THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (November 30-December 6, 1814)
U.S. Major General Andrew Jackson arrives in New Orleans after a hasty march from New Orleans. The arrival of Jackson and his “army” of less than 2,000 troops calms the uneasy populace of the Crescent City.
Even though New Orleans is the major seaport of the western United States, President James Madison’s administration has done next-to-nothing to secure the important port other than sending three under strength regiments to regulars south to aid in defending the city.
Although sick with dysentery, still weakened from arm wounds sustained in a duel the year before and exhausted from marching from New Orleans to Pensacola in Spanish Florida and back again over the past few months, Jackson plunges into preparing the defenses of New Orleans.
Only a few small units of wealthy creoles and free black men (free men of color, as they were called then), have been mustered for the city’s defense. Complicating matters, most of the city’s squabbling inhabitants speak French or Spanish and many speak no English at all. To assist him, Jackson appoints an influential American lawyer, politician and longtime New Orleans resident, Edward Livingston, as his personal aide and private secretary. Livingston translates Jackson’s speech to the nervous locals in which he pledges “to drive their enemies into the sea, or perish in the effort.”
He sends small units of his troops and engineers to assess the fortifications East, North and South of the city and reinforce them where necessary.
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Meanwhile, far to the north, Virginia militia drive off a British raiding party in a skirmish at Farnham Church, up the Rappahannock River from Chesapeake Bay. The British forces are commanded by Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn, the man who burned Washington and had been raiding up and down the bay since 1813.
Bullet and shell holes from the Royal Navy’s bombardment, remain in the walls of the old church to this day.
Entry filed under: Army, Naval Warfare, THIS WEEK in the War of 1812. Tags: amphibious warfare, Andrew Jackson, Army, Battle of New Orleans, Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn, War of 1812 Bicentennial, War of 1812 in Louisiana.