The Miracle of New Orleans

America’s Second War for Independence.

Few people even realize that that is one of the names the War of 1812 has been known as. It’s actually quite fitting if you think about it though. We were still a young nation at the point war was declared once again. Rather than fighting for the ability to be our own nation though, we were fighting to keep the British from coming to take away our land and freedom.

For years American seamen were kidnapped from their ships on the high seas and pressed into service in the British navy. They were forced to man British war ships, never to see their families again. This sort of blatant mockery toward the sovereignty of the United States would not be tolerated. Americans were tired of their sons disappearing at the hands of press gangs. We had gained our Independence decades before. Now it was time for us to remind the other countries of the world that we were in fact a sovereign nation that would not tolerate being bullied.

One of the most prominent battles of the war is perhaps the Battle for New Orleans. Taking place in 1815, it was Great Britain’s final push to defeat the Americans. They were quite determined that they would be able to sufficiently end the war, especially after having defeated Napoleon just a short while before in Europe. The capture of New Orleans was vital if they planned to win the war. If they were able to take the city, they would have control of the Mississippi River, and thus all American trade and shipping in the south and west.

The only problem was that in order to take New Orleans, they would have to fight their way through a fierce group of Americans led by Andrew Jackson.

Andrew Jackson had proved himself as a formidable foe early on in the war. His men nicknamed him “Old Hickory” because he was so tough and hardened to battle. Not only was he an amazing military leader, but he also held a strong personal dislike for the British. Not many realize it, but he actually fought in the American War for Independence, during which time he was taken prisoner by the British. The conditions he was held in as a prisoner of war were astoundingly brutal. He was starved, almost died from smallpox, and was slashed with a sword by a British officer after he refused to clean the officer’s boots. But his disdain for the British went even deeper than the abuse he personally had suffered at their hands. Both of his brothers were killed during the fight for Independence, and his mother died shortly after when she caught cholera from nursing sick American prisoners. All of these events had cemented deep within him a disgust for the British. America would never again bow beneath their tyranny, if he had anything to say about it.

“I owe to Britain a debt of retaliatory vengeance. Should our forces meet I trust I shall pay the debt.”

Andrew Jackson

As for the men who fought under his command, they were some of the best marksmen in the world. Their skills were honed from years of hunting in the wild woodlands of the country. They had full confidence in their General, and would’ve followed him anywhere. The problem was that they were also a relatively small group that faced off against the British in New Orleans. It has been estimated that the British outnumbered Jackson and his men in a two-to-one ratio.

Jackson set up a fortress line of his soldiers to defend the city, saying,

“Here we shall plant our stakes and not abandon them until we drive these red-coat rascals into the river, or the swamp.”

The destiny of America and freedom was riding on Jackson and his men holding onto New Orleans. As we look back at the grand scope of the war, we can easily see time after time when the Hand of God was moving on our behalf. The Battle for New Orleans was no different in any way. Nothing about the circumstances said that we should’ve won the battle. The odds against us were truly astounding.

As the British made their advance on the city, the heavy fog they had been counting on giving them concealment began to lift rapidly. This offered Jackson and his men a chance to prepare themselves better.

In one of the first attacks of the battle, British Colonel Robert Rennie shouted to his men, “Hurrah, boys, the day is ours!” It was fully expected that the British would emerge the victors. No sooner had the words come from his mouth, however, than he was shot and killed by an American soldier.

It was said by British soldiers who were there that day, that the American ramparts were firing with such ferocity and precision they resembled “a row of fiery furnaces”. Despite the best efforts of the British troops, it seemed as though any hope for a victory on their part was lost. Thirty minutes after the initial attack the British were forced into full retreat. Entire companies of soldiers were withdrawing, leaving in their wake a mass of dead, dying, and wounded men.

One American Navy Surgeon wrote in a letter home his description of the American victory:

“Let all Europe hear that the elite of those troops, who boasted having carried the most redoubtable fortresses in Spain…achieved the dethronement of the Emperor Napoleon; have been defeated, in sight of the City of New Orleans by a heterogeneous description of farmers, merchants, lawyers, boatmen, tailors, doctors, clerks, in fact every kind of professional and tradesmen, forming the population of a country…. Let them learn what immortal honors have been gained by the heroes of New Orleans.”

Joseph O’Conway

The miraculous thing about the entire battle?

Roughly 2,042 British soldiers were killed or wounded. American casualties amounted to only 71 soldiers.

Even after being outnumbered by an absurd majority, Jackson and his men emerged more than victorious. Looking back on it, it’s impossible not to see The Timeless Anchor working and moving on our behalf in this significant battle.

“History records no example of so glorious a victory obtained with so little bloodshed on the part of the victorious.”

President James Madison

Andrew Jackson said in a letter to Robert Hays, regarding the battle,

“It appears that the unerring hand of Providence shielded my men from the shower of balls, bombs, and rockets, when every ball and bomb from our guns carried with them a mission of death.”

    Later he also told Secretary of War James Monroe,

    “Heaven, to be sure, has interposed most wonderfully in our behalf, and I am filled with gratitude, when I look back to what we have escaped.”

    Truly Providence was at work in this specific chapter of history. There is no other explanation for what happened during the battle. Those who would try to explain it away by luck or coincidence are wrong. You can’t tell me that every step that gave us a foothold in the battle was merely a random coincidence.

    It’s simply one more example of God’s amazing plan for America.

    Just for fun, here are a couple of fun songs to go along with today’s post. They were running through my mind the entire time I was writing.

    Andrew Jackson Song

    The Battle for New Orleans

    Did you know that God’s hand specifically shielded America’s soldiers in the battle for New Orleans? Let me know what you think in the comments!

    2 thoughts on “The Miracle of New Orleans

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