Monday, January 7, 2013

Battle of New Orleans reenacted

Today, I learned that had the Americans not won the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812, we might all be drinking tea and eating crumpets.

I suppose I once knew this important historic fact and, God knows, I see Gen. Andrew Jackson's statues around New Orleans often enough, but it didn't make that much impact until I was standing right on the battlefield, looking at the Rodriguez Canal where U.S. troops stealthily awaited the Brits.

The British ships approached from Lake Borgne and rowed ashore because it was shallow, which was handy except that there were American soldiers, free men of color and Indians on east and west banks of the Mississippi just waiting for them. (You can tell I have been to the Lafitte Visitor Center.)

Jackson lacked any military experience and had probably been a liberal arts major, but he was apparently a good strategist, so was able to outwit his enemies. Aren't all liberal arts majors witty?

British Gen. John Keane decided to rest at Lacoste's Plantation instead of moving upriver to immediately attack New Orleans, literally spitting distance away. This was a major faux pas. They would have found New Orleanians drinking cafe au lait, making gumbo and voodoo and unable to defend themselves from any kind of assault.

Of course, it's probably best not to siege a city when you are tired, but that pause gave Jackson enough time to align his own troops! On top of that, somebody in the British ranks forgot to bring the ladders! so they couldn't climb up the embankment

The next day, 2000 British soldiers were mowed down by U.S. soldiers helped by sharpshooters from Kentucky and Tennessee. A few  surrendered, but the rest of the British sailed off to attack Mobile. The war was over before they could do anything else and New Orleans was the prize.

All of this took place on Jan. 8, 1914, but it is reenacted every year by school children and adults who enjoy that sort of thing. This year, they'll storm the barricade on Jan. 11.

1 comment:

  1. Andrew Jackson's statues ? There's only one here and that one is in the square with his name on it. Yes there are other statues that resemble him but I assure you they are not ...