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Andrew Jackson And
The Battle Of New Orleans
The Battle of New Orleans was one of the last remarkable conflicts in history. The last major land battle of the war was the war of 1812. The battle of New Orleans was fought after the treaty of peace ending the hostilities, was signed. The United states declared war on Great Britain in June of 1812. The war did not threaten Louisiana till the end of the war with the battle of New Orleans because most of the war had been fought on the border of Canada. The British force had more than 5,000 veterans, a little less than one half of them died at the battle of New Orleans. The Americans had about 5,700 men. Only a third of them even fired a shot during the action, but they only suffered 71 casualties. The American commander General Andrew Jackson became very famous from the victory at New Orleans. His winning eventually led to his becoming the seventh president of the United States and the founder of the modern Democratic political party. (Adams 109-110)
Andrew was born at the South Carolina settlement of Waxhaw on March 15,1767. He became a orphan at the young age of fourteen. He and his two brothers, Hugh and Robert, lived with their aunt. He attended school for only a few years. All three brothers fought in the American revolution. Hugh was killed in 1779. Teen-aged Jackson and his older brother, Robert, fought side by side in many skirmishes against the British in South Carolina. After the battle of Hanging Rock the two boys were thrown into jail, where they both contracted small pox. Andrew was able to recover but Robert died. (Remini 1-6)
After the Revolution Jackson lived in Charleston, South Carolina, and then moved to Salisbury, North Carolina where he began to study law. After studying law for two years he began his own practice in Martinsville, North Carolina, Shortly after he moved to Nashville Tennessee. There he met and married Rachel Donelson Robards. They had no children but he adopted Rachel’s nephew. During this time Jackson started to make a name for himself as a successful backwoods lawyer. He also begun to take an active part in politics. He was elected to the United Stated House of Representatives but he resigned his post to become a senator when he was just thirty years old. Jackson resigned as a senator to become a judge of the Tennessee Supreme Court. Next he decided to become a major general of the Tennessee Militia. He spent much of the next decade drilling and training his troops. The war of 1812 marked the turning point of his career.
Responding to Alabama’s and Georgia’s pleas for help, Jackson and his 3,500 militiamen moved out of Tennessee and marched through miles of wilderness under very hard conditions. Jackson’s forces met the creek forces at a place called Horseshoe Bend along the Tallapoosa River on March 27, 1814, and defeated them. This forced the Indians to give up most of their land to Alabama and Georgia. Shortly after this victory Jackson was commissioned a major general in the United Stated Army.
After defeating the Creeks, Jackson was sent to Mobile with a handful of troop the defend Fort Bowyer against a British force’s. Fort Bowyer was defended by twenty guns, while the British ships had seventyeight. Jackson managed to sink one of the British ships and damage another. The remaining two British ships fled to what they thought would be a safe harbor at Pensacola. After recruiting additional troops, Jackson soon followed the ships. Jackson took over Pensacola. Jackson and his men returned to Mobile. (Carter 94-95)
Jackson found out that the British were preparing to launch a attack on New Orleans. Jackson immediately sent a message to Tennessee having his Indian riflemen to meet him in New Orleans. He then left with a few troops and headed for Louisiana. When Jackson arrived at New Orleans he found a strange collection of troops wearing all manner of dress and carrying a large variety of weapons. Jackson was able to unite his forces into a army that was capable of beating the British forces.
Pakenham (head of the British forces) had the best forces Great Britain had to offer. His troops were veterans of the long years of war in Europe. They were well disciplined and well organized. Pakenham was very confident in his troops. He had sent a scout ahead to see what shape the defense of New Orleans was in. The scout told Pakenham of the terrible shape the troops were in. This proved most helpful for Jackson. (Brooks 196-7)
When Jackson first arrived in New Orleans almost no preparations had been made for the defense of the city. There were about 1700 untrained men. Jackson set about drilling them and training the men. He also got some riflemen from Tennessee. Jackson was also manage to acquire a number of volunteers such as the Chactaw Indians, a small group of sailors, a battalion of Louisiana Creoles, a battalion of free African Americans, and a crew of pirates.
The Battle of New Orleans began on Christmas Eve of 1814. On December 10 Pakenham’s forces moved into Lake Borgne. At lake Borgne, Pakenham met and defeated an American squadron of gunboats and then penetrated the Mississippi River Delta region to a point about ten miles from New Orleans. Royal Marines and British riflemen then moved inland through swamp lands and captured a plantation at Charlmette. On December 24 Jackson sent a regiment of his Tennessee riflemen to engage the British in a surprise night attack. Although the fight was a standoff the British were temporarily knocked off balance because it was not European stile to fight in the night. (Brooks 273)
While the British hesitated and Pakenham ordered up more troops, Jackson ordered his men to build a strong main line of defense. The line was protected by a barricade of cotton bales stretching across a space about a thousand yards wide. One flank was guarded by the Mississippi River. The other flank was guarded by a swamp. In front of the main line defense was a dry canal that acted as a natural barrier for the line of defense Jackson had prepared. (Brown 16-17)
The British did not attack again until New Year’s Day of 1815. They begun to fire on the Americans but the fire was immediately returned with great accuracy. Pakenham and his officers were astonished at the accuracy of the American cannoneers. They had expected a easy win. When Pakenham figured out that winning was not going to be such a easy task he sent for more troops. It took about a week for more troops to come. But it only gave Jackson’s men more time to strengthen their army. On January 8, 1815, Pakenham attacked sending his men forward in long close columns across the open ground. They were constantly under fire from behind the American barricade. Sending his men forward was suicide, each time he would send men forward the Americans would wipe them out. (Brown 16-17)
After a few more sad attempts the British left, leaving behind hundreds of dead men behind. Included among the dead was General Pakenham and two other British generals. This was a great win for Andrew Jackson. He saved New Orleans and made a name for himself. Bibliography
James Thruslow Adams, R.V. Coleman. Dictionary of American History. New York. Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1940.
Brown, Wilburt S. The Amphibious Campaign For West Florida And Louisiana. University, Alabama. University of Alabama Press. 1969.
Carter, Samuel III. Blaze of Glory. New York. St. Martin’s Press. 1971.
Brooks, Charles B. The Siege Of New Orleans. Seattle. University of Washington Press. 1961.
Carr, Albert Z. The Coming Of The War. New York. Doubleday and Company. 1960.
Marrin, Albert. The War Nobody Won. New York. Atheneum. 1985.
Remini, Robert V. Andrew Jackson. New York. Harper and Row. 1977.
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