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New Orleans.

Governor Bienville prepared to found a town on the lower Mississippi in 1718, and sent a party of convicts to clear up a swamp on the site of the present city of New Orleans. When Charlevoix visited the spot in 1722, the germ of the city consisted of a large wooden warehouse, a shed for a church, two or three ordinary houses, and a quantity of huts built without order. But Bienville believed that it would one day become, “perhaps, too, at no distant day, an opulent city, the metropolis of a great and rich colony,” and removed the seat of government from Biloxi to New Orleans. Law's settlers in Arkansas (see law, John), finding themselves abandoned, went down to New Orleans and received allotments on both sides of the river, settled on cottage farms, and raised vegetables for the supply of the town and soldiers. Thus the rich tract near New Orleans became known as the “German coast.”

After Spain had acquired possession of Louisiana by treaty with France (1763), the Spanish cabinet determined that Louisiana must be retained as a part of the Spanish dominions, and as a granary for

New Orleans in 1719.

Havana and Porto Rico. It was also determined that Louisiana as a republic would soon rival Spain in wealth and property; be independent of European powers; contrast strongly with other Spanish provinces; cause the inhabitants of the vast Mexican domain to consider their total want of commerce, the extortions of their governors, and the few offices they were permitted to fill; and thus still more hatred of Spanish rule would be engendered and the Mexicans encouraged to throw it off. In view of the apparent danger of trouble with, if not absolute loss of, her colonies by Spain, the minister (D'Aranda) advised the King to reduce the colony of Louisiana from its attitude of independence to submission. The King accepted the advice, and, with foolish pride, said, “The world must see that I, unaided, can crush the audacity of sedition.” He despatched an officer (Alexander O'Reilly) in great haste to Cuba, with orders to extirpate republicanism at New Orleans. At the close of July, 1769, O'Reilly appeared at the Balize with a strong force. With pretensions of friendship, promises that the people of New Orleans would not be harmed were made and received with faith. On Aug. 8 the Spanish squadron, of twenty-four vessels, bearing 3,000 troops, anchored in front of New Orleans, and the place was taken possession of in the name of the Spanish monarch. With feigned kindness of intentions, the treacherous O'Reilly invited the people's representatives and many of the leading inhabitants to his house (Aug 21), and the former were invited to pass into his private apartments, where they were arrested. “You are charged with being the chiefs of this revolt,” said O'Reilly; “I arrest you in the name of his Catholic Majesty.” Provisional decrees settled the government, and on the 26th the inhabitants were compelled to take the oath of allegiance to the King of Spain. Twelve of the representatives were selected as victims. They were among the richest and most influential citizens of Louisiana. Their estates were confiscated for the benefit of the officers who tried them. Six of them were sentenced for six or ten years, or for life, and five of them—Lafreniere, his [399] young son-in-law Noyan, Caresse, Marquis, and Joseph Milhet—were sentenced to be hanged, but, for want of such an executioner, were shot on Oct. 25, 1769. Villere, one of the twelve, did not survive the day of his arrest, and his name was declared infamous. “The insult done to the King's dignity and authority in the province is repaired,” reported O'Reilly; “the example now given can never be effaced.” So perished the first republic established in America.

In the War of 1812-15.

In 1814, when the British had captured the American flotilla on Lake Borgne, there seemed to

Chalmette's plantation.

be no obstacle to the seizure of the city of New Orleans. Troops for its defence were few, and arms fewer still. Some months before, Jackson had called for a supply of arms for the Southwest from the arsenal at Pittsburg, but from an unwillingness to pay the freight demanded by the only steamboat then navigating the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, these means of defence had been shipped in keel-boats, and did not arrive until after the fate of the city had been decided. Jackson put forth amazing energy. He called for Tennessee and Kentucky volunteers, and urged the legislature of Louisiana to work energetically with him. That body seemed unwilling or unable to comprehend the gravity of the situation, while the governor (Claiborne) was all alive with patriotic zeal. Even the muskets on hand in the city would have been useless but for a timely supply of flints furnished by Jean Lafitte (q. v.), the Baratarian pirate. The legislature passed an act suspending for four months the payment of all bills and notes; but they hesitated to suspend the habeas corpus act; when Jackson, under whose command Governor Claiborne had placed himself, took the responsibility of declaring martial law, and also took such energetic measures, in defiance of the legislature, that the city was saved from capture and pillage. This act gave great offence to the civil power (see Jackson, Andrew). A rumor was set afloat that Jackson, rather than surrender the city to the British, intended to lay it in ashes and retire up the river. This rumor caused movements on the part of the legislature and some of the leading citizens that made Jackson believe that body might intend, to save the city, to offer a premature capitulation. Jackson directed Claiborne, in such a case, to arrest the members of the legislature. The governor misinterpreted the order, and, without waiting [400] to know whether suspicions of its intentions were well founded, he placed a military guard at the door of the legislative hall and broke up the session.

Remains of Rodriguez's Canal in 1861.

Jackson's victory in 1814-15.

The battle at Villereas plantation (Dec. 23, 1814) dispirited the British invaders, and in this condition Lieut.-Gen. Edward Pakenham, the “hero of Salamanca,” and one of Wellington's veteran officers, found them on his arrival on Christmas Day, with reinforcements, to take chief command. He was delighted to find under his command some of the best of Wellington's troops that fought on the Spanish Peninsula. He immediately prepared to effect the capture of New Orleans and the subjugation of Louisiana without delay. While Jackson was casting up intrenchments along the line of Rodriguez's Canal, from the Mississippi back to an impassable swamp 2 miles away, the British were as busy too. They worked day and night in the erection of a heavy battery that should command the armed schooner Carolina, and on the morning of Dec. 27 they opened a heavy fire upon her from several 12 and 18 pounders They also hurled shot at her, which set her on fire, when her crew abandoned her, and she blew up. The schooner Louisiana, Lieutenant Thompson, had come down from the city to aid her, and was in great peril. She was the only armed vessel belonging to the Americans in the vicinity of New Orleans. By great exertions she was placed at a safe distance from the fire of the British. Pakenham now issued orders for his whole army 8,000 strong, to move forward and storm the American intrenchments. It was arranged in two columns— one commanded by General Keane; the other ed by General Gibbs, a good soldier, who came with Pakenham, and was his second in command. Towards evening (Dec. 27) they moved forward, and encamped on the plantations of Bienvenu and Chalmette, within a few hundred yards of Jackson's intrenchments. Then they began the construction of batteries near the river, but were continually annoyed by Hinds's troopers and other active Americans by quick and sharp attacks on their flank and rear.

Jackson was aware of the arrival of Pakenham, and expected vigorous warfare from him. He prepared accordingly. His headquarters were at the chateau of M. Macarte, a wealthy creole, from the balcony of which, with his field-glass, he could survey the whole of the operations of his own and the British army. From that mansion he sent numerous and important orders on that night. He had caused Chalmette's buildings to be blown up on the approach of the invaders, that the sweep of his own artillery might not be impeded, and he had called to the line some Louisiana militia from the rear. He had also planted some heavy guns, and [401] before the dawn of the 28th he had 4,000 men and twenty pieces of artillery to receive Pakenham, while the Louisiana was prepared to greet him with her heavy cannon. As soon as a light fog had disappeared on the morning of the 28th, the British approached in two columns. Just then a band of rough men—Baratarians —came down from the city, and were placed by Jackson in command of one of the 24-pounders. As a solid column under General Keane drew near, they were met by a terrible fire of musketry, but they bravely advanced until checked by the sudden opening of Jackson's heavy guns and the batteries of the Louisiana. At the same time the British racketeers were busy, but they did very little damage. Keane's troops endured the tempest that was thinning their ranks for a while, when they fell back, running pell-mell to the shelter of the canal, where they stood waist-deep in mud and water. Their batteries were half destroyed and abandoned, and the shattered column was thoroughly repulsed and demoralized.

Meanwhile, the other column, under Gibbs, was actively engaged on the British right. They were pressing General Carroll and his Tennesseeans near the swamp very severely, when Gibbs, seeing the heavy pressure on Keane's column, ordered his troops to their assistance. When it gave way, Pakenham ordered a general retreat, and he retired to his headquarters at Villereas, deeply mortified at this repulse by a handful of backwoodsmen, as he regarded Jackson's army. In this engagement, preliminary to the great battle which soon afterwards ensued, the Americans lost nine killed and eight wounded. The British lost about 150. Pakenham called a council of war, when it was resolved to bring forward heavy siege-guns from the fleet before making another attempt to carry Jackson's lines, for the experience of the 28th had given Pakenham a test of the temper of his opponents. At the same time Jackson was busy in strengthening his position at Rodriguez's Canal, over which not a British soldier had yet passed, excepting as a prisoner. He placed two 12-pounders in battery on his left, near the swamp, in charge of Gen. Garrigue Flauzac, a French volunteer, and also a 6 and an 18 pounder under Colonel Perry. His intrenchments were extended into the swamp to prevent a flank movement. On the opposite side of the Mississippi there was a similar structure; and Commander Patterson, pleased with the effects of the guns of the Louisiana from the same side, established a battery back of the levee, which he armed with heavy guns from the schooner. This battery commanded the front of Jackson's lines by an enfilading fire, and soon compelled the British to fall back from Chalmette's. The Tennessee riflemen were conspicuously active in annoying the British sentinels by “hunts,” as they called little expeditions.

Macartes, Jackson's headquarters.


The British contented themselves with casting up a strong redoubt near the swamp, from which they opened a vigorous fire on Jackson's left (Dec. 31). That night the whole British army moved forward to within a few hundred yards of the American lines, and began throwing up intrenchments on which to place heavy siege-guns, which had arrived. By daylight they had erected three half-moon batteries within 600 yards of the American breastworks, right, centre, and left. Upon these they had mounted thirty pieces of heavy ordnance, manned by picked

VillereaS mansion.

gunners from the fleet. The works were hidden by a thick fog on the morning of Jan. 1 (1815). When it lifted, the British opened a brisk fire, not doubting that in a few minutes the contemptible defences of the Americans would be scattered to the winds. The army was arrayed in battle order to rush forward and capture the works and their defenders. Every moment the cannonade and bombardment became heavier, and the rocketeers sent showers of fiery missiles upon the Americans. Meanwhile, Jackson had opened his heavy guns on his assailants. His cannonade was led off by the imperturbable Humphrey on the left, followed by the Baratarians and the veteran Garrigue. The American artillery thundered all along the line.

Pakenham was amazed. He could not conceive where the Americans got their guns and gunners. The conflict became terrible. Patterson fought the batteries on the levee from the opposite side of the river; and an attempt to turn the American left at the swamp was successfully met by Coffee and his riflemen, and the assailants made to fly in terror. Towards noon the fire of the British slackened. Their half-moon batteries were crushed, the batteries on the levee were demolished, and the invaders ran helter-skelter to the ditch for protection. Under cover of the ensuing night, they crawled back to their camp, dragging with them a part of their cannon over the oozy ground. It was a bitter New Year's Day for the British army. They had been without food or sleep for sixty hours. There was joy in the American camp. It was increased when Gen. John Adair announced that more than 2,000 drafted men from Kentucky, under Maj.-Gen. John Thomas, were near. They arrived at New Orleans on the morning of the 4th, and 700 of them were sent to the front under Adair. [403] Pakenham now conceived the hazardous plan of carrying Jackson's lines by storm on both sides of the river. Those on the right bank were under the command of General Morgan.

Jackson penetrated Pakenham's design on the 6th, and he disposed his forces accordingly. The New Orleans troops and a few others were placed on the right of the intrenchments, and fully two-thirds of the whole line was covered by the commands of Coffee and Carroll. The latter was reinforced on the 7th by 1,000 Kentuckians, under General Adair, and fifty marines. Coffee, with 500 men, held the extreme left of the line, where his men were compelled to sleep on floating logs lashed to the trees. Jackson's whole force on the New Orleans side of the river was about 5,000 in number. Of these only 2,200 were at the line, and only 800 of them were regulars, the rest mostly raw recruits commanded by young officers. His army was formed in two divisions—one, on the right, commanded by Colonel Ross; and the other, on the left, by Generals Carroll and Coffee. Another intrenchment had been thrown up a mile and a half in the rear of the front, behind which the weaker of his forces were stationed. Jackson also established a third line at the lower edge of the city.

General Morgan, on the opposite side of the river, had 800 men, all militia and indifferently armed. On the night of the 7th, Pakenham sent Lieutenant-Colonel Thornton with a detachment to attack Morgan, and at dawn the British, under Pakenham, were seen advancing to attack Jackson's lines. The heavy guns of one of Jackson's batteries were opened upon it, and so a terrible battle was begun. The British line, stretching across the plain of Chalmette, was broken into companies, but steadily advanced, terribly smitten by a storm that came from the American batteries, which made fearful lanes through their ranks with round and grape shot. The right of the British, under Gibbs, had obliqued towards the swamp, and was thrown into some confusion by the guns of the Americans. This was heightened by the fact that there had been neglect in bringing forward fascines and scaling-ladders. His troops poured forward in solid column, covered in front by blazing rockets. Whole platoons were prostrated, when others instantly filled their places; and so, without pause or recoil, they pushed towards the weaker left of Jackson's line. By this time all the American batteries, including Patterson's across the river, were in full play.

Yet steadily on marched Wellington's veterans, stepping firmly over the dead bodies of slain comrades, until they had reached a point within 200 yards of the American line, behind which, concealed from the view of the invaders, lay the Tennessee and Kentucky sharp-shooters, four ranks deep. Suddenly the clear voice of General Carroll rang out the word, “Fire!” His Tennesseeans instantly arose, and, taking sure aim, laid scores of the British soldiery on the ground by a terrific storm of bullets. That storm did not cease for a moment, for when the Tennesseeans had fired they fell back, and the Kentuckians took their places, and so the four ranks in turn participated in the conflict. At the same time, round, grape, and chain shot went crashing through the British line from the several batteries, and it began to waver, when a detachment brought up the fascines and scaling-ladders, and revived the hopes of the British. Pakenham was at the head of his troops. Addressing a few stirring words to the men he was leading forward, his bridlearm was made powerless by a bullet, and his horse was shot dead under him. He instantly mounted another. Several of his officers fell one after another, and the line broke up into detachments, a greater part of them falling back to the shelter of the protecting swamp. They were rallied, and rushed forward to carry the works in front of Carroll and Coffee.

At that moment, Keane, on the left, wheeled his column and pushed to the aid of the right, terribly enfiladed by the American batteries as they strode across the plain. Their presence encouraged the broken column on the right, and all rushed into the heart of the tempest from Carroll's rifles, Gibbs on the right and Pakenham on their left. In a few minutes the right arm of the latter was disabled by a bullet. Very soon, while shouting huzzas to his troops, there came a terrible storm of round and grape shot that scattered dead men all around him. [404] One of the balls passed through the general's thigh, killing his horse under him. Pakenham was caught in the arms of his faithful aid, Captain McDougall. He was conveyed to the rear in a dying condition, and expired in the arms of McDougall under a live-oak-tree. General Gibbs was also mortally wounded, and died the next day. Keane, shot in the neck, was compelled to leave the field, and the command devolved on Major Wilkinson, the officer of highest grade in the saddle. His discomfited troops fell back, and the whole army fled in disorder.

While these events were occurring on the right, nearly 1,000 men under the active Colonel Rennie had pushed rapidly forward near the river in two columns, and, driving in the American pickets, took possession of the unfinished redoubt on Jackson's extreme right. They did not hold it long. Patterson's battery greatly annoyed Rennie's column on its march. As he scaled the parapet of the redoubt, and had just exclaimed, “Hurrah, boys, the day is ours!” he fell dead, pierced by a bullet from Beale's rifles. When this column fell back in disorder, General Lambert, in command of the reserves, appeared just in time to cover the retreat of the battered and flying regiments, but not to retrieve the misfortunes of the day. From the first flight of British rockets in the morning to the close of the battle, the New Orleans Band, stationed near the centre of the American line, played incessantly, cheering the troops with martial music. No music but the bugle inspired the British columns. Across the Mississippi, Thornton had captured the American intrenchments after the cannon had been spiked and rolled into the river; also Patterson's battery, the commander and his men, after spiking the guns, escaping on board the Louisiana. Then Thornton recrossed the river and joined the retiring army.

In this terrible battle the British lost 2.600 men, killed, wounded, and made prisoners; while the Americans, sheltered by their breastworks, lost only eight killed and thirteen wounded. The history of human warfare presents no parallel to this disparity in loss. On the western side of the river the British had 100 killed and wounded: the Americans six. The next morning (Jan. 9, 1815) detachments from both armies were engaged in burying the dead on the plain. The Kentuckians carried to the British detachment the bodies of their slain comrades on the scaling-ladders they had brought. The bodies of the dead British officers were buried on Villereas plantation, not far from his mansion, and those of Pakenham and several others were placed in casks of rum and sent to England. On Jan. 18 a general exchange of prisoners took place, and under cover of the next night General Lambert withdrew all the British from the Mississippi, and they soon made their way in open boats across Lake Borgne to their fleet, 60 miles distant, between Cat and Ship islands. Louisiana was saved. The news of the victory created intense joy throughout the country. State legislatures and other bodies thanked Jackson and his brave men. A small medal was struck in commemoration of the event and circulated among the people. Congress voted the thanks of the nation to Jackson, and ordered a commemorative gold medal to be given to him.

In the Civil War.

The national government resolved during the winter of 1861-62 to repossess itself of Mobile, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Galveston, and to attempt to acquire control of the lower Mississippi and Texas. The Department of the Gulf was created, which included all these points, and Gen. Benjamin F. Butler (q. v.) was placed in command of it. It was proposed to send a competent land and naval force first to capture New Orleans. General McClellan did not think the plan feasible, for it would take 50,000 men, and he was unwilling to spare a man from his army of more than 200,000 men lying around Washington. President Lincoln approved of the project, and Mr. Stanton said to General Butler, “The man who takes New Orleans shall be made a lieutenant-general.” Butler called for troops. New England was alive with enthusiasm, and furnished them, in addition to her thousands in the Army of the Potomac. He sailed from Fort Monroe, Feb. 25. 1862, with his wife, his staff, and 1,400 New England troops. Storms and delays made the passage long, and it was thirty days before he landed on dreary Ship Island (his place of destination), off [405] the coast of Mississippi, where there was an unfinished fort. The Confederates of that region had taken possession of that island and the fort in considerable force. During their occupation of it for about four months, they made it strong and available for defence. They constructed eleven bomb-proof casemates, a magazine, and barracks, mounted twenty heavy Dahlgren guns, and named it Fort Twiggs.

When a rumor that a strong naval force was approaching reached the island, the Confederate garrison abandoned the fort, burned the barracks, and with their cannon fled to the mainland. On the following day, a small force was landed from the National gunboat Massachusetts, and took possession of the place. They strengthened the fort by building two more casemates, adding Dahlgren and rifled cannon, and piling around its outer walls tiers of sand-bags six feet in depth. They gave to the fort the name of their vessel, and it became Fort Massachusetts. When General Butler arrived, there was no house on the island, and it was with much difficulty that a decent place of shelter was prepared for his wife and his military family. General Phelps was there with New England troops, so also were Commodore Farragut with a naval force, and Commodore D. D. Porter (q. v.) with a fleet of bomb-vessels to co-operate with the land force. At a short bend in the Mississippi River, 60 miles below New Orleans, were Forts Jackson and St. Philip. These, with some fortifications above and obstructions in the river below, were believed by the Confederates to make the stream absolutely impassable by vessels. There were then 10,000 troops in New Orleans under Gen. Mansfield Lovell. One of the New Orleans journals said, in a boastful manner. “Our only fear is that the Northern invaders may not appear. We have made such extensive preparations to receive them, that it were vexatious if their invincible armada escapes the fate we have in store for it.” On April 28 the fleets of Farragut and Porter were within the Mississippi River, the former in chief command of the naval forces; and General Butler, with about 9,000 troops, was at the Southwest Pass. The fleets comprised forty-seven armed vessels, and these, with the transports, went up the river, Porter's mortar-boats leading. When they approached the forts their hulls were besmeared with mud, and the rigging was covered with branches of trees. So disguised, they were enabled to take a position near the forts unsuspected. The Mississippi was full to the brim, and a boom and other obstructions near Fort Jackson had been swept away by the flood. On April 18 a battle between Fort Jackson and Porter's mortar-boats was begun. The gunboats supported the mortar-boats. They could not much affect the forts, and on the night of the 23d the fleet started to run by them, the mortar-boats helping. The perilous passage of the forts was begun at 2 A. M. The night was intensely dark, and in the gloom a tremendous battle was waged. The National naval force was met by a Confederate one. In that struggle the Na-

The Levee at New Orleans.

tionals were victorious. While the battle was raging near the forts, General Butler landed his troops, and in small boats passed through narrow and shallow bayous in the rear of Fort St. Philip. The alarmed garrison surrendered to Butler without resistance, declaring they had been [406] pressed into the service and would fight no more. When the forts were surrendered and the Confederate gunboats subdued, Farragut rendezvoused at Quarantine, and then with nine vessels went up to New Orleans. There a fearful panic prevailed, for the people had heard of the disasters below. Drums were beating, soldiers were hurrying to and fro, cotton was carried to the levee to be burned; specie to the amount of $4,000,000 had been carried away from the banks, and citizens, with millions of property, had fled from the city. When Farragut approached (April 25), General Lovell and his troops fled; the torch was applied to the cotton on the levee, and 15,000 bales, a dozen large ships, and as many fine steamers, with unfinished gunboats and other large vessels, were destroyed in the conflagration. The citizens were held in durance by Farragut's guns until the arrival of Butler on May 1, when the latter landed with his troops, took formal possession of the defenceless town, and made his headquarters at the St. Charles Hotel. The loss of New Orleans was a terrible blow to the Confederates. See Butler, Benjamin Franklin.

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