CMH Home
CMH Home
CMH News and Features
U.S. Army Center of Military History
Battle of New Orleans, 1815, Herbert Morton Stoops

The Battle of New Orleans

January 8,1815

The last major battle of the War of 1812 was the Battle of New Orleans. On January 8th 7,500 British soldiers marched against 4,500 U.S. troops led by General Andrew Jackson. The British were defeated in just 30 minutes. The Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war, had been signed two weeks before, but the news had not yet crossed the Atlantic

On 20 December 1814 a force of about 10,000 British troops, assembled in Jamaica, landed unopposed at the west end of Lake Borgne, some 15 miles from New Orleans, preparatory to an attempt to seize the city and secure control of the lower Mississippi Valley. Advanced elements pushed quickly toward the river, reaching Villere's Plantation on the left bank, 10 miles below New Orleans, on 23 December.

In a swift counter-action, Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson, American commander in the South, who had only arrived in the city on 1 December, made a night attack on the British (23-24 December) with some 2,0000 men supported by fire from the gunboat Carolina. The British advance was checked, giving Jackson time to fall back to a dry canal about five miles south of New Orleans, where he built a breastworks about a mile long, with the right flank on the river and the left in a cypress swamp.

A composite force of about 3,500 militia, regulars, sailors, and others manned the American main line, with another 1,000 in reserve. A smaller force-perhaps 1,000 militia-under Brig. Gen. David Morgan defended the right bank of the river. Maj. Gen. Sir Edward Pakenham, brother-in-law of the Duke of Wellington, arrived on 25 December to command the British operation. He entrenched his troops and on 1 January 1815 fought an artillery duel in with the Americans outgunned the British artillerists.

Finally, at dawn on 8 January, Pakenham attempted a frontal assault on Jackson's breastworks with 5,300 men, simultaneously sending a smaller force across the river to attack Morgan's defenses. The massed fires of Jackson's troops, protected by earthworks reinforced with cotton bales, wrought havoc among Pakenham's regulars as they advanced across the open ground in front of the American lines.

In less than a half hour the attack was repulsed. The British lost 291 killed, including Pakenham, 1,262 wounded, and 48 prisoners; American losses on both sides of the river were only 13 killed, 39 wounded, and 19 prisoners. The surviving British troops withdrew to Lake Borgne and reembarked on 27 January for Mobile, where on 14 February they learned that the Treaty of Ghent, ending the war, had been signed on 24 December 1814.

1815 Battle of New Orleans

General References

U.S. Army Campaigns War of 1812 series