The Battle of New Orleans - January 8, 1815.

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The Battle of New Orleans - January 8, 1815.

Post by pud » Sat Jan 06, 2007 7:08 pm

Source: A History Of The War between Great Britain and the United States of America During The Years 1812, 1813 & 1814. G. Auchinleck. Arms and Armour Press and Pendragon House, Great Britain, 1972. p.p. 392-394. *(originally published in parts by The Toronto Globe between 1853 and 1855).

"The extracts from General Lambert's despatch will enable the reader, with the assistance of the respective positions of the two armies, to understand the plan of attack and defence pretty clearly. General Lambert says:

-Extract of Despatch from Major General Lambert to Earl Bathurst.
"In order to give your lordship as clear a view as I can, I shall state the position of the enemy. On the left bank of the river it was simply a straight line of about a front of 1000 yards with a parapet, the right resting on the river, and the left on a wood which had been made impracticable for any body of troops to pass. This line was strengthened by flank works, and had a canal of about 4 feet deep generally, but not altogether of an equal width; it was supposed to narrow towards other left: about eight heavy guns were in position on this line. The Mississippi is here about 800 yards across; and they had on the right bank a heavy battery of 12 guns, which enfiladed to the whole front of the position on the left bank.

"Preparations were made on our side, by very considerable labor, to clear out and widen a canal that communicated with a stream by which the boats had passed up to the place of disembarkation, to open it into the Mississippi, by which means troops could be got over to the right bank, and the cooperation of armed boats could be secured.

"The disposition of the attack was as follows:-a corps, consisting of the 85th light infantry, 200 Seaman, and 400 Marines, the 5th West India Regiment, and four pieces of artillery, under the command of Col. Thornton, of the 85th, was to pass over during the night, and move along the right bank towards New Orleans, clearing its front until it reached the flanking battery of the enemy on that side, which it had orders to carry.

"The assailing of the enemy's line in front of us, was to be made by the Brigade composed of the 4th, 21st, and 44th regiments, with three companies of the 95th, under Major General Gibbs, and by the third Brigade, consisting of the 93rd, two companies of the 95th, and two companies of the Fusiliers and 43rd, under Major General Keane: some black troops were destined to skirmish in the wood on the right; the principal attack was to be made by Major General Gibbs; the first Brigade, consisting of the Fusiliers and 43rd, formed the reserve; the attacking columns were to be provided with fascines, scaling-ladders, and rafts; the whole to be at their stations before daylight. An advancing battery in our front, of six 18-pounders, was thrown up during the night, about 800 yards from the enemy's line. The attack was to be made at the earliest hour. Unlooked-for difficulties, increased by the falling of the river, occasioned considerable delay in the entrance of the armed boats, and those destined to land Col. Thornton's corps, by which four or five hours were lost, and it was not until past five in the morning, that the first division, consisting of 500 men, were over. The ensemble of the general movement was lost, and in a point which was of the last importance to the attack on the left bank of the river, although Col. Thornton, as your lordship will see in his report, which I enclose, ably executed in every particular his instructions, and fully justified the confidence the commander of the forces placed in his abilities. The delay attending that corps occasioned some on the left bank, and the attack did not take place until the columns were discernible from the enemy's lines at more than 200 yards distance; as they advanced, a continued and most galling fire was opened from every part of the line, and from the battery on the right bank.

"The brave commander of the forces, who never in his life could refrain from being at the post of honour, and sharing the dangers to which the troops were exposed, as soon as from his station he had made the signal for the troops to Vance, galloped onto the front to enemy to them by his presence, and he was seen, with his hat off, encouraging them on the crest of the glacis; it was there (almost at the same time) he received two wounds, one in his knee, and another, which was almost instantly fatal, in his body; he fell in the arms of Major M’Dougall, his Aide-de-camp. The effect of this in the side of the troops, together with Major General Gibbs and Major General Keane being both borne off wounded at the same time, with many other commanding officers, and further, the preparations to aid in crossing the ditch not being so forward as they ought to have been, from, perhaps, the men being wounded who were carrying them, caused a wavering in the column, which in such a situation became irreparable; and as I advanced with the reserve, at about 250 yards from the line, I had the mortification to observe the whole falling back upon me in the greatest confusion.

"In this situation, finding that no in impression had been made, that though many men had reached the ditch, and were either drowned or obliged to surrender, and that it was impossible to restore order in the regiments were they were, I placed the reserve in position, until I could obtain such information as to determine me how to act to the best of my judgment, and whether or not I should resume the attack, and if so, I felt I could be done only by the reserve. The confidence I have in the corps composing it would have encouraged me greatly, though not without loss, which might have made the attempt of serious consequence, as I know it was the opinion of the late distinguished commander of the forces, that the carrying of the first line would not be the least arduous service. After making the best reflections I was capable of, I kept the ground the troops then held, and went to meet Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, and to tell him, that under all the circumstances I did not think it prudent to renew the attack that day. At about 10 o'clock, I learnt of the success of Col. Thornton's corps on the right bank. I sent the commanding officer of the artillery, Col. Dickson, to examine the situation of the battery, and to report if it was tenable; but informing me that he did not think it could be held with security by a smaller corps than 2000 men, I consequently ordered Lt. Col. Gubbins, on whom the command had devolved, (Col. Thornton being wounded), to retire.

"The army remained in position until night, in order to gain time to destroy the 18-pounder battery we had constructed the preceding night in advance. I then gave orders for the troops resuming the ground they occupied previous to the attack.

" Our loss has been very severe, but I trust it will not be considered, notwithstanding the failure, that this army has suffered its military character to be tarnished. I am satisfied, had I thought it right to renew the attack, that the troops would have advanced with cheerfulness. The services of both Army and Navy, since their landing on this coast, have been arduous beyond anything I have ever witnessed, and difficulties have been got over, with an assiduity and perseverance beyond all example, by all ranks, and the most hearty cooperation has existed between the two services.

"It is not necessary for me to expatiate to you upon the lost the army has sustained in Major General the Honourable Sir E. Pakenham, Commander-in-chief of this force, nor could I do so in adequate terms. His services and merits are so well known, but I have only, in common with the whole army, to express my sincere regrets, which may be supposed at this moment to come particularly home to me.

"Major General Gibbs, who died of his wounds the following day, and Major General Keane, who were both carried off the field within 20 yards of the glacis, at the head of their brigades, sufficiently speak at such a moment how they were conducting themselves. I am happy to say Major General Keane is doing well."

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