The Battle of New Orleans, Carolina Anchored
The following data is extracted from The Creoles of Louisiana.
Night came on, very dark. The Carolina dropped noiselessly down opposite the British camp, anchored close in shore, and opened her broadsides and musketry at short range. A moment later Jackson fell upon the startled foe with twelve hundred men and, two pieces of artillery, striking them first near the river shore, and presently along their whole line. Coffee, will six hundred men, unseen in the darkness, issued from the woods on the north, and attacked the British right, just as it was trying to turn Jackson's left - Creole troops, whose ardor would leave led them to charge with the bayonet, but for the prudence of the Regular officer in command. A fog rose, the smoke of battle rested on the field, the darkness issued, and all was soon in confusion. Companies and battalions - red coats, blue coats, Highland plaidies, and "dirty shirts" (Tennesseeans), from time to time got lost, fired into friendly lines, or met their foes in hand to hand encounters. Out in the distant prairie behind the swamp forest the second division of the British corning on, heard the battle, hurried forward, and began to reach the spot while the low plain, wrapped in darkness, was still flashing with the discharge of artillery.
The engagement was soon over, without special results beyond that prestige which we may be confident was, at the moment, Jackson's main aim. Before day he fell back two miles, and in the narrowest part of the plain, some four miles from town, began to make his permanent line behind Rodriguez Canal.
Inclement weather set in, increasing the hardships of friend and foe. The British toiled incessantly in the miry ground of the sugar-cane fields to bring up their heavy artillery, and both sides erected breastworks and batteries, and hurried forward their re-enforcements. Skirmishing was frequent, and to Jackson's raw levies very valuable. Red-hot shot from the British works destroyed the Carolina; but her armament was saved and made a shore battery on the farther river bank. On New Year's day a few bales of cotton, forming part of the American fortifications, were scattered in all directions and set on fire, and this was the first and last use made of this material during the campaign. When it had been called to General Jackson's notice that this cotton was the property of a foreigner, - "Give him a gun and let him defend it," was his answer. On the 4th, two thousand two hundred and fifty Kentuckians, poorly clad and worse armed arrived, and such as bore serviceable weapons raised Jackson's force to three thousand two hundred men on his main line; a line, says the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, "the very feeblest an engineer could have devised, that is, a straight one."
Yet on this line the defenders of New Orleans were about to be victorious. It consisted of half a mile of very uneven earthworks stretching across the plain along the inner edge of the canal, from the river to the edge of the wood, and continuing a like distance into the forest. In here it quickly dwindled to a mere double row of logs two feet apart, filled in between with earth. The entire artillery on this whole line was twelve pieces. Put it was served by men of rare skill, artillerists of the regular army, the sailors of the burnt Carolina, some old French soldiers under Flaujeac one of Bonaparte's gunners, and Dominique and Beluche, with the tried cannoneers of their pirate ships.
From battery to battery the rude line was filled out with a droll confusion of arms and trappings, men and dress. Here on the extreme right, just on and under the levee, were some regular infantry and a company of "Orleans Rifles," with some dragoons who served a howitzer. Next to them was a battalion of Louisiana Creoles in gay and varied uniforms. The sailors of the Caroliisa were grouped around the battery between. In the Creoles' midst were the swarthy privateers with their two twenty-fours. Then came a battalion of native men of color, another bunch of sailors around a thirty-two-pounder, a battalion of St. Domingan mulattoes, a stretch of blue for some regular artillery and the Forty-fourth infantry, then Flaujeac and his Francs behind a brass twelve-pounder; next, a long slender line of brown homespun hunting-shirts that draped Carroll's lank Tennesseeans, then a small, bright bunch of marines, then some more regular artillery behind a long brass culverine and a six-pounder, then Adair's ragged Kentuckians, and at the end, Coffee's Tennesseeans, disappearing in the swamp, where they stood by day knee-deep in water and slept at night in the mud.
Source: The Creoles of Louisiana