Napoleonic War of 1812

Battle of New Orleans 1815

Battle of New Orleans in 1815 between the British and Americans was the last battle of the War of 1812, with the Treaty of Ghent.

On 8th January 1815, Major-General Sir Edward Michael Pakenham (brother-in-law of the Duke of Wellington) and his British army of 7,5000 men marched to the Battle of New Orleans, in Louisiana. Major-General Andrew Jacksons 4,500 militiamen strongly entrenched themselves. They had three lines of defence at the Rodriquez Canal.

The British started the advance towards the American line, with the sound of a whistling Congreve rocket overhead. The British artillery batteries gave covering fire.

the battle of new orleans, 1815
The Battle of New Orleans, 1815 – painted by Edward Percy Moran

Major-General Jackson returned fire from his artillery of 24 guns, while Major-General Pakenham lead the main force across the canal. At the same time, Colonel Robert Rennie overwhelmed an American isolated redoubt, along the riverbank. During the skirmish, an American salvo of rife fire killed Colonel Rennie. His men retreated, while being cut down by musket balls and artillery grapeshot.

The American riflemen and artillery, was effective on Major-General Pakenham’s advancing British line. Major-General Jackson’s militiamen amongst the woods, they fired into the British as they stood out in their red-coats amongst the surrounds of the woods. The British soldiers fell in waves with each volley from the Americans.

Major-General Pakenham was leading the main formation, as American rife and canon fired upon his men. The American troops unleashed a serval volleys, killing more than half of the advancing British, amongst the dead was Major-General Pakenham.

With most of the British officers killed, some of the British troops tired to climb the parapet by hand, but they ended up retreating due to no backup support. The British attacked and seized Major-General Jacksons artillery, it had come too late. The British troops retreated leaving behind the fallen.

It was a costly 30 minute battle for the British, with three Generals, seven Colonels, and 2,000 troops killed. An overwhelming victory for Major-General Jackson, with less than 100 American troops killed.

the signing of the treaty of ghent, 1814
The signing of the Treaty of Ghent, by Amédée Forestier

Although the American victory had no bearing on the outcome of the war, it gave them elevated national pride. The battle was in fact unnecessary. Peace terms had been negotiated and signed at Ghent in United Netherlands (now Belgium), on 24th December 1814. Although it took time for the news to cross the Atlantic.

The Battle of New Orleans became the last armed engagement of the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States.