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(Breat Commanbera



XTbe 6rcat (TommanDers Scvice.

Edited by General James Grant Wilson.

Admiral Farragut.

By Captain A. T. Mahan, U. S. N.

Zachary Taylor.

By General O. O. Howard, U. S. A.

General Jackson. By James Parton.


General Washington.

By General Bradley T. Johnson.

General Greene.

By Captain Francis V. Greene, U. S. A.

General Sherman.

By General Manning F. Force.
General Grant.

By General James Grant Wilson.

General J. E. Johnston.

By Robert M. Hughes, of Virginia.
General Scott.

By General Marcus J. Wright.
Admiral Porter.

By James R. Soley, Assist. Sec. of Navy,
General Lee.

By General Fitzhugh Lee.
General Thomas.

By Henry Coppee, LL. D.
General Hancock.

By General Francis A. Walker.
General Sheridan.

By General Henry E, Davies.

New York : D. Appleton & Co., i, 3, & 5 Bond St.





• • • •




LfsyyH \




Copyright, 1892,

All rights reserved.

Electrotvped and Printed




The military life of Andrew Jackson lasted nine
years, of which about two years were passed in the field.
He was in no proper sense of the word a professional
soldier, and he resented the phrase " military chieftain "
which Henry Clay, knowing its irritating power, so
often applied to him. He was simply a Tennessee far-
mer and militia-general who, when his country was in-
vaded, led his neighbors and fellow-citizens to its de-
fense. In doing this duty of a citizen he displayed
military talents which friends and foes agreed in pro-
nouncing extraordinary.

His old comrade and friend, a near neighbor for half
a lifetime, the late Major William B. Lewis, a gentleman
competent to judge in such matters, used to say, as he
talked of the Creek and New Orleans campaigns, that
Andrew Jackson, in point of native military capacity,
was the peer of the great generals of the world — Caesar,
Cromwell, Frederick, Bonaparte, or Wellington — and in
support of this opinion he would adduce many curious
facts and traits that could be known only to an intimate
and confidential companion.

This was the judgment of a friend, though a friend
not blind to the limitations of his old commander. I
have before me the testimony of an enemy, one who had
personally felt the force of the stroke which General
Jackson's puissant arm could deal. As late as 1888



there were two survivors of the British army that in-
vaded Louisiana in 1814 and took part in the action
of January 8, 1815. One of these was the late Earl
of Albemarle; the other, Rev. George R. Gleig, who
was for many years chaplain -general to the British
forces, but served as a lieutenant of foot in the expe-
dition against New Orleans. Mr. Gleig was the " sub-
altern " whose excellent narrative of the expedition
is occasionally quoted in this volume. A short time
before his death he wrote thus to his American friend,
General James Grant Wilson, the editor of this series
of volumes :

" When I look back upon the means which General
Jackson adopted to cover New Orleans, and remember
the materials of which his army was composed, I cannot
but regard his management of that campaign as one of
the most masterly of which history makes mention. His
nigbt attack on our advanced guard was as bold a stroke
as ever was struck. It really paralyzed all our future
operations ; for, though unsuccessful, it taught us to hold
our enemy in respect, and in all future movements to act
with an excess of caution. The use, also, which he made
of the river was admirable. Indeed, I am inclined to
think that to him the generals who came after him were
indebted for the perception of the great advantages to
which the command of rivers may be turned. And do
not let us forget that he had little else to oppose to
Wellington's veterans, fresh from their triumphs in Spain
and the south of France, except raw levies. Altogether
I think of Jackson as, next to Washington, the greatest
general America has produced."

To the last of his days — and he lived to be past
ninety-one — he retained these impressions unimpaired.
General Wilson, in conversation, would call the old
gentleman's attention to the brilliant achievements of


Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, and others, but could never
convince him that either of them showed military ca-
pacity superior to that of the general who had given him
and his comrades such a world of trouble seventy years

" No," he would say, " Jackson did everything that
could be done to repel an attack that ought to have
proved successful. His beating up our bivouac on the
night of our landing was a master stroke, and, had his
troops been such as yours became during your civil war,
he would have destroyed us." This is the judgment of
a soldier who saw and felt during some terrible weeks
what it is in war to have a real general in command on
the other side.

No one can carefully examine the record without dis-
covering that Andrew Jackson possessed the indispen-
sable qualities of a commanding general : in all circum-
stances imperturbably brave ; confident in himself, but
open to suggestion and to argument ; bold when boldness
was wise, but as wary as an Indian until he saw his way
to victory clear ; vigilant, prompt, persistent, indefati-
gable, and aware of the importance of little things. He
had for his soldiers the paternal feeling which we ob-
serve in all the great generals, as we do also in the great
captains of industry ; yet he could be a stern and ruth-
less disciplinarian. There is a passage in his farewell
address to the army in 182 1 where he speaks of the
bounty-jumpers of his day, who found it " a source of
speculation to go from rendezvous to rendezvous, enlist-
ing, receiving the bounty, and deserting, all the way
from Boston to New Orleans." The passage, if it had
, been acted upon during the late war, would have saved
a vast amount of suffering and waste.

Two of his favorite maxims denote the soldier : " In
war, till everything is done, nothing is done " ; and this


also, " When you have a thing to do, take all the time
for thinking that the circumstances allow, but when the
time has come for action, stop thinking."

[Tfie last literary work of James Parton was the
preparation of this brief biography of General Jackson.
It was completed in August, 1891. Two months later,
a long career of literary industry was closed by his
death at the ripe age of seventy. An indefatigable
worker, he produced many valuable American biog-
raphies, of which his earliest — a Life of Horace Greeley
— was perhaps the most popular. Although less am-
bitious in scope than some of Mr. Parton's previous
volumes, his last work, like his first, presents a fair esti-
mate of its subject, and seems free from the natural
tendency of biographers, which Macaulay sneeringly
designates "the disease of admiration." Altogether
the book appears to be a model miniature biography,
possessing throughout all the interest of a romance.
It would seem that this story of the career of the great
American commander can not fail to add to Mr. Parton's
literary reputation. Editor.]



I. — Parentage and Education i

II. — During the Revolutionary War .... 7
III. — He studies Law, and becomes a Tennessee

Lawyer 17

IV. — In Public Life, and as a Man of Business . . 25
V. — Duel with Charles Dickinson . . . -33

VI. — At Home . -43

VII. — In the Field 49

VIII. — The Massacre at Fort Mims 64

IX. — The Creek Country invaded 74

X. — The Finishing Blow 108

XI. — Mobile defended, and the Engkish driven from

Pensacola 124

XII. — Jackson at New Orleans, and Approach of the

British i44

XIII. — Night- Battle of December 230 .... 164

XIV. — Shovels and Wheelbarrows 176

XV. — Second Advance of the English .... 192

XVI.— The 8th of January 208

XVII. — End of the Campaign 231

XVIII.— Commander of the Southern Department . . 249
XIX. — A Candidate for the Presidency . . . . 273

XX. — Inauguration 281

XXI. — Terror among the Office-holders . . . 287

XXII.— The Second Term 297

XXIII.— In Retirement 3i5

Index 327




In 1765, Andrew Jackson, the father of the Andrew
Jackson whose career we are about to relate, emigrated,
with his wife and two sons, from Carrickfergus, in the
north of Ireland, to South Carolina. His sons were
named Hugh and Robert; Andrew was not yet born.
In his native country he had cultivated a few hired
acres, and his wife had been a weaver of linen. Like
most of the inhabitants of the north of Ireland, he was
of Scottish origin ; but his ancestors had lived for five
generations in the neighborhood of Carrickfergus;
lowly, honest people, tillers of the soil and weavers;
radical Whigs in politics, Presbyterians in religion. He
was accompanied to America by three of his neighbors,
James, Robert, and Joseph Crawford, the first-named of
whom was his brother-in-law. The peace between
France and England, signed two years before, which
ended the " old French War " — the war in which Brad-
dock was defeated and Canada won — had restored to
mankind their highway, the ocean, and given an impulse
to emigration from the Old World to the New. From the
north of Ireland large numbers sailed away to the land
of promise. Five sisters of Mrs. Jackson had gone, or
were soon going. Samuel Jackson, a brother of Andrew,


afterward went, and established himself in Philadelphia,
where he long lived, a respectable citizen. Mrs. Suffren,
a daughter of another brother, followed in later years,
and settled in the city of New York, where she has liv-
ing descendants.

The party of emigrants from Carrickfergus land-
ed at Charleston, and proceeded without delay to the
Waxhaw settlement, a hundred and sixty miles to the
northwest of Charleston, where many of their kindred
and countrymen were already established. This settle-
ment was, or had been, the seat of the Waxhaw tribe of

A proof of the poverty of Andrew Jackson is this :
the Crawfords, who came with him from Ireland, bought
lands near the center of the settlement, on the Waxhaw
Creek itself — lands which still attest the wisdom of their
choice ; but Jackson settled seven miles away, on new
land, on the banks of Twelve Mile Creek, another branch
of the Catawba. The place is now known as " Pleasant
Grove Camp Ground," and the particular land once oc-
cupied by the father of General Jackson is still pointed
out by the old people of the neighborhood.

For two years Andrew Jackson and his family toiled
in the Carolina woods. He had built his log-house,
cleared some fields, and raised a crop. Then, the father
of the family, his work all incomplete, sickened and
died : his two boys being still very young, and his wife
far advanced in pregnancy. This was early in the
spring of 1767.

The bereaved family of the Jacksons never returned
to their home on the banks of Twelve Mile Creek, but
went from the churchyard to the house, not far off, of
one of Mrs. Jackson's brothers-in-law, George McKemey
by name, whose remains now repose in the same old
burying-ground. A few nights after there was a swift


sending of messengers to the neighbors, and a hurrying
across the fields of friendly women ; and before the sun
rose a son was born, the son whose career and fortunes
we have undertaken to reiate. It was in a small log-
house, in the province of North Carolina, less than a
quarter of a mile from the boundary-line between North
and South Carolina, that the birth took place. Andrew
Jackson, then, was born in Union County, North Caro-
lina, on the 15th of March, 1767.

General Jackson always supposed himself to be a
native of South Carolina. " Fellow-citizens of my native
State ! " he exclaims, at the close of his proclamation to
the nullifiers of South Carolina; but it is as certain as
any fact of the kind can be that he was mistaken. The
clear and uniform tradition of the neighborhood, sup-
ported by a great mass of indisputable testimony, points
to a spot in North Carolina, but only a stone's-throw
from the line that divides it from South Carolina, as the
birthplace of Andrew Jackson.

In the family of his Uncle Crawford, Andy Jackson
(for by this familiar name he is still spoken of in the
neighborhood) spent the first ten or twelve years of his
life. Mr. Crawford was a man of considerable substance
for a new country, and his family was large. He lived
in South Carolina, just over the boundary-line, near the
Waxhaw Creek, and six miles from the Catawba River.
The land there lies well for farming; level, but not flat ;
undulating, but without hills of inconvenient height.
The soil is a stiff, red clay, the stiffest of the stiff and the
reddest of the red ; the kind of soil which bears hard
usage, and makes the very worst winter roads anywhere
to be found on this planet. Except where there is an
interval of fertile soil, the country round about is a
boundless continuity of pine woods, wherein to this day
wild turkeys and deer are shot, and the farmers take


their cotton to market in immense wagons of antique
pattern, a journey of half a week, and camp out every
night. As evening closes in, the passing traveler sees
the mules, the negro driver, the huge covered wagon,
the farmer, and sometimes his wife with an infant,
grouped in the most strikingly picturesque manner, in
an opening of the forest, around a blazing fire of pine
knots that light up the scene like an illumination. In
such a country as this, with horses to ride, and cows to
hunt, and journeys to make, and plenty of boys, black
and white, to play with, our little friend spent his early

In due time the boy was sent to an " old-field school,"
an institution not much unlike the roadside schools in
Ireland of which we read. The Northern reader is per-
haps not aware that an " old field " is not a field at all,
but a pine forest. When crop after crop of cotton, with-
out rotation, has exhausted the soil, the fences are
taken away, the land lies waste, the young pines at
once spring up and soon cover the whole field with a
thick growth of wood. In one of these old fields the
rudest possible shanty of a log house is erected, with a
fireplace that extends from side to side and occupies a
third of the interior. In winter the interstices of the
log walls are filled up with clay, which the restless
fingers of the boys make haste to remove in time to admit
the first warm airs of spring. An itinerant schoolmas-
ter presents himself in a neighborhood ; the responsi-
ble farmers pledge him a certain number of pupils, and
an old-field school is established for the season. Read-
ing, writing, and arithmetic were all the branches taught
in the early days.

But Mrs. Jackson had more ambitious views for her
youngest son. She aimed to give him a liberal education,
m the hope that he would one day become a clergyman in



the Presbyterian Church. It is probable that her con-
dition wa's not one of absolute dependence. The tradi-
tion of the neighborhood is, that she was noted the coun-
try round for her skill in spinning flax, and that she
earned money by spinning to pay for Andrew's schooling.
It is possible, too, that her relations in Ireland may
have contributed something to her support.

Andy was a wild, frolicsome, willful, mischievous,
daring, reckless boy ; generous to a friend, but never
content to submit to a stronger enemy. He was passion-
ately fond of those sports which are mimic battles ;
above all, wrestling.

If our knowledge of the school-life of Jackson is
scanty, we are at no loss to say what he learned and
what he failed to learn at school. He learned to read,
to write, to cast accounts — little more. If he began, as
he may have done, to learn by heart, in the old-fashioned
way, the Latin grammar, he never acquired enough of
it to leave any traces of classical knowledge in his mind
or his writings. In some of his later letters there
may be found, it is true, an occasional Latin phrase of
two or three words, but so quoted as to show igno-
rance rather than knowledge. He was never a well-in-
formed man. He never was addicted to books. He
never learned to write the English language correctly,
though he often wrote it eloquently and convincingly.
He never learned to spell correctly, though he was a
better speller than Frederick II, Marlborough, Napoleon,
or Washington. Few men of his day, and no women,
were correct spellers.

He was nine years old when the Declaration of In-
dependence was signed. By the time the war approached
the Waxhaw settlement, bringing blood and terror with
it, leaving desolation behind it, closing all schoolhouses,
and putting a stop to the peaceful labors of the people,


Andrew Jackson was little more than thirteen. His
brother Hugh, a man in stature if not in years; had not
waited for the war to come near his home, but had
mounted his horse a year before and ridden southward
to meet it. He was one of the troopers of that famous
regiment to raise and equip which, its colonel, William
Richardson Davie, spent the last guinea of his inherited
estate. Under Colonel Davie, Hugh Jackson fought in
the ranks of the battle of Stono, and died, after the ac-
tion, of heat and fatigue. His brother Robert was a
strapping lad, but too young for a soldier, and was still
at home with his mother and Andrew when Tarleton
and his dragoons thundered along the red roads of the
Waxhaws, and dyed them a deeper red with the blood
of the surprised militia.



It was on the 29th of May, 1780, that Tarleton, with
three hundred horsemen, surprised a detachment of
militia in the Waxhaw settlement and killed one hun-
dred and thirteen of them, and wounded a hundred and
fifty. The wounded, abandoned to the care of the set-
tlers, were quartered in the houses of the vicinity ; the
old log Waxhaw meeting-house itself being converted
into a hospital for the most desperate cases. Mrs.
Jackson was one of the kind women who ministered to
the wounded soldiers in the church, and under that roof
her boys first saw what war was. The men were dread-
fully mangled. Some had received as many as thirteen
wounds, and none less than three. For many days An-
drew and his brother assisted their mother in waiting
upon the sick men ; Andrew, more in rage than pity,
burning to avenge their wounds and his brother's death.

Tarleton's massacre at the Waxhaws kindled, the
flames of war in all that region of the CaroHnas. Many
notable actions were fought, and some striking though
unimportant advantages were gained by the patriot
forces. Andrew Jackson and his brother Robert were
present at Sumter's gallant attack upon the British
post of Hanging Rock, near Waxhaw, where the patriots
half gained the day, and lost it by beginning too soon
to drink the rum they captured from the enemy. The
Jackson boys rode on this expedition with Colonel


Davie, a most brave, self-sacrificing officer, who, as we
have said, commanded the troop of which Hugh Jackson
was a member when he died, after the battle of Stono.
Neither of the boys was attached to Davie's company,
nor is it likely that Andrew, a boy of thirteen, did more
than witness the affair at Hanging Rock.

This Colonel Davie, Hugh Jackson's old commander,
was the man, above all others who led Carolina troops
in the Revolution, that the Jackson boys admired. He
was a man after Andrew's own heart — swift but wary,
bold in planning enterprises but most cautious in exe-
cution, sleeplessly vigilant, untiringly active — one of
those cool, quick men who apply mother-wit to the art
of war; who are good soldiers because they are earnest
and clear-sighted men. So far as any man was General
Jackson's model soldier, William Richardson Davie, of
North Carolina, was the individual.

The boys rejoined their mother at the Waxhaw
settlement. On the i6th of August, 1780, occurred the
great disaster of the war in the South, the defeat of
General Gates. The victor, Cornwallis, moved three
weeks after, with his whole army, toward the Waxhaws ;
which induced Mrs. Jackson and her boys once more
to abandon their home for a safer retreat north of the
scene of war.

In February, 1781, the country about the Waxhaws
again being tranquil, because subdued, Mrs. Jackson,
her sons, and many of her neighbors returned to their
ravaged homes. Andrew soon after passed his four-
teenth birthday, an overgrown youth, as tall as a man,
but weakly from having grown too fast. Then ensued
a spring and summer of small, fierce, intestine warfare —
a war of Whig and Tory, neighbor against neighbor,
brother against brother, and even father against son.
Without detaining the reader with a detail of the


Revolutionary history of the Carolinas, I yet desire to
show what a war-charged atmosphere it was that youno-
Andrew breathed during this forming period of his hfe,
especially toward the close of the war, after the great
operations ceased.

The people in the upper country of the Carolinas
little expected that the war would ever reach settlements
so remote, so obscure, so scattered as theirs; and it
did not for some years. When at last the storm of war
drew near their borders, it found them a divided people.
The old sentiment of loyalty was still rooted in many
minds. There were many who had taken a recent and
special oath of allegiance to the king, which they con-
sidered binding in all circumstances. They were High-
landers, clannish and religiously loyal, who pointed to
the text, " Fear God and honor the king," and over-
looked the fact that the biblical narrative condemns the
Jews for desiring a kingly government. There were
Moravians and Quakers, who conscientiously opposed
all war. There were Catholic Irish, many of whom
sided with the king. There were Protestant Scotch-
Irish, Whigs and agitators in the old country, Whigs and
fervent patriots in the new. There were placeholders,
who adhered to their official bread and dignity. There
were trimmers, who espoused the side that chanced to
be strongest. The approach and collision of hostile
forces converted most of these factions into belligerents,
who waged a most fierce and deadly war upon one an-
other, renewing on this new thej^tre the border wars of
another age and country.

The time came when Andrew and his brother began
to play men's parts in the drama. Without enlisting in
any organized corps, they joined small parties that went
out on single enterprises of retaliation, mounted on their
own horses and carrying their own weapons.



The activity and zeal of the Waxhaw Whigs coming
to the ears of Lord Rawdon, whom Cornwallis had left
in command, he dispatched a small body of dragoons to
aid the Tories of that infected neighborhood. The Wax-
haw people, hearing of the approach of this hostile force,
resolved upon resisting it in open fight, and named the
Waxhaw meeting-house as the rendezvous. Forty Whigs
assembled on the appointed day, mounted and armed,
and among them were Robert and Andrew Jackson. In
the grove about the old church these forty were waiting
for the arrival — hourly expected — of another company
of Whigs from a neighboring settlement. The British
officer in command of the dragoons, apprised of the ren-
dezvous by a Tory of the neighborhood, determined to
surprise the patriot party before the two companies had
united. Before coming in sight of the church, he placed
a body of Tories wearing the dress of the country far
in advance of his soldiers, and so marched upon the de-
voted band. The Waxhaw party saw a company of
armed men approaching, but, concluding them to be
their expected friends, made no preparations for defense.
Too late the error was discovered. Eleven of the forty
were taken prisoners, and the rest sought safety in flight,
fiercely pursued by the dragoons. The brothers were
separated. Andrew found himself galloping for life and
liberty by the side of his cousin. Lieutenant Thomas

Online LibraryJames PartonGeneral Jackson → online text (page 1 of 26)