Pres­i­dents, chiefs and of­fi­cers

The war was a clash be­tween am­bi­tious Amer­i­can and Bri­tish of­fi­cers, with Na­tive Amer­i­can war­riors caught in be­tween

History of War - - CONTENTS -

Fu­ture US pres­i­dents clashed with Bri­tish of­fi­cers and the “Welling­ton of the In­di­ans”

“285 BRI­TISH SOL­DIERS WERE KILLED COM­PARED TO ONLY 13 AMER­I­CANS, AND JACK­SON SE­CURED HIS STA­TUS AS A NA­TIONAL HERO”

AN­DREW JACK­SON BREVET MA­JOR GEN­ERAL UNITED STATES 1767-1845 THE SEV­ENTH US PRES­I­DENT AND ANGLOPHOBIC VIC­TOR OF NEW OR­LEANS

Jack­son was ar­guably the most fa­mous sol­dier of the war, and his ser­vice dur­ing the con­flict helped to pro­pel him to the pres­i­dency of the United States. Born on the western fron­tier of the Car­oli­nas, Jack­son served in the Amer­i­can War of In­de­pen­dence as a courier for rebel mili­tias. Although he was only a child, Jack­son was cap­tured by the Bri­tish and wounded by a Bri­tish of­fi­cer, who an­grily slashed at him with a sabre. He al­most died in cap­tiv­ity, and his mother and brother died of disease to­wards the end of the war. Jack­son, who was phys­i­cally scarred by his ex­pe­ri­ences, de­vel­oped an in­tense ha­tred for the Bri­tish, which as­serted it­self decades later.

When war was de­clared in 1812 Jack­son was given a field com­mand, and he soon de­feated the Bri­tish-al­lied Creek Na­tive Amer­i­cans at the Bat­tle of To­hopeka. This bat­tle es­tab­lished him as an Amer­i­can hero, and he went on to pre­pare the way for the US oc­cu­pa­tion of Span­ish-held Florida. After oc­cu­py­ing Pen­sacola, Jack­son marched his army to New Or­leans in De­cem­ber 1814 just as the Bri­tish were land­ing in Louisiana.

Jack­son de­clared mar­tial law in New Or­leans and or­dered ev­ery able-bod­ied man to de­fend the city. 4,000 men vol­un­teered, and a de­fence line of im­pro­vised breast­works was cre­ated and named ‘Line Jack­son’. When the bat­tle against the Bri­tish be­gan out­side the city, Jack­son com­manded the ma­jor­ity of the troops. The Bri­tish out­num­bered the Amer­i­cans, but in a two-hour bat­tle the US de­fences held. Jack­son’s men in­flicted heavy fire on the en­emy un­til the Bri­tish with­drew. 285 Bri­tish sol­diers were killed com­pared to only 13 Amer­i­cans, and Jack­son se­cured his sta­tus as a na­tional hero.

His vic­tory was par­tic­u­larly cel­e­brated be­cause the bat­tle hap­pened after the sign­ing of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war in a stale­mate. New Or­leans was a great boost to Amer­i­can morale. Jack­son’s pop­u­lar­ity re­mained undimmed for years, and the bat­tle be­came the plat­form on which he be­came the sev­enth pres­i­dent in 1829.

TE­CUM­SEH CHIEF, SHAWNEE 1768-1813 THE SHAWNEE CHIEF LIONISED BY THE BRI­TISH AS THE ‘WELLING­TON OF THE IN­DI­ANS’

Te­cum­seh was a Shawnee chief who was the leader of the First Na­tions Con­fed­er­acy that was formed to re­sist Amer­i­can en­croach­ment on

Na­tive Amer­i­can lands. Born in Ohio, Te­cum­seh was ex­posed to war­fare at an early age dur­ing the Amer­i­can War of In­de­pen­dence and North­west In­dian War. He spent decades or­gan­is­ing the var­i­ous tribes against US ex­pan­sion north of Ohio, and his pri­mary be­lief was that “the Great Spirit in­tended [the land] as the com­mon prop­erty of all the tribes, nor can it be sold with­out the con­sent of all.”

In 1808, with war loom­ing be­tween Bri­tain and the USA, Te­cum­seh trav­elled to Canada and re­luc­tantly al­lied with the

Bri­tish. When war broke out in 1812, his con­fed­er­acy laid clever am­bushes against the

Amer­i­cans and helped the Bri­tish cap­ture Detroit.

Te­cum­seh was killed at the Bat­tle of the

Thames in Oc­to­ber

1813, which was an in­cal­cu­la­ble loss to the First Na­tions.

SIR ED­WARD PAKENHAM MA­JOR GEN­ERAL, GREAT BRI­TAIN 1778-1815 THE WELL-CONNECTED OF­FI­CER WHO WAS KILLED AT NEW OR­LEANS

Pakenham was born into priv­i­lege as an An­gloirish aris­to­crat and pur­chased a commission in the Bri­tish Army when he was 16 years old. De­spite buy­ing rather than earn­ing his of­fi­cer’s rank, Pakenham was a ca­pa­ble leader and be­came a highly ex­pe­ri­enced sol­dier who served with dis­tinc­tion in the West Indies and dur­ing the Penin­su­lar War. He gained the rep­u­ta­tion of a model gentle­man sol­dier, which was ce­mented when Arthur Welles­ley, the fu­ture duke of Welling­ton, mar­ried his sis­ter in 1806.

By Septem­ber 1814, Pakenham was a ma­jor gen­eral at the age of only 36 and re­placed Robert Ross as com­man­der of the Bri­tish North Amer­i­can Army. He was ac­tu­ally op­posed to the Amer­i­can war but du­ti­fully ac­cepted the com­mand. The Bat­tle of New Or­leans was Pakenham’s first ac­tion in Amer­ica, and in­stead of be­sieg­ing the city he opted for an open bat­tle.

The Bri­tish un­der­es­ti­mated the power of the US ar­tillery, and Pakenham launched a gen­eral ad­vance, where he was mor­tally wounded. His last words be­fore he died were a mes­sage to his fel­low gen­eral John Lam­bert: “Tell him… tell Lam­bert to send for­ward the re­serves.” His or­ders were in vain and the Bri­tish lost the bat­tle.

ROBERT ROSS MA­JOR GEN­ERAL, GREAT BRI­TAIN 1766-1814 THE IR­ISH OF­FI­CER WHO OVER­SAW THE BURN­ING OF WASH­ING­TON, DC

Born in Ire­land, Ross was ed­u­cated at Trin­ity Col­lege,

Dublin, be­fore join­ing the Bri­tish Army as an en­sign in 1789. He served with dis­tinc­tion dur­ing the Napoleonic Wars and fought in many bat­tles, in­clud­ing Alexan­dria, Corunna, Vi­to­ria and Orthez.

In June 1814, Ross com­manded a Bri­tish ex­pe­di­tionary force of three bat­tal­ions against the east coast of the USA in re­venge for their at­tacks on Canada. He landed in Mary­land, de­feated the Amer­i­cans at Bladens­burg and un­ex­pect­edly en­tered Wash­ing­ton, DC on 24 Au­gust. Ross’s troops burned all the pub­lic build­ings in the cap­i­tal, as well as mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions.

The Bri­tish left the fol­low­ing day, but Ross’s com­mand at Wash­ing­ton was crit­i­cised, not just by the Amer­i­cans but also in the House of Com­mons. Con­versely, gov­ern­ment min­is­ters, in­clud­ing Lord Liver­pool, the prime min­is­ter, also praised him. Ross was mor­tally wounded shortly after the burn­ing of Wash­ing­ton while he was rid­ing up front at the Bat­tle of Bal­ti­more on 12 Septem­ber 1814.

OLIVER HAZ­ARD PERRY CAP­TAIN, UNITED STATES 1785-1819 THE AMER­I­CAN NAVAL HERO OF THE BAT­TLE OF LAKE ERIE

Perry joined the US Navy as a mid­ship­man, aged 14, in 1799. He fought against the French in the Mediter­ranean and against piracy and the slave trade in the West Indies be­fore the War of 1812. He started the con­flict as a master com­man­dant and was sent to Lake Erie to com­plete the con­struc­tion of a naval squadron to chal­lenge Bri­tish control of the Great Lakes.

With a newly con­structed fleet, Perry engaged the Bri­tish at the Bat­tle of Lake Erie on 10 Septem­ber 1813. The Amer­i­cans had su­pe­rior short-range fire­power but not at long-range, and the Bri­tish were able to dis­able the US flag­ship USS Lawrence. Perry quickly trans­ferred to USS Ni­a­gara in a small boat and won the bat­tle in 15 min­utes by fir­ing broad­sides straight into the Bri­tish line of ships. All of the Bri­tish ships sur­ren­dered, and Perry was lauded for his lead­er­ship. He was pro­moted to cap­tain, re­ceived the Thanks of Congress and was awarded the Con­gres­sional Gold Medal.

WIL­LIAM HENRY HAR­RI­SON BRI­GADIER GEN­ERAL, UNITED STATES 1773-1841 THE NINTH PRES­I­DENT OF THE UNITED STATES WHO WON THE BAT­TLE OF THE THAMES

Born in 1773, Har­ri­son was the last US pres­i­dent to be born be­fore the Amer­i­can War of In­de­pen­dence. His fa­ther Ben­jamin was a Found­ing Fa­ther and sig­na­tory to the Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence, so pub­lic ser­vice was in Har­ri­son’s blood. After study­ing medicine, Har­ri­son joined the US Army as an en­sign and rose through the ranks while fight­ing in the North­west In­dian War. He be­came a na­tional hero when he de­feated Te­cum­seh’s con­fed­er­acy at the Bat­tle of Tippeca­noe in 1811.

Dur­ing the War of 1812, Har­ri­son com­manded US forces in the north­west and trained his army into a dis­ci­plined fight­ing force. After the Amer­i­can naval vic­tory at Lake Erie, he pur­sued the Bri­tish and Na­tive Amer­i­can forces and de­feated them at the Bat­tle of the Thames. Te­cum­seh was killed in this bat­tle, and it was con­sid­ered a great Amer­i­can vic­tory, sec­ond only to New Or­leans.

De­spite his achieve­ments, Har­ri­son was then given a ‘back­wa­ter’ post­ing, and he re­signed from the army in protest in 1814. He was even­tu­ally elected pres­i­dent of the USA in 1841.

“ROSS’S COM­MAND AT WASH­ING­TON, DC WAS CRIT­I­CISED, NOT JUST BY THE AMER­I­CANS BUT ALSO IN THE HOUSE OF COM­MONS”

Sir IsaacBrock wrote of Te­cum­seh to the Bri­tish prime min­is­ter: “A more sa­ga­cious or more gal­lant war­rior does not, I be­lieve, ex­ist”

LEFT: A por­trait of An­drew Jack­son, which was painted in 1819 in New York. His friend Sa­muel Swart­wout praised the like­ness and wrote to Jack­son, “I have just seen the Jarvis por­trait of you. It is inim­itable”

LEFT: Rear Ad­mi­ral Ge­orge Cock­burn ad­vised Ross on the at­tack at Wash­ing­ton, DC and wrote after his death, “Our coun­try has lost in him one of our best and bravest sol­diers”

Har­ri­son died of pneu­mo­nia one month into his pres­i­den­tial term in April 1841, which made him the short­est serv­ing pres­i­dent in Amer­i­can his­tory

Welling­ton later eu­lo­gised his broth­erin-law, say­ing, “We have but one con­so­la­tion, that he fell as he lived, in the hon­ourable dis­charge of his duty”

Perry wrote in his of­fi­cial re­port of the Bri­tish sur­ren­der at Lake Erie, “We have met the en­emy and they are ours”

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