Z. F. (Zachariah Frederick) Smith.

The battle of New Orleans, including the previous engagements between the Americans and the British, the Indians, and the Spanish which led to the final conflict on the 8th of January, 1815 online

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[Illustration: Z.F. SMITH.

Member of the Filson Club]



Battle of New Orleans


Previous Engagements between the Americans and the
British, the Indians, and the Spanish which
led to the Final Conflict on the
8th of January, 1815



Member of The Filson Club and Author of a History of Kentucky
and School Editions of the same



The Filson Club
and All Rights Reserved


In the preparation of the following account of the "Battle of New
Orleans," I have availed myself of all accessible authorities, and have
been placed under obligations to Colonel R.T. Durrett, of Louisville,
Kentucky. I have had free access to his library, which is the largest
private collection in this country, and embraces works upon almost every
subject. Besides general histories of the United States and of the
individual States, and periodicals, newspapers, and manuscripts, which
contain valuable information on the battle of New Orleans, his library
contains numerous works more specifically devoted to this subject. Among
these, to which I have had access, may be mentioned Notices of the War
of 1812, by John M. Armstrong, two volumes, New York, 1840; The Naval
History of Great Britain from 1783 to 1830, by Edward P. Brenton, two
volumes, London, 1834; History of the Late War, by H.M. Brackenridge,
Philadelphia, 1839; An Authentic History of the Second War for
Independence, by Samuel R. Brown, two volumes, Auburn, 1815; History of
the Late War by an American (Joseph Cushing), Baltimore, 1816;
Correspondence between General Jackson and General Adair as to the
Kentuckians charged by Jackson with inglorious flight, New Orleans,
1815; An Authentic History of the Late War, by Paris M. Davis, New York,
1836; A Narrative of the Campaigns of the British Army by an Officer
(George R. Gleig), Philadelphia, 1821; History of Louisiana, American
Dominion, by Charles Gayarre, New York, 1866; The Second War with
England, illustrated, by J.T. Headley, two volumes, New York, 1853;
History of the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain,
by Rossiter Johnson, New York, 1882; The Pictorial Field-book of the War
of 1812, by Benjamin J. Lossing, New York, 1868; The War of 1812 in the
Western Country, by Robert B. McAfee, Lexington, Kentucky, 1816;
Historical Memoirs of the War of 1814-1815, by Major A. Lacarriere
Latour, Philadelphia, 1816; Messages of James Madison, President of the
United States, parts one and two, Albany, 1814; The Military Heroes of
the War of 1812, by Charles J. Peterson, Philadelphia, 1858; The Naval
War of 1812, by Theodore Roosevelt, New York, 1889; The History of the
War of 1812-15, by J. Russell, junior, Hartford, 1815; The Glory of
America, etc., by R. Thomas, New York, 1834; Historic Sketches of the
Late War, by John L. Thomson, Philadelphia, 1816; The Life of Andrew
Jackson, by Alexander Walker, Philadelphia, 1867; A Full and a Correct
Account of the Military Occurrences of the Late War between Great
Britain and the United States, by James Williams, two volumes, London,

I have also been placed under obligations to Mr. William Beer, librarian
of the Howard Library of New Orleans, which has become a depository of
rare works touching the history of the South Mississippi Valley, and
especially relating to the War of 1812 and the battle of New Orleans. A
list of all the works in this library which Mr. Beer placed at my
disposal would be too long for insertion here, but the following may be
mentioned: Claiborne's Notes on the War in the South, Goodwin's
Biography of Andrew Jackson, Reid and Easten's Life of General Jackson,
Nolte's Fifty Years in Both Hemispheres, Report of Committee on
Jackson's Warrant for Closing the Halls of the Legislature of Louisiana,
The Madison Papers, Ingersoll's Historic Sketch of the Second War
between Great Britain and the United States, Cooke's Seven Campaigns in
the Peninsula, Hill's Recollections of an Artillery Officer, Coke's
History of the Rifle Brigade, Diary of Private Timewell, and Cooke's
Narrative of Events. No one would do justice to himself or his subject
if he should write a history of the battle of New Orleans without
availing himself of the treasures of the Howard Library.



England was apparently more liberal than Spain or France when, in the
treaty of 1783, she agreed to the Mississippi River as the western
boundary of the United States. Spain was for limiting the territory of
the new republic on the west to the crest of the Alleghany Mountains, so
as to secure to her the opportunity of conquering from England the
territory between the mountains and the Great River. Strangely enough
and inconsistently enough, France supported Spain in this outrageous
effort to curtail the territory of the new republic after she had helped
the United States to conquer it from England, or rather after General
Clark had wrested it from England for the colony of Virginia, and while
Virginia was still in possession of it. The seeming liberality of
England, however, may not have been more disinterested than the scheming
of Spain and France in this affair. England did not believe that the
United States could exist as a permanent government, but that the
confederated States would disintegrate and return to her as colonies.
The King of England said as much when the treaty was made. If, then,
the States were to return to England as colonies, the more territory
they might bring with them the better, and hence a large grant was
acknowledged in the treaty of peace. The acts of England toward the
United States after acknowledging their independence indicate that the
fixing of the western boundary on the Mississippi had as much
selfishness as liberality, if indeed it was not entirely selfish.

The ink was scarcely dry upon the parchment which bore evidence of the
ratified treaty of 1783 when the mother country began acts of hostility
and meanness against her children who had separated from her and begun a
political life for themselves. When the English ships of war, which had
blockaded New York for seven long years, sailed out of the harbor and
took their course toward the British Isles, instead of hauling down
their colors from the flagstaff of Fort George, they left them flying
over the fortification, and tried to prevent them from being removed by
chopping down all the cleats for ascent, and greasing the pole so that
no one could climb to the top and pull down the British flag or replace
it by the colors of the United States. An agile sailor boy, named Van
Arsdale, who had probably ascended many trees in search of bird's nests,
and clambered up the masts of ships until he had become an expert
climber, nailed new cleats to the flagstaff and climbed to its summit,
bearing with him the flag of the new republic. When he reached the top
he cut down the British flag and suspended that of the United States.
This greasy trick may have been the act of some wag of the retiring
fleet, and might have been taken for a joke had it not been followed by
hostile acts which indicated that this was the initial step in a long
course of hostility and meanness.

But it was soon followed by the retention of the lake forts which fell
into British hands during the Revolutionary War, and which, by the terms
of the treaty, were to be surrendered. Instead of surrendering them
according to the stipulations of the treaty, they held them, and not
only occupied them for thirteen years, but used them as storehouses and
magazines from which the Indians were fed and clothed and armed and
encouraged to tomahawk and scalp Americans without regard to age or sex.
And then followed a series of orders in council, by which the commerce
of the United States was almost swept from the seas, and their sailors
forcibly taken from American ships to serve on British. These orders in
council were so frequent that it seemed as if the French on one side of
the British Channel and the English on the other were hurling decrees
and orders at one another for their own amusement while inflicting dire
injuries on other nations, and especially the Americans.

Had it not been for these hostile acts of the British there would have
been no War of 1812. Had they continued to treat the young republic with
the justice and liberality to which they agreed in fixing its western
boundary in the treaty of 1783, no matter what their motive may have
been, there would have been no cause for war between the two countries.
The Americans had hardly recovered from the wounds inflicted in the
Revolutionary War. They were too few and too weak and too poor to go to
war with such a power as England, and moreover wanted a continuance of
the peace by which they were adding to the population and wealth of
their country. What they had acquired in the quarter of a century since
the end of the Revolutionary War was but little in comparison with the
accumulations of England during long centuries, and they were not
anxious to risk their all in a conflict with such a power; but young and
weak and few as they were, they belonged to that order of human beings
who hold their rights and their honor in such high regard that they can
not continuously be insulted and injured without retaliation. The time
came when they resolved to bear the burdens of war rather than submit to
unjustice and dishonor.

In the French and Indian war which preceded the Revolution there was
fighting for some time before a formal declaration of war. The English
drove the French traders from the Ohio Valley, and the French forced out
the English while the two nations were at peace. The French chassed from
one of their forts to another with fiddles instead of drums, and the
English with fowling-pieces instead of muskets rambled over the forest,
but they sometimes met and introduced each other to acts of war while a
state of hostility was acknowledged by neither. Something like a similar
state of things preceded the War of 1812. Tecumseh was at work trying to
unite all the tribes of Indians in one grand confederacy, ostensibly to
prevent them from selling their lands to the Americans, but possibly for
the purpose of war. While he was at this work his brother, the Prophet,
had convinced the Indians that he had induced the Great Spirit to make
them bullet-proof, and the English so encouraged them with food and
clothing and arms that they believed they were able to conquer the
Americans, and began to carry on hostilities against them without any
formal declaration of war by either party. The battle of Tippecanoe,
which came of this superstition among the Indians and this encouragement
from England, may be considered the first clash of arms in the War of
1812. The English took no open or active part in this battle, but their
arms and ammunition and rations were in it, and after it was lost the
Indians went to the English and became their open allies when the War of
1812 really began. Whether the English were allies of the Indians or the
Indians allies of the English, they fought and bled and died and were
conquered together after the initial conflict at Tippecanoe, in 1811, to
the final battle at New Orleans in 1815, which crowned the American arms
with a glory never to fade.

The Filson Club, whose broad field of work in history, literature,
science, and art is hardly indicated by the name of the first historian
of Kentucky, which it bears, has deemed three of the battles which were
fought during the War of 1812 as the most important of the many that
were waged. These three were, first, the battle of Tippecanoe, regarded
as the opening scene of the bloody drama; second, the battle of the
Thames, by which the power of the British was crushed in the west and
northwest, and third, the battle of New Orleans, which ended the war in
a glorious victory for the Americans. The Club determined to have the
history of these three battles written and filed among its archives, and
to have the matter published for the benefit of the public. Hence, the
task was undertaken by three different members of the Club.

The first of these, "The Battle of Tippecanoe," was prepared for the
Club by Captain Alfred Pirtle, and published in 1900 as Filson Club
Publication Number 15. It is an illustrated quarto of one hundred and
sixty-seven pages, which gives a detailed account of the battle of
Tippecanoe and the acts of the Indians and British which led to it and
the important consequences which followed. The names of the officers and
soldiers, and especially those of Kentucky who were engaged in it, are
given so far as could be ascertained, and the book is a historic record
of this battle, full enough and faithful enough to furnish the reader
with all of the important facts.

The second, "The Battle of the Thames," the 5th of October, 1813, was
undertaken by Colonel Bennett H. Young, and appeared in 1903 as the
eighteenth publication of the Filson Club. It is an elaborately
illustrated quarto of two hundred and eighty-six pages, and presents a
detailed account of the acts which led up to the main battle and the
engagements by land and water which preceded it. It contains a list of
all the Kentuckians who as officers and privates were in the battle. The
reader who seeks information about this battle need look no further than
its pages.

The third and last of these important battles occurred at New Orleans
the 8th of January, 1815. Its history was prepared for the Club by Mr.
Z.F. Smith, and now appears as Filson Club Publication Number Nineteen,
for the year 1904. It is an illustrated quarto in the adopted style of
the Club, which has been so much admired for its antique paper and
beautiful typography. It sets forth with fullness and detail the
hostilities which preceded and led to the main battle, and gives such a
clear description of the final conflict by the assistance of charts as
to enable the reader to understand the maneuvers of both sides and to
virtually see the battle as it progressed from the beginning to the end.
This battle ended the War of 1812, and when the odds against the
Americans are considered, it must be pronounced one of the greatest
victories ever won upon the battlefield. The author, Mr. Z.F. Smith, was
an old-line Whig, and was taught to hate Jackson as Henry Clay, the
leader of the Whigs, hated him, but he has done the old hero full
justice in this narrative, and has assigned him full honors of one of
the greatest victories ever won. Although his sympathies were with
General Adair, a brother Kentuckian, he takes up the quarrel between him
and General Jackson and does Jackson full and impartial justice. If
Jackson had been as unprejudiced against Adair as the author against
Jackson, there would have been nothing like a stain left upon the
escutcheon of the Kentuckians who abandoned the fight on the west bank
of the Mississippi because it was their duty to get out of it rather
than be slaughtered like dumb brutes who neither see impending danger
nor reason about the mistakes of superiors and the consequences. He who
reads the account of the battle of New Orleans which follows this
introduction will know more about that battle than he knew before, or
could have learned from any other source in so small a compass.


_President of The Filson Club_.



The Author, _Frontispiece_

Seat of War in Louisiana and Florida, 8

Position of the American and British Armies near New
Orleans on the 8th of January, 1815, 24

Battle of New Orleans, on the 8th of January, 1815, 56

General Andrew Jackson, 72

General John Adair, 112

Governor Isaac Shelby, 164

Colonel Gabriel Slaughter, 174



On the 26th of November, 1814, a fleet of sixty great ships weighed
anchor, unfurled their sails, and put to sea, as the smoke lifted and
floated away from a signal gun aboard the Tonnant, the flagship of
Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, from Negril Bay, on the coast of
Jamaica. Nearly one half of these vessels were formidable warships, the
best of the English navy, well divided between line-of-battle ships of
sixty-four, seventy-four, and eighty guns, frigates of forty to fifty
guns, and sloops and brigs of twenty to thirty guns each. In all, one
thousand pieces of artillery mounted upon the decks of these frowned
grimly through as many port-holes, bidding defiance to the navies of the
world and safely convoying over thirty transports and provisioning
ships, bearing every equipment for siege or battle by sea and for a
formidable invasion of an enemy's country by land. Admiral Cochrane, in
chief command, and Admiral Malcombe, second in command, were veteran
officers whose services and fame are a part of English history.

On board of this fleet was an army and its retinue, computed by good
authorities to number fourteen thousand men, made up mainly of the
veteran troops of the British military forces recently operating in
Spain and France, trained in the campaigns and battles against Napoleon
through years of war, and victors in the end in these contests. Major
Latour, Chief Engineer of General Jackson's army, in his "Memoirs of the
War in Florida and Louisiana in 1814-15," has carefully compiled from
British official sources a detailed statement of the regiments, corps,
and companies which constituted the army of invasion under Pakenham, at
New Orleans, as follows:

Fourth Regiment -
King's Own, Lieutenant-colonel Brooks 750

Seventh Regiment -
Royal Fusileers, Lieutenant-colonel Blakency 850

Fourteenth Regiment -
Duchess of York's Own, Lieutenant-colonel Baker 350

Twenty-first Regiment -
Royal Fusileers, Lieutenant-colonel Patterson 900

Fortieth Regiment -
Somersetshire, Lieutenant-colonel H. Thornton 1,000

Forty-third Regiment -
Monmouth Light Infantry, Lieutenant-colonel Patrickson 850

Forty-fourth Regiment -
East Essex, Lieutenant-colonel Mullen 750

Eighty-fifth Regiment -
Buck Volunteers, Lieutenant-colonel Wm. Thornton 650

Ninety-third Regiment -
Highlanders, Lieutenant-colonel Dale 1,100

Ninety-fifth Regiment -
Rifle Corps, Major Mitchell 500

First Regiment -
West India (colored), Lieutenant-colonel Whitby 700

Fifth Regiment -
West India (colored), Lieutenant-colonel Hamilton 700

A detachment from the Sixty-second Regiment 350

Rocket Brigade, Artillery, Engineers, Sappers and
Miners 1,500

Royal Marines and sailors from the fleet 3,500
- - -
Total 14,450

Including artillerists, marines, and others, seamen of the ships' crews
afloat, there were not fewer than eighteen thousand men, veterans in the
service of their country in the lines of their respective callings, to
complete the equipment of this powerful armada.

At the head of this formidable army of invasion were Lord Edward
Pakenham, commander-in-chief; Major-general Samuel Gibbs, commanding the
first, Major-general John Lambert, the second, and Major-general John
Keene, the third divisions, supported by subordinate officers, than whom
none living were braver or more skilled in the science and practice of
war. Nearly all had learned their lessons under the great Wellington,
the conqueror of Napoleon. Since 1588, when the combined naval and
military forces of England were summoned to repel the attempted invasion
and conquest of that country by the Spanish Armada, the British
Government had not often fitted out and sent against an enemy a combined
armament so powerful and so costly as that which rendezvoused in the
tropical waters of Negril Bay in the latter autumn days of 1814. Even
the fleet of Nelson at the Battle of the Nile, sixteen years before,
where he won victory and immortal honors by the destruction of the
formidable French fleet, was far inferior in number of vessels, in
ordnance, and in men to that of Admiral Cochrane on this expedition. The
combined equipment cost England forty millions of dollars.

In October and November of this year, the marshaling of belligerent
forces by sea and land from the shores of Europe and America, with
orders to rendezvous at a favorable maneuvering point in the West
Indies, caused much conjecture as to the object in view. That the War
Department of the English Government meditated a winter campaign
somewhere upon the southern coasts of the United States was a common
belief; that an invasion of Louisiana and the capture and occupation of
New Orleans was meant, many surmised. For reasons of State policy, the
object of the expedition in view was held a secret until the day of
setting sail. Now it was disclosed by those in command that New Orleans
was the objective point, and officers and men were animated with the
hope that, in a few weeks more, they would be quartered for the winter
in the subjugated capital of Louisiana, with a dream that the coveted
territory might be occupied and permanently held as a possession of the
British Empire.

The Government at Washington was advised that, during the summer and
early autumn months of 1814, our implacable enemy was engaged in
preparations for a renewal of hostilities on a scale of magnitude and
activity beyond anything attempted since the war began; but it seemed
not fully to interpret the designs and plans of the British leaders.
Especially unfortunate, and finally disastrous to the American arms, was
the inaptness and inertness of the Secretary of War, General Armstrong,
in failing to adopt, promptly and adequately, measures to meet the
emergency. For almost a year after the destruction of the English fleet
on Lake Erie by Commodore Perry, and of the English army at the battle
of the Thames by General Harrison, a period of comparative repose ensued
between the belligerents. The British Government was too much absorbed
in delivering the _coup-de-main_ to the great Napoleon to give attention
to America. But her opportunity came. The allied powers defeated and
decimated the armies of the French Emperor, and forced him to capitulate
in his own capital. On the 3d of March, 1814, they entered Paris. On the
eleventh of May Napoleon abdicated, and was sent an exile to Elba.

England was at peace with all Europe. Her conquering armies and fleets
would be idle for an indefinite period; yet, it would be premature to
disband the former or to dismantle the latter. Naturally, attention
turned to the favorable policy of employing these vast and ready
resources for the chastisement and humiliation of her American enemies,
as a fit closing of the war and punishment for their rebellious
defiance. Under orders, the troops in France and Spain were marched to
Bordeaux and placed in a camp of concentration, from which they were
debarked in fleets down the river Garonne, and across the Atlantic to
their destinations in America. An English officer with these troops
expressed the sentiment of the soldiers and seamen, and of the average
citizen of England at this time, in this language: "It was the general
opinion that a large proportion of the Peninsular army would be
transported to the other side of the Atlantic, that the war would there
be carried on with vigor, and that no terms of accommodation would be
listened to, except such as a British general should dictate in the
Republican Senate."

Overtures for the negotiation-of a treaty of peace had been interchanged
between the two nations at war as early as January. By April the
American Commissioners were in Europe, though the arrival of the English

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Online LibraryZ. F. (Zachariah Frederick) SmithThe battle of New Orleans, including the previous engagements between the Americans and the British, the Indians, and the Spanish which led to the final conflict on the 8th of January, 1815 → online text (page 1 of 13)