War of 1812
Much of the information provided here is taken for the Internet
The family history of the de
Riberas is also one of a Spanish family.
Given the fact that by and large the history of the North American
Continent has been written by non-Spanish writers it is without a doubt
skewed toward an Anglo-American and Northern European perspective. The
nature of American history has been wholly deficient in its content
regarding Hispanics and their contributions to the freedom in the United
States of America. That includes its wars.
I would like to offer some
comments on traditional American history which portrays its warrior
officers, soldiers, and sailors of the 18th and 19th-Century C.E. as
being almost exclusively of Anglo-American or Northern European descent.
“To the victors go the spoils and the writing of history.” There is
nothing wrong with this emphasis as it a reality of life. With time and
the transition in populations and cultures a newer weltanschauung is brought about. Each successive
wave of immigrants brings new thoughts, ideas, food, culture, historical
perspective, etc. to that melding of an empire.
As this family history has
taught me, each succeeding empire’s conquest brings with it a need, or
want to superimpose its culture and a new weltanschauung
upon the conquered. Regarding the
Anglo-American empire of the United States, its cultural and historical
genesis was that of England and later Britain. With expansion came other
Northern European stock which melded with the majority over time. Thus,
American emphasis on these two groups in writing their history. In time,
Southern Europeans joined the mix, integrated, intermarried, and became
Americans. This includes those of Spanish stock. These would eventually
want their part of the story told.
It should be
remembered that wars and those who fight them, and the lands and seas on
which they are fought, are not removed from history. Rather, they
continue to be a part of it. They are in fact subject to that history.
Just as time passes over a geographic area, a city, or town so it does
with empires and those who lead them. In the case of Louisiana, it had
been held by Napoleon’s Empire Français, then el
Imperio Español, and finally in 1803 C.E. the American Empire. Each
contributed to its unique culture and history and none should be
excluded whether by accident, ignorance, or by purpose.
What many don’t understand is that
worldviews are pervasive in one’s society or culture. Thus, there is
no need to speak of them. It is accepted that everyone already knows
them. These views guide most of the society we are a part of. In the
United States, we have lived with these American worldviews all of our
lives. They comprise the system under which we operate.
There are many American worldviews.
Among them are: Our time sense is futuristic; our sense of nature
involves mastery; our social sense is individualistic; and our sense of
the proper way of being is to value doing. These values suggest: 1) Time
focuses on the future rather than the past. 2) We should be able to
control nature; it is here for our use it. 3) Given human nature, you
can count on people to do the right thing given the chance. 4) The
individual’s wishes, needs and aspirations are more important than the
groups (including the family).
It is difficult for many to
understand that to be an American is not solely being of one ethnic,
cultural, or racial group. Clearly, it’s more than being a
native or citizen of the United States. These uniquely American
worldviews are only a part of why these men and women willingly gave
their lives and fortunes for its survival and growth. They didn’t make
up their minds to fight and die as Whites, Blacks, Native Americans,
Hispanics, or others. They did so simply for the love of country and its
precious freedoms. Only in the recent past have Black Americans forced the rewriting of that
history to include their progenitors, which in my estimation is the
right thing to do. Due to this Northern European-centric view of
American history, I felt duty bound to offer some insight into Hispanic
contributions to the continued success of America and its Hispanic
soldiers that fought during the War of 1812. In this vein, I would like
to offer to the reader that there were those of Spanish, Hispanic, and Hispano
descent who also fought in the War of 1812. This includes the de
Riberas. This I state not as conjecture, but fact.
Pre-statehood settlers of Louisiana
generally came from eastern Canada, France, Germany, the
West Indies, Spain, and Africa. During the Revolutionary War
many other immigrants arrived from the Atlantic states. After
the Americans arrived, the French, Españoles,
and others remained to live, have their children, and die.
In the case of the Españoles,
previous to the Américanos,
they had held the land as Spanish Luisiana
from 1762 C.E. to 1802 C.E. Many things can happen over a fifty year
period, as it did from 1762 C.E. through 1812 C.E. They came, lived, and
intermarried with other groups which had settled there. The Españoles’
surnames morphed to become more like their French neighbors, later they
were anglicized. Some took non-Spanish names through marriage or for
other reasons. But none the less, they were still of Spanish stock. In
this chapter, I will provide some of those names of the soldiers of
Spanish, Hispanic, and Hispano
descent that fought and died during this war.
To clarify, many of the names
listed in the index provided are considered possible Spanish surnames.
This is done in an effort to engage the reader in later research. Now
let us move on to the war.
after the American Revolutionary War (1775th C.E.-1783 C.E.) ended, a second war, the War of 1812, would
be fought. It was once again between the United States and Great
Britain. The war would last from 1812 C.E. to 1815th C.E. This after
Great Britain had formally recognized the sovereignty of the United
States via the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783 C.E. Just as soldiers of Spanish, Hispanic, and Hispano
descent had fought and died during the Revolutionary War, so they served
once again in the cause of American freedom. There were men like Captain
Francis Alpuente, 2nd
Lieutenant Joseph Bosque,
Jordi (George) Farragut y Mesquida,
(175th5th-1817) born in Menorca,
España, a distinguished American naval and military officer during
the Revolutionary War. He was also the father of James
Glasgow Farragut or David
Farragut, a heroic leader of
distinguished himself in several engagements with the British during the
War of 1812 and for the Union Naval Forces during the Civil War.
The War of 1812 resulted from
anger in the United States over British impressment of American sailors,
British support of Native American raiding and killing on the American
frontier, and all important trade issues. Military action began with the army of the
United States attempting an invasion of Canada while the United
Kingdom’s forces attacked
The United Kingdom and the Empire
Français had been involved in the Napoleonic
Wars (1803 C.E.-1815th C.E.) since 1803 C.E. The wars
stemmed from unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution
and its continued aggression. This series of conflicts were fought on
one side by Napoleon I’s Empire Français
and its allies, that continually changing coalition of European powers.
Napoleon I’s challengers were led and financed by Great Britain. These
five conflicts were each named after a participating coalition that
fought against Napoleon; the Third Coalition (1805th C.E.), the Fourth
(1806 C.E.-1807 C.E.), Fifth (1809 C.E.), Sixth (1813 C.E.), and the
Seventh and final (1815th C.E.).
By 1812 C.E., the Empire
Français was at its height of power and prestige. It could boast
130 departments and the rule of 70 million subjects. The Empire’s
military maintained an extensive presence in Duchy of Warsaw, Germany,
Italy, el Imperio Español, with
Prussia and Austria as its allies. Needless to say, Britain felt
threatened by Napoleon’s military successes and was becoming
To contain Napoleonic France, Britain deployed and enforced a naval
blockade intended to eliminate neutral trade with France. In order
to provide manpower for the war and its blockade, Britain impressed American
merchant sailors into the Royal Navy by force. The United States
contested these actions as illegal under international law. In addition,
Britain’s political support for a Native American buffer
state which was conducting ongoing raids against American frontier was
seen as a hindrance to American expansion. As a result of these and
other grievances, on June 18, 1812 C.E., American President James
Madison signed an American declaration of war.
A war weary and increasingly embittered United Kingdom saw
this declaration of war as an opportunistic ploy by the Americans to
annex Canada. They quickly implemented both defensive and offensive
strategies. The first engagement was the ill-fated British assault
on Sacket's Harbor, New York of July 19,
1812 C.E., the American defeat at the Battle of Detroit on
August 15th, 2012 C.E., the American defeat at the Battle of Queenston Heights
on October 13, 1812 C.E., near Queenston, Upper Canada (the present-day
province of Ontario), and the failure of the American invasion of
Montreal on November 20, 1812 C.E.
prevented its attempt to seize Canada.
In 1813 C.E., the Americans won control of Lake Erie and shattered
the Tecumseh Confederacy.
This group of Native Americans began
forming its Tecumseh Confederacy in the American Continent’s Old
Northwest in the early-19th-Century. The confederation grew around the
teaching of Tenskwatawa, an Indian prophet. Over several years, it came
to include several thousand warriors. The brother of the prophet,
Shawnee leader Tecumseh,
gradually was accepted is leader by early-1808 C.E.
Next, the Royal Navy blockaded America’s East Coast. This allowed
them to strike American trade at will.
After defeating the Americans at the Battle of Bladensburg on
August 24, 1814 C.E, a British force occupied Washington and set fire to
a number of public buildings, including the White House and the Capitol.
Soon afterwards, the American army drove back further British attempts
to invade the north and the mid Atlantic states. After
April 1, 1814 C.E., with the abdication of Napoleon, the blockade
of France was ended and the impressment of American sailors stopped.
Peace negotiations were entered into in August 1814 C.E.
Battle of New Orleans, January 1815th
Here I should state that the Americans
anticipated a British attack on New Orleans. Major-General Jackson was
making every effort to prepare for the British attack and to counter it.
These preparations would be ongoing, as there was so much to accomplish
and time was limited.
As a part of Jackson's artillery
defence of New Orleans, a marine battery would be placed on the right
bank between December 3rd and January 6th. It consisted of 3
twenty-fours and 6 twelves which flanked the enemy on the left bank. The
6 twelves were distributed at the redoubts on the extreme right which
were occupied by a company of the Seventh infantry, under Lieutenant
Ross. The 2 sixes manned by a detachment of the Forty-fourth, under
The British Major General Edward
Pakenham, a veteran of the Duke of Wellington's Spanish campaigns,
had embarked 8,000-9,000 men on Admiral Lord
Thomas Cochrane's fleet of approximately 60 vessels. They
arrived off Lake Borgne on December 12, 1814 C.E.
The British decided to approach the
City of New Orleans through Lake Borgne and the adjacent bayous.
Admiral Cochrane assembled a force of 42 armed longboats which
departed on December 12th, charged with clearing the lake of America’s
5th gunboats and 2 small sloops of war. A force of 1,200-man force
located Jones' squadron 36 hours later. In short order, the
British were able to close on the enemy, board the American vessels, and
overwhelm their crews. The British victory delayed their advance
giving Jackson time to improve his defenses.
With the lake now
secured, British Major General John Keane landed on Pea Island. After
establishing a British garrison there, Keane and his 1,800 men pushed
forward. They reached the east bank of the Mississippi River and
encamped on the Lacoste Plantation. This placed the British
contingent approximately nine miles south of the City of New Orleans on
On December 23, 1814 C.E., at half past
1 o'clock in the afternoon Major-General Jackson's New Orleans
headquarters was informed that an advance guard of British forces had
arrived. It was reported that they were encamped on the Villeré
Plantation, nine miles below the City of New Orleans. Jackson’s
reaction was one of astonishment. He was taken aback by the thought that
the British had reached their destination without discovery by American
forces. What made matters worse for the Americans was the fact that
troops included many seasoned units of the Duke of Wellington's army. Jackson’s men would be
facing some of the best soldiers in the world. What Jackson was
destined to do next was to decide the fate of New Orleans, the outcome
of the war, and the continued existence of America.
Later that day in the early evening,
Jackson and his 2,131 men arrived north of Keane's encampment. From
there, he would launch a three-pronged attack on the camp.
On the broad field where the British were
encamped, soldiers had already eaten and many were asleep as darkness
fell on the camp. Guards were doubled, and their officers made
inspections of the parameter. At approximately seven o'clock, several
officers noticed to a vessel slowly making its way down the river. The
British assumed that she was one of their own cruisers, as she had made
it passed the forts. After proceeding a short distance up stream, the
American ship Carolina was now in position to cover the British left
flank before their advance on the City of New Orleans. British sentries
hailed her, but no answer was returned. Several muskets were fired,
still no response.
Next, sailors on board were seen quietly
fastening the sails as the vessel continued in close ashore. Then her
anchor was dropped. There was movement on board and lighted matches were
seen in the darkness. Finally, a shout was heard from the ship,
"Give this for the honor of America." The flash and sounds
from the cannons and firearms were soon followed by grapeshot and musket
balls which made their way into the levee and the camp. The fire killed
and wounding many British soldiers. Many struck and killed men in their
For many minutes the British were
disorganization and being cut down. The Carolina’s Commander
Patterson, Captain Henley, and its crew gave the British no time to
reorganize, as she continued her fire across the whole field. The
British soldiers ran trying to find cover. The rocketers attempted to
fire their incendiary and explosive rockets on the levee at the American
schooner, but failed. There was laughter heard from the sailors of the
Carolina. Finally, the British officers ordered their men off the open
fields to shelter under the levee. Upon reaching the levee the soldiers
took up positions listening in silence to the grapeshot hitting their
camp. There were shrieks heard from the wounded in the darkness. Nothing
could be seen beyond a few feet.
The Carolina lessened her fire, but there was
another cause for alarm. She began concentrating her fire on the British
outposts. Then came volleys from small
units of American soldiers, increasing their fire. It came from
every part of the field into the encircled the camp. They were
surrounded and attempted to break out. The Eighty-fifth and Ninety-fifth
were ordered to move out from under the levee and rush the Americans,
while the Fourth formed on the right bank of Villeré's
Canal in front of the British headquarters. The Fourth was to act as a
reserve and protect their communications with the lake.
Colonel Thornton commanded the
movements of the entire British force. With the Eighty-Fifth now on the
right and the Ninety-Fifth on the left, they were in position for
battle. The Americans under Major-General Jackson were marched to the Rodríguez Plantation Canal, about two miles from the British camp.
There, he made his base of his operations. Jackson ordered Colonel John
Coffee and his 2nd Regiment of Volunteer Mounted Riflemen, composed
mostly of Tennessee militiamen with the exception of one company of
volunteers from Madison County, Alabama (part of an eight hundred
man command), to the left. They were to advance along the edge of the
swamps until they reached the boundary line between Lacoste's and
Laronde's plantations. There they were to gain the British right, turn
his position, sever his communications, and destroy his forces. Once
there, Coffee’s forces could hear the broadside from the Carolina, the
signal for the commencement of the battle. Jackson now gave the order to
The America division on the right
consisted of regulars, two battalions of volunteers, the artillery, and
the marines. With his 1147 muskets and two six-pounders, Jackson had his
men advance by heads of companies as near the river as possible.
The battle was opened by a company of the
Seventh on the extreme right, making its way through the gate of
Laronde's Plantation. It advanced as far as the boundary of Lacoste's
Plantation where it received British fire from an outpost of 80 men of
the Ninety-Fifth, where they were in a ditch under the cover of a fence
near the road. A company of the Seventh on the American right, attacked
forcing the British to retire. The company then occupied the abandoned
The reinforced British returned to regain their
previously held position. Only a few yards apart the British opened with
heavy fire on the American detachment. They replied for some minutes
with severe and destructive fire. The American commander received a
bullet in the leg. Another officer McClelland and a sergeant were killed
and several other soldiers were wounded.
American artillery advanced up the road
supported by the marines. It laid down a barrage of fire on the enemy's
outpost. A strong force of British attacked the artillery and their
heavy fire pushed the marines back. The fire wounded some of the horses
and one of the artillery piece carriages made its way into a ditch.
Jackson and his staff being nearby rode swiftly to save the guns, end
the disorder, and rally the marines.
Meanwhile, the other companies of the Seventh
advanced, formed in battalion formation on the river, and opened fire on
the British. The British also reformed their strengthened lines with the
Forty-Fourth forming on the left of the Seventh and joining the battle.
Steady fire was kept up on both sides, as each line extended
perpendicular from the river for some distance. At that point, both the
British on the right side and the Americans on the left side were in
danger of being outflanked and turned. The British line was by now had
extending beyond the American line. A strong American force had begun to
make its way at a cadence of quick time behind the old levee
toward the rear of the left of the British Forty-Fourth. It was forced
back when other American units came into line and formed under heavy
American Major Jean Baptiste Plauche's
Battalion of Orleans was wheeled into line on the left of the
Forty-Fourth forcing them to give way. Major Louis D'Aquin's (Daquin) San Domingo Free Men of Color Battalion followed Plauche and opened
with heavy fire on the British. Finally, the British retired under a
heavy fog which came up about half past eight o'clock and resumed their
original position on the boundary line of the Pierre Lacoste’s
and Jacques Phillippe Villeré’s
Meantime Colonel Coffee stationed his
men at the ditch which forms the boundary line of Major-General
Pierre Denis de la Ronde’s (Laronde) and Lacoste’s
plantations. Leaving 100 men in charge of the horses, he advanced with
Captain Thomas Beale's rifles on the left. There they were deployed as widely separated as
the tactical situation permitted
skirting the swamp in order to make a formation for skirmishing. When
Coffee reached the boundary line of Villeré’s Plantation, he believed
that he had gained the enemy's right. Wheeling his column to the right,
Coffee advanced with his battle front facing to the river. The riflemen
then deployed throughout Villeré's Plantation and penetrated the center
of the British encampment, killing many British and captured several
Coffee’s troops soon engaged the British
outposts and the British Eighty-Fifth moved forward to challenge and
engage him. Both sides were accomplished sharp shooting. The
Eighty-Fifth light infantry had a good reputation for how they handled
their guns. The Tennesseeans, however, fired faster and with better
accuracy. Secondly, the British short rifle was not equal to the
American western hunter’s and Indian fighter’s long rifles. The
British lost several officers, including the Brigade Major Harris, and
the entire command suffered severely.
It had required heavy fighting to dislodge the
British rifles, but they were beaten. Concealed behind the huts, the
British had waited until the Tennesseans were in their midst. They then
rushed forward and engaged them hand-to-hand. The British used their
rifles as clubs ruining many fine rifles. The Tennesseeans preferred
long knives and tomahawks rather than endangering their arms. They
killed many British soldiers. These were found dead with heavy gashes on
their forehead or deep stabs wounds on their bodies. The British fell
back under Coffee's steady advance. When finally joined by
reinforcements, they kept up continuous fire on the Tennesseeans until
they finally reached the old levee, not far from the road. Once there,
they suffered from Carolina's broadsides. Colonel Coffee unable to
continue and not wanting to expose his men to the Carolina’s fire,
left to join the division protecting the right.
Finding the fog too thick, Jackson’s right
column fell back to its original position and Colonel Coffee soon
followed it back to a position near the old levee. There, the battle
commenced again with sporadic American fire on the British regulars and
outposts. Next, the British Ninety-Fifth advanced toward the British
right awaiting the Ninety-Third Highlanders who were expected to reach
camp at any time. Under the assumption that men sighted wearing the
Highland frock were of the Ninety-Third, Major Mitchell advanced,
calling out, "Are those the Ninety-Third?"
"Of course," shouted Coffee's Tennesseeans who were in
hunting shirts, which in the dark had been mistaken for frocks. Mitchell
then moved forward within a few feet of the men. The American Captain
Donaldson stepped in front informing Mitchell, "You are my
Prisoner." The Major's sword was requested while a half a dozen
long rifles were trained on him. The Major surrendered along with
several other prisoners and was marched off by the Tennesseeans.
The movement of Coffee's brigade to the right
also had its problems. Just before receiving an order to retire, Colonel
Coffee would experience a failure. During Colonel Coffee’s last
charge, the left of his line which included 200 Tennesseeans and Beal's
Rifles became separated from troops under Coffee's immediate command.
The British understood the mistake and immediately went into it with a
strong line of troops which stood between Coffee and his separated
troops. The mistaken Americans heard the British and assumed them to be
Colonel Coffee's men. They were soon hailed by the British to stop and
report. The American commanders, Dyer and Gibson, advanced and called
out that they were the Second Division of Tennesseeans. With no answer,
the Americans retired toward the swamp. As they did, the British opened
a fire on them and charged forward. The Americans retreated about fifty
yards halted and return fire. The British were checked by the fire and
the Tennesseeans succeeded in reaching Colonel Coffee. But a portion of
the troops were not as lucky. On the extreme left of the Tennesseeans
had been Beale's Rifles, extending for some distance across Lacoste's
Plantation and into Villeré's field.
These men had been fighting singly or in small
squads and had penetrated the center of the British encampment. Their
tactics had been so effective that British believed them to be an entire
regiment. The British pursued the Americans planning to cut them off.
The Rifles separated and attempted escape. One party retreated in the
direction of the swamp and had almost reached it. As they moved forward
they saw a line of men advancing from the swamp toward them and
concluded from the dress of the men that they were Colonel Coffee's
"Hunters." Eagerly pressing forward, they calling out,
"Where's the first division?"
"Here they are," was the thick broad Scottish accented
reply. As the charging line closed in on the Americans, they
surrendered, became prisoners, and were taken down the bayou to the
British fleet. The British boasted of their achievements on December
By December 24th, the Treaty of
Ghent which brought peace to the warring parties was signed.
Unfortunately, it would be some time before news of the peace reached
America. British forces unaware that a treaty had been signed launched
an invasion of Louisiana.
By the evening of December27th, Major-General
Jackson had a better understanding of the British military preparations
with which they planned to overwhelm him that next day. Jackson at his
quarters began to plan how to resist and defeat Pakenham’s battle
plan. One can imagine how this American general felt preparing to face
the greatest army in the world.
When the British began their advance, Jackson
had only the two six-pounders placed at the levee, the same ones that
made a narrow escape on the night of the December the 23rd. During the
night of the 27th, in order to command the road a twelve-pounder
howitzer was placed. Shortly thereafter, a twenty-four-pounder was
positioned on the left of the twelve-pounder. Another twenty-four-pounder
was set in place on the levee while under British battery fire on the
morning of the 28th. These and the Louisiana battery were a formidable
American artillery compliment.
The American infantry was also strengthened.
The First Regiment of Louisiana militia was positioned on the right of
the lines. The Second Regiment reinforced the extremity of the left to
ensure a safe and reliable battle response. Meantime, Major General
William Carroll had marched his poorly armed men, many carrying
discarded guns and shotguns for shooting
wildfowl, to Canal Rodríguez.
Once there, he put them to work on entrenchments on the extreme left.
Jackson by now had a force of over 4,000 men.
His twenty artillery pieces had been established in strong positions in
a very short period of time. Major-General,
Sir Edward Michael Pakenham GCB, the commander of the
British North American army had at least 8,000 veteran soldiers,
well-armed, and well-equipped. They had been supplied with all the
necessary modern implements of war.
By daybreak of December 28th, there was a mist
that veiled the countryside. Soon, the Louisiana winter mist melted
away. Now, the morning of December 28th was bright, clear, and
temperate. The air was fresh and slightly frosty.
In the early-morning, Jackson more
confident and satisfied when he saw several straggling bands of
Baratarians. The Baratarians had run all the way from the Fort Saint
John on the path from Lake Borqne and Lake
Pontchartrain, where they had been stationed since their release
from prison. The stragglers were under
the immediate command of Captain Dominique Yeox or Yeou, and Captain
Bluche or Belluche who were to take charge of one of the twenty-four-pounders.
Dominique You was a privateer, a Pirate, and now a soldier for the
Americans' during the War of 1812. Born in France, Dominique had made
his way to New Orleans in the early 1800's C.E. Their ultimate leader
was the Pirate Jean Lafitte whose
base at Barataria Bay was used in the early 19th-Century C.E. by the pirates, privateers,
and smugglers. The Baratarians were followed by two other
parties of sailors of the crew of the Carolina. They had been ordered to
man the howitzer on the right and the other twenty-four-pounder, on the
left of Plauche's battalion.
Major-General Jackson watched enemy movement
from his headquarters window. It has been reported that he had an
expression of stern determination. With his boundless courage, he
communicated to his staff fearless confidence in an American success.
Jackson had divided his army into two divisions. The troops from the
right to the left of the Forty-Fourth were under the command of acting
Brigadier General Colonel Ross. The troops left of the line, were under
Major-General Carroll and Brigadier General (Colonel) Coffee.
Both armies stood at the ready. Rapid movement
could be seen in both camps. It wasn’t long before Jackson was made
aware of British intentions.
If Jackson was confident, the British were
supremely confident. Pickets were soon called up. Drums
beats could be heard and the blast of bugles rang out. As the British
army moved forward, Major-General Pakenham, his staff, and a guard comprised of the
Fourteenth Dragoons rode in the center of the line in order to command a
view of both advancing columns. The first column under General Samuel
Gibbs was made up of the Fourth, the Twenty-First, Forty-Fourth, and one
Black Corps which stayed close to the wood and swamp on the right with
the Ninety-Fifth Rifles. A party of skirmishers and light infantry,
under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Rennie had been detached
from General Gibbs' column. Its orders were to turn the American left
and gain the rear of their encampment.
From the first column, the British extended
their skirmishing order across the plain and met the right of
Lieutenant-General John Keane, 1st Baron Keane, GCB, GCH’s
second column. He had been promoted to Major-General in command of
the British 3rd brigade. The second column consisted of the
Eighty-Fifth, the Ninety-Fifth, and one Black Corps. Keane kept his
column as close to the levee as possible, under the protection of Bayou
Bienvenu and the Chalmette battlefield headquarters of Hind's troops.
British artillery had preceded the second column on the main road.
Through his field glass, Lieutenant-General Keane could see several
large cannon emplacements on
Jackson's lines which completely covering his column.
American advance scouts immediately harassed
the British columns with fire and shouting defiantly at them. As they
did, the sloop, USS Louisiana, weighed anchor and floated down stream.
It anchored in a commanding position of the road giving it the whole
field of fire in front of the American lines.
Jackson prepared and waiting, the British came
forward in a solid, compact, and orderly column, as if on parade ground.
They arrived under the cover of a shower of rockets and continual
artillery fire from their in front and their batteries at the levee. On
they came, not reacting to the incessant American fire being poured into
their ranks from the moment they were visible. As they got nearer, they
were under simultaneous bombardment by the batteries of Morris and the
Baratarians, and a terrible broadside from the USS Louisiana. These
swept the field hitting the British column’s line. The effective,
destructive fire was kept up. More than eight hundred shots alone were
fired by the USS Louisiana with deadly effect. Each single discharge
could wound or kill fifteen men.
Under incessant American fire, the British had
to retreat. The battalions were ordered to deploy into line and seek a
cover in the ditches. Keane's column in particular had withstood much.
Once in the ditches, they were concealed in the rushes which grew on the
banks of the canal. Unfortunately, their artillery could not be removed
or covered and the American artillery concentrated on the British
battery. Two field pieces advanced on the road and levee near to the
American lines were destroyed and the gunners killed. Keane's column had
been broken by American artillery.
The British General Samuel Gibbs’ column on
the right approached the American lines. In Gibbs’ view, the American
entrenchment works could be easily taken. After all, they consisted only
of a low mound of earth with a narrow ditch in front. Gibbs halted his
main column and sent skirmishers forward. He then sent another
detachment into the woods to take the American outposts. They advanced
to a position behind Carroll and his Tennesseeans. The Americans sent
two hundred Tennesseeans into the swamp to get behind the British and
then flank to the right and cut them off from the main body. They came
under the heavy British fire from soldiers positioned behind a fence and
concealed by grass and weeds. The American Colonel and five men were
killed by the fire. Several others were wounded. They quickly retired
behind American the lines. The Americans lost nine men killed and eight
wounded. The British loss was nearly two hundred killed and wounded.
One focus of Major-General Jackson's
preparations for the great Battle of New Orleans was his artillery
force. It would eventually grow to an artillery force to twenty-five
pieces. Initially, Jackson's artillery of various caliber consisted of
16 pieces. In relation to his small a force of infantry the proportion
of artillery to soldiers was quite large. There were 4 sixes (including
those in the redoubt), 3 twelves, 2 eighteens, 3 twenty-fours, 1
thirty-two, 1 six-inch howitzer and, 1 small brass cannonade. There was
also 1 mortar unable to be used until a French veteran named Lefebre was
found. It did not prove to be a very effective weapon. The heaviest of
Jackson’s artillery was placed on the right, to resist British
batteries and repel troop advances in that quarter.
At the redoubt tents were pitched. On the
extreme right, thirty of Beale's Rifles were stationed between
Humphrey's battery and the river. From their left, the Seventh Infantry
extended to Battery No. 3 and covered Humphrey's and Morris' guns. They
also protected the powder magazine what was built on January 1st. The
regiment had a compliment of 430 under the Creole, Major Peire.
A company of the Carbineers were stationed
between Yeou's and Bluche's two guns of Battery No. 3. Some of Plauche's
Battalion of Orleans numbering 289 men and Lacoste's Battalion of Free
men of Color compliment of 280 soldiers were assigned to fill the gap
between batteries No. 3 to No. 4, where Crawley's thirty-two were
covering. 15th0 soldiers of
Daquin's Battalion of free men of color, and 240 soldiers of Captain
Baker’s Forty-fourth extended to Perry's battery No. 5th. Two-thirds
of the length of the remaining line was guarded by Carroll's command
which consisted of 600 soldiers under Colonel Slaughter, and additional
400 under Major Harrison, who were of Major General Thomas' Kentucky
division (twenty-two hundred and fifty for whom weapons had been
obtained. These would later be reinforced on the January 7th, by 1,000
Kentuckians under General Adair.
On the right of Lieutenant Spott’s
and Chaveau’s Battery No. 7, 5th00 marines had been stationed under
Lieutenant Bellevue. The extreme left was held by Coffee's command of
5th00 men who were required to remain in the water. These had only
floating logs with which to get quickly to the trees should the need
arise. Ogden's 5th0 horse troops were stationed near headquarters, with
30 of Cauveau's men near him. Hines' squadron of 15th0 men was encamped
on Delery's plantation in the rear. Near Pierna's canal a detachment of
Colonel Young's regiment of Louisiana militia were also in place at the
rear. Their assignment was to prevent the British from making their way
into the encampment from that direction and to prevent anyone from
leaving the lines. American outposts were established out five hundred
yards toward the front.
Jackson's entire force on the left bank
of the river consisted of 4,000 men. However, his lines were held by
only 3,200 troops. Less than 800 were regular troops. The majority of
these were fresh recruits commanded by young officers.
By January the 6th, Jackson understood that the
British intended to cross the river. The question was, would they
concentrate their force on the weak American defenses on the right bank?
Or, would they advance
simultaneously on both banks? Colonel John R. Grimes, Jackson’s aid,
was sent across the river to gather information. He was to observe and
report on the movements of the enemy at Villeré's and General
Morgan’s American defenses. Grimes recognized quickly that the British
were preparing to send a detachment across the river. He then advised
Morgan to march his force under cover of the levee and take positions
opposite Villeré's. When the British approached in boats, they were to
open fire on them. Instead, Morgan stationed an advance unit of 120
militia armed only with fowling pieces and musket cartridges on Mayhew's
Canal, in front of his own position.
Other precautionary American defense
arrangements were made. Jackson had another entrenchment placed a mile
and a half in the rear. There, he posted all those not well-armed or
able-bodied. The men in of this line were armed with only spades and
pickaxes. Should the British succeed in breaking through his main works,
Jackson would drive forward with his mounted force. Under their
protection, he could fall back to this second line. A third line was
also established nearer the city, which his men commenced work on.
On the night of the January 7th, all
along the American lines men were cleaning their weapons pieces,
preparing cartridges, and generally preparing for battle. The outposts
had been placed and forward scouts were watching British camp movement.
They could hear battle preparation and the noise of workmen
reconstructing redoubts near the remains of the Chalmette building, the
plantation home of Colonel Denis de La Ronde's half-brother, Ignace
Martin de Lino (175th5th C.E.-1815th C.E.). It had been burned and
largely destroyed by invading forces on January 1st.
On the British side, on the evening of the
January 7th, re-enforcements arrived with fresh a supplies and
provisions. The soldiers packed their knapsacks, polished their weapons,
and filled cartridge boxes. These soldiers were now ready to storm
Jackson's lines. Then they slept. Some of the Americans in Jackson's
army camp were anxious, though many of the soldiers were by now Veterans
and had confidence in their Andrew Jackson.
That same night of January the 7th,
American Commodore Patterson proceeded down the right bank of the river
to a point opposite the British. The Americans could hear in the enemy's
camp men pulling and dragging boats and the splash of boats that were
going into the river. They could also see a long line of British
soldiers drawn up on the levee by camp fires. The Americans soon made
their way to Patterson's battery. On their return, they observed General
Morgan’s contingent in a very weak and insecure position. Morgan's
entire force consisted of 812 poorly armed militiamen. On his left, he
had two six-pounders, manned by Louisiana militia and a twelve-pounder
under the navy. After at time, Captain
Abraham Shepherd Jr. who had served with a company in the Ohio Militia was
ordered to cross the river, inform Jackson, and request reinforcements
Also, on the night of January 7th, the British
placed two batteries in the center of the field and near the road on the
ruins of Chalmette's Plantation home. From that position the artillery
could maintain continuous fire during and after the advance of the
American storming parties.
The older more experienced British commanders
were said to be gloomy and despondent. Some openly expressing that their
chances of success were poor. One of them, Colonel Mullens was to lead
the advance storming party. The younger officers had no doubt of their
success. They speculated on the prospect of accumulating fortunes from
where they would be quartered in the City of New Orleans. Soon, these
same British officers moved men to the bank of the river, organized
them, and waited for the boats to ferry across the river. As they were
dragging the boats through the water, the British excavated canals began
to cave-in. The sailors then began dragging the boats through mud. As a
result, they were only able to launch one-fourth of the boats needed.
As boats arrived, the Commanding officer
Thornton ordered his regiment, a division of sailors, and a company of
marines, to board the boats. This compliment of 700 men then cast off
from the left bank of the Mississippi River. The River’s current at a
rate of five miles an hour swept the barges a mile and a half,
downstream just as the light from the eastern sky began to come up.
It is necessary at this at this
juncture that some British historians have claimed that Andrew Jackson
had an army of 12,000 to 30,000 men. I put forward one report of
January, 8, 1815th C.E., in which it stated that the American force on
the left bank of the river was 5th,045th. Major Harrison's Kentucky
battalion was not included in that estimate.
On January 8, 1815th C.E., British General Edward Pakenham and
his Army of 8,000 soldiers would attack Major-General Andrew Jackson's
defenses in the areas surrounding New Orleans. It was to be the greatest
battle ever to be fought on the American Continent up to that time.
Captain Abraham Shepherd Jr. had re-crossed the Mississippi River and
arrived at Jackson's headquarters about at one o'clock on the morning of
the January the 8th. There, Shepherd gave his name and informed
Major-General Jackson that the main thrust British was to be made on the
right bank. Further, he stated that Morgan required more troops. The
General ordered the officer to return and tell General Morgan that he
was mistaken. The main British attack would be made on the left side,
and he had no men to spare. After one o'clock, Jackson ordered his men
be ready, the enemy would attacking soon.
Very early on the morning of January the 8th,
Major-General Pakenham left from his headquarters to Villeré’s
mansion at the mouth of the canal. Once there, he discovered the delay
in transporting Thompson's detachment across the river. Had he known
before, he would have countermanded the order to advance on the left
bank which was to follow that on the right as ordered earlier. Pakenham
adhered to the order.
British troops formed advancing lines some
distance in front of the pickets, about four hundred or five hundred
yards from the American lines. There they remained waiting to hear
firing on the other side of the river. They couldn’t hear a sound
across the calm surface of the Mississippi. Soon,
a thick fog covered the army and they were unable to see in front or to
the rear. Through the hours, they had still not a sound from
Unknown to them at the time, Thornton had not
even landed his troops. With Thornton’s contingent unavailable, the
British officers had no choice. They began to form their column to
advance. As the mist and fog began to break, the American flag at the
center of Jackson's lines could be seen. The dark mound protecting the
Americans also became faintly visible. On the American side, they could
finally see a faint red line several hundred yards in front and
discharged their heavy gun.
As the fog began to lift, the entire British
line was revealed. It stretched across two-thirds of the plain. A Congreve
rocket went up near the river and then another on the right, near
the swamp. With these signals, the British long line restructured. The
American gunners had just brought their artillery to bear on the British
line and now they changed their position and deployed into columns of
The British General Samuel Gibbs had
formed his column for attack and advanced toward the woods to gain
cover. The Forty-Fourth at his front was followed by the Twenty-First
and Fourth. The column passed the redoubt on the extreme right of the
British, near the swamp, where the men of the Forty-Fourth were ordered
to pack the ladders and fascines, those rough bundles of brushwood and
other materials to be used for making a path across uneven or wet
terrain around the American fortifications.
The American batteries of Spotts' Number 6,
Garrique's Number 7, and the Howitzer at Number 8, began bombardment of
the column. The Forty-Fourth with the rest of the column moved quickly
past the redoubt. They next marched front toward the American lines,
advancing steadily in compact columns. Gibbs advanced toward the woods
for cover by the swamp but couldn’t evade the fire from the American
batteries. His lines soon felt the destructive effect of the rounds and
grapeshot shot pouring into them, losing ladders and fascines.
Major-General Pakenham during his advance soon
became aware that the Forty-Fourth had not brought ladders and fascines.
He called to Colonel Mullens to move to the rear, proceed to the
redoubt, get ladders and fascines, and return as soon as possible to his
regiment. The order caused disorder in the column and delayed its
While waiting for the Forty-Fourth, the column
was left exposed to the terrible fire from the American batteries. Gibbs
then ordered his men forward with the Twenty-First, and Fourth. With
rocketers covering their front, that solid, compact column made its way
forward. The fire from the American batteries hit them with terrible
results. It cut through lanes of the column from front to back and left
huge gaps in their flanks. The British ranks were quickly being filled
by more red coats, as the column continued its advance toward Spott's
long eighteen and Chaveau’s six at No. 9.
The Americans were ready and waiting. Carroll's
troops were in place, with guns sighted. The Kentuckians stood behind in
two lines, ready to take the place of Tennesseeans immediately after
their weapons were discharged. This made four lines at this part of the
entrenchment. The American frontiersmen and veterans stood cool, firm,
and steady. All of the American batteries on the line, including the
marine battery on the right bank, joined those on the left in firing
into that British column. The British army was by now confused and
staggering as it approached within two hundred yards of the American
The Americans calmly and deliberately commenced
firing on the left of the Forty-Fourth, their bullets tearing through
the lines of the British columns. There were no pauses or intervals,
fire was ceaseless. The four lines of fire, two Tennesseeans and two
Kentuckians, poured their fire into the columns of soldiers cutting them
down. The British column’s head and flanks soon fell apart under the
Finally, Pakenham his men carrying ladders and
fascines made their way to the head of a detachment of the Forty-Fourth.
He led the column forward advancing as far as possible before most of
his regimental officers were slaughtered. Without having enough officers
to command the badly damaged troops, the Twenty-First, the Fourth, and
the Forty-Fourth were all disabled. It was then that the column began
breaking into two detachments. Some pushed forward toward the ditch
while the majority fell back to the rear and to the swamp. The entire
front was now cleared.
The British soon reformed, rallied from the
ditch, and began to advance again. At that point, General Keane’s
British reserves arrived and wheeled their line into column behind the
Ninety-Third. The column
then pushed forward. The 900 Highlanders made their way across the
field, with their heavy, solid, massive front of 100 men. It was then
that they began taking concentrated fire from the Americans which poured
into their ranks. As the Ninety-Third rushed forward, the American
Major-General Carroll's muskets swept the field.
It was then that, Pakenham riding his horse
seemed to have no use of his right arm; in his left hand he held his
cap. The sound of firing from the Americans big guns could now be heard.
Its shelling killed or wounded nearly all who were near him. Members of
the Ninety-Third saw Pakenham and his horse of fall. A grapeshot shot
had struck the Major-General in the thigh and passed through his horse,
killing it. As the Major-General rolled from the saddle, he was caught
by a British Captain. As the Captain and others were raising Pakenham,
another ball struck him in the groin. This produced immediate paralysis.
The dying Major-General was carried to the rear and laid in the shade of
a live-oak, beyond the reach of the American artillery. Within minutes,
he was dead.
British General Samuel Gibbs soon followed
Pakenham, after his fall. The badly wounded officer was also taken to
the rear. There he lingered for many hours in horrible pain until the
next day, January the 9th, when he died. Lieutenant-General John
Keane was badly wounded from a shot through the neck. He too was carried
off the field of battle. At this point in the battle, there were no more
field officers to command the broken column. Some of the British troops
attempted to climb over the low American earthen work fortification, but
it was too slippery. They fell while climbing the entrenchment and
rolled into the trench. There they stayed under its protection from the
American fire. The remainder of that bloodied, broken, disorganized, and
panic stricken column retired. Each of its regiments left two-thirds of
its men dead or wounded on the field. The Ninety-Third, which began with
900 men and 25th officers, had only 130 soldiers 9 officers left. It
rapidly left the field. The other regiments experienced the same fate.
The Twenty-First lost 5th00 men.
All that was left was a shattered British
column. It regrouped and marched forward slowly and cautiously into
battle. It was joined by an advance guard of the reserve which had only
marched up to cover the broken column of the two other brigades’
retreat. Within twenty-five minutes, the main British attack force was
repelled its two brigades nearly destroyed.
On their left they had some success. General
Keane's brigade consisting of 1,000 men crept up suddenly on the
American outpost and reached the redoubt. American gunner positions had
almost complete artillery command of the road. A countering American
advance guard fell back from the left and hurried back into their lines.
Unfortunately, the retiring Americans became mixed in with the pursuing
British. Now, because the British were so close to the retreating
American guard, the American batteries could not open up on them.
Finally, the Americans reached the redoubt and made it over the
embankment. Unfortunately, the British followed them inside the defenses
and began engaging in a hand-to-hand combat with the American soldiers
taking the redoubt for a very short time. Their hard fought gains were
soon lost, as they could not hold the redoubt for very long.
The American Seventh Infantry began to direct
its fire on the interior of the redoubt forcing the British to disengage
and retreat. The detachment left in two columns. One took the road and
the other marched along the river under cover of the levee. The American
Seventh Infantry and the batteries concentrated heavy destructive fire
into the column on the road. The British on the river bank were
protected from the American fire by the levee. The Americans on the
right bank of the river soon caught them with volleys of grapeshot which
left the river bank with the many dead and wounded. While the terrible
slaughter of the British on the extreme right and left of the American
lines was occurring, the center had remained without action.
At eight o'clock, only two hours after the
action had begun, musket fire ceased. Orders were passed down the lines
to cease firing but the artillery kept up their fire at intervals.
Jackson and his staff now passed slowly down the lines halting about the
center of each command. He addressed its commander and men with words of
praise and grateful commendation. As he passed, the band struck up
"Hail, Columbia," and the entire line burst into loud and
prolonged hurrahs to the Major-General.
After a short time, the euphoria left the
Americans. As the smoke came up from the field and the air cleared it
was replaced with pity and horror. The once bright British column with
its long red lines which had occupied the field had disappeared. There
were now only hundreds of British wounded, dying, and dead scattered on
the field crying out in agony. Some were crawling or being dragged by
their shattered limbs over the muddy plains. The scattered clusters of
the bodies of the killed and disabled could be seen for a quarter of a
mile to the front of the American ditch. The American commanders using
telescopes could see General Lambert’s reserves, that faint red line,
far in the rear. These were the only enemy troops not wounded and alive
on the visible in the field. For two hundred yards, the space in front
of General Carroll's position was literally covered with the dead. The
center of the column had fallen in their tracks. In some places, entire
British platoons lay dead from the same artillery blast.
There they were in their bright uniforms, clean
shaven, contrasted by the strange look of the ragged Americans soldiers
with their long hair, and untidy clothes. Earlier before the battle, the
British had laughed at them, calling them “Dirty Shirts.” By now,
they were crowding the American parapet surveying the terrible
destruction. In the ditch, there were over 40 dead and at least 100
wounded. At the edge of the woods, British soldiers were hiding under
the brush and in the trees, many slightly wounded or unable to reach the
From every quarter of the plain, one could see
the contortions the wounded, crippled, and disfigured. All could hear
their cries for help and water. These scenes of bloodshed, death,
desolation, and suffering left the American lines in silence. Only pity
and sympathy were felt. The once arrogant British troops had been
reduced to helplessness and misery. Only their suffering and desolation
surrounded them. Their obvious distress moved the Americans to leave
from their positions with their canteens in hand to give them water and
render assistance to the wounded. The wounded received prompt attention
from Jackson's medical staff. Many of the Americans soldiers carried the
disabled on their backs into the camps.
While the American freemen of color were
attempting to lend aid, some of the British soldiers in the ditch fired
on them. They claimed that they did not understanding the language of
the freemen of color and feared that that they would murder or rob them.
These atrocities caused considerable excitement in the American lines,
as these killed and wounded Americans were unarmed while acting as Good
Samaritans. They had been attending the wounded and trying to relieve
their distress. More American casualties were suffered after the battle,
than during it.
About noon on the January the 8th, several of
the Major-General’s men from advance parties at some distance from the
front of the lines, reported an approaching contingent from the British
camp bearing a white flag. The party advanced to the levee within three
hundred yards of Jackson's lines. Jackson ordered officers to meet the
British party and receive its message. The Americans received a written
communication, and returned to Jackson at his headquarters at Macarte's.
The message requested an armistice to bury the dead was accepted by the
Americans. The British General John Lambert later asked until 10 o'clock
on the 9th to reconsider the proposition. This was granted.
Some of the Americans wandered over the field
after their great victory in pursuit of lawful trophies, mementoes.
General Keane had claimed Pakenham’s field glasses and his elegant
sword. Afterwards they were returned by the order of Jackson. Gibbs’
and Keane’s trumpets were also picked from the field, and became the
property of Coffee's brigade. Thousands of arms were gathered by the
Americans from the field.
Jackson's wounded in front of line had all been
brought into his camp, and provided for. British prisoners and wounded
were formed into detachments or placed in carts to be sent to New
Orleans. Next, the men in
his lines were ordered to resume their positions, stand to arms, and
make ready for another attack.
Some distance in the rear of Jackson's lines
the adult population of New Orleans had gathered earlier to observe the
progress of the battle. They could be heard far to the rear and even in
the city. Once the guns ceased firing, they became quiet or silent.
Throughout New Orleans, the whole population
went into the streets with joy, hurrahs, salutes, and the waving of
ladies’ handkerchiefs. The military force of the city and its veterans
assembled with a drum and fife and paraded through the streets. News of
Jackson's triumph made its way rapidly throughout the land while the
Major-General was rejoicing in the American camp. While the Americans
were celebrating their victory the British were preparing another
As stated earlier, before the major
battle Major-General Andrew Jackson’s Adjutant General, David
Bannister Morgan, had been sent with about 400 poorly armed
volunteers to the west bank of the Mississippi to block any possible
flanking maneuver by the British.
The British force under
Colonel William Thornton had left early in the morning to cross over to
the west bank of the Mississippi,
assault the American batteries, and turn their guns on Jackson's line.
Thornton came ashore a mile further down the stream from where the
Forty-Third had calculated that he would cross. The Mississippi’s
strong current had delayed his crossing until half past four in the
afternoon. His men were just forming into columns when the rockets
ascended from the other bank announcing the beginning of the attack in
that quarter. In the bows of each of his three gun-boats, there were
carronades those short, smoothbore, cast
iron cannons to cover his flank.
Colonel Thornton’s men marched rapidly
forward up the road until they reached Adjutant General Morgan's
advanced position. Thornton then divided his force and moved a
detachment of the Eighty-Fifth against Tessier's position. He held the
road against the Americans with the remainder of his regiment.
Tessier’s compliment being on the extreme right had been unable to
reach the road before the British occupied it. Upon Thornton’s
advance, his carronades opened fire on the Americans. The Eighty-Fifth
then charged Tessier's position forcing them to retire into the swamps.
They were unable to reach their camp in the rear for many hours.
With his main body, consisting of the
Eighty-Fifth, sailors, and marines Thornton continued pushing forward.
He quickly routed Colonel Davis' detachment and following closely behind
them. The Kentuckians’ retreat was disorganized and fell back on
Morgan's lines. The General rode out and met with Colonel Davis. He
directed him to form his men within his lines on the right of
Tessier’s Louisiana militia. Davis and about 100 men obeyed the order.
This 100 man detachment had been covering the
American lines of three or four hundred yards. They had been stationed
some distance apart, so it appeared to the British that they were of a
line of elite fighters or
sentinels stationed to defend a small ditch and parapet rather than part
of a larger force. The remainder of the 5th00 men Jackson had ordered
across the river had not surrendered. Though American Adjutant General
Morgan commanding Colonel Davis had not received necessary
reinforcements with which he could have been able to maintain the
position at the small ditch and parapet, he stood fast. Instead of 600
men, he would then have had nearly 1,000 men and three pieces of
Adjutant General Morgan and his command kept
their posts and prepared to repel the British. Colonel Thornton gained
the open field in front of Morgan's defenses. He extended the
Eighty-Fifth to cover the entire field. Thornton’s sailors were formed
in columns on the road and his marines under Major Adair were kept in
reserve. Thornton began to advance steadily on Morgan's lines with
Lieutenant Colonel Gibbons in command the Eighty-Fifth and Captain Money
commanding the sailors.
The bugler sounded the charge as Major
Mitchell’s artillery sent aloft a shower of rockets. With these
signals the British rushed forward, receiving a lethal discharge of
grapeshot from the American’s (Philibert) twelve-pounder, and two
sixes under adjutant John Nixon of the First Louisiana Militia. The
artillery fire caused the sailors to pull back. The fire from the
batteries continued and wounded and killed several sailors including
Captain Money. Seeing the damage inflicted on the British, the Americans
began to hurrah and fire their artillery pieces more rapidly.
As Thornton and the Eighty-Fifth rushed forward
after seeing the hesitation of his sailors, they came under musket fire
from Morgan's lines but succeeded in getting a storming party toward the
center of Morgan's line and strengthening it with a division of the
Eighty-Fifth. Two other divisions of the Eighty-Fifth advanced against
Morgan's center and Colonel Davis' position his extreme right. Thornton
now occupied the entire front of the American lines, while the
Fifty-Third’s batteries opened up on the of Morgan's extreme left with
their short, smoothbore, cast
iron cannons. Thornton
began closing on Davis' command. The Kentuckians feared that they were
about to be hemmed in between the British compliments. One had
penetrated their center and the other their extreme right. The Americans
fired one volley and then abandoned their position. This began their
confused fallback toward a road at the rear.
Adjutant General Morgan moved his troops to the
right and called out to Colonel Davis to hold. Davis’ reply was that
it was impossible because his men were panic-stricken and moving quickly
and in disorder from the right toward the roads. Morgan followed after
them on horseback and tried to rally them. As he did, a shower of
rockets fell on the soldiers causing alarm and scattering them. Some ran
as fast as they could toward Morgan's left. In the chaos, the Louisiana
militia kept up volleys fire on the advancing British, discharging eight
with savage effect. But, the American right was being stressed and the
British moved to quickly overrun the Louisiana troops. The American
battery having discharged its last cartridge of the remaining twelve,
were forced to abandon their position after spiking their guns and
pushing them into the river. They retired under British fire and in
At Morgan's rear, Patterson's battery on the
levee which had been constructed in daylight under continuing British
fire in front of Jackson's position grew concerned. Upon seeing that
Morgan's line had been compromised, Patterson wheeled his guns around in
order to command the road. He could see Colonel Davis' men running
toward a battery to cover the British advance. Patterson then realized
that his battery was about to be overrun. He had his guns spiked, the
powder thrown into the river, and then abandoned his position. He, his
30 men, and the Louisiana militia left marching along the road until
they reached the USS Louisiana, which had been moved about three hundred
yards behind Patterson's battery. Once reaching her, the crew was unable
to get launched. Patterson’s command halted and succeeded in having
her towed out into the stream beyond British reach of the enemy.
Finally, the Louisiana militia regrouped at Casselard's and formed on
Boisgeveau's Canal. They were prepared to make a stand there. But the
British never reached this position.
The British advanced and reached Patterson's
battery. At that point, they believed that all was well on the other
side of the river. Soon, Colonel Dickson of the artillery arrived from
General Lambert with devastating intelligence about the British
disasters on the left bank. Prior to Dickson's arrival, Adjutant General
Thornton bad been reinforced by several companies of sailors and marines
feeling strong and confident. Dickson informed him that it could not be
held and made his way to General Lambert to report this. As a result,
orders were sent to Thornton commanding him to retire from that
position, recross the river, and join the main body. Awaiting various
orders Thornton’s command had lost the greater part of the day.
Colonel Thornton began his retirement
initiating a covering movement which advanced toward the American
position. As they were retiring, the British troops set fire to the
several saw mills in his rear and destroyed ammunition and stores which
he had captured. His rear guard pressed by an advance contingent of
Americans, continued to fire upon them. Darkness had fallen by the time
Thornton succeeded in crossing the river.
Jackson was now concerned about the events that
occurred on the right bank. He began reorganizing his forces in
preparation to cross the river and support Morgan. That force was placed
under the command of the Frenchman, General Hubert. Unfortunately the
American militia officers were not inclined to serve under Hubert. Their
lack of zeal caused delays.
The British having accepted the proposal early
on the morning of the 9th and hostilities were to cease on the left bank
where the dead lay unburied until 12 o'clock on the 9th. An armistice
line was established about three hundred yards from the American
entrenchments. Of more than 6,000 men engaged in the attack on Jackson's
line the British losses on the left bank of the Mississippi were at
least 2,600 injured and or out of action. Of these, 700 were killed,
1,400 wounded, and 5th00 taken prisoner.
Troop detachments from both camps were
stationed a few feet apart to carry out the burial of the dead. The dead
bodies were moved by the Americans to the lines and received by the
British. They were then taken to a designated spot on Bayou Bienvenu
which had established as the cemetery of "the Army of
Louisiana." The bodies of British officers were first delivered to
them and later carried to their headquarters. The officers were buried
by torch light at night in Villeré's
garden. Others were prepared to be returned to England. The remaining
dead, including hundreds of officers and men, were buried in the rear of
Bienvenu's Plantation. The spot is today, occupied by a grove of stunted
With the major battle of New Orleans having
been fought and the dead buried, a silence settled over the field. The
British had withdrawn and now occupied every house within miles along
the river and tended to their wounded. However, the larger conflict
At 12:00 a.m. on January 9, 1815th, a
British Royal naval squadron was sited when they moved up the stream
approaching Fort Saint Philip positioned at the bend of the Mississippi
River. It is a masonry fort originally founded by the French.
It was constructed in the 18th-Century C.E., during the period of Spanish
control of Louisiana. It’s located on the eastern bank of the Mississippi
River, about 40 miles upriver from its mouth in Plaquemines
Parish, Louisiana. The Fort
was surrendered to the United States in 1803 C.E. as part of the
The Fort was strategic because it was
positioned on the bank where the river makes a bend. Sailing ships
coming up would have to tack into the wind against the current, hug the
shore, and when they did the vessels came within range of the Fort’s
guns. The Fort had in place 29
twenty-four-pound cannons, 2 thirty-two-pound cannons established
in the defensive curtain wall of the fort, level with the river,
and 2 howitzers, 1 eight-inch and 1 5th.5th-inch. 1 thirteen-inch mortar and
1 six-pound cannon were also used. Some of its guns faced the
river and land guns were placed to protect it from any approach from the
back side of the Fort. There were also two extended batteries on either
side. The area of a fort is surrounded by a curtain wall, with or
without towers. The fort’s outermost walls together with their
integrated bastions and wall
towers make up the main defensive
line enclosing the site. Some designs of forts, had curtain walls
fronted by a ditch to make assault difficult.
Beyond the ditch additional outworks such
as ravelins, a triangular fortification or
detached outwork, was located in front of the inner works of a
fortress (the curtain walls and bastions) were added to
protect the curtain walls from direct cannonading. Its magazine was
completely disguised, and several smaller ones established in various
The British flotilla was made
up of a sloop-of-war HMS Herald, a brig-of-war HMS Thistle,
a schooner HMS Pigmy, and HMS Aetna and HMS Volcano
the two bomb vessels. The
British bomb vessels were specialized ships designed for bombarding
fixed positions on land. A bomb vessel’s primary armament was not
cannons (they did carry a few cannons for self-defence) but mortars.
They were built as full rigged ships with three masts and carried two
mortars. They were mounted forward near the bow, with one placed between
each neighboring pair of masts and elevated to a high angle. The vessels
employed explosive shells or bombs (carcasses) rather than solid shot. The
squadron also supported armed longboats, armed barges, launches,
and armed gigs. Armed longboats were used for transporting
an attacking force. Sometime called an English Navy "barge,"
it was used by fleet officers and to transport the ship's marines into
battle. These attacking longboats were frequently over 10 feet wide, had
five pairs of oars, and accommodated more than 15th persons.
The British squadron then formed a battle line
and began preparations for bombardment and siege. The Americans immediately lit the
Fort's furnace for hot shot, those burning red cannonballs that could
have a devastating effect against the British warships. British naval
preparations for bombardment continued.
Several detachments of troops had been
dispatched to reinforce its existing garrison. The garrison held two
companies of United States artillery, with 117 men under Captains
Wolstoncroft, Murray, and Walsh. The Seventh Infantry consisted of two
companies, with 163 men under Captains Brontin and Waide. Lagan's
Louisiana Volunteers had 5th4 men and Listeau's free men of color had a
compliment of 30. In all, there were 366. To these, the crew of gunboat
No. 8, which had been hauled into the bayou, must be added. The entire
force consisted of 406 men was under Major Walter H. Overton,
an officer of the rifle corps. He had wisely had established a guard
below to watch and report on British approaches.
The American gunboat Captain Cunningham and his
sailors took command of the Thirty-Second. Captain Walsh took command
the right position. Captain Wolstoncroft commanded the center and
Captain Murray deployed on the left. The infantry tender Brontin was
stationed in the rear of the curtain wall to support the batteries.
By 1:00 PM, the American signal station was
abandoned and partially burned leaving nothing for a British shore
party. The soldiers then retreated back their fort. The signal station
was occupied by the British.
At about 3:00 PM on January the 9th, the
British the bomb vessels approached within a mile and a half of the Fort
and opened fired on it. They also sent a number of their cannon carrying
longboats forward to ascertain Fort Saint Philip’s strength. Two of
the Fort's batteries were within range of at least one of the longboats
carrying an 8 to 24 pound gun mounted at its bow fired a salvo
hitting the Fort. The American armed response quickly forced the British
to abandon their efforts. The British quickly realized that they should
fire their broadsides at greater distances. The flotilla then retired
beyond the range of the Fort's guns. The British then turned broadside
toward it and anchored behind a point of land, approximately 3,960 yards
from the American fort.
After running up their flags, the British
commenced bombardment of the Fort at about 3:30 PM. The firing continued
at a rate of one projectile every two minutes with little effect. Firing
lasted all day and night of January 9th. Fortunately, due to the rains
during most of the battle, the ground was soaked. A large number of
British cannonballs and shells slammed into the ground and became
buried. Also, many failed to explode. Those that exploded underground
had little or no effect on the American troops on the surface above.
Amazingly, during this first day of battle the Americans would have no
That night, the British reconnoitered
in small boats. Later, British armed boats returned in force, firing
several rounds of grapeshot and cast-iron
or steel spherical balls without explosive charge called, round
shot at short-range into the fort. The American infantry returned small
arms fire at close-range on British targets sitting in their boats. The
Americans did not fire their heavy weapons, believing this to be a
British trick to distract their gunners and to get the British fleet
passed the Fort. Saint Philip’s riverside strength had forced the
larger squadron vessels to stay out of range. In the end, the British
failed to distract the Americans. The British had gathered valuable
intelligence about Fort Saint Philip’s artillery strength on the
riverside while reconnoitering. While their boats withdrew on the night
of January 9th, the British continued long-range bombardment of the
Meanwhile, by the night of the 9th the
Americans at the major battle site were positioned at their lines on the
During January 10th and 11th, the bombardment
and siege of Fort Saint Philip continued, with the British occasionally
moving their boats closer to gain better firing position on the
By the early morning of the 10th, at the main
battle site, Patterson’s American artillery battery was moved to a
more advantageous position. Little British boat fire had been returned
by the Fort and its effects were negligible. By daybreak, Patterson
began firing on British outposts. Soon, all American batteries resumed
firing at every possible British target. Still, British sentinels and
One British advance bombardment began
at 12:00 PM, and lasted for two hours. A second, bombardment began at
sundown and continued for two hours.
Little of significance occurred at the main
battle site until the 11th. On that day, the distant rumbling of
artillery could be heard far down the river. Now the average soldier was
aware that the expected attack on Fort Saint Philip was in progress.
On January 11th, shrapnel struck Fort
Saint Philip’s flag post. It was taken down, repaired, and replaced on
the flag pole one hour after lowering. This possibly made the British
think the Americans were surrendering. British longboats then moved
forward again and attacked at 12:00 a.m. and a second time at sunset.
That evening’s bombardment hit the Fort's storehouse. The real powder
magazines escaped damage with the exception of the main magazine. It
suffered minor damage but did not explode. When the American batteries
fired on the British longboat advances most shots landed short. The
pattern of longboat attacks would continue throughout the siege.
On January 12th, 13th and 14th, the British
kept up continual fire. Many of their shells burst above and beyond the
Fort. During bombardments, the soldiers in the Fort were busily working
to repair damage and strengthen its fortifications. To add to these
difficulties, heavy rains fell daily and the interior of the Fort was
beginning to flood, its soldiers were left wet and almost freezing.
After the battle of the gunboats, a group of
American citizens from New Orleans were sent to aid and assist the
American wounded. They were soon captured and detained. During their
detention, they were treated badly. Their clothes and other property
were taken and they were not allowed to see their wounded countrymen.
The Americans were also compelled to work on the British the fleet
boats. Finally, after the British had been repulsed, they were released
Upon the arrival of the released American
citizens of New Orleans at the American camp, Jackson allowed a
retaliatory expedition to be organized to attack British boats. It left
Bayou Saint John on four boats with a carronade on each of their bows.
The expedition made its way to the Fort Petites Coquilles where the
expedition was reinforced by two additional boats. Next, the expedition
moved cautiously along the shoals of Lake Borgne toward the Rigolets.
By the 13th of January, the Fort received
shells and other ammunition from New Orleans. Its batteries immediately
resumed fire. After several shells had gone over a British bomb vessel,
one shell finally hit its mark creating confusion on board.
After several days of the Siege of Fort
Saint Philip, the British accepted that their weapons had not been
effective during the first few days of battle. On January 14th, they
changed fuses to have all artillery projectiles explode over the Fort.
This would shower the garrison with pieces of burning hot metal. These
shards efficiently killed and wounded soldiers and damaged several of
the Fort's gun carriages. They also silenced the two American 32
pounders, but only for an hour. That night, several British rounds
struck and damaged the blacksmith's shop.
By the night of January 15thth, the
Fort’s garrison had constructed better defenses around their batteries
and reinforced the powder magazines. The American batteries remained
confident and fired upon one of the British bomb vessels once it came
into range. It was damaged by an American cannonball, putting the ship
out of action for a short while.
On the morning of the 16th, the
interior of the Fort was flooded from almost constant rain and most of
the garrison's tents were damaged from shell fragments.
That same day a supply boat which
carried ammunition and fuses arrived at the Fort from New Orleans.
This cheered the Americans, who were now better prepared and able for
defense when the battle began.
On the 17th the British began firing on the
Fort with more effectiveness. The fighting continued during the night of
the January 17th.
It should be noted that after the battle of
January the 8th, British General, John Lambert, arrived at the
conclusion that the British had failed. Even worse, many of his men were
deserting daily. Given the circumstances, he then made the decision to
withdrawal of the army. Evacuation by boats impossible, as there were
not enough boats with which to retire his troops. He couldn’t divide
the army safely with the Americans emboldened by recent victories.
Therefore, he directed his engineers to extend the road along the bayou,
through the swamp to the lake shore. This was a very difficult task,
which took working parties nine days, until January the 17th.
Having completed this road, the wounded, except
those who could not be removed, all civil officers, contractors, and
surveyors, together with all the field artillery, stores, etc., were
placed in available boats and dispatched to the fleet. General Lambert
then had the large ship guns spiked, their cordages broken, and left on
The British had been bombarding continuously
from January 9th through 18th. During that period, they fire one
thousand shells. Seventy tons of iron and twenty thousand pounds of
gunpowder were expended. At least one hundred shells fell inside the
Fort, damaging the shops and stores. Many more shells damaged areas
around the Fort.
Just before daylight on the 18th, the British
placed several shells into Fort Saint Philip's parapet wall, that low protective wall or railing along the edge to protect a
platform, roof, or bridge. One burst went through a ditch and into the
center fortification which built at
an angle to the line of a wall for defensive firing in several
was their farewell shot. At early dawn, their ships were seen with all
sail set descending the river. The American garrison gave three cheers
and fired a volley of salute to the enemy. There was no further
bombardment on the Americans for the remainder of the day.
By the night of January the 18th, the British
infantry was now all that was left to evacuate. Camp fires were lighted
and the pickets were stationed in the usual fashion, until ordered to
retire. The entire army formed silently and cautiously into column with
the engineer, sappers and miners at the front and they proceeded for
some distance along the bayou. The pickets had already been directed to
abandon the encampment and meet up with the main column. When they
reached the bayou, they were ordered to form with the column as a rear
guard. In darkness the army marched silently trying to make no sounds.
They marched all night and reached the shores of Lake Borgne at
daybreak. There they drew up on its banks. They were now sixty miles
from the fleet, there to wait until the ships arrived.
The British withdrew their landing
force and on January 19, 1815th, abandoning their efforts to destroy the
Fort. The squadron sailed away in search of an alternate waterway to the
City of New Orleans. Once the British learned of their defeat at the City, the Royal Navy canceled their search. They then
moved to reinforce their defeated army.
On the 20th of January, the New Orleans
Citizen’s Retaliation Expedition came upon a large barge full of
British soldiers on their way from the Bayou Bienvenu on their way to
the British Naval squadron. The Americans immediately closed on the
boats commenced a carronade on the barge. The 37 British soldiers of the
Fourteenth Dragoons, on board threw their arms into the lake and quickly
The prisoners were conducted to the
American camp at Chef Menteur Pass, that narrow natural waterway
which, along with the Rigolets, connects Lake Pontchartrain and Lake
Borgne in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Expedition then
made another sortie and captured several more boats, a schooner and 63
prisoners. Due to heavy winds and rough currents their boats soon became
separated and the schooner unmanageable. They decided to set fire to the
schooner. When they did, the fire attracted British boats which began
approaching the Americans. When they landed near the mouth of the
Rigolets, the British tried to cut them off by landing a party just
ahead of them. The Expedition’s 20 men opened upon them from the high
reeds and after three volleys the British retreated. There were many
more British attempts to capture them. American soldiers were sent to
Fort La Petites Coquilles for reinforcements which had been built
earlier by the French to protect Lake Pontchartrain from invasion. The
Americans who were left guarding the prisoners were forced to retire and
discharged some of their captives. They made their way La Petites
Coquilles and arrived safely with 22 prisoners.
The failed, retreating British army remained on
the shores of Lake Borgne until January the 29th, when they embarked and
reached the fleet.
After failing to take the fortifications on the East Bank of the
Mississippi, the British army was broken. With that failure, the Battle
of New Orleans became an American victory. The British campaign suffered
high casualties. 291 men were dead, 1262 wounded, and 484 captured or
The American garrison at Fort Saint Philip had endured ten
days of bombardment from the British Royal Navy. American
casualties were only 13 men dead, 39 wounded, and 19 missing. It was
seen as a great victory by the armed forces of the United States. Andrew
Jackson became a national hero which would eventually propel him into
the presidency. America had seen the final attempt to invade
As can be seen from the previous narrative, the
American historical information about the War of 1812 and the Battle of
New Orleans has been written from and almost completely Anglo American
point of view. This was due to the Americans of the time being led by
Anglo and Northern Europeans, therefore, their surnames figure
prominently in the narratives.
It is not totally unknown to find with each
successive generation of Americans a request for the clarification of
earlier historical narratives to rightly reflect their participation in
the American experience. As we all know, love and pride in America is
not an exclusively Northern European sentiment. The vast majority of
this nation’s citizens enjoy the celebration of her greatness, honor,
and martial successes. It is at this juncture that I will introduce just
three of the de Riberas who fought in the War of 1812:
Rivera, Joseph Private
Riveras, Joseph Private in the 3rd Reg't. (de la Ronde's), La. Mil. (Orig.
under Rivera, Joseph)
Rivero, Cristóval Private in
Captain Hubbard's Mounted Co., La. Militia
There was nothing special or
extraordinary about these three men. They simply joined their fellow
Americans and fought for the freedom and honor of their nation. They
were willing to fight and die for that most cherished American ideal,
freedom. There had been Hispanics of earlier times who had done the
same, particular during the American Revolution thousands fought against
the British under the Great Spanish General,
Bernardo Vicente Apolinar de Gálvez y Madrid, Vizconde de Gálvezton
and Conde de Gálvez (July 23, 1746 C.E.-November 30, 1786 C.E.).
These too gave their all to the cause of the American dream.
In the following listing, I’ve
attempted to provide those names of other Hispanics that fought during
this war. Some of these surnames, although not clearly Spanish/Hispanic
in origin, should be researched further by interested parties as it is
thought that they may be of Hispanic stock.
In addition, European and New World
immigrants from the empires of France, Great Britain, el Imperio Español, and the United States of America brought with
them their own surnames. Many of these Europeans and New World peoples
intermarried and the resulting children inherited those surnames. These
also entered into relationships and intermarried with Spanish Criollos,
French Creoles, and other European combinations with Native Americans,
Blacks, and others. Many of these changed or adjusted their surnames to
closely approximate each successive Empire’s influx of administrators,
soldiers, and citizens. The result of which complicates the
identification of Spanish/Hispanic surnames.