The Battle Begins!
Jackson’s men constructed simple field works perpendicular to the Mississippi River near Chalmette Plantation. They threw up an earthen parapet reinforced by cotton bales. Eight batteries of artillery were positioned in the line, including those manned by pirate gunners sent by Jean Lafitte to bolster the American infantry line.
On January 8, the British regiments lined up to attack the first American line established behind the Rodriquez Canal and the artillery emplacements across the Mississippi River. The two-pronged tactical plan — while initially sound — faced a number of providential mishaps from its very beginning. The fog lifted while they were getting into position and the American artillery thundered out. When the Redcoats reached the fifteen-foot-wide, eight-foot-deep canal, they discovered that the men detailed to carry the fascines and bridging materials were not in position; the infantry, many armed with highly accurate rifles, opened fire.
We fired our guns and the British kept a comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began a runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico
Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans
A Remarkable Victory for Jackson!
The defenders repulsed the two main British assaults, killing two Major Generals, including the commander, General Pakenham. The British artillery shells buried themselves in the wet mud and cotton bales and the American artillery and marksmen devastated the red-coated battle line. When the butcher’s bill was added up in that final engagement of the campaign, His Majesty’s forces had 2,600 casualties and the Americans 13. General Jackson gave a merciful Providence the credit, along with the Divine means — his hard-fighting soldiers. This most lop-sided victory secured New Orleans for the United States, and with it the Mississippi River and all the lands to the west (in time). Andrew Jackson became a household name and, in a few short years, he was elected to the Presidency of the United States, a time period that has assumed his name as “The Jacksonian Era.”
Listen to Johnny Horton sing ‘The Battle of New Orleans’ on YouTube