The Battle of New Orleans
The following data is extracted from The Creoles of Louisiana.
Once more the Creoles sang the "Marseillaise." The invaders hovering along the marshy shores of Lake Borgne were fourteen thousand strong. Sir Edward Packenham, brother-in-law to the Duke of Wellington, and a gallant captain, was destined to lead them. Gibbs, Lambert, and Kean were his generals of division. As to Jackson, thirty-seven hundred Tennesseeans under Generals Coffee and Carroll, had, when it was near Christmas, given him a total of but six thousand men. Yet confidence, animation, concord, and even gaiety, filled the hearts of the mercurial people.
"The citizens," says the eye-witness, Latour, "were preparing for battle as cheerfully as for a party of pleasure. The streets resounded with 'Yankee Doodle,' 'La Marseillaise,' 'Le Chant du Depart,' and other martial airs. The fair sex presented themselves at the windows and balconies to applaud the troops going through their evolutions, and to encourage their husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers to protect them from their enemies."
That enemy, reconnoitring on Lake Borgne, soon found in the marshes of its extreme western end the month of a navigable stream, the Bayou Bienvenue. This water flowed into the lake directly from the west -- the direction of New Orleans, close behind whose lower suburb it had its beginning in a dense cypress swamp. Within, its mouth it was over a hundred yards wide, and more than six feet deep. As they ascended its waters, everywhere, as far as the eye could reach, stretched only the unbroken quaking prairie. But soon they found and bribed a village of Spanish and Italian fishermen, and under their guidance explored the whole region. By turning into a smaller bayou, a branch of the first, the Mississippi was found a very few miles away on the left, hidden from view by a narrow belt of swamp and hurrying southeastward toward the Gulf. From the plantations of sugar-cane on its border, various draining canals ran back northward to the bayou, offering on their margins a fair though narrow walking way through the wooded and vine-tangled morass to the open plains on the river shore, just below New Orleans. By some oversight, which has never been explained, this easy route to the city's very outskirts had been left unobstructed. On the 21st of December some Creole scouts posted a picket at the fishermen's village.
The traveller on the New Orleans & Mobile Railroad, as he enters the southeastern extreme of Louisiana, gliding along the low, wet prairie margin of the Gulf, passes across an island made by the two mouths of Pearl River. It rises just high enough above the surrounding marsh to be at times tolerably dry ground. A sportsmen's station on it is called English Look-out; but the island itself seems to have quite lost its name. It was known then as Isle aux Poix (Pea Island). Here on December the 21st, 1814, the British had been for days disembarking. Early on the 22d General bean's division re-embarked from this island in barges, shortly before dawn of the 23d captured the picket at the fishers' village, pushed on up the bayou, turned to the left, southwestward, into the smaller bayou (Mazant), entered the swamp, disembarked once more at the month of a plantation canal, marched southward along its edge through the wood, and a little before noon emerged upon the open plain of the river shore, scarcely seven miles from New Orleans, without a foot of fortification between there and the city. But the captured pickets had reported Jackson's forces eighteen thousand strong, and the British halted, greatly fatigued, until they should be joined by other divisions.
Not, however, to rest. At about two o'clock in the afternoon, while the people of the city were sitting at their midday dinner, suddenly the cathedral bell startled them with its notes of alarm, drums sounded the long roll, and as military equipments were hurriedly put on, and Creoles, Americans, and San Domingans, swords and muskets in hand, poured in upon the Place d'Armes from every direction and sought their places in the ranks, word passed from mouth to mouth that there had been a blunder, and that the enemy was but seven miles away in force -"sur l'habitation Villere!" on Villere's plantation! But courage was in every heart. Quickly the lines were formed, the standards were unfurled, the huzza resounded as the well-known white horse of Jackson carne galloping down their front with his staff -Edward Livingston and Abner Dincan among them - at his heels, the drums sounded quickstep and the columns moved clown through the streets and out of the anxious town to meet the foe. In half an hour after the note of alarm the Seventh regulars, with two pieces of artillery and some marines, had taken an advanced position. An hour and a half later General Coffee, with his Tennessee and Mississippi cavalry, took their place along the small Rodriguez canal, that ran from the river's levee to and into the swamp, and which afterward became Jackson's permanent line of defence. Just as the sun was setting the troops that had been stationed at Bayou St. John, a battalion of free colored men, then the Forty-fourth regulars, and then the brightly uniformed Creole battalion, first came into town by way of the old Bayou Road, and swept through the streets toward the enemy on the run, glittering with accoutrements and arms, under the thronged balconies and amid the tears and plaudits of Creole mothers and daughters.
Source: The Creoles of Louisiana