In early 1812, Andrew Jackson was an untested military leader whose political positions had already drawn the ire of the Madison administration. Quick to take offense, Jackson was known for his sudden flashes of rage and propensity for dueling. But when given the opportunity to command troops, he also showed his strong leadership ability and earned the respect of his men.
Jackson received his first opportunity to lead in 1813. He and the 2nd Division Tennessee Regiment were sent to Washington (just north of Natchez, in what is now Mississippi) to defend against a possible attack by the British on New Orleans. Jackson battled a lack of supplies for his troops and confusion over who had ultimate control of his militia: Jackson, as an elected Major General in the militia, or Major General James Wilkinson, an experienced leader in charge of the regular US troops in New Orleans.
When Jackson received an order to disband his troops immediately, he refused to cast his volunteers adrift to find their own way home, and pledged his own money to finance the supplies needed for the trip back along the Natchez Trace to Tennessee. He gave up his horses for the sick, and walked along side of his men-encouraging them when needed, and disciplining them when necessary. His determination, combined with his willingness to suffer alongside his men, caused his men to come up with the nickname "Old Hickory."