Thursday, January 8, 2015

To Save a Lady: Remembering The Battle of New Orleans Today #Warof1812

On this date, January 8th, in 1815, the major battle for control of the city of New Orleans was fought between American forces and those of Great Britain at Chalmette, about eight miles south of the city.
The major fighting lasted less than an hour that morning. Andrew Jackson's army was positioned behind a mud rampart, which they had been building since their first fight with the British on December 23rd. Jackson's small force of about 5,000 men (who had never fought in a major battle before) were positioned along this rampart as well in reserve and on the flanks. In contrast, the British army, which numbered over 10,000, had to march across the flat field of cut sugar cane to reach Jackson's position. Plus they would have to cross the Rodriguez Canal and overrun the rampart. The British had the experience, the soldiers, and the weapons needed to overtake Jackson's front line. But they lost a battle nearly everyone thought they would win. 

In my book, To Save a Lady, one of the main characters is Captain Jesse Cross, who is with Jackson's army and on the front line the day of the decisive battle. In researching the battle, it was interesting to note Jackson's simple but very effective strategy. 
He wanted the British, who had to march around a flat field toward the rampart, to face a line of continuous gunfire, so he had his men line up, four deep, side-by-side. The first man would fire and drop to the back of the line to reload while the second man fired, dropped back, and the rotation continued. At one point, there was so much smoke from the constant shooting and cannon blasts, no one could see and Jackson called a halt to the shooting until the smoke cleared. During this time, a band from New Orleans played patriotic American and French songs.    

Many of the high-ranking British officers rode on horseback, alongside their troops. Jackson's small army had several companies of Tennessee volunteers, who were excellent riflemen and who had the skill to pick off the officers. Toward the end of the battle, most of the British officer corps had been killed or wounded including three generals, seven colonels, and seventy-five other officers. There was chaos among the British soldiers, who depended on orders from their commanders on the field. 

Many of the British soldiers decided to take their wounded and retreat. The commanding general of the British army, General Pakenham, the brother-in-law of the Duke of Wellington, was infuriated. He rode out onto the battlefield to order his troops to stand and fight. He suffered three gunshots, the last one being fatal. He was placed under an oak tree where he died. 

At the end of the battle and when the smoke finally cleared, one soldier from Kentucky later wrote:
"When the smoke had cleared and we could obtain a fair view of the field, it looked at first glance like a sea of blood. It was not blood itself, but the red coats in which the British soldiers were dressed. The field was entirely covered in prostrate bodied. In some places they were laying in piles several deep..Some laying quite dead, others mortally wounded, pitching and tumbling about in the agonies of death."

Jean Lafitte, the pirate who supplied men and arms to assist the Americans, said of the battlefield: "I could not believe the result of the battle. The spectacle presented before us by the battlefield was so horrible that we could not believe our eyes."

Sadly enough, the battle that day was unnecessary. A peace treaty had been signed between the US and Great Britain on December 24, 1814, which ended the War of 1812. But the official news of the treaty didn't reach the New Orleans area until February 1815. The War of 1812 was the last war where the US and Great Britain fought as enemies. 

From elegant townhouses to moonlit courtyards and battlefields, TO SAVE A LADY is a charming love story set in New Orleans during the War of 1812. A move from Paris to New Orleans brings disaster to Elise Plaisance’s predictable life as a lady’s maid when Vincent, the son of her frail mistress, disappears.

Elise’s quest to find the boy leads to a dangerous masquerade, a forbidden romance with an American officer, Captain Jesse Cross, and a crucial betrayal that put her at odds with Jesse. Elise must risk everything to rescue Vincent before all is lost, but how can she prevail when the man she loves is determined to stop her?

TO SAVE A LADY French Quarter Brides, Book One

Available on Amazon

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