President Andrew Jackson on the Battle of New Orleans: The Valor of His Men Gave Security to the United States, and He Shares His Fame With Them

He gives accolades to “the brave men whose valor…was the shield of New Orleans and the security of the Union”

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He accepts a cane made from a tree from the battle field: “On their account and as a memento of your favorable opinion of my own conduct in that memorable siege…”

 

The first letter of Jackson reflecting on the Battle of New Orleans and his men that we have ever had,...

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President Andrew Jackson on the Battle of New Orleans: The Valor of His Men Gave Security to the United States, and He Shares His Fame With Them

He gives accolades to “the brave men whose valor…was the shield of New Orleans and the security of the Union”

He accepts a cane made from a tree from the battle field: “On their account and as a memento of your favorable opinion of my own conduct in that memorable siege…”

 

The first letter of Jackson reflecting on the Battle of New Orleans and his men that we have ever had, or seen

The Battle of New Orleans is one of the most celebrated events in American history, and its fame still resonates today. It arose after Britain’s failed attempt to capture Mobile, Alabama in September, 1814, and the British planned their next move. Gen. Andrew Jackson was convinced that the British planned to further intensify military pressure along the Gulf Coast region. Doing so would relieve pressure from the Canadian front and even perhaps jeopardize the U.S.’s hold on the newly-acquired Louisiana Purchase territories. Correctly predicting that Britain’s next target was the strategically vital port city of New Orleans, Jackson quickly dispatched his forces there. Arriving in the city on December 1, 1814, Jackson prepared his defenses. The force he led was about 4,000 men – a motley assortment of town citizens, militia fighters, frontiersmen, slaves, Indians, and even the pirates of Jean Laffite. This group lacked training and equipment, but it was all the Americans had. The British sent 8,000 men to take New Orleans – the cream of their crop – and all of them were well-trained and well-equipped regulars. The Americans appeared to be seriously outmatched.

The Battle occurred on January 8, 1815, and was a calamitous defeat for the British and a lopsided victory for the Americans. Though outnumbered, the Americans weathered a frontal assault by the superior British force, inflicting devastating casualties along the way (there were nearly 2,500 British casualties, including 386 killed, while the Americans suffered only 55 deaths of their own). The British commander Gen. Edward Pakenham was among the killed. The battle’s outcome turned Jackson into a national hero, and as Jackson’s biographer Robert Remini wrote, in time it “produced a President and an enduring belief in the military ability of free people to protect and preserve their society and their way of life”.

Letter signed, as President, two pages, to Virginia landowner and investor Edmund Anderson in Richmond, saying that the valor of his soldiers secured American victory, and that his own fame was deservedly theirs. The text of the letter is in the hand of Jackson’s nephew, A.J. Donelson, who served as Jackson’s aide and secretary throughout his term as President, thus allowing us to date the letter to Jackson’s presidency.

“I have rec’d thro Majr Barry your note of the 21st Dec. last, and the cane which it offers to my acceptance as a token of your good feelings for those who took a part in the defense of our common country at New Orleans. I accept it, Sir, with much thankfulness in the name of the brave men whose valor, at the period we refer to, was the shield of New Orleans and the security of the Union. On their account and as a memento of your favorable opinion of my own conduct in that memorable siege, be assured, Sir, that I shall prize most highly this cane, which is also the more valuable for being part of a tree that stood on the battle ground.”

In all our decades in this field, this is the first letter of Jackson reflecting on the Battle of New Orleans that we have ever had, or seen.

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