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The Battle of Battle of New Orleans - final battle of the American war of 1812

Updated: Jan 18

The final battle of the American war of 1812 was fought at New Orleans, it took place 5 miles east-southeast of the city of New Orleans and was a decisive victory for the Americans.


At the end of the day, the British had 2,042 casualties: 291 killed (including Generals Pakenham and Gibbs), 1,267 wounded (including General Keane) and 484 captured or missing. The Americans had 71 casualties: 13 dead; 39 wounded, and 19 missing.


8 January 1815


The British under General Edward Pakenham advanced on January 8, 1815. However, their attack quickly and spectacularly fell apart. The advance took longer than expected, and the rising sun and breaking fog left the British out in the open. In addition, Lt. Col. Thomas Mullins forgot to bring along the equipment needed for the British to cross the 15-foot-wide Rodriguez Canal. By the time Mullins realized his mistake, American artillery had killed hundreds of British troops who had nowhere to go, including Pakenham.


The British had lost 2,000 men in less than half an hour, and Mullins was court-martialed.



Perhaps the most surprising element of the Battle of New Orleans was its timeliness. The United States and Britain reached a ceasefire on Christmas Eve, 1814, but the news had not yet reached either Jackson or the British commanders. Tactically, the battle didn’t matter, as the war had already ended. But Jackson received nationwide acclaim for his plucky defense of New Orleans, and the victory boosted American morale. This glory later bolstered him to the White House, where he served as president from 1829 to 1837.


The only British success was on the west bank of the Mississippi River, where Thornton's brigade, comprising the 85th Regiment and detachments from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines attacked and overwhelmed the American line.


ROYAL MARINES on the WEST BANK


Lieutenant Morgan Royal Marines had he taken part in the ‘boat action’ before New Orleans on 14th December, which proved a successful but a very bloody affair for the British. During this action Lieutenant Morgan action is confirmed as being in the pinnacle alongside Captain Henry Montresor.

He went on to take part in the attack on the enemy guns on the West Bank during the battle of New Orleans. The force detailed for this operation was under the overall command of Colonel Thornton of the 85th Foot.


This force consisted of his own Regiment and a detachment of sailors and Marines under Captain Rowland Money. A total of 1,200 men.


From the start however things started to go wrong when a dam across the river collapsed blocking all the boats needed to transport the troops to the Western bank quarter of a mile down river. With tremendous effort and after a long delay a few boats were dragged forward and when this allowed a small number of the force to be boated, it was decided that the attack should proceed as planned.



The force now greatly reduced consisted of a total of 560, being the best part of four companies of the 85th, the rest being sailors and marines. These men faced a force of 888 American’s and 17 guns.


The British force attacked the enemy at daylight in their entrenched position and as the column advanced it was supported by the armed boats moving parallel with it. When they arrived within 200 yards of the entrenchment, the British discontinued firing, and moved rapidly forward with the bayonet.


At that moment lieutenant Henry Elliot (Royal Marines), observing that the enemy's right flank was accessible, ordered his men to oblique to the left; and having passed the ditch and an unfinished breast-work, was quickly in rear of the Americans: lieutenant Crazier with his company, and the skirmishers of the 85th, closely following, turned the enemy's flank and captured a field-piece.


This part of the operations having succeeded so admirably, the remainder of the column rushed into the work, drove the enemy from every position, and took possession of 17 pieces of cannon. Casualties for this action were heavy.



Both Thornton and Money were wounded, 33 men of the 85th were killed and wounded. 33 seaman and Marines 39, including Lt Charles Morgan. Making a total of 72 casualties or 13% of the force engaged.


The Naval/ Royal Marines own casualty rate would be have been around 20% as not more than 200 men took part.


The principal attack by the troops on the left bank proving unsuccessful, with the loss of major-generals the honourable sir Henry Pakenham and Gibbs, and around 2,000 in killed, wounded, and prisoners, major-general Lambert determined to withdraw the army ; consequently, lieutenant-colonel Thornton was directed to retire, after spiking the guns. Immediate preparations were made for re-embarking.


Had the successes on the West Bank been exploited, the Battle of New Orleans might have ended in a British victory.


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