The Battle of Baltimore and Battle of New Orleans: The History of the War of 1812's Most Famous Battles (Paperback)
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*Includes pictures *Includes excerpts of accounts of the battles written by soldiers *Includes online resources and a bibliography for further reading Sandwiched between the Revolution and the Civil War, the War of 1812 is one of America's forgotten conflicts, and the stalemated nature of the war (which resolved virtually none of either side's war aims) has also ensured that it is often given merely a cursory overview. Indeed, one of the few aspects of the war that remains common knowledge is that the most famous battle, the Battle of New Orleans, was fought after the Treaty of Ghent had formally ended the war. One other famous aspect of the war is that one of the battles inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the Star-Spangled Banner, which ultimately became America's national anthem. While the British horrified many Americans with the ease in which they sacked the capital at Washington, they faced stiff resistance around Baltimore, with American forces successfully fighting a delaying action that allowed for a proper defense of the city and its harbor. On September 13, 1814, Key and others bore witness to a heavy British bombardment of Fort McHenry that lasted for over a day, yet they proved unable to reduce the American defenses despite trying to land an invasion force outside the fort. In the wake of the unsuccessful assault, the British pulled back their forces, spurring Francis Scott Key to write the poem "Defence of McHenry." Ironically, the lyrics to that poem would eventually go together with an old, popular British hymn to produce America's Star-Spangled Banner. There are countless examples of battles that take place in wars after a peace treaty is signed. The last battle of the Civil War was a skirmish in Texas that Confederate forces won, nearly a month after Lee's surrender at Appomattox. But it's certainly rare for the most famous battle of a war to take place after the peace treaty is signed. Luckily for Andrew Jackson, the War of 1812 was that unique exception. Less than a year after his victory in the Battle of Horseshoe Creek, Jackson led his forces into a more important battle at the Battle of New Orleans. The British hoped to grab as much of the land on the western frontier as they could, especially New Orleans, which had a prominent position on the Mississippi River for trading. With more than 8,000 soldiers aboard a British fleet sailing in from Jamaica in early January 1815, the attack on New Orleans promised to be a significant one, while Jackson's men defended New Orleans with about half that number. This went on despite the fact that the two sides had signed the Treaty of Ghent on Christmas Eve 1814, which was supposed to end the war. However, the slow nature of bringing news from England to America ensured that the battle would take place anyway. At the beginning of the battle, Jackson and his forces were aided by the weather, with the first fighting taking place in heavy fog. When the fog lifted as morning began, the British found themselves exposed to American artillery. On top of that, Jackson's men held out under an intense artillery bombardment and two frontal assaults on different wings of the battle, before Jackson led a counterattack. By the end of the battle, the Americans had scored a stunning victory. Jackson's men killed nearly 300 British, including their Major General Pakenham and his two lead subordinates. More importantly, nearly 1500 additional British were captured or injured, and the Americans suffered fewer than 500 casualties. Though it was an enormous victory for Jackson and the Americans - the most important of the entire war - it proved to be a completely unnecessary one. The Treaty of Ghent had officially ended the war by keeping the status quo ante bellum. This essentially meant that both sides agreed to offer nothing, keeping things as they were before the war.