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The battle at New Orleans was fought on January 8, 1815. This was the last major battle in a series of wars since 1812. These wars were fought between the United States of America and the British Empire. The Orleans war saw Britain defeated by the United States troops. The American troops that fought in this war were under the leadership of an able commander major general Andrew Jackson. The win of Orleans war by the United States is regarded in American history as one of the greatest land war victories. This paper seeks to look at the causes, course and effects of the battle of New Orleans. Furthermore, the paper will ascertain whether the battle of New Orleans was helpful after the treaty of Ghent had been signed. The paper will finally seek to find out whether Andrew Jackson was the real hero of the New Orleans war or not.
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It is important to note from the beginning that the battle of Orleans was not the only battle that was fought by the United States against British Empire. This battle was only the last major battle that was fought by United States in a series of war since 1812. In addition, the battle of New Orleans was fought even after a peace treaty between Britain and America had been signed. The signed treaty was known as the treaty of Ghent.
But what was the cause of the battle of the New Orleans? The American troops fought the British army because they were trying to invade the New Orleans. The New Orleans was United States’ territory as they had acquired it through the Louisiana Purchase. Through this purchase, United States of America had acquired a total of two million one hundred and forty thousand kilometers squared of land from France in 1803. These whole territory acquired by the Americans was known as Louisiana. In return the French received $ 11,250,000 from United States of America. Furthermore, French debt amounting to $3,750,000 was cancelled.
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The area covered under Louisiana Purchase included the city of New Orleans. Other areas covered by this purchase include some of the current famous states in America, which are Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, Colorado, northern Texas, Wyoming, parts of Minnesota, part of North, South Dakota and New Mexico. The purchased territory also included two Canadian provinces, which were Saskatchewan and Alberta.
The then President Thomas Jefferson had purchased this land so that he could be able to control and have access to New Orleans port. In addition, he wanted to have free movement across river Mississippi. The city of New Orleans was important because it controlled the Mississippi river. Furthermore, New Orleans city played a great role as shipping center of agricultural goods to and from United States of America. New Orleans territory was made the official possession of the United States of America by signing of the Louisiana Purchase agreement of 1803. The treaty was signed by James Monroe, Barbe Marbois and Robert Livingstone. The ownership of New Orleans was transferred to United States from France on December 20, 1803. Therefore, when Britain came in to take control of New Orleans, they were going against the law. United States of America had to retaliate by sending its army to defend its territory.
The Treaty of Ghent
Just before the battle of Orleans was fought on January 8, 1815, United States of America signed a peace treaty with Britain that ended a series of wars since 1812. This treaty was signed in Belgium, formerly known as Ghent, hence the name. The Ghent treaty was signed on December 14, 1814.
The treaty ended a series of wars between United States and Britain since 1812. Furthermore, all prisoners of war were to be released. All boats and war lands taken by Britain and United States from one another were to be restored. Upper Canada, previously held by America, was given to Britain. Forty thousand kilometers squared of land around the pacific coast in Maine, Michigan and near Lake Superior were given back to United States. Pre-war situations were not conclusively tackled. However, the Treaty of Ghent did not avert the New Orleans battle. This is because the news of the treaty reached the United States after its victory over Britain in the New Orleans battle. The lateness of the news is attributed to the period’s slow means of communication. The news about the peace treaty took weeks to reach United States; hence the war could not be avoided.
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The Course of the Battle of the New Orleans
The battle of Orleans became fully fledge on January 8, 1815. However the course of the war started slight earlier than that time. By December 12, 1814, more than eight thousand soldiers under the commander sir Alexander Cochrane had stationed themselves around the Gulf of Mexico. They were prevented from accessing the surrounding lakes by American flollita. These Lakes were Borne and Lake Pontchartrain. This flollita was being commanded by Lieutenant Thomas Jones. Under the leadership of Captain Nicholas Lockyer, 1200 British sailors attacked Lieutenant Thomas’ forces. In the fight known as the battle of Lake Borgne, six Americans were killed, eighty six captured and thirty five were wounded. On the other hand, seventeen British sailors were killed and seventy seven were wounded. The British soldiers were now able to navigate easily, and they built a garrison in Pea Island, thirty miles east of New Orleans.
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On December 23, 1814, one thousand eight hundred British soldiers under the command of General John Keane were positioned fourteen kilometers south of New Orleans at the east bank of Mississippi river. That evening, 2131 American soldiers under the command of Andrew Jackson attacked the British soldiers who were resting in their camp. In the combat, sixty four Britain soldiers went missing, one hundred and sixty seven were wounded and forty six were killed. On the other hand, only twenty four American soldiers were killed, one hundred and fifteen were wounded, while seventy four went missing. On December 28, British soldiers attacked American earthworks protecting advance to New Orleans. When the British soldiers departed, the Americans started building artillery batteries, which was used in protecting the earth works. The British again attacked the Americans on January1, 1815, destroying the earthworks using their artilleries.
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The last battle between the British and American soldiers happened on January 8, 1815. The British soldiers, under the command of Pakenham and his second in command Gibbs, led the attacks. But because of confusion and bad weather, they could not withstand the American soldiers led by Andrew Jackson. By the end of the day, the British command leaders Pakenham and Gibbs were killed. General Lambert took over and ordered his troops to withdraw. In total, two hundred and ninety one British soldiers were killed, one thousand eight hundred and sixty seven wounded and four hundred and eighty four were captured. On the American side, only thirteen people were reported dead, nineteen went missing, while thirty nine were wounded. On February 15, 1815 the British soldiers departed.
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Major Andrew Jackson - the Hero of the Battle of New Orleans?
Indeed, Andrew Jackson can be termed as the hero of the battle of New Orleans. First of all because of the wonderful organization of the army under him and secondly, because of the great tactics he used to combat the strong and well organized British army. Andrew Jackson was also full of confidence that he would defeat the British army, which acted as a great motivation to his juniors. Andrew Jackson started the battle of New Orleans with a lot of vigor.
He started by taking over Spanish western Florida. With the help of locals and American soldiers, he defended New Orleans against British attacks. Jackson was also able to mobilize a team of engineers, who advised him and worked with him in sealing New Orleans against invasion. Andrew also mobilized a total of 600 free blacks without applying racial discrimination that helped them with the construction of earthworks and artilleries. During the last major American battle on January 18, Andrew had dug out fortifications for the three thousand men he used. Using these fortifications, Jackson and his men were able to kill 291 British soldiers, 1867 were wounded and 484 were captured.
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It was good that Americans fought the battle of the New Orleans. This is because the British were determined to take over New Orleans for themselves. This was unlawful since the Americans had bought it from the French during the Louisiana Purchase agreement of 1803. Someone can argue that the war was not important because the Ghent treaty had been signed. However, the New Orleans territory would not have been left for the Americans by the British by signing the Ghent treaty. This is because the Ghent treaty did not address the New Orleans territory adequately. The treaty did not specifically talk about the vast territory acquired by Americans during the Louisiana Purchase. The Ghent treaty only said that those both sides should give back the territories taken from one another during the war. The defeat of Britain helped in compelling them to abide by the Ghent treaty.