December 20 2007 | Latest News

The Battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1815. At the tail end of the War of 1812, the British with the mightiest army in the world, decided to teach the Americans a lesson for stabbing them in the back by declaring war on them while they were deeply involved in fighting the tyrant, Napoleon.

The greatest armada ever to approach the American shores was assembled. On the fifty ships were 10,000 of the mightiest warriors in the world. The expedition was the called, "Booty and Beauty", for the British were so confident of victory of the wealth of New Orleans and her beautiful women, the armada carried the future governor of the new British territory and his entire staff, as well as their wives and children. Also on board were printing presses so the glorious victory could be told without delay.

In all there were six possible areas of attack to take New Orleans. Fortunately for New Orleans, the British admiral chose the worst possible location, the fields of the Chalmette Plantation.

When General Sir Edward Pakenham, the commander in chief of the British forces, arrived at the site on December 25, 1814, he found a narrow stretch of land that had been recently flooded by General Jackson making his superior siege guns almost useless and the footing for his troops and cavalry treacherous. To his front was a canal and then a rampart defended by an estimated 5,400 American troops with long rifles and cannon power. To his left flank was the Mississippi River with a gunboat in the River and batteries of cannon on the opposite bank. On his right flank was a swamp. To add to the insult, his supplies were 80 miles to his rear. No doubt his first act after surveying the field of battle was to make out his will.

Weather conditions on the day of the battle were foggy with freezing temperatures. Shortly after daylight, when the fog lifted, General Pakenham ordered rockets fired, signaling the start of the attack. British troops, like toy soldiers in a straight line, advanced 60 troops and 4 deep. Jackson gave the order to kill the officers first. It was a virtual massacre. British troops started to retreat. Pakenham watched in stunned disbelief for this had never happened to British soldiers before. He mounted his horse and tried to rally his troops in a charge and was killed instantly.

The accuracy of the American long rifles and the cannoniers, especially Jean Lafitte's men, were deadly accurate. It was all over in just 30 minutes. British losses, 3,326 - Americans killed, 13.

As was customary for the times, General Pakenham's heart was removed from his body and buried on the field where he gave his life for his motherland. To preserve his body for return to England, it was placed in a cash of rum.

The Battle of New Orleans was the first major victory of our young country. To this day it's considered our greatest for we won our freedom on July 4, 1776, but it was not confirmed until January 8, 1815, at the Battle of New Orleans.

As a final touch of irony, the battle was fought after the peace treaty (ending the War of 1812) had been singed on December 24, 1814.

Where Y'at: One hundred percent Orleanian, this interrogative aroused much speculation as to how it came about. The most plausible explanation has to do with jazz musicians who would playa gig and then congregate afterwards for jam sessions for their own pleasure. When two musicians met on the way to work they would yell, "Where y'at," meaning "where are you playing so when I finish my gig I can meet you for a session." As much a part of New Orleans' language today as any slang expression that was born in the city, the question has become entrenched into our vernacular and has evolved into more of a greeting than a query.

If you do what you love - you will never work a day in your life!