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citizens who were not overwhelmed with despondency; there was treachery to contend against. Disaffected persons, foreigners, were in New Orleans, who discouraged the disposition (of itself faint enough) to resist the approach of the enemy; and, according to the account furnished us by one of Jackson's biographers, communicated to the enemy every species of information which could aid the invaders, and be injurious to our country. Add to this, that General Jackson was considerably worn down by disease; the city was without fortifications; military stores could not be obtained readily; the troops had not yet arrived, and might be delayed still longer; and we have something of a glimpse of the trials under which the defence of New Orleans was to be conducted.
Before he left Mobile, Jackson directed Governor Claiborne to close, as well as he could, the communications between the Mississippi and the Lakes Borgne and Ponchartrain. lie issued a proclamation, summoning the free people of color, "to embody themselves and arm for the defence of the country, of which," remarks Ingersoll, "though inhabitants, they were not, and never could be, citizens;" and immediately on his arriving at New Orleans, he called, through the governor, for large gangs of slaves, the only workmen to withstand the climate, that he misrbt erect fortifications in the marshes.
These were furnished in greater numbers than he required; and gradually, there was infused into the citizens of New Orleans itself, at least, the resolution to oppose the enemy, if not the
hope of doing so with success. For, intent upon increasing his forces to the numbers which he deemed necessary for making the stand he had determined on, General Jackson had admitted into his ranks the Baratarian pirates, of whom we have spoken above; and had actually released and embodied the convicts in the prison; from Lafitte, too, he procured enough pistol flints to render the flintless muskets serviceable for a time; and every class of the community received incessant and pressing intimations of what the indefatigable commander expected of it, in aid of his important undertaking.
It is not necessary here to dwell upon the many and valuable defences with which nature has surrounded New Or leans against an attack from sea; its peculiar situation; the difficult navigation of its large river; the vast lagunes, with their intercommunicating creeks and channels; and the impassable swamps which breed pestilence around it; each of these served as an obstacle to the foe, and enabled Jackson to provide against his approach. The banks of the Mississippi were fortified, so as to prevent the enemy's vessels from ascending, and a battery was erected at the Rigolets, or pass leading from Lake Borgne into Lake Ponchartrain, so as to oppose his passage in that direction. A strong battery and a garrison were placed at the mouth of the bayou St. John, which forms the chief communication from the city into Lake Ponchartrain; and a flotilla, consisting of five gunboats, a schooner, and a sloop, was stationed at the Bay of St. Louis, sixty miles to the northeast of New Orleans.
In the midst of the active preparations to meet the invaders, news reached the city, on the 9th of December, that the British squadron, consisting of thirty-five to forty sail, had appeared off Ship Island, near the Bay of St. Louis. Lieutenant Jones, the commander of the flotilla, in a day or two found the enemy's force increasing to such a degree as to render it incumbent on him to retire, and endeavor to oppose the entrance of the invaders into Lake Ponchartrain. On the 12th, the schooner Sea Horse, in the Bay of St. Louis, with public stores on board, finding it impossible to escape, was set on fire and blown up. On the morning of the 14th, the gunboats, while becalmed, were attacked, near the west end of the Malheureux Pass, by more than forty barges of the enemy, manned by over a thousand men; and after a very sanguinary contest, they were captured and destroyed. There were now only two public vessels left to dispute the passage of the British up the river; the Louisiana, sixteen, which had been bought, armed, and manned at the last moment, by offers of special bounties, and the Carolina, fourteen, commanded by Captain Patterson, who was the principal aaval officer at the port.
Admirable use was made of this advance of the enemy, and his dearly bought victory, in destroying the gunboats. Every measure of defence was pushed on with redoubled speed and energy; thrilling addresses called the brave to arms, and for a season made all who read them courageous; a levy was ordered of the whole civic soldiery
of the state, and the governor put himself and his militia entirely at Jackson's disposal; fortifications rose here and there; the general's eye seemed to be on each part of the work, and all moved on rapidly towards completion; even the men of Tennessee and Kentucky, keen of sight, sure of aim, unequalled in combats where the rifle was the weapon employed, were likely to arrive in season to take part in repelling the invaders of the country.
When the news of the destruction of the gunboats first reached the city, no little alarm was excited, and as the way of access to New Orleans was now open to the enemy, there were not a few disposed to temporize, and even to propose to give up the vain attempt to resist the veterans of the peninsula, who were rapidly approaching in such large numbers. But Andrew Jackson was not the man to yield in a crisis of this kind. Finding that the legislature were inert and ineffective, and believing it necessary to the purpose he had in view in defending the city, he proclaimed, on the 16th of December, the city and environs of New Orleans under strict martial law. Its operation, we are told by Ingersoll, a great admirer of Jackson, " was instantly excellent. All the brave and patriotic thronged to Jackson's banner. The whole of Louisiana became at once one vast camp, animated by one superior spirit, controlled by his iron will. The genius and firmness of one man constrained the prejudices and concentrated the energies of the entire chaotic community. From heterogeneous, inert, discordant, and even traitor* ous materials, a mass of invincible force was combined, which crushed a formidable invasion." *
This declaration of martial law, it may well be believed, was, with General Jackson, no empty formality. Disputes with the legislature rose even higher; honorable members could not be made to understand, that, at this particular juncture, the enemy coming every day nearer to the city, "parliamentary eloquence" was iwt the thing needed; but precisely that which Jackson could supply—adequate military skill and daring. Much pressed to in? form the Senate what his plans were— he averred, that he would cut the hair off his head, if he thought it had divined his intentions; and added, rather grimly, "you may expect a warm session, if I am driven from my lines into the city!" Domiciliary visitations, in search of arms, and of any thing else that could be used for the defence of the city; the enrolment of all men capable of bearing arms; the prohibiting of any one from going abroad after nine o'clock at night, except by special permission; these measures, and others even more insupportable, did undoubtedly look very much like "despotic severity;" but martial law, it is to be remembered, includes any and every step, which appears to him who proclaims it, requisite for securing the object he has in view; and General Jackson had made up his mind to assume the responsibility, believing that, in the result, he would be held excusable for the steps he had taken in so great an emergency.
On the 23d of December, Generals CofiVte and Carroll, with between three
and four thousand Tennessee and Kentucky troops, arrived very opportunely, at New Orleans. Detachments of these troops were immediately posted in different directions to guard the defences of the city. On the same day, the first division of the British troops, under General Keane, effected a landing in the midst of a huge wilderness of reeds beside one arm of the Mississippi, and at once advanced towards the city. One party of this division succeeded in capturing the whole of the most advanced American piquet, at the mouth of the bayou Bienvenu, and thus they were enabled to move forward without the least impediment. About noontime, having left the swamp for the cultivated region, they surprised another outpost, but one young man managed to escape, and was the first to announce at New Orleans the arrival of the enemy, now only some six or seven miles distant.
British writers have mooted the question, whether they might not have succeeded in capturing the city, which was then almost in sight, had they attacked it immediately. The prestige of their victories in the peninsula might have compensated for their want of numbers, and thte subsequent course of events, both in England and America, been considerably different. Instead, however, of venturing upou such an attempt, General Keane halted his men within pistol-shot of the river, without the least pretence of concealment; and they piled their arms, and a regular bivouac was formed. Reconnoitring parties sent out in different directions brought back no tidings of an enemy in sight; and the
foragers collected from every house they could enter with safety, no end of good cheer, which was partaken of by both officers and men with the greatest satisfaction and even jollity.
About half-past seven in the evening, the first interruption to this scene of careless hilarity occurred; for the momentary appearance of a few horsemen had occasioned them no concern. The watch-fires had just been replenished, and preparations were almost completed for passing the night, as comfortably as circumstances would allow, when a large vessel was observed just anchoring near the opposite bank of the river, and furling her sails very leisurely. At first, the British thought it was one of their own ships, which had made its way so far up the stream; but no answer was returned to their anxious hail. Several musket-shots were discharged at her, but without producing any reply. At length, having made fast all her sails, and brought her broadside round to bear on the foe, the word rang out on the still night, "Give them this for the honor of America!" and a deadly shower of grape was discharged amongst them; —sad premonition of the blood-stained field and mortal conflict which were before them.
Whilst the British, who had discovered that they had no means of returning the fire of the American vessel, were sheltering themselves in the best way they could from its heavy discharges of grape and round shot, on a sudden, through the densely black night, a new terror burst upon them. After no more warning than a scattered fire, at the extreme outposts,
they were roused by a fearful yell, and a simultaneous discharge of musketry on almost every landward side of them General Coffee, with his troops, was on their rear; while General Jackson in person was assailing them in front and on their left. Coffee's men impetuously rushed to the attack, and were seconded with equal ardor by the troops under Jackson. The enemy were taken by surprise, and although they soon extinguished their fires and formed, yet order was not restored before a large number had been killed or wounded. A thick fog, which arose shortly afterward, and a misunderstanding of instructions by one of the principal officers, producing some confusion in the American ranks, General Jackson called off his troops, and lay on the field that night. At four the next morning, he fell back to a position about two miles nearer the city, where the swamp and the Mississippi approached nearest to each other, and where, therefore,- his line of defence would be the shortest and most tenable. General Keane reported above three hundred killed, wounded, or missing, in this night attack; the loss on the American side was about two hundred.
During the course of this conflict, and early in the following day, reinforcements arrived from the ships. There was, however, little fighting on the 24th of December, although the Louisiana had joined her consort, the Carolina, and menaced the invaders with a more destructive cannonade. Before the end of the day, the whole British force had reached the field of battle; yet, impressed with salutary fear of the Americans, the only care of General Keane was to withdraw his men farther from the river bank, that they might be less exposed to the chance of Buch casualties as those of the preceding night. Next day, the real commanders of the expedition, Sir Edward Pakenham and General Gibbs, arrived. And having made themselves acquainted with the position of affairs, they suffered the men to enjoy their "merry Christmas" as well as they could, under an incessant fire from the ships; and as soon as night fell, threw up a battery opposite the Carolina, mounting nine field-pieces, two howitzers, and one mortar. At dawn, on the 27th, the battery was opened upon the Carolina with red-hot shot, and she was soon set on fire and destroyed. The Louisiana was next attacked, but after sustaining a severe fire, succeeded in escaping up the river; Bo that the way was now clear for an advance upon New Orleans; and the needful stores, artillery, ammunition, etc., were brought up from the ships, that the grand attack might be made without delay.
ATTACK ON THE BEITISH.
General Jackson, in the mean time, we may be sure, had not been idle. In these and the immediately following days and nights, sleepless himself, and allowing none around him to sleep, until an available position for defence had been secured, he had constructed a lengthened rampart about four miles below New Orleans, of the most formidable description for his purpose. BeBide the earth, which was thrown up out of the deep ditch in front, bales or bags of cotton, brought from the city,
were unsparingly used. The line extended from the Mississippi to a low swamp, about a mile off, and the ditch was filled with water nearly to the top. In the river, the Louisiana protected the right flank; and a work, mounting twenty guns, on the opposite bank, added yet more to the strength of the position. The levee, or embankment of the river, also was by Jackson's direction cut through, both above and below the position of the British, thus embarrassing their movements both in front and in the rear.
On the 28th of December, General Pakenham advanced up the levee with the intention of driving the Americans from their entrenchments; and commenced the attack, at the distance of half a mile, with rockets, bombs, and cannon. After some seven hours' fighting, the British, having been very warmly received, were glad to retire. The attempt was renewed on the first day of the new year, but although, with great secrecy, regular breaching batteries had been erected and mounted with heavy cannon, with accompanying preparations such as might have sufficed for a siege; and although, when first opened, the fire of the thirty pieces of artillery threw the Americans into some confusion, no better success attended this than the previous attack. The American loss was less than fifty: it was supposed that the enemy suffered much more severely.
Failing in these attacks, it was next su^arested by Admiral Coch
rane, that all hands should be
set to deepen the canal which connected
the Mississippi with the bayou Bienve