Posted: October 17th, 2013
Battle of New Orleans
The battle of New Orleans was an American successful scuffle under the leadership of the reputable Andrew Jackson against the British troops in January 8, 1815 a few weeks after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. New Orleans comprised of the Spanish, Africans, French, Creole and the Anglo. The victory spearheaded America’s grand recognition and inculcated much respect and pride to its independence, paving the way for a promising political dimension in the life of Major General Andrew Jackson. The Americans needed to prove themselves worthy of their sovereignty since they were lowly regarded by the British who contravened their rights and waging war against them was going to be an opening to their complete emancipation. President James Madison’s memo following consistent demands by the Warhawks to wage war against Great Britain outlined the seizure of American ships by the British, their enticement towards the American seamen to be part of their attack on napoleon, the British’s obstinacy in occupying the forts in America along the northern frontier as per the 1783 Treaty of Paris. The British were also provoking the Indians to attack the frontier.
The heroic battle conquered by the American soldiers bent its atrocities immensely towards the British militia where 850 soldiers were killed and about 3750 casualties sprung as compared to the death of only 55 American soldiers and 333 casualties. The attacking force which, was the Great Britain, was favored by about 8000 men deemed as regulars who had considerable experience. The American army on its defense was designed with four thousand frontiersmen, militiamen, and regular soldiers, free men of color, Indians, pirates, and the towns’ residents.
The British army was determined to confiscate the wide area that was in the possession of United States through the Louisiana Purchase, which was earlier undertaken. They wanted to surmount Louisiana and the Mississippi river and enjoy the commercial benefits along the Gulf of Mexico and the stores for sugar and cotton. Leaders of the American army were Andrew Jackson, William Carroll, John coffee, and Jean Lafitte while the British were under the leadership of William Thornton, Edward Pakenham, Thomas Mullins, Alexander Cochrane, and John Keane.
The British foreign secretary at that time, otherwise known as Lord Castlereagh had his own calculated conclusion of Americans being captives in their own motherland after having incarcerated New Orleans and claimed the possession of the Mississippi valleys and lakes. However, his plan proved futile. The British embarked on preparations for the attack in New Orleans in 1814 but Andrew Jackson figured this out earlier enough to prepare adequately for a strong defense.
The British had conquered Napoleon and with that achievement, they could shift their focus on America. Despite having conquered Napoleon, the British were still in a financial stalemate and the triumphant status of the Americans at Plattsburg and Fort McHenry necessitated peace talks at Ghent, Belgium. Henry Clay of Kentucky, and John Quincy Adams served as American delegates in Ghent. The Treaty of Ghent was a peace contract between Britain and the United States that campaigned for an end to antagonism and displayed interest in the conquered territory and prisoners. December 24, 1814 marked its consent and the U.S. Senate endorsed on February 17, 1815. This treaty officially ended the war between United States and Great Britain.
Andrew Jackson from Tennessee was a major patriot behind the defense of the New Orleans and the subsequent incredible subjugation of the British, which revamped the status of the United States. He tactfully planned for the battle by enquiring for the best way to prevent seizure of New Orleans by Great Britain. This kept him ahead of his game since he efficiently organized his soldiers and the locals to have adequate preparations for the battle. He took advantage of the carelessness and distractions of his enemies so that he could get ample time to launch a great defense mechanism. He stood out as an excellent commander who made viable decisions to fight. His survey tactics that he developed in the evening of December 23, 1814, barred the British from successfully invading New Orleans.
Jackson’s charismatic nature created an environment of well thought ideas and that were compatible with the effective strategies. He ensured that waterways were congested by felled trees to bar the British’s passage. His lack of sleep for five days and four nights with no meal proves his aggressive personality and his determination to defeat the British. He was stringent in his operations and this enabled management. He competently arranged his troops at vantage points and coordinated their roles. Jackson had adequate connections in the southern border and had access to steadfast sources and was passionately supported and obeyed by his soldiers. His remarkable output can also be credited to the fact that he had no racial prejudice.
Andrew Jackson, also known as ‘Old Hickory’, worked well with the blacks of New Orleans by pairing up with Jean Laffite. A mixed martial force was systematized comprising of regular army soldiers, Southern militia forces, Creole and free African-American volunteers from New Orleans, and members of the Baratarian pirates under the leadership of Jean Lafitte. He employed about 3000 men to fortify the area meant to be under attack. Consequently, America scooped the victory under his stewardship and adamant personality and this secured him a presidential experience and political career in the United States. Jackson exhibited heroism just by the fact that his victory transpired from a battle with an established and strong military force. However, Jackson blundered by keeping his troops in west Florida leaving New Orleans defenseless for quite awhile.
Major General Edward Packenham was the man in charge of the British troops in the battle of New Orleans. He took over after the demise of Robert Ross in Baltimore. He exhibited poor planning and insufficient grounding in terms of the attacks anticipated at New Orleans. He failed to kick-start a full attack after having been waited upon by Alexander Cochrane since he overstayed and arrived a day later after the treaty of Ghent had been signed. This shows his lack of commitment and disqualifies him as a reputable leader. However, his lateness was blamed on adverse winds tough he could have organized alternatives. He did not show his concern to outdo the U.S troops but instead; he left loopholes that sold the British out. Nevertheless, he still attempted to assault the Americans by issuing commands to Sir. Samuel Gibbs with supposed strategies and he even went further by being a martyr of Great Britain. He tried to assail the Americans into surrender with missiles though they did not yield. Edward Packenham undertook reforms on the third attack where he led his soldiers but unfortunately, he was killed alongside sir. Samuel Gibbs.
Lieutenant William Thornton is known for his bravery and outstanding character in the battle of New Orleans. He was among the few British leaders to leave New Orleans alive. Thornton was daring enough to restrain 800 Kentucky soldiers and disallowing them to utilize naval guns. This created a grand chance for his troops to press forward while situated behind Jackson’s arrangement. Artillery fire and rockets to turn over into the American army then followed. However, the attack could not happen because of the incompetence of other officers in necessitating reinforcements like ladders and other equipments. He offered hope and encouragement to the British army by pressing on with the battle. His efforts are what add up to any substantial efforts displayed by the British in their struggle. Thornton’s setback was his delay to cross the river as commanded by Keane to get to the extraction point where he could execute his plan to overpower the Americans.
John Keane took over British command after the sudden demise of his counterparts, Packenham and Gibbs. He attempted a different strategy of assaulting Jackson’s right line near the Mississippi river but he failed thoroughly since his men were repulsed and killed while he suffered serious injuries. He also did not have a tactful approach towards the attack, hence his failure. He made wrong decisions in organizing his troops. One was ordering Thornton back across the river. However, he could only do little because there was too much time wasting initially which did not put him at an advantageous position to claim victory.
Laffite was a pirate and privateer who declined the British’s proposal for him to show them around the waterways. However, he worked in partnership with Andrew Jackson to organize a strong army, which would work to defend New Orleans from the British. Among the British, Spanish and Americans, Lafitte was dreaded. Jean Lafitte and his Baratarian supplied the American soldiers with powder and rifle and other ammunitions. He was a sly staff who new how to get himself out of trouble considering his reputation as a smuggler. He organized his people in conjunction with the Americans to be spies for the American benefit during the war. Therefore, his spies gave Jackson in-depth insight to enable him to position his troops at vantage point and finally destroy the British.
Effect of leadership
The leadership of the people in charge in both parties, that is, United States and Great Britain, largely influenced the nature of the battle of New Orleans. While Jackson showed sedulous efforts to fight against the British by his skillful approach and strategies, the British were lagging behind despite their strength and volume.
Jackson had established connections that kept him well informed on the on goings to the point that they could not be caught off-guard. Cochrane attempted surprise attacks but they did not undermine the esteem of the Americans. The British also attempted to be sly by having two of their soldiers disguised in Spanish wear to reform their strategies with the information but the Americans were already ahead of them. The impact of artillery and muskets the Americans executed at close range against the British formations were fatal killing many of the British soldiers with many casualties.
Jackson’ strict character throughout preparation mandated coordination and cooperation among his people. His troops were well organized and his presences implied persistence. The British army was not coordinated since the leadership was poor. Major general Edward Packenham’s bad timing when Cochrane was waiting for him to organize the soldiers so that they could counter the Americans greatly reduced their probability of a win over them. This can be supported by the absurd fact that Jackson’ soldiers who were only about four thousand in number won against the regular eight thousand British soldiers. In addition, Jackson’s troops were mixtures of regular and non-regular soldiers.
When Jackson left New Orleans defenseless and positioned his soldiers in West Florida, he gave an advantageous insight to the British who could invade and make a battle statement. Taking the Americans a few steps back in the battle. It gave an opening for British attacks. However, he still fought immeasurably for New Orleans. The British also presented a lot of confusion in the battlefield. This could have immensely contributed to their defeat. These swampy terrain and fog made the situation worse for them. The confusion could also have resulted from the poor leadership skills depicted by the British commanders. There were lack of reinforcements and delayed action by the British and their leaders.
The British army was comprised of soldiers who were mistreated through severe punishments like flogging by their generals and this might have jolted down their morale.
This condition of dictatorship and harshness took its toll on the men in the army and might have largely influenced their underperformance in executing their skills in the attack against Americans. Poor decision making by leaders also played a major role in the downfall of the British since such decisions resulted to poor positioning leaving the British troops vulnerable and subjected to danger. Many lost their lives and their reduction in number did not favor their attacks. The American troops under Jackson were relentless in their struggle and their observable tenacity resulted to their victory. On the other hand, the remaining British leaders exhibited their cowardice by retreating from the war. They lacked unified strategies, as some leaders wanted the war to continue while others decided to surrender and move back home. Towards the end, after most of the leaders had died, Lambert realized that the battle was hopeless.
The victory of the Americans under the leadership of Sir Andrew Jackson in the battle of New Orleans highlighted a new dawn for America. It justified America as a super power and earned it a global recognition. The British army lost because of poor leadership and it lacked efficient mechanisms to out power the Americans. This can be characterized by john Keane’s ill-fated commands. America emerged a completely independent territory that could be run by her own administration. Britain was obligated to put up with the Treaty of Ghent after the defeat of the British by the Americans in New Orleans. Andrew Jackson brought a new definition to the state and due to his terrific prowess; he was a decent leader for the Americans. Thus, his political career blossomed. In the end, under her new political dispensation, Americans could be proud of the major achievement that also set her economic pace amidst other states.
Remini, Robert V. The Battle of New Orleans. New York, N.Y: Viking, 1999. Print.
Groom, Winston. Patriotic Fire: Andrew Jackson and Jean Laffite at the Battle of New Orleans. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. Print.
The U.S. Army Leadership Field Manual: Fm 22-100. Indianapolis, Ind.? BN Publishing, 2008. Print.
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