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Virtual Battle of New Orleans
The Many Battles of New Orleans
Although the Treaty of Ghent was signed on December 24, 1814, the War of 1812 was not over. The treaty specifically stated that fighting between the United States and Britain would stop only when both governments ratified the treaty; and so, the battles in and around New Orleans continued through December and into 1815.
A British fleet of gunboats was met in Lake Borgne, east of New Orleans, by a small flotilla of American gunboats. Outnumbered and unable to maneuver freely due to light winds, the Americans were defeated. But this delayed the British invasion fleet, which gave General Andrew Jackson more time to prepare defenses in New Orleans.
The British force crossed the lake and proceeded up Bayou Bienvenue to higher ground close to the Mississippi River.
Jackson sent two ships, Louisiana and Carolina, downriver to bombard the British encampment, followed by a force by land. The British were caught by surprise, making them think that American forces were stronger than they had anticipated. The attack caused more delay, allowing Jackson to continue to reinforce the defenses.
The British began an artillery barrage aimed primarily at a plantation house that served as Jackson's headquarters. Few casualties and little damage were done to the Americans, who responded with artillery that damaged some British guns.
The climactic battle was launched in the morning; the British advanced in formation across the sugarcane fields of Chalmette Plantation. The Americans were in a fortified position behind a canal and an earthen rampart, supported by artillery. This artillery devastated the advancing British, killing senior officers including the commanding general, Sir Edward Packenham. With no senior officer to lead them, the British retired from the field. Meanwhile, another British force had crossed the Mississippi River and had overrun the American defenders on the west side of the river. Their plan to recross the river and attack the Americans from the rear was thwarted as the British forces on the east side at Chalmette had been defeated. A few skirmishes took place in the days following, but the victory was complete, the invaders had been defeated, and New Orleans was saved.
Last updated: December 7, 2023