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American Heros

Francis Parkman
(1822-1893) He told the red man's story; far and wide...

John Quincy Adams And The Right Of Petition
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Gouverneur Morris
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Robert Gould Shaw
Brave, good, and true, I see him stand before me n...

General Grant And The Vicksburg Campaign
What flag is this you carry Along the sea and sho...

Bennington
We are but warriors for the working-day; Our gayne...

King's Mountain
Our fortress is the good greenwood, Our tent the ...

The Charge At Gettysburg
For the Lord On the whirlwind is abroad; I...

The Death Of Stonewall Jackson
Like a servant of the Lord, with his bible and his sword...

Sheridan At Cedar Creek
Inspired repulsed battalions to engage, And taught...

Washington
The brilliant historian of the English people [*] has written...

The Storming Of Stony Point
In their ragged regimentals Stood the old Contin...

The Battle Of Trenton
And such they are--and such they will be found: No...

George Rogers Clark And The Conquest Of The Northwest
Have the elder races halted? Do they droop and end the...

Lieutenant Cushing And The Ram Albemarle
God give us peace! Not such as lulls to sleep, But...

The Battle Of New Orleans
The heavy fog of morning Still hid the plain from...

Farragut At Mobile Bay
Ha, old ship, do they thrill, The brave two hundre...

Hampton Roads
Then far away to the south uprose A little feathe...

Lincoln
O captain. My captain. Our fearful trip is done; T...

The Burning Of The Philadelphia
And say besides, that in Aleppo once, Where a mali...



The Battle Of New Orleans






The heavy fog of morning
Still hid the plain from sight,
When came a thread of scarlet
Marked faintly in the white.
We fired a single cannon,
And as its thunders rolled,
The mist before us lifted
In many a heavy fold.
The mist before us lifted,
And in their bravery fine
Came rushing to their ruin
The fearless British line.
--Thomas Dunn English.


When, in 1814, Napoleon was overthrown and forced to retire to Elba, the
British troops that had followed Wellington into southern France
were left free for use against the Americans. A great expedition was
organized to attack and capture New Orleans, and at its head was placed
General Pakenham, the brilliant commander of the column that delivered
the fatal blow at Salamanca. In December a fleet of British war-ships
and transports, carrying thousands of victorious veterans from the
Peninsula, and manned by sailors who had grown old in a quarter of a
century's triumphant ocean warfare, anchored off the broad lagoons of
the Mississippi delta. The few American gunboats were carried after a
desperate hand-to-hand struggle, the troops were landed, and on December
23 the advance-guard of two thousand men reached the banks of the
Mississippi, but ten miles below New Orleans, and there camped for the
night. It seemed as if nothing could save the Creole City from foes who
had shown, in the storming of many a Spanish walled town, that they were
as ruthless in victory as they were terrible in battle. There were
no forts to protect the place, and the militia were ill armed and ill
trained. But the hour found the man. On the afternoon of the very day
when the British reached the banks of the river the vanguard of Andrew
Jackson's Tennesseeans marched into New Orleans. Clad in hunting-shirts
of buckskin or homespun, wearing wolfskin and coonskin caps, and
carrying their long rifles on their shoulders, the wild soldiery of the
backwoods tramped into the little French town. They were tall men, with
sinewy frames and piercing eyes. Under "Old Hickory's" lead they had
won the bloody battle of the Horseshoe Bend against the Creeks; they
had driven the Spaniards from Pensacola; and now they were eager to pit
themselves against the most renowned troops of all Europe.

Jackson acted with his usual fiery, hasty decision. It was absolutely
necessary to get time in which to throw up some kind of breastworks or
defenses for the city, and he at once resolved on a night attack against
the British. As for the British, they had no thought of being molested.
They did not dream of an assault from inferior numbers of undisciplined
and ill-armed militia, who did not possess so much as bayonets to their
guns. They kindled fires along the levees, ate their supper, and then,
as the evening fell, noticed a big schooner drop down the river in
ghostly silence and bring up opposite to them. The soldiers flocked to
the shore, challenging the stranger, and finally fired one or two shots
at her. Then suddenly a rough voice was heard, "Now give it to them,
for the honor of America!" and a shower of shell and grape fell on
the British, driving them off the levee. The stranger was an American
man-of-war schooner. The British brought up artillery to drive her off,
but before they succeeded Jackson's land troops burst upon them, and
a fierce, indecisive struggle followed. In the night all order was
speedily lost, and the two sides fought singly or in groups in the
utmost confusion. Finally a fog came up and the combatants separated.
Jackson drew off four or five miles and camped.

The British had been so roughly handled that they were unable to advance
for three or four days, until the entire army came up. When they did
advance, it was only to find that Jackson had made good use of the time
he had gained by his daring assault. He had thrown up breastworks of
mud and logs from the swamp to the river. At first the British tried to
batter down these breastworks with their cannon, for they had many more
guns than the Americans. A terrible artillery duel followed. For an
hour or two the result seemed in doubt; but the American gunners showed
themselves to be far more skilful than their antagonists, and gradually
getting the upper hand, they finally silenced every piece of British
artillery. The Americans had used cotton bales in the embrasures, and
the British hogsheads of sugar; but neither worked well, for the cotton
caught fire and the sugar hogsheads were ripped and splintered by the
roundshot, so that both were abandoned. By the use of red-hot shot the
British succeeded in setting on fire the American schooner which had
caused them such annoyance on the evening of the night attack; but she
had served her purpose, and her destruction caused little anxiety to
Jackson.

Having failed in his effort to batter down the American breastworks,
and the British artillery having been fairly worsted by the American,
Pakenham decided to try open assault. He had ten thousand regular
troops, while Jackson had under him but little over five thousand men,
who were trained only as he had himself trained them in his Indian
campaigns. Not a fourth of them carried bayonets. Both Pakenham and the
troops under him were fresh from victories won over the most renowned
marshals of Napoleon, andover soldiers that had proved themselves on a
hundred stricken fields the masters of all others in Continental Europe.
At Toulouse they had driven Marshal Soult from a position infinitely
stronger than that held by Jackson, and yet Soult had under him a
veteran army. At Badajoz, Ciudad Rodrigo, and San Sebastian they
had carried by open assault fortified towns whose strength made
the intrenchments of the Americans seem like the mud walls built by
children, though these towns were held by the best soldiers of France.
With such troops to follow him, and with such victories behind him in
the past, it did not seem possible to Pakenham that the assault of the
terrible British infantry could be successfully met by rough backwoods
riflemen fighting under a general as wild and untrained as themselves.

He decreed that the assault should take place on the morning of the
eighth. Throughout the previous night the American officers were on
the alert, for they could hear the rumbling of artillery in the British
camp, the muffled tread of the battalions as they were marched to their
points in the line, and all the smothered din of the preparation for
assault. Long before dawn the riflemen were awake and drawn up behind
the mud walls, where they lolled at ease, or, leaning on their long
rifles, peered out through the fog toward the camp of their foes. At
last the sun rose and the fog lifted, showing the scarlet array of the
splendid British infantry. As soon as the air was clear Pakenham gave
the word, and the heavy columns of redcoated grenadiers and kilted
Highlanders moved steadily forward. From the American breastworks
the great guns opened, but not a rifle cracked. Three fourths of the
distance were covered, and the eager soldiers broke into a run; then
sheets of flame burst from the breastworks in their front as the wild
riflemen of the backwoods rose and fired, line upon line. Under the
sweeping hail the head of the British advance was shattered, and the
whole column stopped. Then it surged forward again, almost to the foot
of the breastworks; but not a man lived to reach them, and in a moment
more the troops broke and ran back. Mad with shame and rage, Pakenham
rode among them to rally and lead them forward, and the officers sprang
around him, smiting the fugitives with their swords and cheering on the
men who stood. For a moment the troops halted, and again came forward
to the charge; but again they were met by a hail of bullets from the
backwoods rifles. One shot struck Pakenham himself. He reeled and fell
from the saddle, and was carried off the field. The second and third
in command fell also, and then all attempts at further advance were
abandoned, and the British troops ran back to their lines. Another
assault had meanwhile been made by a column close to the river, the
charging soldiers rushing to the top of the breastworks; but they were
all killed or driven back. A body of troops had also been sent across
the river, where they routed a small detachment of Kentucky militia; but
they were, of course, recalled when the main assault failed.

At last the men who had conquered the conquerors of Europe had
themselves met defeat. Andrew Jackson and his rough riflemen had
worsted, in fair fight, a far larger force of the best of Wellington's
veterans, and had accomplished what no French marshal and no French
troops had been able to accomplish throughout the long war in the
Spanish peninsula. For a week the sullen British lay in their lines;
then, abandoning their heavy artillery, they marched back to the ships
and sailed for Europe.





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