General Jackson, on falling back •two miles toward the city, left the Mississippi mounted riflemen, the Feliciana dragoons and the Seventh Regiment of the line near Laronde's plantation, in order to watch the enemy's movements. Early on the morning after the battle, the enemy was seen to be drawn up and to have thrown forward strong detachments, as if he had expected a renewal of the late attack; but, about eight o'clock, the British, discovering no probability of such an event, broke their line and returned to their encampment, after having taken, however, all the precautions which military foresight suggested. A strong body of British troops were posted behind the principal ditch on Lacoste's plantation, and their advanced pickets covered their whole front, extending from the high road near the river to the woods and swamps.
In the mean time the American troops were actively engaged in widening and deepening the Rodriguez Canal. The two four-pounders which had already done such good service in the late battle were mounted, in order to command the high road, behind the embarkment thrown up; and the levee which confined the waters of the river to p442 their channel was cut for the purpose of overflowing the ground in front. A sufficient quantity of water was let in to render the road impracticable for troops,1 but unfortunately this measure proved of very little efficiency, for the river suddenly subsided, and the water retired from the inundated road. The enemy, however, showed no disposition to advance, and although Major Hinds, with his cavalry, frequently deployed in his sight, and although many reconnoitering parties were sent forward and close to his lines, he could not be tempted out of his position. But, apparently inactive, the British were not wasting their time, or enjoying any unseasonable repose; they were landing more troops, artillery, stores and provisions.
On the 25th, the commander-in‑chief, Sir Edward Packenham,º Wellington's brother-in‑law, who had acquired some military renown, and who, it was said, had been promised an Earl's coronet as the future reward of his expected conquest of Louisiana, arrived and took command of the army of invasion. On the next day, the 26th, the enemy was employed day and night in erecting a battery near the upper line of Villeré's plantation, for the purpose of firing at the schooner Carolina, which, immediately after the battle of the 23d, had moved to the other side of the river, where she had been joined by the Louisiana. It was evidently of extreme importance for the British to destroy these two vessels, which otherwise, by firing at their left flank, would so effectually interfere with their operations against Jackson's line, and which would be so serious an obstacle, if they deemed it expedient to cross the river; in prevision of which event, General Jackson had ordered a great quantity of powder stored on the right bank opposite the city to be put on board of a vessel, with p443 a view to its transportation to Baton Rouge in case of necessity.
Whilst General Jackson was giving all his attention to the strengthening of his position in front of the enemy, there came an alarming report that some British troops had landed at Chef Menteur. The report was credited at first, because the prairies of that locality were at that time very dry, and some British sailors had been seen and pursued in them by our soldiers. Probably to facilitate their escape, these sailors had set those prairies on fire, and given rise to this report of the landing of the enemy in that direction. Some excitement and some movements of troops were produced by this false alarm, but the truth being soon discovered, all apprehensions were dispelled.
Thinking that the forces of General Morgan were no longer necessary at the English Turn, General Jackson ordered him to evacuate that post, to cross the river with his artillery, and to take a position opposite our lines. He also caused the levee to be cut at Jumonville's plantation, below the British camp, as near as possible to it, and within musket-shot of the advanced sentries. If the river had continued to rise, as it promised to do, this operation would have made an island of the enemy's encampment, because trenches from the river had been opened in its front, as already stated, and the British would have been compelled to resort to their boats, and evacuate without being able to attack the American lines. But the river not rising as expected, this measure had the reverse of the desired result, for instead of introducing a sufficient quantity of water to injure the British, it let in barely the volume of water which was necessary to fill up the canals and bayous leading to Lake Borgne, and to facilitate the enemy in bringing up his heavy artillery.
p444 Captain Henley, the Commander of the Carolina, had not suffered to pass unnoticed the preparations made to destroy his vessel, and had made every effort to move her higher up the river and near General Jackson's camp. The wind was adverse, and the current was too rapid to propel the ship by warping, although the attempt was made. At daylight on the morning of the 27th, the enemy2 concentrated on the Carolina the fire of a battery of five guns, from which they threw shells and hot-shot. The vessel returned the fire with a long twelve-pounder, which was the only one on board that could reach across the river, the remainder of her battery being light twelve-pound carronades. The wind, being very light, rendered it impossible for her to get under way. The engagement was very short, hardly more than fifteen minutes, the British firing with extraordinary accuracy. Their second shot lodged in the schooner's main-hold, under her cables, and set her on fire. Finding that red-shot were passing through her cabin and store-room, that her bulwarks were all knocked down, that the fire was increasing, that the vessel was in a sinking condition, and expecting at every moment that she would blow up, Captain Henley, a little after sunrise, reluctantly gave orders for the crew to abandon her, which was effected with the loss of one killed and six wounded. So rapid was the progress of the fire, that every article of clothing belonging to the officers and crew was lost, and the men had hardly got on shore when she blew up, to their extreme mortification. The British, having accomplished this success, now directed their fire against the Louisiana, which it was so important for us to preserve, as she was the only remaining armed vessel on the river, but her preservation was rendered p445 more difficult from the fact of her having her powder magazine above water. Fortunately her commander succeeded in having her safely towed up beyond the range of the enemy's guns.
Notwithstanding our falling back to the Rodriguez Canal, our outposts had still continued to occupy Laronde's plantation, and every day saw our reconnoitering parties extending as far as the British lines. Major Hinds, with his cavalry, was constantly in the field molesting the enemy, with whose pickets and outposts ours exchanged shots almost without intermission, and the 7th Regiment of the line, which had been thrown forward to support our pickets, lost no opportunity to harass the foe. But in the evening of the 27th, the British came forward with such a superiority of force, that we had to fall back. They occupied Bienvenu's and Chalmette's plantations, and, during the night, it was discovered that they were engaged in erecting several batteries on the bank of the river. There was therefore every indication of an action for the next day, and our troops prepared for it with martial alacrity. Early in the morning, on the 28th, the enemy commenced hostilities, as was anticipated, and advanced in serried columns on the high road, driving in our advanced posts.3 He was preceded by several pieces of artillery, some of which played on the Louisiana, and the others on our lines, which had only five pieces in battery. The Louisiana suffered the enemy's columns to advance a considerable distance without attempting to check them, but as soon as they had come as near as her captain desired, she opened on them a tremendous fire, which was briskly returned, but their guns were silenced by the combined fire of the Louisiana and of our lines, which soon dismounted one of the field-pieces they had put in battery p446 on the high road. So destructive was the fire of our artillery from the ship and from our intrenchments, that the British columns broke, dispersed, and fell back to Bienvenu's plantation, where they took shelter under some buildings, after having abandoned the several batteries they had established on the bank of the river in the preceding night, and suffered a loss of two to three hundred men. The casualties in Jackson's lines consisted of seven men killed and ten wounded. The Louisiana had but one man slightly wounded, and she was struck under her bowsprit by a red-shot, but without much damage. The lives of the few men whom we lost would have been saved, if Colonel Henderson, of the Tennessee Division under Carroll, had not, in executing a manoeuvre, committed an error which proved fatal to himself. He had been ordered by General Carroll to take a detachment of two hundred men, and with that force to dislodge some of the light British troops who were posted behind a fence and a ditch, and whose fire was beginning to be a serious annoyance. His order was to file along the woods, and turn the British by moving to the left between the woods and the fence; but instead of moving to the left, he moved to the right, leaving the fence between him and the woods. Thus covered by the fence, the enemy opened on our detachment a well-directed fire, which killed Colonel Henderson and some of his men, forcing the rest to fall back. In an account given of this affair to the Secretary of War, General Jackson said: "I lament that I have not the means of carrying on more offensive operations. The Kentucky troops have not arrived, and my effective force at this point does not exceed three thousand. Theirs must be at least double; both prisoners and deserters agree in the statement that seven thousand landed from their boats."
p447 The British pretend to have intended merely a demonstration on that day, or a sort of feigned attack, to test our spirit and strength. If such was their intention, they must have been satisfied by their experiment that we were determined to defend our homes to the utmost, that our artillery was served with remarkable skill, promptitude and precision, and that their marching, deploying and forming in order of battle, far from eliciting on our part the slightest evidence of wavering, hesitation or intimidation, brought out the proof that our military organization was excellent, and that they had to expect the most obstinate resistance from the valor, patriotism and ability which defended the avenue to New Orleans. They were also much disappointed as to the effect of their Congreve rockets, which they used largely on that day. They thought that the very noise which accompanies the course of those rockets through the air would strike terror into the Americans, who had never before seen that kind of missile. But they discovered that we had very soon grown accustomed to its harmless explosions, for we were not long in ascertaining that it was more formidable in sound than in anything else. The fact is that these rockets, although used with the utmost profusion, only wounded ten men and blew up two caissons during the whole campaign.
General Jackson does not appear to have been of opinion that this affair of the 28th was a mere demonstration, as English writers affirm, for in his dispatch of the 29th to the Secretary of War he said: "Emboldened by the blowing up of the Carolina, the enemy marched his whole force the next day up the levee, in the hope of driving us from our position, and, with this view, opened upon us, at the distance of •about half a mile, his bombs and rockets. He was repulsed, however, with considerable loss. Commodore Patterson, in his dispatch p448 to the Secretary of the Navy, endorses General Jackson's opinion, for his words are: "The enemy drew up his whole force, evidently with an intention of assaulting Generalº Jackson's lines, under cover of his heavy cannon; but his cannonading being so warmly returned from the lines and ship Louisiana, caused him, I presume, to abandon his project, as he retired without making the attempt." He added that, "although the crew of the Louisiana was composed of men of all nations (English excepted), taken from the streets of New Orleans not a fortnight before the battle, yet he had never known guns better served, or a more animated fire than was supported from her." But whatever it was, a feint, a demonstration, or an intended attack which had miscarried, the affair of the 28th turned out to be a mere artillery duel, which lasted seven hours, and which terminated gloriously for the Americans.
It was on this day, the 28th of December, toward noon, that members of the Legislature were prevented by an armed force from meeting as usual in the State House in the city, and although that interference was but momentary, and the result of error and misconstruction, it nevertheless produced the deepest sensation, and an excitement which, for a long time, it was found impossible to allay, whenever this event became a subject of discussion, or even reference. We shall postpone its consideration, in order not to interrupt the thread of military operations.
Encouraged by the results of the fire kept up by the Louisiana, on the 28th, against the flank of the enemy, Commodore Patterson, during the night of the 29th, had brought down from the New Orleans Navy Yard, and mounted in silence a twenty‑four-pounder on the right bank of the river, in a position where it could most annoy the enemy when throwing up works on the levee or in p449 the fields. On the 30th, he opened upon the British with this twenty‑four-pounder, which drove them from their works, whilst the ship Louisiana was firing at the same time upon their advanced guard, who retired from the levee, and sheltered themselves behind buildings and some epaulments which had been raised for their protection.
Some other works of defence were erected by us on the right bank of the Mississippi; among which was the conversion of a brick-kiln, opposite the city, on the very margin of the river, into a redoubt, of which Captain Henley, of the late Carolina, took command. A fosse •twenty-five feet wide was dug all around it, and the earth from it was used to form a very steep glacis from the summit of the wall, serving as a parapet to the brink of the fosse. A palisade extended along its whole length on the inside. This redoubt was furnished with a small powder magazine, and was mounted with two twenty‑four-pounders. Its battery commanded at once the high road and the river.4
Back of Jackson's line on the Rodriguez Canal, there was another canal on the Piernas plantation, which communicated with Bayou Bienvenu. As it was possible for the enemy to ascend this bayou up to the mouth of the canal, and by that canal to penetrate to his rear, General Jackson had an advanced post stationed at the spot where the canal empties into the bayou, and ordered the First Regiment of Louisiana Militia, under Colonel Déjean, to take a position in the wood on the bank of the canal, with intermediate posts to its connection with Bayou Bienvenu.
Every day, the Louisiana dropped down to the station which she had occupied during the engagement of the p450 28th, annoyed the enemy greatly by her fire, and returned every night to a safe position up the river.
Every precaution was taken to guard against any attempt which the enemy might make to turn our left, which rested on wood and swamp. Colonel Haynes, Inspector-General, accompanied by intrepid hunters and pioneers, was kept actively engaged in reconnoitering in that direction, and in looking to the safety of our lines.
On the 30th, in the morning, some reinforcements came from the Acadian coast, whither Major-General Villeré, commanding the First Division of Louisiana Militia, had been sent to forward their arrival. He made his appearance at the head of three hundred men, who encamped back of our lines, and he subsequently took the command of the troops stationed on the Piernas Canal. On that day, Major Hinds was sent reconnoitering toward the advanced posts of the enemy. He performed that duty with much intrepidity, and returned with several of his dragoons wounded. In the mean time, we were strengthening our lines with the utmost expedition, and a patriotic rivalry prevailed among the several corps as to which of them would make the greatest show of work done, and done skillfully and efficiently, although they were composed of men very few of whom were used to manual labor. Our batteries were increasing rapidly on the left, right and centre, and the centre batteries particularly, which were of heavy metal, galled the enemy without discontinuance. It being discovered that he was throwing up a redoubt toward the woods, a thirty‑two-pounder commanded by Lieutenant Crawley, and a twenty‑four-pounder under Captain Dominique, one of the Baratarians, were directed against it with splendid effect. Notwithstanding the great distance, most of the balls struck the parapet, demolishing the works and killing many men. Meanwhile, the marine battery p451 established by Commodore Patterson on the right side of the river was playing with efficacy on the camp and outposts of the enemy. To meet our galling fire, the British attempted, without much success, an innovation in the art of war, which was the erection on the levee of a battery with hogsheads of sugar, in front of Bienvenu's house. It was evident, besides, that they were engaged in many other preparations, and deserters reported that considerable reinforcements were expected shortly, and that heavy artillery was on the way to batter down our breastworks.
From all accounts5 it appears that, at that time, the British troops of the line amounted to between nine and ten thousand men. Their hospitals were established in the buildings of Jumonville's plantation, where some black troops which they had, and which like all black troops proved of no account, were stationed; the headquarters of the Commander-in‑Chief were in General Villeré's house. All the horses of the neighboring plantations had been swept into the British camp, and the best appropriated to the use of the officers of the staff. The rest served to mount a squadron of dragoons, or draw the artillery. The British extended their reconnoitering parties down the river as far as Philippon's plantation, where they established a post of black troops, which remained there in a kind of frozen torpidity until the final evacuation of the country. It follows, of course, that all the cattle of the planters within the reach of the beef-loving and beef-eating Englishmen were entirely destroyed. These predatory excursions of the enemy were pushed with lamentable effect as far as the English Turn, and the farthest end of that section of the country known under the appellation of Terre aux Boeufs, "land of oxen," in the present parish of St. Bernard.
p452 As there was a strong apprehension of an attempt on the part of the enemy to turn our lines on the left, great efforts were made to prolong them as rapidly as possible into the wood, to the most impassable part of the swamp; but fortunately the enemy seems to have entertained a kind of salutary terror of that very wood and swamp, and had for it a very good reason. He apprehended that every tree, bush, or other place of concealment might hide from his view the unerring Tennesseean rifle, which already had scattered death and dismay among the British sentinels and advanced posts. Even while confining himself to open fields, he had experienced that it was with much difficulty that he could keep sentries at some distance from his camp, without exposing them to certain death from the unsparing Tennesseean bullet, which never missed its aim. The dress of those riflemen consisted chiefly of a kind of brown homespun tunic, which the British called in derision a "dirty shirt," and the color of which prevented the wearer from being distinguished from the bushes and tall dry grass through which he crept like a snake, now in ditches, now behind fences, toward to British outposts. The Tennesseeans were fond of indulging in these expeditions, which they called "hunting parties," and it is related that one of them, on such an occasion, made himself famous by killing successively three sentinels who had been posted one after the other at the same spot, carrying away, every time, the arms and accoutrements of these unfortunate victims, as proofs of his exploits. The British at last gave up the idea of keeping a sentinel at that fatal spot. By such daily occurrences in the open fields they were admonished not to hazard themselves into the woods and swamps, on the skirts of which they never even ventured to post a single picket throughout the whole campaign; such was the dread which they entertained of the "dirty shirts!" p453 They bitterly complained of this mode of warfare as being contrary to the usages of civilized nations, and as no better than assassination; but we shall reply to this accusation in the words of one of their most distinguished historians, who thinks that, in a war of invasion, when every man among the invaded is a soldier, and a soldier fighting for his nearest interests, when his own trees have been cut down, his own corn has been burnt, his own house has been pillaged, his own relations have been killed, he cannot entertain toward the enemies of his country the same feelings with one who has suffered nothing from them, except perhaps the addition of a small sum to the taxes which he pays.6
"In such circumstances," says Macaulay, "men cannot be generous. They have too much at stake. It is when they are, if I may so express myself, playing for love, it is when war is a mere game at chess, it is when they are contending for a remote colony, a frontier town, the honors of a flag, a salute, or a title, that they can make fine speeches, and do good offices to their enemies. The Black Prince waited behind the chair of his captive; Villars interchanged repartees with Eugene; George II sent congratulations to Louis XV, during a war, upon occasion of his escape from the attempt of Damien; and these things are fine and generous, and very gratifying to the author of the Broad Stone of Honor, and all the other wise men, like him, who think that God made the world only for the use of gentlemen. But they spring in general from utter heartlessness. No war ought ever to be undertaken but under circumstances which render all interchange of courtesy between the combatants impossible. It is a bad thing that men should hate each other, but it is far worse that they should contract the habit of cutting one another's throat without hatred. War is never lenient but where it is wanton; when men are compelled to fight in self-defence, they must hate and avenge; this may be bad, but it is human nature, it is the clay as it came from the hand of the potter."
The Tennesseeans were the clay as it came from the hand p454 of the potter. They knew nothing about the code of chivalry and the customary rules of conducting war according to the artificial standard of European courtesy. They only knew that their country was invaded, and that their sacred duty was to kill the invader by day or by night, as long as the foe had arms in his hands and did not sue for mercy, whether they shot at him from an ambuscade, from behind a tree, a bush, or a parapet, or whether they met him, face to face and hand to hand, in the open field. Those untutored, rough-hewn and uncouth patriots were right, and may "war to the knife and the knife to the hilt" be forever the motto of every Louisianian whenever his native State shall be invaded!
The British, however, were industriously preparing to put an effectual stop to this shooting down of their sentinels, by making a bold effort to drive Jackson out of his intrenchments, and, on the 31st, having succeeded, notwithstanding the fatal effects of our batteries, in completing the redoubt which they had begun on our left near the woods, and which had been demolished once or twice, they opened a fire on our advanced posts which had been skirmishing with their own; in consequence of which, a spirited cannonade was kept up on both sides for the great part of the day. The Louisiana, as usual, joined her fire to that of our lines and again drove the enemy to shelter. We suffered very little from this artillery encounter, whilst we inflicted several casualties on the enemy, among which he had to regret the loss of an officer of engineers, who was reconnoitering and was killed by our advanced posts.
The year was closing with plain indications from the movements of the enemy that he meditated an immediate attack. When night came and when he could labor with comparative security, noises were heard which manifested to us that he was working at platforms and p455 mounting pieces of cannon, and it was subsequently discovered that he had, during that night, constructed two batteries behind a ditch on Chalmette's plantation, at the distance of about six hundred yards from our lines, and about three hundred yards apart. The one nearer to the river was about three hundred and fifty yards from its bank.
On the morning of the first of January there was one of those dense fogs which are so common in that season on the banks of the Mississippi, but, at 10 o'clock, when it cleared off, the enemy opened upon us a heavy cannonade proceeding from three batteries. The one which was mounted on the road near the river, and which played upon our right, consisted of two twelve-pounders; the next, acting against our centre, had eight eighteen-pounders and twenty-four pound carronades; and the last, on our left, eight pieces of cannon and carronades — in all twenty-eight guns. The missiles which they sent were accompanied with innumerable Congreve rockets. The first discharges of the battery on the road were directed against a house in which it was known that General Jackson had established his headquarters, and where he happened to be at that moment with his staff and other officers. In less than ten minutes, upward of one hundred balls, rockets and shells struck the house, and drove everybody out of so dangerous and exposed a situation. It is strange that, notwithstanding this sudden gush of fire and iron which swept over the house in an instant and surprised its tenants, notwithstanding bricks, splinters of wood and fragments of furniture were flying in every direction, not a death, not a wound was inflicted. Our reply was as fierce as the enemy's attack, although we had only ten guns to oppose his twenty-eight, and for an hour a hot cannonade was steadily continued on both sides; at the expiration p456 of that time it became perceptible that the enemy's fire was slackening. It was, however, still vigilantly kept up; but it was evident that ours was more precise and effective. "Yet," says the engineer, Major Latour, "every advantage was on the side of the enemy; his batteries presented but a narrow front and very little elevation on a spacious plain, the soil of which was •from four to six feet below the level of our platforms; his gunners had for a target a line of about one thousand yards long, the top of whose parapet was •eight or nine feet higher than his platforms, whilst our guns might be said to have only points to aim at; and our balls could not rebound on so soft a soil. Our batteries were the principal object against which the enemy's fire was directed; but we were no less intent on demolishing his; for in about an hour's time our balls dismounted several of his guns, and when the firing ceased, the greater part of his artillery was unfit for service." It must also be kept in mind that his artillery was more than twice ours in number; it was, besides, well served, and was not without doing some damage by breaking the carriages of twenty-four and a thirty-two pounder, with the foretrain of a twelve-pounder, and blowing up two artillery caissons. Some bales of cotton had been used to form the cheeks of the embrasures of our batteries, and, notwithstanding the popular tradition that our breastworks were lined with it, this was the only use which, on that occasion, was made of that great staple of our country. The enemy's balls struck those bales, scattered them in all directions and set them on fire.
The enemy's object seems to have been, on that day, to silence our artillery, make a breach in our lines and carry them by storm. His troops were observed to be in readiness, prudently taking shelter in ditches, and p457 waiting for the favorable moment to rush to the contemplated assault. When our cotton bales were knocked down in a blaze, when our two caissons with a hundred rounds in them blew up, a certain degree of confusion ensued. The enemy thought that the breach was made, and that the expected moment had come. He suspended his fire at once, and the troops ranged in the ditches, with those at the batteries, gave three loud cheers; but a simultaneous and well-directed discharge from the whole artillery of our lines dampened their enthusiasm, and informed them of the frustration of their hopes. From that moment the animation of the enemy's fire went on decreasing. In the mean time he had sent some platoons of sharp-shooters into the woods to ascertain if our left could be turned, but they were no match for the "hunters" of Coffee's brigade, and they soon fell in that direction. At noon his fire had become languid, and at one he abandoned his two batteries on our left and centre. There was but one remaining, that on the road, which, with feeble and expiring efforts, continued to throw a few balls and rockets until three in the afternoon, when it fell into an ominous silence. Then the British troops were seen retiring slowly and in apparent dejection to their camp.
Whilst this artillery engagement was going on with our lines, Commodore Patterson did not drop down the river as usual with the Louisiana, to fire at the flank of the British. He was now apprehensive of coming within range of their shot, having learnt from deserters that a furnace of hot-shot was kept in constant readiness at each of their batteries to burn her;7 and the guns of two marine batteries on shore being of much greater effect than those of the Louisiana, the crew of the ship was p458 withdrawn to man them. The Commodore was particularly desirous to preserve her from the hot-shot, as he deemed her of incalculable value to cover the army in case General Jackson should retire from his present line to those which he had thrown up in his rear. With his guns on shore he kept up, however, an intense fire upon the enemy, and although the balls from the British batteries went through his breastworks, and the shells fell in great numbers in and about his batteries, he had the good luck not to lose a single man, nor did his fire slacken a moment. Toward the evening the enemy called in all his outposts, as he had done after the engagement of the 28th; during the night his batteries were dismantled, and which much difficulty and fatigue his guns were removed by being dragged through mud and darkness, with the exception of five which had to be abandoned. On the next day, early in the morning, several parties of our men visited the deserted batteries, and witnessed the damage which had been done by our artillery. They saw pell-mell broken gun-carriages belonging to the navy, shattered carronades, barrels of powder, and a large quantity of cannon-balls and implements of artillery. The enemy's loss was estimated to have been heavy; ours was trifling in comparison, for it did not exceed thirty-four in killed and wounded, eleven of the former being persons who were going to or returning from the camp, and who were struck on the high road behind our lines.
On the day of this engagement, Major-General Thomas, commanding the Second Division of Louisiana Militia, arrived with five hundred men from Baton Rouge. As many of our men were destitute of arms, General Jackson ordered the Mayor of New Orleans to make domiciliary visits in that city, in order to ascertain what arms were in the possession of individuals.
p459 The enemy, although defeated in his purpose, did not abandon the redoubt which he had erected near the woods, with the intention, probably, of guarding against an attack in that direction and protecting his pickets. On the contrary, he went zealously to work to increase its strength. That redoubt was of a quadrilateral form; two embrasures were made on the small front opposite our lines, but forming an angle with them. Each of the lateral fronts had likewise an embrasure in the middle, and that on the back had an opening •twelve feet wide, serving as an entrance and covered by a traverse within the fort. Along the intervals between the embrasures above the ground ran banquettes raised •three feet for the musketry.8 The parapet, which was •fourteen feet thick at the base, and nine at the summit, had battlements. Francesco the musketry on the rather aspects. A fosse •from twelve to fifteen feet wide and three in depth surrounded this redoubt. Not only did the enemy retain possession of this fortification, but he soon began to erect another smaller redoubt in advance of this one, with an embrasure in each of its angles toward our lines. The British suffered considerably in constructing these works under the galling fire of our heavy guns which mowed down their men. At last the officer commanding the working parties bravely stood up on the parapet, and as soon as he perceived the flash of our guns he gave a signal to his men, who put themselves under cover.
On the 3d of January, during the night, General Jackson was informed that the enemy had ascended Bayou Bienvenu as far as the Piernas Canal, where he was landing in considerable force. This, if true, would have been a serious movement in our rear. General Jackson immediately dispatched two hundred men of General Coffee's Brigade, with the pithy order to attack the p460 enemy boldly and drive him into the bayou. With great promptitude, these men, although it was raining heavily at the time, and although they sank knee-deep into the mud, pushed on to the point indicated, where they found nothing but a dreary solitude whose silence was disturbed only by the croaking of frogs.
General Jackson, however, thought it prudent to ascertain whether there was any probability that the enemy would penetrate in that direction. In conformity with his orders, a score of active and intrepid woodsmen went down the Piernas Canal into Bayou Bienvenu as far as its junction with Bayou Mazant, occasionally climbing up trees on their banks to see if they could discover any enemy. When they approached9 the junction of the two bayous they perceived that the British had established at that spot a fortified inclosure, or kind of breastwork, within which they had built magazines for stores, which were guarded by a strong detachment, and that they kept an advanced sentinel posted in a tree which commanded a view of the whole prairie and of the bayou. One man also discovered five small vessels ascending Bayou Bienvenu, with sailors looking out from the mast-head. These vessels, it seems, were on a scouting expedition, and, as they advanced, parties would come out of them and set on fire the tall prairie grass, in order to drive away any human being to whom it might offer a place of concealment. These precautions taken by the enemy were looked upon as indications that he was fearful of an attack in that direction, instead of meditating one against us — which would not have been an unfounded apprehension on his part, if we had been better supplied with boats and stronger in troops. In that case, we might have surprised his post at the p461 mouth of Villeré's Canal and endangered his communications with his fleet.
On the 4th of January we were highly elated at the arrival of two thousand two hundred and fifty Kentuckians, under the command of Major-General John Thomas and Brigadier-General John Adair, but, unfortunately, only five hundred and fifty of those men were properly armed. "Hardly," wrote Jackson to the Secretary of War, "one-third of the Kentucky troops so long expected have arrived, and the arms they have are not fit for use." It was more apparent than ever that the Federal Government had done nothing for the defence of Louisiana, and that so much imbecility, or neglect, was to be remedied by the genius of the Commander-in‑Chief and by the patriotism of the invaded State. Both were certainly left, in a great degree, to their own resources. Not only were many of the militiamen totally unprovided with arms, but they were also destitute even of clothing, and yet the season was inclement, and the exposure and hardships to be incurred were of a nature to try the most robust constitution. The indefatigable Louaillier immediately obtained from the Legislature the appropriation of a sum of money which was put at the disposal of a Committee for their relief, and a considerable additional sum was procured by private subscription, making, with the amount voted by the Legislature, more than sixteen thousand dollars, with which blankets and woolens were purchased and distributed among the ladies of New Orleans, to be made into clothes. Within one week, twelve hundred blanket cloaks, two hundred and seventy-five waistcoats, eleven hundred and twenty-seven pairs of pantaloons, eight hundred shirts, four hundred and ten pairs of shoes, and a great number of mattresses, were made up, or purchased ready made, and distributed among those of our brethren in arms who p462 stood most in need of them. On that occasion, as during the whole war, the women of Louisiana pre-eminently showed that patriotism and complete devotion which, on such emergencies, their sex so frequently exhibited in all ages of the world. An old widow and rich inhabitant of Attakapas, named Devins Bienvenu, after sending her four sons to the defence of New Orleans, wrote to Governor Claiborne that she sincerely regretted having no other sons to offer to her country, but that, if her own services in the duty of taking care of the wounded should be thought useful, notwithstanding her advanced age she would hasten to New Orleans for that purpose.10 No less enthusiastic was a Miss Sauvé, then in the bloom of youthful beauty, who permitted herself to sneer at the admiration she expressed for the Tennesseeans: "Major, I had rather be the wife11 of one of those hardy and coarsely clad, but brave and honest men, who have marched through a wilderness of two thousand miles to fight for the honor of their country, than wear an English coronet." These anecdotes are related as manifestations of feelings which were common to all the mothers, wives and daughters of Louisianians in the day of danger, and which, no doubt, have been bequeathed unimpaired to their present posterity.
Thus far the enemy had been completely foiled, and we gave him no repose in the intervals of his attacks. The boom of our artillery was constantly sounding in his ears, day and night, and our balls continued to carry destruction into his ranks. Wherever a group of four or five red-coats showed themselves, thither flew missiles of death. By this incessant cannonade we gained a double advantage: we exercised our gunners, and at the p463 same time interrupted the works of the enemy during the day, and his rest at night. His deserters were numerous, and by them we learned that Major-General Lambert had arrived with an expected reinforcement of troops, and that a general attack would shortly be made. For some days we had also observed that between the fleet and Bayou Bienvenu there was an unusually active communication. We, therefore, prepared to meet the coming conflict, which probably would be the one that would decide the fate of Louisiana. Reinforcements were sent to General Morgan on the other side of the river, and, at the confluence of the Piernas Canal and Bayou Bienvenu, a post of cavalry was established, to give prompt information of any occurrence in that direction.
On the 6th, we learned from prisoners that the enemy was digging out Canal Villeré and extending it to the river, in order to get a passage for his boats. On that day, and on the following one, there was more stir and bustle in the British camp than usual. Canal Villeré swarmed with soldiers and sailors, who, thick as bees, seemed to be dragging boats; bodies of troops were kept in motion, exercising or reviewing; and other preparations were on foot, which, even to an unmilitary eye, announced an approaching attack. To resist it, what was the condition of our lines, which were drawn within only •five miles of New Orleans? On their extremity near the river, we had an unfinished redoubt with two six-pounders, and a shallow fosse without water in consequence of the fall of the river. The Rodriguez Canal, which had rather the appearance of a draining ditch than a canal, had been excavated, and the earth thrown on the left side, where had been laid that which had been originally dug out. A parapet running along that canal had been hastily constructed, and the other side of the canal, being but little elevated above the soil, formed a p464 kind of glacis. To prevent the earth of the parapet from falling into the canal, it was lined with all the rails of the fences in the neighborhood. These works were done under unfavorable circumstances, by different hands, which were frequently changing in consequence of frequent mutations in the disposition of our troops, and during incessant rain. Much regularity and system could not therefore prevail, although there had been much good will to do right, and earnest exertions to accomplish all that could be done. Hence the parapet was in some places thicker and higher than at others, and sometimes •twenty feet thick at the top, when it was only •five feet high, whilst in other places the base was so narrow that it was easily perforated by the enemy's balls, although this defect was subsequently remedied. It is, therefore, wonderful that the heavy cannonade of the 1st of January, carried on by twenty-eight pieces, did not produce a disastrous effect.
The site of these lines, however, had been judiciously selected. They were established at a point where the cypress swamp which follows laterally the course of the river projected toward its bank, and left the least intervening space between the two, from Villeré's plantation up to New Orleans. The length of these lines was •about half a mile, and after penetrating some distance into the swamp, they turned at right angle toward the city. The breastwork of that part of the lines which extended through the wood and swamp was not thicker than necessary to resist musketry. It was formed of a double row of logs,12 laid over the other, leaving a space of •two feet which was filled up with earth. Along one part of the lines ran a banquette; in some parts the height of the breastwork above the soil was hardly sufficient to cover the men. These fortifications, p465 if they deserve such a name, were armed with only twelve pieces of artillery of various calibre, and were to resist the attack of an army of fourteen thousand regulars, belonging to the wealthiest nation of the world, and equipped with all the completeness which was to be expected from her resources. At the left extremity of the lines near and in the swamp were the hardy Tennesseeans of Carroll's and Coffee's Brigades, and a part of the Kentucky troops. It was there that they gave, without being conscious of it, a memorable example of those virtues which ought to characterize the soldier, and showed powers of endurance was surpassed their bravery, great as that was. There they waded in mud, knee-deep, during the day, and they slept on it at night in the best way they could. To make their quarters still more uncomfortable, it rained most of the time; the cold was pinching, and they were but indifferently provided with tents. But, although their hardships were extreme in these domains of the alligator; although the dreary sights around them were sufficient to produce some feeling of despondency; although the melancholy-looking cypress, hoary with the long gray moss of our Southern latitude, reared its gaunt, funereal form over their heads; although far distant from their home and all that was left there dear to the heart, yet not a word of wail, not a symbol of discontent did they utter. They showed heroic resignation, and even that strange kind of alacrity with which a noble heart braces up its energies to encounter uncommon dangers or sufferings. What is here said of the Tennesseeans is applicable to all our troops. They all exhibited the same qualifications; they were equal to the emergency; they more than met the exacting expectations of such a man as General Jackson; they were a unit; they felt, thought, and acted as men should, when the fire of an enemy's camp has been lighted in p466 sight of those paternal roofs where throb with anxiety the hearts of old men, women and children. Hence it was that our lines, although weak in appearance, were strong in reality.
General Jackson was fully aware that, on the 6th, the enemy was preparing, as stated before, for a more serious attack than any he had yet made. But against what point was that attack to be directed? Was it against our lines on the left side of the river, or against General Morgan on the right side? All doubts vanished on the evening of the 7th, it having become evident that the enemy had made up his mind to storm our breastworks. With the aid of telescopes we discovered a number of soldiers making fascines and scaling-ladders; officers of the staff were riding about, and stopping at the different posts, as if they carried orders; the artillery was in motion; troops were marching to and fro; the pickets had been increased and stationed near each other; at sunset, the enemy's guards were reinforced, probably to cover his movements. When night came sounds were heard, the import of which it was not difficult to understand. Numbers of men were evidently at work in all the batteries; the strokes of the hammer were loud and distinct; and the reports of our outposts confirmed our conjectures. In our camp there was that composure which generally is the harbinger of victory, and which in our troops was the result of their confidence in their chief and in themselves. Officers and men were ready to spring into action at the first signal, and during the night, from time to time, fresh troops relieved those which had remained under arms. Our lines were defended by three thousand two hundred men, General Jackson having detached from the four thousand he had on hand eight hundred, to guard our camp, to protect the Piernas Canal, and for other purposes. In front p467 of this small body of militia, and of a line of defence which would have elicited a smile of contempt from a European military man, were drawn up from twelve to fourteen thousand of the best troops of England, supported by a powerful artillery. There could hardly be a more unequal contest; but it was with no other feeling than a sort of stern cheerfulness that our troops surveyed this disproportion of forces.
A little before daybreak on the 8th the enemy began moving toward our lines, and our outposts came in without noise, reporting his advance. As soon as there was sufficient light for observation, his position was clearly ascertained, and he was seen to occupy about two-thirds of the space extending between the wood and the river. Immediately a Congreve rocket went up from the skirt of the wood. It was the signal for the attack. One of our batteries responded by a shot, and at the same moment the British, giving three cheers, formed into a close column of about sixty men in front, and advanced in splendid order, but with too slow and measured steps, chiefly upon the battery commanded by Garrigues Flaugeac, which consisted of a brass twelve-pounder, and was supported on its left by an insignificant battery with a small brass carronade, which could render but very little service on account of the ill condition of its carriage. These two batteries were the nearest to the wood, and against them the main attack was evidently directed. Flaugeac's battery opened upon the advancing column an incessant fire, indifferently supported by the small carronade on its left, and more powerfully on its right, by a long brass eighteen-pound culverine and a six-pounder, commanded by Lieutenants Spotts and Chauveau, and served by gunners of the United States artillery. A shower of rockets preceded the storming column, which was provided with fascines and ladders. That part of our intrenchments p468 was defended by the Tennesseeans and Kentuckians, who shot at will with such rapidity, that their whole line seemed to be but one sheet of fire. So effective were the incessant discharges of the artillery and musketry, which rolled like uninterrupted peals of thunder, that the British, before they had gained much ground, gave signs of confusion. The officers were seen animating their men, and urging them onward when they wavered. An oblique movement was made to avoid the terrible fire of the Flaugeac battery, from which every discharge seemed to tear open the column and sweep away whole files. But new men would, each time, rush to fill up those fearful gaps, and the column still advanced steadily and heavily. A few platoons had even succeeded in reaching the edge of the ditch in front of our lines, when the main column of attack, staggering under the irresistible fire of our batteries, broke at last after an ineffectual struggle of twenty-five minutes — some of the men dispersing, and running to take shelter among the bushes on their right, and the rest retiring to a ditch where they had been stationed when first perceived, at a distance of about four hundred yards from our lines. There the officers rallied their troops, ordered them to lay aside the heavy knapsack with which they were encumbered, and, being reinforced by troops which had been kept in reserve, led back their battalions to renew the attack. This time, having experienced the nature of the fire which expected them in front, the British advanced more rapidly, without pretending to observe the slow parade, precision and regularity which had been already so fatal to them. They came very near our lines, irregularly, with some confusion, but with exemplary courage. They met, however, the same overwhelming hail-storm of grape and bullets from our artillery and musketry. Sir Edward Packenham, p469 commander-in‑chief, lost his life whilst gallantly leading his troops to the assault; soon after, Major-General Gibbs was carried away from the field, mortally wounded; then fell Major-General Keane, also severely wounded, with a great number of officers of rank, who had assumed the most dangerous positions to encourage their subordinates. The ground was literally strewed with the dead and wounded. Further to advance seemed to be courting destruction for every man. A feeling of consternation pervaded the ranks, which broke for the second time in the utmost confusion. In vain did the officers throw themselves in the way of the fugitives; vain were their appeals to the sense of honor and the love of country; vain were their threats and reproaches; vain were the blows which they were seen to give with the flat of their swords; the men were demoralized; and all that remained to be done was to lead them back to the ditch from which they had come in an evil hour, and which they could not be prevailed upon to leave for a third attack. In that safe cover they remained drawn up for the rest of the day.
Whilst this was occurring on the edge of the wood, a false attack had been made in the wood itself, chiefly by some black troops; but it was faint and languid, and easily repulsed by Coffee's Brigade. On our right near the river there had also been another false attack, conducted with far more vigor by Colonel Rennie. This column had pushed on so precipitately, and had followed so closely our outposts, that they reached our unfinished redoubt before we could fire more than two discharges. To leap into the ditch, to get through the embrasures into the redoubt, to climb over the parapet, to overpower our men by superior numbers, was but the affair of an instant. Colonel Rennie, although severely wounded in the leg, attempted next, at the head of his men, to clear p470 the breastwork of the intrenchments in the rear of the redoubt, but now he had to meet the intrepid Orleans Riflemen, under Captain Beale, who had so much distinguished themselves in the battle of the 23d. Colonel Rennie, however, had the honor to scale those breastworks with two other officers, and already waving his sword, he was shouting: "Hurra, boys, the day is ours," when he fell back a corpse into the ditch below with his two companions, who shared his noble fate; and soon after, the redoubt was retaken from their disheartened followers. It is fortunate that the two other attacks, particularly the main one, had not been conducted with the same impetuosity.
During this attack two British batteries had kept up a warm engagement with some of our centre batteries, by which they were at last demolished. As on the 1st of January, the first discharges of the enemy's artillery had been concentrated upon the house occupied as headquarters by General Jackson. But this time he was not in it, and the only mischief done, at a prodigious expense of balls and shells, was the knocking down of four or five pillars of the house, and the inflicting of a contusion on the shoulder of Major Chotard, Assistant Adjutant-General. Commodore Patterson, on the other side of the river, had, simultaneously with our lines, opened a heavy fire on the enemy from his marine battery, until he was stopped by the landing of the British troops which had been sent to dislodge General Morgan. His fire proved very destructive, "as the British columns, in their advance and retreat," says the Commodore in his report to the Secretary of the Navy, "afforded a most advantageous opportunity for the use of grape and canister." The battle did not last more than one hour. At half-past nine it was all over, although the cannonade between the batteries continued until two o'clock. The p471 loss of the enemy was enormous, amounting to near three thousand, which was about one-half of the number of his men supposed to be engaged. This loss will appear still more extraordinary, when it is considered that the enemy had encountered only half of our troops, as he was out of the range of the musketry of our centre, which was not even threatened during the whole engagement. Our loss was incredibly small, not exceeding thirteen. "After his retreat, the enemy," says Major Latour, "appeared to apprehend that we should make a sortie and attack him in his camp. The soldiers were drawn up in the ditches in several parallel lines, and all those who had been slightly wounded, as soon as their wounds were dressed, were sent to join their corps, in order to make their number of effective men appear the greater, and show a firm countenance."
The same author, whose Historical Memoir on the War in West Florida and Louisiana in 1814‑15 is so accurate and valuable a narrative, makes in that work the following critical commentaries on the battle of the 8th of January:
"I deem it my indispensable duty to do justice to the intrepid bravery displayed in that attack by the British troops, especially by the officers. If anything was wanted toward the attack's being conducted with judgment (speaking in a general and military point of view), it was, in my opinion, that they did not in the onset sacrifice the regularity of their movements to promptitude and celerity. The column marched on with the ordinary step, animating their courage with huzzas, instead of pushing on with fixed bayonets au pas de charge. But it is well known that agility is not the distinctive quality of British troops. Their movement is in general sluggish and difficult, steady but too precise, or at least more suitable for a pitched battle, or behind intrenchments, than for an assault. The British soldiers showed, on this occasion, that it is not without reason they are said to be deficient in agility. The enormous load they had to carry contributed, indeed, not a little to the difficulty of their movement. Besides their knapsacks, usually weighing •nearly thirty pounds, and their musket too heavy by at least p472 one-third, almost all of them had to carry a fascine •from nine to ten inches in diameter and four feet long, made of sugar-canes perfectly ripe, and consequently very heavy, or a ladder •from ten to twelve feet long.
"The duty of impartiality, incumbent on him who relates military events, obliges me to observe that the attack made on Jackson's lines by the British, on the 8th of January, must have been determined by their Generals, without any consideration of the ground, the weather, or the difficulties to be surmounted, before they could storm lines defended by militia indeed, but by militia whose valor they had already witnessed, with soldiers bending under the weight of their load, when a man, unencumbered and unopposed, would, that day, have found it difficult to mount our breastwork at leisure and with circumspection, so extremely slippery was the soil. Yet those officers had had time and abundant opportunity to observe the ground on which the troops were to act. Since their arrival on the banks of the Mississippi, they had sufficiently seen the effects of rainy weather, to form a just idea of the difficulty their troops must have experienced in climbing up our intrenchments, even had the column been suffered to advance without opposition as far as the ditch. But they were blinded by their pride. The vain presumption of their superiority, and their belief that the raw militia of Kentucky and Tennessee, who now for the first time had issued from their fields, could not stand before the sight of so numerous a body of regular troops advancing to attack them, made them disregard the admonition of sober reason. Had they at all calculated on the possibility of resistance, they would have adopted a different plan of attack, which, however, I am far from thinking would have been ultimately successful.
"It has been reported that divisions prevailed in a council of war, and that Admiral Cochrane combating the opinion of General Packenham, who, with more judgment, was for making the main attack on the right bank, boasted that he would undertake to storm our lines with two thousand sailors armed only with swords and pistols. I know not how far this report may deserve credit, but if the British commander-in‑chief was so unmindful of what he owed his country, who had committed to his prudence the lives and honors of several thousands of his soldiers, as to yield to the ill-judged and rash advice of the Admiral, his memory will be loaded with the heavy charge of having sacrificed reason in a moment of irritation, though he atoned with his life for having acted contrary to his own judgment."
p473 It may not be uninteresting to know what so competent a judge as Marshal Soult thought of that battle. Major Davezac, who had acted on that occasion as a volunteer aid to General Jackson, and who, many years afterward, when Jackson was President of the United States, represented our government in Holland, having obtained a furlough, went to Paris, where he met Marshal Soult, who was then acting as Secretary of War. The old veteran expressed, in relation to the battle of the 8th of January, the keenest desire to obtain such information as might enable him to form a correct appreciation of what he called "a most unaccountable event." Major Davezac happened to have in his possession the maps and other materials which were desired, and which he accompanied with his own explanations. The Marshal's eye was soon riveted to the map, and his finger running over its surface rested on the wood. "Sir," said he, "this mode of attack is incomprehensible. The British should have gone through that wood and flanked you. — But that was an impassable swamp. — You may think so; I do not. — You do not know the nature of our swamps. — I may know more of them than you are aware of; besides, I have learned enough from your own lips to be satisfied that a horse could have gone through that swamp; and where a horse passes a man can. Sir, there is no excuse for General Packenham." — Davezac maintained the contrary opinion; a discussion ensued; the Marshal grew warm, and at last, shaking his fist, angrily exclaimed: "Sir, I would have shot that blunderer for the destruction of that fine army, had he survived and been under my command. The English would have done the same, if he had returned home. They are not in the habit of forgiving such things. It is well for him that he died on the battle-field."
Marshal Soult was right as to the nature of the swamp. p474 It was not impassable, although the rifles of the Tennesseeans might have made it so any body of troops who might have attempted to penetrate in that direction. Alexander Walker, who, in his "Life of General Jackson," has put on record the most minute details concerning the invasion of Louisiana by the British, after having, with indefatigable industry and scrupulous zeal, consulted many of those who had been actors or eye-witnesses on that occasion, says: "The British made another discovery, which ingenious and quick-witted people would have turned to better use. They found the horrible swamp, of which they stood in such dread that their outposts would not approach within a hundred yards of its edge, and of which such marvelous stories are related of men who sunk into it and disappeared forever from sight, quite practicable and passable for light troops." This seems, however, not to be admitted by the British; for General Lambert, in his report of the 10th of January to Lord Bathurst, says "that the wood had been made impracticable for any body of troops to pass." But if the swamp or wood was "practicable and passable" for light troops, and we have no doubt of it from the information which we have received from men well acquainted with that locality, Marshal Soult's sagacity stands fully confirmed, and his harsh military comment upon the mode of attack was founded on what he considered an unjustifiable piece of folly, stupidity or temerity. The fact is, that the British advanced against the American lines with the same splendid, but brainless, fool-hardy temerity which, lately in the Crimea, drove them like madmen upon the Russian batteries, to be slaughtered and defeated. "This is magnificent," exclaimed their judicious French allies, when witnessing that Quixotic exhibition, "but this is not war." The same exclamation might have been uttered p475 at the sight of the assault of Jackson's line by the British, in 1815. The more inexcusable were they from the fact that they had their own time to make their preparations for the attack on both sides of the river, and could bring all their resources into action without impediment. Speaking of their preliminary operations, General Jackson, in a communication to the Secretary of War, observes: "It had not been in my power to impede these operations by a general attack. Added to other reasons, the nature of the troops under my command, mostly militia, rendered it too hazardous to attempt extensive offensive movements in an open country against a numerous and well-disciplined army."
In his official report of the battle, dated on the 9th of January, the General rendered full justice to the troops to which he was indebted for his success. He said: "I cannot speak sufficiently in praise of the firmness and deliberation with which my whole line received the approach of the enemy. More could not have been expected from veterans inured to war." It seems that General Jackson would have ventured out of his intrenchments in pursuit of the enemy, if he had not been checked by the disaster which befell our arms on the other side of the river, and which we shall presently relate, for he added: "The entire destruction of the enemy was now inevitable, had it not been for an unfortunate occurrence which, at this moment, took place on the other side of the river." The wisdom of such a movement on his part must, however, appear questionable. The British, although defeated and probably demoralized, were still very superior in numbers to our troops, and the fortune of the day might have been hazarded if we had come out of our intrenchments. As to our casualties in the battle, amounting only to thirteen killed and wounded, a number which seems almost fabulous when compared to the p476 well-ascertained loss of at least two thousand six hundred sustained by the enemy, General Jackson, in the same communication to the Secretary of War, remarked: "Such a disproportion, when we consider the number and the kind of troops engaged, must, I know, excite astonishment, and may not everywhere be fully credited; yet I am perfectly satisfied that the account is not exaggerated on the one part, nor underrated on the other."
Our troops had acted with intrepidity during the combat. When it was over, they manifested commendable dignity and magnanimity. We quote, with pleasure, on this subject the testimony of Major Latour, who was a foreigner, although in the service of the United States, and who may fairly be supposed to be more impartial than a native could be. He says:
"At the time of the preceding attacks, those of the 28th December and 1st of January, after our artillery had silenced that of the enemy, and forced his troops to retire, repeated huzzas from the whole of our line rent the air; the most lively demonstrations of joy were everywhere exhibited by our soldiers — a presage of the fate of the enemy in a general attack. On the 8th of January, on the contrary, no sooner was the battle over, than the roar of artillery and musketry gave place to the most profound silence. Flushed with victory, having just repulsed an enemy who had advanced to scatter death in their ranks, our soldiers saw, in the numerous corpses that strewed the plain, only the unfortunate victims of war, in the wounded and prisoners whom they hastened to attend, only suffering and unhappy men, and in their vanquished enemies brave men worthy a better cause. Elated with their success, but overpowered by the feelings of a generous sympathy for those miserable victims of the ambition of their masters, they disdained to insult the unfortunate by an untimely exultation, and cautiously avoided any expression of joy, lest they should wound the feelings of those whom the chance of battle had placed in their hands. In the midst of the horrors of war, humanity dwells with delightful complacency on the recital of such noble traits; they soothe the heart under the pressure of adversity, and divert the mind from the contemplation of ills which we can neither avoid nor entirely remedy."
p477 This chivalrous delicacy was not the only honorable feeling exhibited in our ranks. As soon as the wrecks of the retreating British columns had disappeared, as soon as the fire of our musketry had ceased, and whilst our artillery was still firing at intervals at the enemy's batteries, or at scattered platoons that lingered in the woods, some of our men, touched with pity at the sight of so many of the wounded British soldiers who strewed the field, and whose groans of agony and cry for water made so strong an appeal to their humanity, rushed out of our intrenchments to offer them all the assistance in their power. In those bleeding bodies, stretched helpless on the ground, they no longer saw enemies, but fellow-beings in distress, toward whom their hearts melted with compassion. Warm expressions of applause came from our ranks, when we saw our soldiers staggering under the weight of the wounded whom they were endeavoring to carry on their backs within our lines. At that moment, to our intense indignation, the British troops who were in the ditch in front of our lines fired at these generous men, killing and wounding some of them. They fell, but, regardless of that inexplicable outrage and of danger to which they were exposed, the rest continued to fulfill their mission of charity.
In the evening of the 8th the inhabitants of New Orleans witnessed the arrival of a long train of wounded prisoners, whose number amounted to about four hundred. Immediately a large quantity of lint and old linen for dressing their wounds, of mattresses and pillows and other articles for their comfort, were furnished by private contributions. All kinds of refreshments and every attendance which their situation required were liberally provided by the spontaneous action of our citizens. The colored women of New Orleans have acquired an honorable reputation for the skillful nurses p478 they supply during those fatal epidemics which have so often desolated that city. On this occasion, several of them tendered their services gratuitously, and deserved the lasting gratitude of the numerous wounded whom they attended with the most humane disinterestedness.
But our triumph was not without its alloy, and we were soon reminded that there is but one step from exultation to humiliation. In the midst of the paeans sung in his honor, the Roman triumpher was compelled to listen to words of censure, reproach, or admonition, in order that he should not forget his human fragility. Without the apprehension or the recollection of blame, praise would lose its attraction or its value. The one sets off the other, and both have an equally useful mission to perform. We must, therefore, resign ourself with a good grace to the painful necessity of admitting and recording the sad truth, that a shameful panic took place on the right side of the river, when Colonel Thornton attacked General Morgan's lines, almost at the same time when General Packenham, with the main body of his troops, was assaulting Jackson's intrenchments. We shall console ourself with the reflection that more than once two armies, inured to perils and used to glorious deeds, have been known suddenly to run away from each other, as if obeying, by a sort of tacit understanding, the same reciprocal impulse of the most intense and unaccountable fear. The ancients attributed it to some supernatural cause — to the influence of some god or other. This excuse, however, we shall not plead, but we shall give others which may be received in extenuation of what cannot be justified. The Spaniards shrewdly say: "Such a man was brave on such a day," thereby admitting that on another day, or on another occasion, the same man may appear in a different light. This is human nature. The lion himself is known at times to p479 put his tail between his legs and run like a whipped cur. After this preamble, and after having taken delight in showing how very brave we were on the left side of the Mississippi, we shall, with candor, proceed to related how it was that we were not equally so on the other side of that river.
We have said before that General Morgan had, according to orders, after the battle of the 23d of December, crossed the river and taken a position almost opposite Jackson's lines. He was a worthy man in his private character, brave personally, but an incompetent officer. He showed his incapacity at once by the very choice of the spot which he selected to make a stand against the enemy. It was behind a canal, it is true, but there were other canals; and this one was at a point where the cypress swamp recedes from the Mississippi more than at any other for miles, and leaves the largest space between itself and the river. Jackson had done the very reverse on the other side, but his example was not followed. It was therefore the most injudicious ground that could be selected. Behind that old canal, however, Morgan established his line of defence, two hundred yards in length, leaving more than eighteen hundred yards unprotected, and offering no other obstacle to the enemy than this canal or ditch. On his two hundred yards of breastwork were mounted three pieces of artillery. The weakness of this position was evident, for it might easily have been foreseen that the enemy, coming up the high road near the river, and finding these fortifications in his front, would not butt his head against them, when he could avoid them by obliquing to the left toward the wood. The Second Regiment of Louisiana Militia, under the command of Colonel Zenon Cavelier, presenting an effective force of one hundred and seventy-six men, had been sent, on the 4th of January, p480 to reinforce Morgan. On their arrival they received unfavorable impressions from the nature of the means of resistance which were in the course of preparation. In the evening of the 6th, the First Regiment of Militia under Colonel Déjean quitted the position it occupied on the Piernas Canal and crossed the river. Although a detachment of the Sixth Militia Regiment was added to it, the whole force did not exceed one hundred and ten. Those who were armed were ill-armed, and the rest had no arms at all.13 The arrival of these men, in such a condition, could not have the effect of giving much relief to the well-founded apprehensions already entertained by the regiment of Zenon Cavelier. These two skeletons of regiments, when looking at each other's meagre proportions, did not feel much encouraged. Anybody who is acquainted in the slightest degree with the population of Louisiana will not doubt that those men were brave and patriotic, but was it not natural that they should have felt somewhat despondent, when brought into contact with those who were already under the command of General Morgan, and whom they found either lamenting the incapacity of their leader, or making it a subject of joke or ridicule? Is it to be wondered at if they fraternized in grumbling, in railing, and in vague apprehensions of some approaching catastrophe? It was a bad preparation for meeting the enemy. •Three miles in advance of Morgan's lines, Major Arnaud had been stationed with one hundred men to prevent the British from landing; fifteen of them had no arms at all, and the rest only fowling-pieces. These men thought that they were required to do what was impossible; that they could accomplish no good; that they would be uselessly sacrificed; and that this was another proof p481 of a want of common sense in their General. They became demoralized.
In the evening of the 7th, both General Jackson and General Morgan were informed that the enemy would cross on the next morning. There was therefore no surprise produced by that movement, as stated in some of the British accounts written by officers who did not know that their intention had been detected by the Americans. On receiving this information, General Jackson ordered five hundred Kentuckians under Colonel Davis to join General Morgan. When at four o'clock in the morning they arrived at the place of their destination, after having undergone much fatigue on their march, and some vexatious delay on account of the difficulty of procuring suitable means of transportation across the river, they were reduced to one-half. What had become of the other half? Is it possible, as alleged in their favor, that they had remained behind because spent with fatigue and faint from the want of food? But, on the whole day of the 7th, they were in a camp full of provisions. How is it possible, therefore, to suppose that they did not receive their usual rations? This supposition being rejected as not probable, and there being no proof to the contrary, it remains that they were without food only from the evening of the 7th to the morning of the 8th. Was that enough to make them "physically faint?" Granting that they marched •eight or ten miles in darkness, and on muddy roads, and that the crossing of the river was attended with difficulties, was that enough to justify robust men inured to hardships of all kinds in pretending that they were "spent with fatigue?" Granting that many of them were without arms, was this circumstance sufficient to induce them to leave their ranks, without waiting to the last for the arms to which they were entitled, and p482 without which they could not be expected to meet the enemy? The inference must be that these men, for some cause or other which we do not know, were not animated with a proper spirit when they left their camp, and experience has proved that nothing is more contagious in armies than moral infirmities. One-half who continued in their march to Morgan's lines must have arrived there greatly demoralized by the desertion of their companions. They probably were discontented and moody; it is reported that they looked ragged, jaded, dirty, unsoldierlike, and very much like men disposed to run away on the first favorable opportunity. Unfortunately, and to make matters worse, they were to co-operate chiefly with troops whose language they did not understand, and with whom they could not sympathize. A mutual distrust ensued. It must be admitted that there could hardly be a more heterogeneous crowd than this badly-armed mob, assembled on that occasion under the command of General Morgan. If General Jackson had been there, his strong will might have welded into a compact, solid and harmonious mass these discordant and jarring elements. He would, at least, have inspired a confidence which did not exist, and that would have gone a great way toward insuring success.
As if these had not been sufficient causes to produce demoralization, General Morgan continued to order movements which increased the distrust of his troops as to his capacity. For instance, as soon as the Kentuckians arrived, after the heavy and fatiguing night's march of which they complained so much, he ordered them, in the state of exhaustion and inanition in which they pretended to be, to move beyond his lines and join Arnaud's command in advance. They obeyed, it is said, without murmur, but much doubting, probably, the propriety of such an order. They soon met Arnaud's one hundred p483 men, who, not deeming themselves strong enough to prevent the British from landing, were hastily retreating. This detachment, and the Kentuckians who numbered about two hundred effective men, were made to draw up in a line between the river and the swamp — the Kentuckians near the river, and the Louisiana Militia on their right, in the direction of the swamp. If these three hundred men had been posted behind the levee, at the spot where the British landed, they might have been of good service. But what could be the object in thus posting them a short distance in advance of our fortified lines, not as outposts, it seems, but as a presumed effective obstacle in the way of the enemy? As outposts, they were too many, for they constituted half of Morgan's force, and as a resisting body they were too weak. These badly equipped, badly organized, and badly disciplined militiamen could not reasonably be thought capable of coping effectively, in an open field, with the much superior force of veteran regulars who were expected. Why this division of our little army — one-half behind the breastworks, and the other half •about a mile in front? Why expose them force further demoralization by subjecting them to certain defeat, and then trust to the chance of rallying them, when under hot pursuit, behind our fortifications in their rear? These thoughts probably occurred to them, and were not of a nature to allay those instinctive apprehensions which they seem to have entertained before. As to Arnaud's men, who had thought themselves unnecessarily placed in a very perilous position, they did not draw much comfort from the reinforcement which had been sent them. "Surely," they may be presumed to have said to each other, "if these are the ragamuffins who are to help us in beating the British in an open plain, we had better take care of ourselves." "Verily," probably said the Kentuckians, "if this handful of p484 frightened Creoles is our only assistance, we are in a bad way."
What was the consequence? Colonel Thornton, who had landed at the head of14 six hundred men, soon made his appearance, accompanied by several gun‑boats which hugged the bank of the river as they ascended. The enemy attacked briskly our extended line established behind an unfortified canal, whilst his gun‑boats poured grape-shot into our flank. The Kentuckians, although thrown into some confusion, answered with two or three well-directed volleys. Just at this critical moment, when some hesitation or wavering had begun to manifest itself, General Morgan had the unlucky inspiration to order a retreat. The order was communicated in English by one of Morgan's aids: "What is it?" said in French one in Arnaud's command, who did not understand the language used. A voice replied: "The General says, 'sauve qui peut," which may be translated thus: the Devil take the hindmost. Upon this, Arnaud's detachment broke and fled to the wood, and the Kentuckians, seeing themselves abandoned, fell back in much disorder to our breastworks, where they were posted to the right of the Louisiana regiments. Certainly it can be no injustice to the commander-in‑chief, General Morgan, to hold him responsible for the manner in which his troops were again stationed, to meet the advancing column of the enemy. Davis' Kentuckians were placed alongside of that part of the canal which was not fortified, and at such a distance from each other that they looked like a long line of sentinels. Besides, a large space was left unoccupied between them and the Louisiana militia on their left.
On the high road, in front of our breastworks, soon appeared the British, advancing rapidly to profit by the p485 advantage which they had already obtained. Our artillery played upon them with effect, and our musketry had begun to open its fire, when Colonel Thornton saw at one glance the weakness of our position. He fell back, and making an oblique movement to the left, he sent a column to penetrate through the gap in our centre, and another toward the wood to turn and envelop the sparsely scattered Kentuckians. At the sight of this manoeuvre the Kentuckians broke, and no exertions on the part of their officers and of General Morgan could rally them. "Confidence had vanished," says Major Latour, "and with it all spirit of resistance." Well might confidence have vanished, if it had ever existed, for the most robust faith would not have been proof against the perpetration of such a series of blunders! Our right was turned, and between it and our Louisiana militia and artillery, in a few minutes, there was nothing but a broad space left vacant by the flight of the Kentuckians. The Louisianians and the artillery continued to fire as long as possible. At last the cannon was spiked, and the First and Second Regiments of Louisiana Militia retreated in tolerable order on the high road. Commodore Patterson, finding himself deserted by the force he had relied upon to protect his marine battery, was compelled, "most reluctantly and with inexpressible pain," to abandon it, having only thirty men under his command, including officers. He took time, however, to destroy his ammunition and spike his cannon. In his report to the Secretary of the Navy he is very severe on the Kentuckians. When the attack had begun, he had ordered his guns to be turned in their embrasures, and so pointed as to protect General Morgan's right wing:
"Whose lines," says he, "not extending to the swamp, and being weakly manned, I apprehended the enemy's outflanking him on that wing; which order was promptly executed, under a heavy and p486 well-directed fire of shot and shells from the enemy on the opposite bank of the river. At this time, the enemy's force had approached General Morgan's lines under the cover of a shower of rockets, and charged in spite of the fire from the twelve-pounder and field-pieces mounted on the lines, as before stated; when, in a few minutes, I had the extreme mortification and chagrin to observe General Morgan's right wing, composed of the Kentucky militia, commanded by Major Davis, abandon their breastwork and flying in a most shameful and dastardly manner, almost without a shot; which disgraceful example, after firing a few rounds, was soon followed by the whole of General Morgan's command, notwithstanding every exertion was made by him, his staff and several officers of the city militia, to keep them to their posts. By the great exertions of those officers a short stand was effected on the field, when a discharge of rockets from the enemy caused them again to retreat, in such a manner that no efforts could stop them."
We deem it an act of justice to correct an error committed by Commodore Patterson, who must have been blinded by his indignation. The Kentuckians were not behind any "breastworks;" they were, on the contrary, totally unprotected by any kind of fortifications, unless that name be given to the canal behind which they stood. General Jackson in his report to the Secretary of War, dated on the 9th of January, also censures the conduct of the Kentuckians: "What is strange and difficult to account for," he says, "at the very moment when the entire discomfiture of the enemy was looked for with a confidence amounting to certainty, the Kentucky reinforcements, in whom so much reliance had been placed, ingloriously fled, drawing after them, by their example, the remainder of the forces, and thus yielding to the enemy that most formidable position."
Whatever was the guilt of the Kentuckians, it must be admitted that General Jackson was not correct in his statement "that they occupied a most formidable position." We have shown that it was anything but that. He must also have been under some extraordinary delusion p487 when he asserted that the Kentuckians fled at moment "when the entire discomfiture of the enemy was looked upon with a confidence approaching to certainty." The British on the right side of the river, and in their attack on Morgan's lines, never were, for a moment, threatened with the slightest discomfiture. The State of Kentucky never forgave the charge which General Jackson had thus officially recorded against her sons, and she subsequently never failed to oppose him with the bitterest hostility throughout his political career. In extenuation of that charge, the Kentuckians had replied:
"We were ill-armed; we had been on our feet for twenty-four hours, during which time we had hardly tasted food; the cartridges we had were too large for our pieces; on our arrival before day, after a hard march of several miles, partly through the mud, without being allowed a moment's rest, we were ordered to advance a mile further. Having obeyed without a murmur, we found ourselves within view of the enemy, on whom we fired several volleys, maintaining that position, which was none of the best, until, being outflanked on our right, and cannonaded with grape-shot from the barges on our left, we were forced to retreat on Morgan's line, where we were ordered to take a position along a canal, uncovered and extended on a front of three hundred yards, our left separated from the other troops by an unguarded space of ground, and our right covered by a paltry domain of sixteen men, stationed two hundred yards from us; a vast plain, offering no manner of shelter, lying in our rear. We were turned on the right and cut off on the left. In so precarious a situation, how could we avoid giving way?"
This is the manner in which they attempted to explain what General Jackson had said was "strange and difficult to account for."
Admitting as true this allegations, and giving to the plea of the Kentuckians in their own defence all the force which they might have desired, it is impossible to free them altogether from the shame of having fled in p488 the wildest affright, without even attempting anything like an orderly retreat. So extreme was their panic that some of them ran •eleven miles without stopping, and with the most extraordinary speed, to a spot up the river, where they found some means of crossing it. When safely on the other side, at the distance of •six miles above New Orleans, they ran pell-mell into the court-yard of the planter whose lands fronted the river, clamoring for food, and vociferating that the American army was annihilated. They still seemed as if they were under the influence of terror, and became composed only after having obtained the food they desired.
Considering the feebleness and short duration of our defence, the loss of the enemy was very remarkable. It amounted to one hundred and twenty men killed and wounded — more than one-sixth of his whole force — which shows the extraordinary accuracy of our fire, and what might have been done under an abler leader than General Morgan. Our loss was one man killed and five wounded.
For the expedition intrusted to Colonel Thornton the British had needed boats. Those boats had to be dragged through Canal Villeré, which had been lately extended to the river with so much labor. It was an operation of much difficulty; some of the boats stuck fast in the muddy bed of the canal, and those which reached the Mississippi were not sufficient to carry the whole force which it was intended to throw on the other side of that river. Hence it was curtailed down to one-third of its original number, and, on account of the delays experienced, it could not proceed until eight hours after the time appointed.15 This destroyed the ensemble of the plan of attack. The current was strong, and the difficulty of keeping the boats together was so great, that p489 Colonel Thornton only reached his destination by daybreak instead of the early part of the night as expected, and by the time his troops had disembarked on the right side of the river, he perceived that the attack had begun on the left side. He did not, therefore, arrive in time to prevent our batteries from pouring, in the beginning of the battle, a destructive enfilading fire on the British columns who were advancing against Jackson's lines, and when he became master of Morgan's position, we were completely victorious in the plains of Chalmette. It was the only success obtained by the invaders on the soil of Louisiana. Colonel Thornton claimed to have captured a great abundance of provisions, a large store of all sorts of ammunition, sixteen pieces of ordnance, and the colors of a regiment. "Our prisoners," about thirty in number, he says in his report, "agree in stating that the force under General Morgan was from fifteen hundred to two thousand men." If the prisoners agreed in such a statement, they agreed in a misrepresentation; General Morgan's force was not much greater than six hundred men.
"This unfortunate rout," wrote Jackson to the Secretary of War, "had totally changed the aspect of affairs. The enemy now occupied a position from which they might annoy us without hazard, and by means of which they might have been able to defeat, in a great measure, the effects of our success on this side of the river. It became, therefore, an object of the first consequence to dislodge him as soon as possible." He immediately issued this stirring and appropriate address to the troops stationed on the right bank of the Mississippi:
"While by the blessing of Heaven directing the valor of the troops under my command, one of the most brilliant victories in the annals of the war was obtained by my immediate command, no words can express the mortification I feel at witnessing the p490 scene exhibited on the opposite bank. I will spare your feelings and my own by entering into no detail on the subject; to all who reflect, it must be a source of eternal regret that a few moments' exertion of that courage you certainly possess, was alone wanting to have rendered your success more complete than that of your fellow-citizens in this camp, by the defeat of the detachment which was rash enough to cross the river to attack you."
This passage is in accordance with the impression under which he was, and which we have shown to have been erroneous, when he wrote to the Secretary of War that the Kentuckians had fled at the time that the entire discomfiture of the enemy was looked for with a confidence amounting to certainty.
"To what cause," proceeds the General to ask, "was the abandonment of your lines owing? To fear? No! You are the countrymen, the friends, the brothers of those who have secured to themselves by their courage the gratitude of their country, who have been prodigal of their blood in its defence, and who are strangers to any other fear than that of disgrace. To disaffection to our glorious cause? No! my countrymen; your General does justice to the pure sentiments by which you are inspired. How then could brave men, firm in the cause in which they were enrolled, neglect their first duty, and abandon the post committed to their care?"
The answer which the General gives to his own interrogatories confirms the view which we took of the causes of that disaster, and which he attributes "to the want of discipline, the want of order, a total disregard to obedience, and a spirit of insubordination, not less destructive than cowardice itself." Whilst thus upbraiding the troops for their want of discipline and order, for their disregard to obedience, and their spirit of insubordination, he could scarcely, in the same breath, comment on the deficiencies of their officers, and particularly on the incapacity exhibited by General Morgan. This would have weakened the effect he intended to produce; but p491 we shall show that he was not unaware of the existence of that evil, although he probably did not think it proper to take notice of it in his address. He sternly tells our men, however, that the causes which led to their late disaster must be eradicated, or that he must cease to command:
"I desire to be distinctly understood," he says, "that every breach of orders, all want of discipline, every inattention to duty will be seriously and promptly punished, in order that the attentive officers and good soldiers may not be exposed to the disgrace and danger which the negligence of a few may produce. Soldiers! you want only the will, in order to emulate the glory of your fellow-citizens on this bank of the river. You have the same motives for action, the same interest, the same country to protect, and you have an additional interest from past events, to wipe off the stain on your honor, and show what, no doubt, is the fact, that you will not be inferior in the day of trial to any of your countrymen."
After having animated them by this powerful appeal to their manhood, he gives them this salutary lesson, which we hope will be forever remembered in our Southern armies: "But remember that, without obedience, without order, without discipline, all your efforts are vain, and the brave man, inattentive to his duty, is worth little more to his country than the coward who deserts her in the hour of danger." This sententious truth, so tersely expressed, and coming from such a source, should be inscribed on the flag of every regiment. "Private opinions," he continues, "as to the competency of officers must not be indulged, and still less expressed. It is impossible that the measures of those who command should satisfy all who are bound to obey, and one of the most dangerous faults in a soldier is a disposition to criticize and blame the orders and characters of his superiors." This may be sound doctrine, but how will it work in its practical application? Was there ever a p492 body of intelligent soldiers, particularly if they whether veterans and had the experience of war, who ever refrained from indulging in having their "private opinion" as to the competency of their officers? Can it be otherwise? We think not. It is impossible for a general at the head of an army not to reveal his capacity or incapacity in a few days. Men in front of danger have a keen instinct. No captain ever could handle an army with credit to himself, without possessing the confidence of that army, and that confidence will ever be the result of "opinion." There had been no "insubordination, no want of order and discipline" in our camp on the left side of the Mississippi. General Jackson had had nothing to apprehend on the battle-field from the criticism of his soldiers. Why? Because they believed in him, and they believed in him because they had seen him at work, and they had judged the workman accordingly. It is, probably, because every soldier under General Morgan and General Jackson had entertained a "private opinion" as to the competency of his commander, that one army fought gloriously, and the other fled precipitately.
The General wound up his address with much military tact, and with a kind of tender consideration for the feelings of those for whom it was intended:
"Soldiers," he said, "I know that many of you have done your duty, and I trust, in my next address, I shall have no reason to make any exceptions. Officers, I have the fullest confidence that you will enforce obedience to your commands, and, above all, that by subordination in your different grades, you will set the example of it to your men; and that, hereafter, the army of the right will yield to none in the essential qualities which characterize good soldiers; and that they will earn their share of those honors and rewards which their country will prepare for its deliverers."
After having issued this address, General Jackson deemed it expedient to put an able officer at the head of p493 the defeated troops on the right side of the Mississippi. He ordered Humbert, a French General who had been exiled from his country on account of his extreme republican ideas, and who had tendered his services against the invaders of Louisiana, to cross the river and recover the ground which we had lost. "I," said Jackson, "expect you, General, to repulse the enemy, cost what it may." "I will; you may rely on it," replied Humbert, delighted with an order which suited exactly the well-known temerity of his natural disposition. The occasion was so urgent, and Humbert was in such haste to drive the British into the river, that he neglected or forgot to ask General Jackson for his written authority. On his arrival, this led to unpleasant discussions, which produced delay. General Morgan appeared inclined, at first, to receive as sufficient evidence the word of General Humbert, and ready to accept his assistance, if not to serve under him in a subordinate capacity, but finally demurred to it by the advice and on the representations of some of his officers. "General Humbert," they remarked, "may be a very able man, but he is an unnaturalized foreigner. We think that none but an American should command Americans. Are we to admit that we have no native military talent among us to lead us to victory in the defence of our country? This foreigner claims to have the right to ask of you four hundred men. It is derogatory to our national character, and a personal affront to you. It implies that you are believed to be incapable of repairing the disaster which has lately befallen your arms, and there is a great want of generosity, to say the least of it, in not allowing you the opportunity, by striking another blow at the enemy, to regain what you may have lost in military reputation. It is hardly possible that General Jackson intended thus to lacerate your feelings. Such an order should have been in writing. General Humbert may p494 have misconstrued his mission." Others were indignant at General Humbert's word being doubted: General Jackson could not have supposed such a thing, and therefore had not, in the hurry of the moment, taken time to reduce his order to writing. The mere fact of General Jackson's telling Humbert to demand 400 men was a proof of his being intended as Commander-in‑Chief. Was such a man, who had risen to his grade, step by step, from the lowest ranks, by the valor he had displayed in so many battles, to be under the command of a raw militia general? The appointment of Humbert was no doubt intended by General Jackson, not only as a compliment to that distinguished foreigner, who had shown such zeal in our cause, but also as an act of kindly consideration for the feelings of General Morgan, who ought to be proud to serve under such a leader. General Morgan might have complained with some reason, if his command had been transferred to some other militia dignitary like himself, of no higher rank and of no greater distinction. General Jackson had probably viewed it in that light, and had therefore shown his usual delicate tact, when sending to General Morgan a veteran known in history as the hero of Castlebar. To such a man, coming to his assistance, General Morgan should feel that he ought to tender the command, even if it had not been given by General Jackson. French, English, Spanish, and other troops had more than once been commanded by foreigners. Why should Americans be more sensitive?" Thus reasoned those who favored General Humbert.
But General Humbert was "displeased and went off," writes Colonel Shaumburgh to Governor Claiborne. There seems, indeed, to have been some cause for confusion as to who was to command on that day on the right side of the river, for General Jackson had sent the following p495 note to Claiborne: "I have sent you all the reinforcement that I can spare, or that I have arms for. The enemy on the other side is not more than five hundred strong. They must be destroyed!" This reinforcement was but feeble in number, and not in a condition to do much service. The men had passed the preceding night under arms, had fought the whole morning, and then marched •four miles from Jackson's camp to New Orleans in the rain and shivering from cold. Some had no arms at all, and the arms and ammunition of the rest were wet. In this condition they were to be hurriedly transported on the other side of the river, and to march four other miles before meeting the enemy. "In fact," says Colonel Shaumburgh, the Governor's aid, "they were not fit for a new combat for that day." The Governor took it for granted that he was to cross the river and take the command immediately over Morgan. In the mean time he ordered Shaumburgh to proceed to Morgan's lines, consult with him, and "see what could be done." Shaumburgh found Morgan's command "greatly scattered, disheartened and discontented." He spoke to several of the men, and, on his reprobating their conduct, they replied: "Give us officers and we will fight better."16 General Morgan, on being shown Jackson's characteristic note to Claiborne, in which it was emphatically aid, the enemy must be destroyed, thought that it could not be executed, and, "indeed, by the looks of things, I thought so too," observes Shaumburgh. Governor Claiborne arrived, noticed the "unpleasant situation of the troops," and, after consulting with Morgan and his subordinate officers, came to the same conclusions. Under these circumstances, he determined to make a "true statement" to General Jackson on the subject, and recrossed the river for that purpose. p496 Fortunately the British retired, and returned to their camp on the other side, thus saving us from the necessity of an attack. Immediately after the retreat of the enemy our troops reoccupied their former position, and went to work with such zeal, that Commodore Patterson, on the 13th of January, wrote to the Secretary of the Navy: "Our present position is now so strong, that there is nothing to apprehend should the enemy make another attempt on this side."
On the morning of the 9th, General Jackson granted a suspension of arms to bury the dead, at the request of General Lambert, who had assumed the command of the British army. A touching scene occurred when we delivered the bodies of the three officers who had been killed on our breastworks. Colonel Rennie, in particular, must have been an object of love and admiration to his men; for those brave soldiers shed tears when taking possession of his lifeless form. Some knelt and kissed his corpse; they called the dead "father," and showed all the depth of filial grief. Those of our men who witnessed this honorable exhibition of feeling were so moved, that they deplored the dire necessity of the loss they had inflicted on an enemy. When this informal duty of giving sepulture to the dead had been performed, our artillery resumed its fire, and gave no rest to the British camp, into which the balls of our heavy pieces fell with great accuracy. Commodore Patterson sent to Lake Borgne, through Bayou St. John and the Rigolets, six armed boats, which captured several transports, made a good many prisoners, and annoyed the enemy. On the 15th, several of our most experienced officers thought they saw in the British camp unmistakable indications of a contemplated retreat, and on that same day their conjectures were confirmed by the report of a deserter. On the 17th, General Lambert proposed p497 to draw up a cartel of prisoners, which was accepted, and on the next day we delivered to the British sixty-three of their prisoners in return for the same number of our men, leaving in our hands an excess of several hundred.
The British had intended to send into the Mississippi some armed vessels, to co-operate with their land forces in the subjugation of Louisiana. But this object it was impossible to accomplish without first taking possession of Fort St. Philip, which prohibited their entrance into the river. Early on the morning of the 8th, Major Overton, who had the command of the fort, was advised of the approach of the enemy, and on the 9th there hove in sight two bomb-vessels, one sloop, one brig, and one schooner. They anchored •two and a quarter miles below the fort, and two barges were sent apparently for the purpose of sounding within •a mile and a half of the fort. At this moment our water battery opened upon them, and its well-directed shot caused a precipitate retreat. Shortly after, the enemy opened their fire from four sea-mortars, at a distance which was beyond the reach of any of our pieces, and it continued with little interruption until the 17th. Occasionally our batteries replied with great vivacity, particularly when the vessels showed any disposition to change their position, and make a forward movement. On the evening of the 17th, we succeeded in having a heavy mortar in readiness, which opened upon them with so much effect, that they evidently became disordered from that moment, and at daylight on the 18th they commenced their retreat. Our loss was uncommonly small, although the shot of the enemy had scarcely left ten feet of the fort untouched; it amounted to two killed and seven wounded. "The officers and soldiers," says Major Overton in his report to Commodore Patterson, "although nine days p498 and nights under arms in the different batteries, and notwithstanding the consequent fatigue and loss of sleep, have manifested the greatest firmness and the most zealous warmth to be at the enemy." This failure to pass the fort, or to take it, probably contributed to strengthen General Lambert's determination to evacuate.
On the morning of the 19th an unusual quietness was observed to prevail in the British camp. Was it evacuated? But how could it be? There, as before, were the huts standing, the flags streaming to the breeze, the sentinels posted as usual. Telescopes were put in requisition, but those who used them differed in their conclusions. The majority thought that the enemy was still in possession of his camp. The veteran Humbert was consulted. His reply was positive: the enemy had evacuated. "How can you be so certain, General?" said Jackson. Humbert pointed at a crow which was in a state of unnatural proximity to one of the sentries. Evidently there could be no life in those pretended custodians of the approaches to the British camp, notwithstanding their British uniforms and their glittering muskets. They were mere images; the hunted and wounded lion had fled during the night. Fearful of some stratagem, General Jackson, in order to ascertain the real state of things, was ordering out a reconnoitering party, when a flag of truce came with a letter from General Lambert, informing General Jackson that the British army had evacuated its position on the Mississippi, and had, for the present, relinquished all undertaking against New Orleans and its vicinity. He further recommended to the humanity and generosity of General Jackson some wounded men whom he had been compelled to leave. There was no attempt made on our part to harass the enemy, "because such was the situation of the ground which he abandoned," said Jackson in his dispatch of p499 the 19th of January to the Secretary of War, "and that through which he retired, protected by canals, redoubts and intrenchments on his right, and the river on his left, that I could not, without encountering a risk which true policy did not seem to require or authorize, annoy him much on his retreat. We took only eight prisoners."
General Lambert, in his dispatch of the 28th of January to Earl Bathurst, says "that he effected his retreat without molestation; that all the sick and wounded, with the exception of eighty men whom it was considered dangerous to remove, with all the field artillery, ammunition, hospital and other stores of every description, which had been landed on a very large scale, were all brought away; and that nothing fell into the hands of the Americans, excepting six iron eighteen-pounders mounted on sea-carriages, and two carronades." We say fourteen instead of eight pieces of artillery, but we admit, as General Lambert avers, "that they were rendered perfectly unserviceable." General Lambert further informs his Lordship that only four men were reported absent on the next morning after his retreat; "and these," he adds, "must have been left behind, and must have fallen into the hands of the enemy; but when it is considered that the troops were in perfect ignorance of the movement until a fixed hour during the night; that the pickets did not move off till half-past three o'clock in the morning, and that the whole had to retire through the most difficult new-made road, wet, marshy ground, impassable for a horse, and where, in many places, the men could only go in single files, and that the absence of men might be accounted for in so many ways, it would be rather a matter of surprise that the number was so few." The General declares in the same communication "that he has every reason to believe that the treatment p500 of the prisoners and the wounded by the Americans had been kind and humane."
On the day on which the evacuation of the British camp was ascertained, General Jackson wrote to the Secretary of War:
"Whether it is the purpose of the enemy to abandon the expedition altogether, or renew his efforts at some other point, I shall not pretend to decide with positiveness. In my own mind, however, there is very little doubt but his last exertions have been made in this quarter, at any rate for the present season; and by the next, if he shall choose to revisit us, I hope we shall be fully prepared for him. In this belief I am strengthened, not only by the prodigious loss he sustained at the position he has just quitted, but by the failure of his fleet to pass Fort St. Philip."
Glorious as had been this campaign for the United States, General Jackson thought that it might have been still more glorious, for he added:
"I am more and more satisfied in the belief that, had the arms reached us which were destined for us, the whole British army in this quarter would, before this time, have been captured or destroyed. We succeeded, however, on that day (8th of January) in getting from the enemy about one thousand stand of arms of various descriptions, my artillery from both sides of the river being constantly employed till the night and the hour of their retreat in annoying them. It was time to quit a position in which so little rest could be enjoyed."
The retreating army, having reached the bleak and swampy shores of Lake Borgne, remained encamped for several days in the uncomfortable position, and it was not until the 27th that it was entirely removed.
In the mean time, General Jackson, accompanied by his staff, had visited the camp lately occupied by the formidable foe against whom he had preserved Louisiana, and had assured the wounded whom he found in it that they would promptly receive all the assistance and attention which their situation required. It must have p501 been a proud day for General Jackson, but in his exultation, the warrior did not forget Him who is the Great Dispenser of all human triumphs and humiliations, and hastened to pay his debt of gratitude by writing the following appropriate letter to the Abbé Dubourg, who was then at the head of the Catholic Diocese of New Orleans:
"Reverend Sir: The signal interposition of Heaven, in giving success to our arms against the enemy who so lately landed on our shores — an enemy as powerful as inveterate in his hatred — while it must excite in every bosom attached to the happy government under which we live emotions of the liveliest gratitude, requires at the same time some external manifestation of those feelings. Permit me, therefore, to entreat that you will cause the service of public thanksgiving to be performed in the Cathedral, in token of the great assistance we have received from the Ruler of all events, and our humble sense of it."
On this same day of patriotic rejoicing — the day which marked the evacuation of Louisiana by the British — Claiborne, in a communication to the President of the United States, said, with little foresight of the future: "The opponents of the American Union will no longer, I hope, think it easy to make an impression on its distant sections, and the friends of our common country may hereafter look with calmness on any attempt which may be made to sever any of its members from the original stock." The "American Union" has been dissolved, temporarily at least; its members have been severed from what the Governor calls the "original stock," but the tempestuous wind which caused the wreck blew from another quarter than the one which was then looked to as the source of the danger.
Thus the enemy had gone away, crippled but still powerful — baffled at one point, it is true, but might not he return at another? General Jackson, to provide p502 against this contingency, took the most active and well-devised measures in strengthening all his defensive positions. He left a regiment of Louisiana Militia on Villeré's plantation, a detachment of Kentucky troops on Lacoste's, the 7th Regiment of regulars in the lines which he had occupied, and returned to New Orleans on the 21st with the rest of his troops, after having sent numerous parties to reconnoitre the enemy on the shore of Lake Borgne, in order to be kept advised of his movements.
Before breaking his lines, General Jackson had an eloquent address read at the head of each corps, in which he said:
"The enemy has retreated, and your General has now leisure to proclaim to the world what he has noticed with admiration and pride — your undaunted courage, your patriotism, and your patience under hardships and fatigues. Natives of different States, acting together for the first time in this camp, differing in habits and language, instead of viewing in these circumstances the germ of distrust and division, you have made them the source of an honorable emulation, and from the seeds of discord itself have reaped the fruits of an honorable union."
Alluding to the alacrity and promptitude with which the troops, from their scattered encampments, had gathered to meet the enemy on the 23d of December, he made use of these expressions:
"The gay rapidity of the march, the cheerful countenances of the officers and men, would have induced a belief that some festive entertainment, not the strife of battle, was the object to which they hastened with so much eagerness and hilarity. In the conflict that ensued the same spirit was supported."
In this rapid and masterly review of the achievements of the army, the General, coming to the great battle of the 8th of January, observed:
"The final effort was made. At the dawn of day the batteries opened, and the columns advanced. Knowing that volunteers from p503 Tennessee and the militia from Kentucky were stationed on your left, it was there they directed their attack. Reasoning always from false principles, they expected little opposition from men whose officers even were not in uniform, who were ignorant of the rules of war, and who had never been caned into discipline. Fatal mistake! A fire incessantly kept up, directed with calmness and unerring aim, strewed the field with the bravest officers and men of the column, which slowly advanced according to the most approved rules of European tactics, and was cut down by the untutored courage of American militia."
In conclusion, he summed up in these few lines the results obtained, as being incalculably important:
"The pride of an arrogant enemy humbled, his forces broken, his leaders killed, his insolent hopes of our disunion frustrated, his expectations of rioting in our spoils and wasting our country changed into ignominious defeat, shameful flight, and a reluctant acknowledgment of the humanity and kindness of those whom he had doomed to all the horrors and humiliation of a conquered State. On the other side, unanimity established, disaffection crushed, confidence restored, your country saved from conquest, your property from pillage, your wives and daughters from insult and violation, the Union preserved from dismemberment, and perhaps a period put by this decisive stroke to a bloody and savage war. These, my brave friends, are the consequences of the efforts you have made and the success with which they have been crowned by Heaven."
In the general orders which were appended to this address, the Commander-in‑Chief publicly noticed the conduct of the different corps which composed the army, and paid a just and well-merited tribute of praise to the officers and men who had particularly distinguished themselves. In speaking of the Mississippi cavalry, under Hinds, he said: "The daring manner in which they reconnoitered the enemy on his lines excited the admiration of one army, and the astonishment of the other." If he had severely reprobated as dastardly the conduct of the Kentuckians on the right side of the river, he warmly commended their behavior on the left. p504 "General Adair," he said, "who, owing to the indisposition of General Thomas, brought up the Kentucky militia, has shown that troops will always be valiant when their leaders are so. No men ever displayed a more gallant spirit than these under that most valuable officer. His country is under obligation to him." The plain inference from this paragraph is, that if the Kentuckians and other troops under General Morgan had shown timidity, it was because they had not been under valiant leaders. This explains why General Jackson sent General Humbert to supersede General Morgan. He thus noticed the Baratarians — those whom he had so lately called "hellish banditti": "Captains Dominique and Beluche, lately commanding privateers at Barataria, with part of their former crew and many brave citizens of New Orleans, were stationed at batteries Nos. 3 and 4. The General cannot avoid giving his warm approbation of the manner in which these gentlemen have uniformly conducted themselves while under his command, and of the gallantry with which they have redeemed the pledge they gave at the opening of the campaign to defend the country. The brothers Lafitte have exhibited the same courage and fidelity; and the General promises that the Government shall be duly apprised of their conduct." It is impossible to refrain from a smile when observing in how short a time General Jackson had modified his views and expressions concerning these men. On the 21st of September they were "pirates and hellish banditti;" on the 21st of January they were "privateers and gentlemen."
It has been related in the course of this History that Governor Claiborne and General Jackson had been very anxious for the adjournment of the Legislature during the invasion, and that the Governor had in vain invited both Houses to cease their labors until a more opportune p505 time. In the following paragraph of an order of the day, Jackson indirectly censures the members who had preferred legislating instead of rushing to arms, when the enemy was almost at the door of the State House:
"The General takes the greatest pleasure in noticing the conduct of General Garrigue de Flaugeac, commanding one of the brigades of militia of this State, and member of the Senate. His brigade not being in the field, as soon as the invasion was known he repaired to the camp, and offered himself as a volunteer for the service of a piece of artillery, which he directed with the skill which was to be expected from an experienced artillery officer. Disdaining the exemption afforded by his seat in the Senate, he continued in this subordinate but honorable station, and by his example as well as his exertion, has rendered essential services to his country. Mr. Sebastian Hiriart, of this same body, set the same example, served a considerable time in the ranks of the volunteer battalion, and afterward as adjutant of the colored troops."
In relation to these colored troops, the formation of which had produced some feeling of discontent, he said: "The two corps of colored volunteers have not disappointed the hopes that were formed of their courage and perseverance in the performance of their duty. Majors Lacoste and Daquin, who commanded them, have deserved well of their country." He thus complacently noticed the conduct of two distinguished foreigners: General Humbert, who offered his services as a volunteer, has continually exposed himself to the greatest dangers with his characteristic bravery, as has also the Mexican field marshal, Don Juan de Anaya, who acted in the same capacity." Of Major Lacarriere Latour, from whose Historical Memoir on this campaign we have so often quoted, he said: "The Chief Engineer, Major Lacarriere Latour, has been useful to the army by his talents and bravery."
With regard to the humiliating event which had occurred on the right bank of the Mississippi, a court of p506 inquiry was subsequently held, and was presided over by Major-General Carroll. The court decided that the conduct of Colonels Davis, Déjean and Cavelier had not been "reprehensible;" that the causes of the disaster were to be attributed to the "shameful flight of the command by Major Arnaud" — to the retreat of the Kentucky militia, which, considering their position, the deficiency of their arms and other causes, "might be excusable" — and to the panic and confusion introduced in every part of the line, thereby occasioning the retreat and confusion of the Orleans and Louisiana drafted militia.
With regard to General Morgan, the court held the following language:
"Whilst the court find much to applaud in the zeal and gallantry of the officer immediately commanding, they believe that a further reason for the retreat may be found in the manner in which the force was posted on the line, which they consider exceptionable. The commands of Colonels Déjean, Cavelier and Declouet, composing five hundred men, supported by three pieces of artillery, having in front a strong breastwork, occupying only a space of two hundred yards, whilst the Kentucky militia, only one hundred and seventy men strong, without artillery, occupied more than three hundred yards, covered by a small ditch only."
Certainly, General Morgan had no right to complain of the mildness of this censure, the word "exceptionable" being as soft an adjective as could be applied to his military dispositions on that day.
It is needless to attempt to describe the ovation which attended the return of the victorious army to New Orleans. It can be more easily imagined. The whole population was in the streets, at the balconies, at the windows, and even on the tops of the houses. There was joy in every breast, joy in every face; there were such greetings as the heart alone can give; it was a feast of the soul for those who received, and those who tendered, p507 the welcome. The 23d had been appointed for the celebration of a Solemn Thanksgiving in the Cathedral, with all the gorgeous ceremonies of the Catholic Church. All the citizens, whatever their religious creed was, joined their exertions to make that festival as impressive as it was in their power. In front of the Cathedral, in the middle of that square which is now known as Jackson Square, and where the equestrian statue of the hero commemorates his fame and the gratitude of Louisiana, a triumphal arch was temporarily erected. It was supported by six columns. On the right was a young woman with the attributes of Justice which she represented, and another, on the left, personated the Goddess of Liberty. Under the arch two beautiful boys, looking as if they were angels dropped from heaven on the pedestals on which they stood, held, each in his tiny hand, a crown of laurels. From the arch to the Church, at proper intervals, were ranged young ladies representing the different States and Territories of the American Union. They were all dressed in white, and covered with transparent veils. A silver star glittered on their foreheads. Each one held in her right hand a flag on which was inscribed the name of the State she represented, and in her left a basket of flowers trimmed with blue ribbons. Behind each was a shield appended to a lance stuck in the ground, and inscribed with the name of a State or Territory. These shields were linked together with verdant festoons, and formed a kind of lane from the triumphal arch to the gray towers of the time-honored Cathedral.a In the rear on both sides, and extending from the entrance of the Square which faced the river to the Church, was a glittering avenue of bayonets formed by the uniform companies of Plauché's Battalion, and back of them, in every direction, surged and undulated like a sea of human beings the p508 immense multitude assembled to witness the pageantry of the day. The boom of artillery and a burst of military music announced the approach of the hero. The air was rent with acclamations, and the hands of beauty waved handkerchiefs and flags from the adjacent buildings, which were crowded with eager spectators. As General Jackson passed under the triumphal arch he was crowned by the two youthful genii who expected him on their pedestals, and was congratulated in an address delivered by the girl who personated the State of Louisiana. Then, as he proceeded to the Church, the other States and Territories gracefully bowed their heads to him, each waving her flag, and strewing his path with flowers. At the door of the Cathedral he met Abbé Dubourg with all his clergy. That venerable personage thus addressed him in terms well suited to the occasion and to the sacred character of the orator:
"Whilst the State of Louisiana, in the joyful transports of her gratitude, hails you as her deliverer and the asserter of her menaced liberties; whilst grateful America, so lately wrapped up in anxious suspense on the fate of this important city, the emporium of the wealth of one-half of her territory, and the true bulwark of her independence, is now re-echoing from shore to shore your splendid achievements, and preparing to inscribe your name on her immortal rolls among those of her Washingtons; whilst history, poetry, and the monumental arts will vie in consigning to the admiration of the latest posterity a triumph perhaps unparalleled in their records; whilst thus raised by universal acclamation to the very pinnacle of fame, and surrounded with ascending clouds of incense, how easy it had been for you, General, to forget the Prime Mover of your wonderful success, and to assume to yourself a praise which must essentially return to that exalted source whence every sort of merit is derived! But, better acquainted with the nature of true glory, and justly placing the summit of your ambition in approving yourself the worthy of Heaven's merciful designs, the first impulse of your religious heart was to acknowledge p509 the signal interposition of Providence; your first step is a solemn display of your humble sense of His favors.
"Still agitated at the remembrance of those dreadful agonies from which we have been so miraculously rescued, it is our duty also to acknowledge that the Almighty had truly had the principal hand in our deliverance, and to follow you, General, in attributing to his infinite goodness the homage of our unfeigned gratitude. Let the infatuated votary of a blind chance deride our credulous simplicity; let the cold-hearted atheist look up for the explanation of such important events to the mere concatenation of human causes; to us, the whole universe is loud in proclaiming a Supreme Ruler, who, as he holds the hearts of man in his hands, holds also the thread of all contingent occurrences. 'Whatever be His intermediate agents,' says an illustrious prelate, 'still on the secret orders of His all-ruling providence depend the rise and prosperity, as well as the decline and downfall of empires. From His lofty throne above He moves every scene below, now curbing, now letting loose the passions of men; now infusing His own wisdom into the leaders of nations; now confounding their boasted prudence, and spreading upon their councils a spirit of intoxication, and thus executing his uncontrollable judgments on the sons of men according to the dictates of His own unerring justice.'
"To Him, therefore, our most fervent thanks are due for our late unexpected rescue, and it is Him we chiefly intend to praise, when considering you, General, as the man of his right hand, whom he has taken pains to fit out for the important commission of our defence. We extol that fecundity of genius by which, in circumstances of the most discouraging distress, you created unforeseen resources, raised as it were from the ground hosts of intrepid warriors, and provided every vulnerable point with ample means of defence. To Him we trace that instinctive superiority of your mind, which alone rallied around you universal confidence, impressed one irresistible movement to all the jarring elements of which this political machine is composed, aroused their slumbering spirits, and diffused through every rank that noble ardor which glowed in your own bosom. To Him, in fine, we address our acknowledgments for that consummate prudence which defeated all the combinations of a sagacious enemy, entangled with him in the very snares which he had spread before us, and succeeded in effecting his utter destruction, without hardly exposing the lives of our citizens. Immortal thanks be to His Supreme Majesty, for sending us such an instrument of His bountiful designs! A gift of that value is the best token of the continuance of His protection — the most solid encouragement to us p510 to sue for new favors. The first which it emboldens us humbly to supplicate, as it is the nearer to our throbbing hearts, is that you may long enjoy, General, the honors of your grateful country, of which you will permit us to present you a pledge in this wreath of laurel, the prize of victory, the symbol of immortality. The next is a speedy and honorable termination of the bloody contest in which we are engaged. No one has so efficaciously labored as you, General, for the acceleration of that blissful period. May we soon reap that sweetest fruit of your splendid and uninterrupted victories!"
In this address a just tribute was paid to the merits of General Jackson and to the leading traits of his character, which, in a few phrases, were accurately delineated. Having received the wreath of laurel presented by the apostolic hands of the speaker, the General made this modest and felicitous reply:
"Reverend Sir, I perceive with gratitude and pleasure the symbolical crown which piety has prepared. I receive it in the name of the brave men who have so effectually seconded my exertions for the preservation of their country. They well deserve the laurels which their country will bestow.
"For myself, to have been instrumental in the deliverance of such a country, is the greatest blessing that Heaven could confer. That it has been effected with so little loss — that so few tears should cloud the smiles of our triumph, and not a cypress leaf be interwoven in the wreath which you present, is a source of the most exquisite enjoyment.
"I thank you, Reverend Sir, most sincerely, for the prayers which you offer up for my happiness. May those your patriotism dictates for our beloved country be first heard! and may mine for your individual prosperity, as well as that of the congregation committed to your care, be favorably received! The prosperity, the wealth, the happiness of this city will then be commensurate with the courage and other qualities of its inhabitants."
It is painful to record that, amidst all these rejoicings, there were hearts which still remained deeply ulcerated by that military interference with the Legislature of Louisiana on the 28th of December, which many attributed to General Jackson.
1 Latour's Memoir, p113.
2 Henley to Commodore Patterson, Dec. 28.
3 Latour's Historical Memoir, p119.
4 Latour's Historical Memoir, p125.
5 Latour's Memoir, p125.
6 Macaulay's Essays, Milford's Greece, vol. 3, p373.
7 Patterson to the Secretary of the Navy, January 2d, 1815.
8 Latour's Memoir, p137.
9 Latour's Memoir, p140.
10 Latour's Memoir, p229.
11 Alex. Walker's Life of General Jackson, p185.
12 Latour's Memoir, p147.
13 Latour's Historical Memoir, p166.
14 Colonel Thornton's Official Report, 8th of January, 1815.
15 Colonel Thornton's Official Report, 8th January.
16 Executive Journal, Shaumburgh's communication to Claiborne.
a The cathedral had just been built in the years immediately following the fire of 1788: it was thus not thirty years old. It would be demolished in the mid‑19c to be replaced by the present building.
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