You can’t go to New Orleans without stopping to see where the Battle of New Orleans took place. It took place on the plantation of Ignace Francios Martin de Lino de Chalmet. Born 1755, he was a veteran of the American Revolution. He retired in 1794 and began acquiring land below New Orleans in 1805, which would become the Chalmette Plantation.
Andrew Jackson chose this site to engage the British. The plantation was bordered by a canal which ran between the Mississippi River and the Cypress Swamp.
Jackson’s plan was to force the British to march through the stubble of harvested sugarcane fields toward his troops. His troops enlarged the canal, allowing it to fill with water, built a shoulder-high mud rampart thick enough to withstand cannon fire with the mud from the canal.
On January 8, 1815, a foggy morning, the British did exactly what Jackson expected, and in the space of the two hour battle, the British lost 2,000 men while Jackson lost 20.
Plain bad luck and bad management led to the British defeat. The British were led by Sir Edward Pakenham, a capable General who distinguished himself in the Europe and West Indies wars. It just wasn’t his day. He correctly analyzed Jefferson’s strategy, and had his men prepare flotation devises for crossing the Canal and ladders to scale the ramparts. With his 4,000 battled harden soldiers against Jackson’s 2000 men consisting of 500 seasoned troops and the rest local indians, pirates and militia, there was little doubt as to the outcome.
General Pakenham assigned Captain Thomas Mullins, one of his officers, to build the ladders and fascines (a rough bundle of brushwood used for making a path across uneven or wet terrain) to be the advance guard for the first column of attack and to carry the ladders and fascines which would enable the British troops to cross the ditch and scale the American ramparts. Mullins lost his way in the fog, realizing his mistake he ordered his men to turn around. They dropped their ladders and fascines so they could fire their weapons. When Pakenham’s main force reached the canal, there was no way to cross. Mullins, trying to get back, blocked the main troops causing mass confusion, all in the cross fire of Jackson’s army. They cut the British down.
Well they ran through the briar, they ran through the brambles and they ran through the bushes where a rabbit wouldn’t go. They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.