8 January 1815
Christmas of 1814 barely a month away, a British expeditionary
force arrived off the coast near New Orleans.
British went ashore on 13 December and moved towards New
Orleans, getting to within 12 kilometres of their target
before running into a defensive line hastily put together
by General Andrew Jackson.
5000 defenders included regular soldiers, militia, Indians,
black troops and even pirates. They were in strong defensive
works of logs and cotton bales and had a clear field of
fire across the ground the British had to advance over.
opponent was General Sir Edward
Pakenham, who led 7500 men - a large number of them
experienced veterans from the Peninsular
a solid and brave second-in-command, any command talent
must have left Pakenham before the battle as his plan of
attack was unimaginative and deadly.
the British were hit with an overpowering rain of cannon
and musket fire but continued their attack. Less experienced
troops would have broken and fled, but the redcoats continued
on through the terrible fire.
got them to the American lines and then, finally, a foothold
- but the deaths of several of their commanders threw them
into confusion and the attack lost momentum.
charge of the crucial attack in person, Pakenham was wounded
in the knee and then, as he tried to remount his horse,
was hit in the arm. Seconds later came a mortal wound.
British major, whose men had finally made defenders withdraw,
was said to have turned with a victory shout only to see
the recoats retreating as well.
Orleans was an unfortunate tragedy for the British as it
was an unnecessary battle. Peace with America had been signed
with the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve, but the combatants
did not learn of it until after the clash.
two fateful hours, more than 2000 British troops - including
two senior generals - had been killed, wounded or captured.
Jackson lost eight killed and 13 injured.