwing the earth on
both sides, so as to afford a mass of water from
eight to eleven feet deep ; and, at the head of
these canals, which are commonly 25 feet wide,
are constructed saw-mills. The canal on which
Jackson's lines were formed, had long been
abandoned, having no longer any mill to turn ;
so that its banks had fallen in, and raised its
bottom, which was covered with grass, presenting, rather, the appearance of an old draining
ditch, than of a canal. On the 21th of Decem-

ber, general Jackson had taken this position ;
and, that it was well chosen, will sufficiently
appear, on an inspection of the map. I will
only observe, that those lines leave the least
possible space between the river and the wood,
and that from the lines to Villere's canal, the
depth of the high land continually increases, and
is at Laronde's plantation nearly three times as
great as at the lines. As soon as this position
was chosen, the troops began to raise a parapet,
-

366

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

leaving the ditch as it was, except that, by cutting
the road, it was laid under water, as there was
then a temporary rise of the river.. Earth was
fetched from the rear of the line, and thrown
carelessly on the left (or inner) bank ; where the
earth had been thrown when the bank was originally dug. The bank on the right (or outer)
side, being but little elevated above the soil,
formed a kind of glacis. All the pales of the
fences in the vicinity were taken to line the
parapet, and prevent the earth from falling into
the canal. All this was done at various intervals, and by different corps, owing to the frequent mutations in the disposition of the troops.
This circumstance, added to the cold, and to
incessant rain, rendered it impossible to observe
any regularity as to the thickness and height
of the parapet ; which, in some places, was as
much as 20 feet thick at the top, though hardly
five feet high ; whilst, in other places, the enemy's
balls went throngt, it at the base. On the 1st
of January, there was but a very small proportion
of the line able to withstand the balls ; but, on
the Sth of January, the whole extent, as far as
the wood, was proof against the enemy's cannon.
The length of the line was about a mile, somewhat more than half of which ran from the
river to the wood, the remainder extending into
the wood, where the line took a direction towards the left, which rested on a cypress swamp
-

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

367'

almost impassable. Enormous holes in the soil,
made impassable by their being full of water
from the canal, rendered a bend in the line*
unavoidable."1
The manner in which the artillery was afterwards distributed, and the number and caliber
of the pieces, appearon the plan. It is only necessary to state here, that they consisted of one 32,
three 24, one 18, three 12, and two 6-pounder
long-guns, and one 92 and one 6-inch howitzer ;
total 12 guns : but not above half of them were
mounted on the 28th of December. In case of
being driven from this strong line, general Jackson
had caused to be constructed two other lines in
his rear ; the nearest, or Dupre's line, at the distance of a mile and a half, and the third, or Montreui l line, at the distance of two miles and a quarter, from his outer, or main line. or had the
opposite, or right bank of the river, which even
exceeded the left in capability of defence, been
neglected. Boisgervais' canal, at the distance
of three miles from the city, had been selected ;
and the labour of 150 negroes, for six days, completed the parapet along the whole length of the
canal, and levelled the earth to form a glacis on
the opposite side. There was, also, opposite to the
city, on the bank of the river, a strong redoubt,
formed by a brick-kiln ; surrounded by a ditch,
25 feet w ide, with a glacis and parapet. A
palisade extended along its whole length on the
-

* See Plate VII.

1- Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 149.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

368

369

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

inside. The redoubt was furnished with a
powder-magazine; and mounted with two 24pounders ; which commanded both the road and
the river. *
- The British commander determined to make
a demonstation upon the enemy's fortified line
on the left bank. Accordingly, at day-light on
the morning of the 28th, the troops moved forward in two columns; driving in the whole of
the enemy's line of out-posts. During the
advance of the British, the ship which had been
so unfortunately spared, opened a heavy enfilading fire upon them ; and continued it during
the whole of the forenoon.- Her fire, and that
from the enemy's heavy pieces at his works, did
considerable execution. On the 30th commodore
Patterson planted behind the levee on the right
bank a 24 pounder, and on the next day, two 12pounders ; with which he threw shot quite into
the British camp. Our loss between the 25th
and 31st, as detailed in the return, amounted to
16 killed, 38 wounded, and two missing ; total
56. 3.- The Americans acknowledge a loss of nine
killed ; and eight wounded, § on shore, and of
one wounded on board the ship ; total 18.
By the evening of the 31st, after considerable
difficulty, ten ship 18-pounders, and four 24pound carronades were brought up the canal,
in boats, and four of the former were placed in
-

* Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 125.
+ App. Nos. 89 and 90.
App. No. 94. § App. No. 91.

a battery, formed with hogsheads of sugar, on
the main road, to fire upon the ship, if she
dropped down the river. Some other batteries
were, in the mean time,- constructed. The first
of January was ushered in with a very thick fog,
which did not begin to disperse till towards
eight o'clock. As soon as the horizon cleared
up, the British opened their batteries upon the
American line. " Our batteries," says major
Latour, " were the principal objects against
which the enemy's fire was directed ; but we
were not less intent in demolishing his ; for,
in about an hour's time, our balls dismounted
several of his guns ; and, when.the firing ceased,
the greater part of his artillery was unfit for
service. Justice obliges us to acknowledge, that
the fire of the British was, for along time, vigo,
rously kept up, and well-directed." All this
while, commodore Patterson's guns, on the opposite bank, shared in the engagement.t A sudden change now took place in the weather ; and,
so deep was the soil, that it reqUired the greatest
exertions of the whole army, aided by the seamen, at this time serving With it, to retire the
remaining guns a short distanee, before daylight the next morning.
• Failing to make any impression •upon the
enemy's parapet, and unable to approach his
flanks ; on his right, owing to the river, and on
• Latour's War *Louisiana, p. 133. . 1- App. No. 92.
VO1.. II.

,

B

370

-

MILITARY' OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

his left, owing to the impassable swamp by
which it was so well secured, the British commander-in-chief determined to wait for the expected reinforcements, under major-general
Lambert. We may observe, in this place, what
great advantage would have been derived from
the 2 or 3000 Choctaw Indians and Negroes,
Who were ready, and might have been brought
from West Florida. During the 2d and 3d of
January commodore Patterson, having landed
four more 12-pounders, and erected a furnace
for heating shot, caused, till the evening of the
5th, considerable destruction in the British
camp. Our loss, as detailed in the returns,.
amounted to 32 killed, 44 wounded, and two
missing ; total 78 : that of the Americans, on the
1st of January, 11 killed, and 23 wounded;
total 34.' On the four succeeding days, the
cannonade, owing to the ruinous state of the
British batteries, was wholly on the side of
the Americans. " Our artillery," says major
Latour, " continued to fire on the enemy ; and,
whenever a group of four or five men spewed
themselves, they were instantly dispersed by our
balls or shells. The advantage we derived from
that almost incessant cannonading, on both
banks of the Mississippi, was, that we exercised
our gunners, annoyed the enemy to such a
degree, that he could not work at any fortilica* App. No. 95.

+ App. No, 93.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

371,

Lion ; nor, indeed, come within the reach of our
cannon by day, and was deprived of all repose
during the night."*
On the 4th of January general Jackson received the long-expected reinforcement of 2250
Kentuckians ; and, on the 6th, the British received their expected reinforcement of the 7th
and 43d regiments. On that very day a deserter informed general Jackson of the intended
attack ; as well as that the British were digging
out Villere's canal, and extending it, in order to
get their boats into the river, ready for a simultaneous attack on the opposite side. In the
meanwhile major-general Morgan had thrown
up two fresh lines, in advance of his works at
Boisgervais' canal. Upon these, and commo- *
dore Patterson's battery on the river-side, I were
mounted 16 guns. The last-named officer actually saw, and reported, contrary to the belief
of sir Alexander Cochrane, § the operations on,
Villere's canal in short, the Americans were
fully apprized, that their works on both sides
of the river would be attacked on the morning
of the 8th. "..In our camp," says major Latour, " all was composure ; the officers were
ordered to direct their subalterns to be ready
on the first signal. Half the troops passed the
* Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 143.
I. Eaton's Life of Jackson, p. 332..
App. No. 99.
11 App. No. 102.
B

2

See Plate VII.

372

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

night behind the breastwork; relieving each
other occasionally. Every one waited for day
with anxiety and impatience, but with calm
intrepidity; expecting to be vigorously attacked,
and knowing that the enemy had then from 12
to 15,000 bayonets to bring into action, besides
2000 sailors, and some marines."* This preli•
minary puff might pass, but for the statement
about the strength of the British forces. We
will first point out where the major contradicts
himself. His " list of the several corps cont•
posing the British army, at the time of its landing on the shores of the Mississippi, with an
estimate of their respective force,"—wherein we
find the " 40th regiment," and a " detachment
of the 62d regiment," that did not land till the
11th of January, stated, together, at " 1360
men," the " rocket-brigade, artillery, drivers,
engineers, sappers and miners," at " 1500,"
and the " royal marines, and sailors taken from
the fleet," as high as " 3500,"—makes a total of
only " 14450 ;" t less, by 2000 and upwards,
than the amount which he had previously
told us was " ready for action." Again ; the
numbers upon the major's diagram, or plan
of the battle of the 8th, run thus : " Main
attack of the British, supposed to be between 8
and 9000 strong ;"—" Left column of the British,
* Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 1b4.
+ Ibid. his Appendix, No. 44.

-GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

373

supposed 1200 strong." Add to this nurnbet
the 800 stated as the British force upon the
right bank ; and we have, as the total upon both
sides of the river, 12500, instead of " from 12 to
15000, besides 2000 sailors, and some marines."
This is the enemy's, now for the British,
account of our force. Previously to the attack
on the morning of the 8th, we had, includ..
ing fatigue-parties and piquets, and every:
description of force on shore, the following
rank and file : 14th light dragoons, 295 ; royal,
artillery, 570 ; sappers and miners, 98 ; staff
corps, 57 ; 4th foot, 747 ; 7th, 750 ; 21st, 800
43d, 820 ; 44th, 427 ; 85th, 298 ; 93d; 775 ;
95th, 276 ; and 1st and 5th West India regi
meats, (blacks,) 1040 ; total, 6953 men ; just
2643 less than major Latour's estimated strength
of those 14 corps. By adding 1200, for the
seamen and marines from the fleet, we have
8153 for the total amount of the British on
shore. Deducting 853 men for the fatigueparties, piquets, guards at the hospitals, &c.
leaves 7300 men for the British force, " ready
for action," on both sides of the river, at or
before day-light, on the morning of the 8th of
January. To this force was added a battery,
hastily thrown up, of six 18-pounders ; besides
a brigade of 9, 6, and 3-pounders, and one
howitzer. With the details of the force at
general Jackson's lines, we have nothing to do.
The following extract from Mr. O'Connor's

374

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

book will suffice. " From an official account,"
says he, " it appeared, that the number of men
under command of general Jackson, and actually engaged against the enemy, on the 8th of
January, amounted to 4698." This was on
the left bank : on the right bank, we have 400
men,' sent across, on' the morning of the 8th,
under the celebrated French general, Humbert,
and 1500; t already on that side, under majorgeneral Morgan ' and commodore Patterson;
making a total force, on both sides of the river,
of 6198 men. The American artillery, including
the batteries on the opposite bank, and only
half the guns of the • Louisiana,' consisted of
upwards of 30 pieces.
For the order of attack, and the disposition
of the different corps, we must refer the reader
to major-general Lambert's letter. An unavoidable delay had occurred in getting the boats into
the Mississippi; where they were required to
carry across troops, in order to attack general
Morgan's lines : and then a circumstance, which
happened at the very onset, gave a fatal turn
to the first misfortune. The 44th regiment,
owing chiefly to the negligence of its commander, failed to be in readiness with the fascines
and ladders. These had been placed in a redoubt,
1200 yards from the enemy's lines ; by which
* Hist. of the War, p. 291.
+ Eaton's Life of Jackson, p. 336; vide Erratum.
47 App. No. 96.
-

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

375

redoubt the 44th, in its way from camp to its
station, passed, till it arrived at the advanced
battery, about 500 yards nearer to the enemy's
line. The misunderstanding, for such it was, being
now, for the first time, cleared up, the commanding officer of the 44th, lieutenant-colonel
Mullins, (only a captain in the regiment,) sent
hack 300 men, under lieutentant-colonel Debbeig,
to bring up the fascines and ladders. Before the
44th returned, the firing had commenced ; and
many of the men threw down their " heavy" loads,
There was not one
and took to their muskets.
4
although
some
were thrown
ladder placed ; '
in the ditch. What followed we cannot describe
better, than in the sworn depositions of two distinguished officers, examined at colonel Mullins's
court-martial. Major sir John Tylden, of the
43d regiment, says :—" On the morning of the
8th of Jan nary, I was in the field, as senior officer
on the adj utant-general's department. I accompanied sir E. Pakenham, slionly after four
o'clock, to the house of major-general Gibbs.
immediately on his arrival, general Gibbs reported to sir E. Pakenham, in my presence, that
colonel Mullins had neglected to obey the order
given him the evening before, in not having his
regiment at the head of the column, with the
fascines and ladders, but that he had immediately, on finding it out, sent an officer to the
regiment to hurry them on ; that the mistake
* Court-martial on lieutenant-colonel Mullins, p. 26.

376

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

might be rectified, and that he was in motnew
tary expectation of a report from that regiment,
Sir E. Pakenham then ordered me to find out
the 44th regiment, and to know if they had got
the fascines and ladders, and to ascertain (the
probability) of their getting ,up in their situation
in column. I did,. so, and found the 44th
regiment moving off at the redoubt, just before
day, in a most irregular•and unsoldierlike manner, with the fascines and ladders. I then re+
turned, after • some time, to sir E. Pakenham,
and reported the circumstance to him ; stating
that, by the time which had elapsed since I left
them, they must have arrived in their situation
in column. Shortly after the signal of attack
was given, I rode with sir E. Pakenham toward
the column. In passing . towards the head of
the column, we saw several parties of the 44th
regiment straggling about the ground with their
fascines and ladders ; and sonic of them had, even
then, commenced firing. On arriving at the
column, a check and confusion had taken place,
and the firing was becoming general throughout
the whole of the column. General. Gibbs came
up to sir Edward Pakenham, and said, in my
hearing, am sorry to have to report to you,
the troops will not obey me ; they will not follow
me.' At this moment there certainly was great
'confusion prevailing in the column. Sir E.
Pakenham pulled off his hat, and rode to the
head of the column, and cheered the men on,
,

377

and in that act fell. At this time, I had just
returned from the other flank of the column,
and having been at both flanks, and, at the head
of the column, I can positively assert, there was
not a single man of the 44th regiment in front.
I then rode to the rear, to report the death of
sir Edward Pakenham. In going to the rear,
I saw several parties of the 21st and 44th mgimeats running to the rear, and firing in all
directions, in the most disorderly manner I ever
witnessed. I also saw, scattered in several parts
of the field, several of the fascines and ladders.
I reported the substance •of my testimony to
major-general sir John Lambert." *— Major
M'Dougal, of the 85th regiment, says thus :" 1 was aide de camp to major-general Pakenham, and, on the signal of attack being given
on the morning of the 8th January, I accompanied him to the front. Ile expressed himself
in the strongest terms, relative to the 44th
regiment. The column of attack appeared to
be moving in a regular manner ; and he expressed
his confidence on the event of the attack : however, a firing commenced ; and, presently afterwards, I saw many individuals of the 44th regi.
meat, as well as a group of three or four, scattered
over the field, some of them running to the rear
with the fascines on their shoulders. Sir Edward
Pakenham said,—` For shame, recollect you are
♦ Court-martial on lieutenant-colonel Mullins, p.

378 mitATAfty .

OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

British soldiers ; this is the road you ought to
-

take ;' but with little avail. On getting up to
the columns the firing had extended to the
rear, and the whole column was a mass of firing
and confusion, and the head of the column
had checked. Sir Edward Pakenham placed
himself in front ; and, by his exertions, got
;..tite. firing very nearly to cease, although not
altogether; and the column which he led in
person began to move forward. When he had
conducted them about 30 or 40 yards, he received a wound, and his horse at the same
moment was shot under him ; and, almost
immediately afterwards, when he had mounted
the second horse, be received another shot, which
deprived him of life, and, by the fall of their
leader, deprived the column of its best chance
of recovering success. On his fall, the firing
recommenced with all its fury ; and, beyond the
spot where the general led them, the head of the
column did not advance. The ground presented
no obstacle to the advance of the column, or any
thing that should have occasioned straggling in
a corps regularly formed and duly attended to,
had the regiment originally been properly
forthed. At no period in the field did 1 see any
part of the 44th regiment in a body; there were
some at the head of the coluitn, many at the
flanks and rear of the column : I particularly
remarked several of the soldiers of that regiment
.4

,

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

379

throwing down the fascines and ladders to commence firing. It is my opinion, that the whole
confusion of the column proceeded from the
original defective formation of the 44th ; the
fall of sir Edward Pakenham deprived the
column of its best chance of success ; and, had
the column moved forward according to order,
the enemy's lines would have been carried with
little loss. When the fire from our column
commenced, the fire from the enemy's was but
mere spit of fire, nothing to check a moving
column."' We may here notice a slight error
in major-general Lambert's despatch. It was
brigade-major Wilkinson, and not major-general
sir Edward Pakenham, who fell on the glacis
of the enemy's line. The latter fell near the
spot marked on the diagram. t
Had it not been for the misbehaviour of the
44th regiment, sir Edward Pakenham's life
might have been spared ; and, with such an
officer to command in chief, the day must have
been ours. The two officers, the best able to
succeed him, fell also ; one mortally, the other
severely wounded. It is idle to accuse the
44th and 21st, (part of which regiment equally
misbehaved,) of cowardice. To refute such a
charge, it is sufficient to state, that the men of
those regiments were chiefly Irishmen. The 21st
* Court-martial on lieutenant-colonel Mullins, p. 8.
See Plate VII.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

380

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

and 44th were not, however, as major Latour
jeeringly calls them, " Wellington's heroes :"
they came from the Mediterranean,—from Tarragona ; and were, certainly, the two worst disciplined corps upon the field at New Orleans.
The second battalion of the 44th had gained
repute under the duke of Wellington, and been
always in a high state of discipline: it was
at this time in Europe. Where was the proper
commanding officer of the first battalion of the
441.1i We are sorry to be compelled to say, that
colonel Brooke was present, but not at the head
of his regiment ; owing, it would seem, to some
pique or misunderstanding. Comparing his
competency with the notorious incompetency of
lieutenant-colonel Mullins, colonel Brooke has
much to answer for. Major Latour having
heard, • as he could not fail to do, that the check
in the advance of the right British column arose
from the want of the fascines and ladders,
describes the men as " shouldering their muskets,
and all carrying fascines, and some with ladders."* Here he is outdone by Mr. O'Connor ;
who, in his representation of the action, has
actually placed a ladder, and a long one too,
directly against the parapet.
Colonel Rennie, of the engineers, at the head
of a division of the British left brigade, under
major-general Keane, was directed, as we gather
* Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 154.

381

from the American accounts, (for the British
official letter contains no details,) to storm an
unfinished redoubt upon the enemy's right. "The
detachment ordered against this place," says
general Jackson's biographist, " formed the left
of general Keane's command. Rennie executed
his orders with great bravery ; and, urging forward, arrived at the ditch. His advance was
greatly annoyed by commodore Patterson's battery on the left bank, and the cannon mounted
on the redoubt ; but, reaching our works, and
passing the ditch, Rennie, sword in hand,
leaped on the wall, and, calling to his troops,
bade them to follow : he had scarcely spoken,
when he fell, by the fatal aim of our riflemen.
Pressed by the impetuosity of superior numbers
who were mounting the wall, and entering at
the embrasures, our troops had retired to the
line, in rear of the redoubt. A momentary
pause ensued, but only to be interrupted with
increased horrors. Captain Beal, with the city
riflemen, cool and self possessed, perceiving the
enemy in his front, opened. upon them, and, at
every discharge, brought the object to the
ground. To advance, or maintain the point
gained, was equally impracticable for the
enemy : to retreat or surrender was the only
alternative; for they already perceived the division on the right thrown into confusion, and
hastily leaving the field." The situation of

382



MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

these brave fellows, thus abandoned, may be
easily conceived : they were, nearly all, killed
or taken prisoners. The fire from the musketry
ceased at about half-past eight ; that from the
artillery, not till half-past two in the afternoon.
The British loss, on both banks, amounted to
290 killed; 1262 wounded ; and 484 missing ;t
total, not, as the American accounts say, " about
2600," but 2036. As a proof what little opportunity there was, on the part of general Jackson's troops, for displaying any other qualities
than skill in the use of the rifle and great guns,
theAtneriean loss, on the left bank, amounted
to no more than seven killed and six wounded ;
and, on both banks, to only - 13 killed, 39
wounded, and 19 missing : total 71. I
We shall conclude our account of the battle on
the left bank of the Mississippi, with the opinions
of two American, or rather of one French and one
American military officer, upon the quality and
behaviou r of the British troops ; as well as upon the
merits of the plan of attack, in which they so
unfortunately failed. " It is well known," says
major Latour, " that agility is not the distinctive quality of British troops. Their movement
is, in general, sluggish and difficult ; steady,
but too precise ; or, at least, more suitable for
a pitched battle, or behind intrenchments, than
* Eaton's Life of Jackson, p. 342.
App. No. 1-Ct3.

1- App. No.100.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

323 -

for an assault. The British soldiers showed, on
this occasion, that it is not without reason that
they are said to be deficient in agility. The
enormous load they had to carry contributed,
indeed, not a little to the difficulty of their
movement : besides their knapsacks, usually
weighing nearly 30 pounds, and their muskets,
too heavy by, at least, one-third, almost all of:
them had to carry a fascine, from nine to 10
inches in diameter, and four feet long, ,made of
sugar-canes, perfectly ripe, and consequently
very heavy, or a ladder from 10 to 12 feet long.'
" Instead. of " almost all," only 300 of the
British troops had to carry fascines and ladders ;
and these were, in truth, so heavy, especially
when to he carried, in haste, nearly three quarters
of a mile, that most of the men threw down
their loads long before they reached the ditch,
As there was an abundance of dry cane on the
spot, it is rather surprising that the ripe or green
should have been selected ; particularly for the
fascines. Owing to the rain that had been
falling, as well as to general Jackson's having,
by cutting down the levees, flooded the country,
the ground over which the troops had to march,
was not the best calculated for displaying their
" agility." Major Latour proceeds :—" The
duty of impartiality, incumbent on him who
relates military events, obliges me to observe,
* Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 161.

384 MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

that the attack made on Jackson's lines, by the
British, on the 8th of January, must have been
determined on by their generals, without any
consideration of the ground, the weather, or the
difficulties to be surmounted, before they could
storm lines, defended by militia indeed, but by
militia whose valor they had already witnessed,
with soldiers bending under the weight of their
loads ; when a man, unincumbered, would, that
day, have found it difficult to mount our breastworks, at leizure, and with circumspection, so
extremely slippery was the soil. Yet those
Officers had had time, and abundant opportunity,
to observe the ground, on which the troops were
to act. Since their arrival on the banks of the
Mississippi, they had sufficiently seen the effects
of rainy weather, to form a just idea of the difficulty their troops must have experienced, in
Climbing up our intrenchments, even had the
column been allowed to advance, without opposition, as far as the ditch. But they were blinded
by their pride."* Major-general Wilkinson, on
the same subject, says :—" On this memorable
day, sir Edward Pakenham, disdaining to
avail himself of local circumstances, or to profit
by professional skill, determined to carry New
Orleans at the point of the bayonet, in the face
of day, exposing himself to showers of canister,
and triple ranks of infantry and riflemen. Ile
* Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 161.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

a85

was slaughtered, and repulsed ; and, as the
whole operations were confined to the perpendicular march of columns against a straight line,
defended by stationary batteries and battalions,
the subject requires no further elucidation, than
that the passive resolution of the American
citizen vanquishedi the active courage of the
British veteran. " In justice to sir Edward
Pakenham's memory, it is right to state, that
the attack was intended to be made before daylight, could the difficult and arduous service of
tracking the boats to the Mississippi have been
executed in time. t
At last, 50 barges, launches, and pinnaces
were launched ; and 298 of the 85th regiment,
along with about 200 seamen and marines, under
the command of colonel Thornton, were crossed •
over. Three of the boats, armed with carronades,
called by that officer " gun-boats" t co,operated in the attack. The American force on this
side was, as already stated, 1500 men. The
progress and successful result of the expedition
will be found, fully detailed, in the British and
American official accounts. § By the returns of
loss on the 8th, only two of the 85th were killed ;
41 wounded ; and one missing. The seamen
and marines (supposing none to have fallen on
the left bank) lost four killed and 35 wounded ;
* Wilkinson's Mem. Vol. I. p. 541.
t App. No. 96.
§ App. Nos. 97, 98, 101, and 102.
App. No. 97.
VOL. II.

CC

386

MILITARY :OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

total six killed, 76 wounded, (an unusual pro.
portion,) and one missing ; grand total 83.
Commodore Patterson's guns, and not the rifles
of the flying Kentuckians, " the meritorious
conquerors of Tecumseh," occasioned the chief
of colonel Thornton's loss. The American loss
is not distinctly specified in the returns, but
was very trifling. The behaviour of the AmeriCan troops on the right, shews what we should
have had to fear from the " valor" of those on
the left bank, had only half of sir Edward's
army got behind their works. Colonel Thornton, at the end of his letter, is very positive,
that lieutenant - colonel ,Gubbins, whom, on
crossing over to have his wound dressed, he
had left, with a force that, including the reinforcement of seamen and marines, did not exceed
700 men, would retain possession of the captured
lines. But colonel Dickson, of the artillery,
" did not think it could be held with security
by a smaller corps than 2000 men."* The consequence of this unfortunate report was, that
major-general Lambert, now the commanding
officer, ordered the right bank of the river to be
instantly evacuated. " I need not tell you,"
says general Jackson, " with how much eagerness, I immediately regained possession of the
position he had thus happily q uitted."1 Majorgeneral Lambert had, previously applied to
-

* App. No: 90.

• • 1- ?App. No. 1 01,

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

387

general Jackson for a suspension of hostilities ; in
granting which the latter considers, and, apparently, with reason, that he completely outwitted the British general.
Of the six vessels ordered up the Mississippi
to bombard Fort-St. Philip, the Herald, two
bombs, and Thistle and Pigmy only, could ascend
the river. The fort mounted twenty-nine
pounders, one 6-pounder, a 13-inch mortar, an
Band a 52-inch howitzer ; and, in the covert-way,
two long 32-pounders, mounted on a level with
the water ; and was garrisoned by 366 men.*
The particulars of the bombardment are given
in the American official account : t we have no
British account to compare eitiovith, or from
which to state our loss on tho occasion. It
appears that the-:.garrison lost only two men
killed, and seven wounded. On the 11th the
40th regiment arrived ; bnt no movement took
place in consequence On the morning of the
15th, a British deserter informed general Jackson that major-general Lambert would retreat
in a few days. t On the night of the 18th the
retreat took place ; and the army remained in
bivouac, near its first point of disembarkation,
unmolested, till the 27th; when the whole re,,
embarked. Our loss between the 9th and 26th
of January, owing to the enemy's cannonade,
-

* Latour's War in Louis. p. 191. -I- App; Nos, 107 and 108.
Ibid. p. 170.
cC2

388

MILITARY OCCURRENCES. BETWEEN'

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

amounted to one killed, and five wounded,
including lieutenant D'Arcy, of the 43d ;* who,
according to the American accounts, had both
his legs carried off by a shell, at the moment
when, after having been on guard for several
days in succession, he was taking some repose,
stretched on the ground, at the entrance of his
bivouac. This makes the loss sustained by the
British, from first to last, in this ill-fitted expedition, 385 killed ; 1616 wounded ; and, including the two officers and 37 dragoons taken on
the night of the 25th, 591 missing ; total, not as
general Jackson supposed " 4000," I but 2492:
while the American loss, in the same expedition,
amounted to 55 killed; 185 wounded ; and 93
missing; total 333.4: Major Latour says :—
" The number of sick and wounded in the fleet
is estimated at 2000." § Where could he have
obtained this fact ? Both the army and navy
employed on the expedition were, from first to
last, healthy beyond example.- Supposing all
the British wounded to have been disabled, there
.would still be 5400 troops remaining ; enough,
surely, if properly employed, to have taken New
Orleans : an object of ten-fold more importance
now, than when the expedition was first thought
Qf.
As at Baltimore, so at New Orleans, the
premature fall of a British general saved an
American city.
* App. No. 106.
-I- App. No. 104.
App. No. 103.
-

-

§ Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 226.



389

Instead of attributing their good fortune, in
this their " Waterloo " battle, to a succession
of blunders and accidents on our part, the Americans boasted, that it was their superior valor"
that had driven away the invaders. • If valor
did any thing, it was the valor of Frenchmen,
Spaniards, natives of New Orleans, " people of
colour from St. Domingo," and Irish emigrants,
but not,--as the affair on the right bank proved,
— of " brave but indiscreet Kentuckians."
Among the several names of French generals,
we find " Humbert," the " hero of Castlebar,"
the general'` to whom the French government
had formerly confided the command of that expedition to Ireland, which will ever be recorded
in the glorious pages of history ;" t and the same
who was authorized by general Jackson, after
the battle at New Orleans, to " form a legion,
and to enrol in it all the English deserters
who were willing to enter the service.".t. The
Mexican field-marshal, Don Juan De Anaya,"
also fought against us at New Orleans. Generals
Coffee and Carroll were both Irishmen, or of
Irish extraction. As to general Jackson; he was
not quite an Irishman. Both his parents, it appears, emigrated in 1765 ; and he was born on the
15th of March, 1767, at a place called the Waxsaw
settlement, near Camden, in South-Carolina.
"

-

* Marengo, Austerlitz, Leipsiz, New Orleans, and Waterloo.
Wilkinson's Mem. Vol. I. p. 654.
1: Ibid. 227.
t Latour's War in Louisiana, p .176.

390

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

His mother was " an exemplary woman ;" and,
says Mr. Eaton, " to the lessons she inculcated
on the youthful minds of her sons, was, no
doubt, owing, in a great measure, that fixed
opposition to British tyranny and oppression,
which afterwards so much distinguished them:*
We can now account for general Jackson's
calling England " the common enemy of mankind, the highway robber of the world." t
However, he proved himself at New Orleans,
not only an able general, for the description of
country in which he had to operate, but, in
all his transactions with the British officers,
both an honorable, and a courteous enemy.
In his official despatches, too, he has left an
example of modesty, worthy of imitation by the
generality of American commanders, naval as
well as military.
Every American history that we have seen,
and, probably, every one that has been published
since the war, charges the British commander
at New Orleans, with having given out, on the
morning of the 8th of January, for the parole and
countersign, the words—' Booty and Beauty.'
The excellent moral character of the late sir
Edward Pakenham renders this improbable; and
we aver,without fear of contradiction, that, agree,
ably to the custom of our armies on the peninsula,
no parole and countersign was given out at New
Orleans. The same sentiment, but expresssed in
t Eaton's Life of Jackson, p.

9.

:1- Ibid. p. 282,

391

less refined language, may, however, have been
uttered by, or in the hearing of, some soldier or
sailor, who afterwards deserted to the enemy.
The bad state of the weather delayed the
departure of the fleet and troops till the 5th of
February ; on which day they sailed, and,
on the 7th, arrived off Dauphine island. The
troops here disembarked, and encamped ; except
the skeletons of the 9th, 21st, and 44th regiments, which, under the orders of lieutenantcolonel Debbeig, of the 44th, were despatched
in boats, to attack Fort Bowyer. These 600,
or, as major Latour will have it, " 5000,"
troops landed, early on the morning of the 8th
about three miles in the rear of the fort. The
full details of the surrender of Fort-Bowyer, on
the " memorable " 12th of February, without a
shot having been fired at it, are given in the
British and American official accounts. -I- By
the fire opened upon the working parties at the
intrenchments, the British lost 13 killed and 18
wounded. Mr. O'Connor cunningly says :—
" There were but few lives lost on either side."I
Major Latour has given a plan of the attack ;
upon which we count 60 ships and other vessels;
and between Dauphine island and the Mobile
peninsula, no fewer than 8050 British troops.
-

;

* Latour's War in Louisiana, p. 209.
App.
Nos. 109. 110. 111. 112. 113. 114. and 115.
1
History of the War, p. 296.
-

352

MILITARY OCCURRENCES BETWEEN

For the major's puffing remarks we have no room
They will be read with interest by those to whom
they are more immediately addressed. But il,
is doctor Smith, that is entitled to the thanks of
his brother-citizens. " The array of 60 sail,"
says he, "and the parade of 16000 Britons before
Fort-Bowyer was a most extraordinary military
spectacle." * Extraordinary, indeed ! He finds
fault with the British, too, for particularizing,
among the articles surrendered, " one triangle
gin complete," and " .500 flints." t How happened doctor Smith not to know, that general
Wilkinson, when he obtained possession of this
same forte from the Spaniards, inserted in his
inventory of ordnance and munitions of war,"
—"one wooden spetula," " two tarpaulins,"
and " one pair of washer-hooks" ? Had the
American generals that took the forts George
and Erie been so precise, particularly as to the
" women and children," doctor Smith and his
brother historians would have been content with
shorter paragraphs in announcing those " brilliant achievements" to the world. About the
middle of March, along with major-general
Power, § and one or two reinforcements of
troops, arrived the official notification of the
treaty of peace ; and, agreeably to the first
article in it• II Fort-Bowyer was restored.
* Hist. of the United States, Vol. III. p. 35.5.
+ App. No. 110.
§ See p. 336.

Wilkinson's Mem. Vol. I. p. 515.
II App. No. 116.

GREAT BRITAIN AND AMERICA.

393

Leaving the British troops at Mobile and
Cumberland island to find their way home, we
shall pass at once to the Canadas. Here additional reinforcements had been arriving, and,
along with them, what had been so long vainly
hoped for, a competent commander-in-chief.
Sir George Murray, however, had scarcely arrived, ere the peace sent him home again. The
captured American schooners on Lake Huron
had conveyed reinforcements to Michilimacinac;
and a British fleet, for the service of that lake,
was in rapid progress. A 74 and a new frigate
had been launched at Kingston ; and two or
three frigates and sloops were building for
Lake Champlain. The Americans still retained Sackett's. Harbor ; and we, the forts
Niagara and Michilimacinac. The peace deprived us of the two latter ; and, considering
how the campaign of 1815, as soon as it could
be opened, was likely to be conducted on our
part, we may say, of the former also.
A full discussion upon the merits of the treaty
would, of itself, fill a volume. We cannot, however, read over the ninth article, without pointing to the recent proceedings of the American
general Gaines with the Seminole Indians. It
is the interest of the United States to destroy,
and they will in time .destroy, either by the
sword or debauchery, every Indian upon the
American continent. The United States declared

Item sets