The Battle of New Orleans was the climactic battle of America's "forgotten war" of 1812. Andrew Jackson led his ragtag corps of soldiers against 8,000 disciplined invading British regulars in a battle that delivered the British a humiliating military defeat. The victory solidified America's independence and marked the beginning of Jackson's rise to national prominence. Hailed as "terrifically readable" by the Chicago Sun Times, The Battle of New Orleans is popular American history at its best, bringing to life a landmark battle that helped define the character of the United States.
This book's narrative is fast and snappy, the story is well told and presented in a way that it reads like a novel. The author, Robert V. Remini certainly loves this period of history and has a deep respect for Andrew Jackson, which shows throughout the book, maybe too much so. One of the previous reviewers mentioned the fact that the story was a bit too much like "good versus evil".
I found on occasions that the American forces could do no wrong while the British were blunderers. For example, the chapter `The Night Attack' shows Jackson throwing his troops, inferior in numbers and without full knowledge of the British forces in a spoiling attack against the advance guard of the British forces. Certainly the spoiling attack is a sound military move and paid good dividends in this instance. Jackson is shown as a daring commander however when the British forces do something very similar against the American positions they are made to sound like bumbling fools. Why is one commander a daring master and the other an idiot?
On a similar note, when Jackson showed caution on a number of occasions throughout this battle he was commended but when the British leadership showed this same caution they were castigated. I agree with the author that the British leadership was ineffectual at times but that is making a judgement in hindsight. The author made mention of Jackson's burning hatred of the British and their contempt for the American forces, maybe a little of this has rubbed off on the author?
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this book, it's a great story and my own country's history has no love of the British but I don't like it to show so one sided in any book I read. Beside that, the maps supplied (3) were of a high quality and a pleasant change but once again even the maps seemed to be one sided. The map showing the positions of the opposing forces for the attack on January 8, 1815 (page 135) show in great detail the American positions with the units indicated but nothing as detailed for the attacking British forces.
Having said all that, it was pleasing to note that the author paid tribute to the brave soldiers on both sides of this terrible battle. Overall this is an excellent story, told with verve and passion and it's a great book to read. I hope that the remarks above do not offend anyone, they are not made with that intention. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history and would like to learn about this turning point in America's history.
Another great history-in-a-nutshell book which explains how Old Hickory ended up on the $20 bill. What's better than Kentuckians in Top Hats, pirates and citizen soldiers banding together with a beat up regular American Army to finally put the British in their place (a feat which even Napoleon could not accomplish)? Excellent.
In 1814, we took a little trip Along with Colonel Jackson Down the mighty Mississip.
It was supposed to be a slam dunk. With many veterans of Wellington's army, a Steve Jobs-like leader in General Pakenham, a mighty fleet of the world's greatest navy, and the best trained army of the Old World...the British should have destroyed the small American unit defending "Nawlins".
We took a little bacon And we took a little beans And we caught the bloody British In a town in New Orleans.
But the Pommies didn't reckon with Andrew 'Old Hickory' Jackson. A Southern scarecrow who looked as though he was in perpetual starvation mode, the future President made it his mission to not just deny the Brits, but to wipe them from existence. He blamed them for the death of his mother and older brothers in the American Revolution and vowed to become the "punishing hand" of the Redcoats. His hatred for the Mother Country would last through the rest of his life.
We looked down the river And we see'd the British come And there musta been A hundred of 'em beating on the drum.
The splendid troops wearing red did not fear much from the ragtag Yanks. Once they easily took New Orleans, the entire Louisiana Purchase territory was ahead, a huge prize for the empire of Nelson and Welly. By linking up with Canada, Great Britain would have penned the upstart Americans into their Eastern enclaves...and eventually would have taken back the colonies they had lost to the Yankees some thirty years earlier.
They stepped so high And they made their bugles ring We stood beside our cotton bales And didn't say a thing.
New Orleans. It was the most dynamic city in the States. To the arrogant members of the royal infantry, it meant loot and rapine. What could stop them? Certainly not the flimsy barricades thrown up by the...wait, do those Americans even have an army? The mighty Mississippi meant conquest and only Andrew Jackson stood in the way.
Ole Hickory said We could take them by surprise If we didn't fire our muskets Till we look 'em in the eyes.
They say that over-confidence can be used as a weapon by an opposing force. Such was it to be in this fight. The British did not understand the bayou system and landed in the wrong spots. They had to row thousands of men to land, under heat and humidity and rain. The soldiers could barely walk, as they sank to their knees in mud. When the battle actually started, the Brits listened to the advice of an American deserter who told them about the weak spot in Jackson's line.
We held our fire Till we seen their faces swell. Then we opened up our squirrel guns And really gave them (hell).
But the deserter was not aware that Jackson had moved arriving reinforcements to the weak spot, which now became the strong point. Redcoats marched en masse into withering fire from cannons and guns. It was a basic wipeout. The British leaders were killed. For a while, no one knew if any generals were left to lead.
Well, they ran through the briars And they ran through the brambles. And they ran through the bushes Where a rabbit wouldn't go.
They came from Tennessee and Kentucky. Poorly armed. At least, the Brits thought so. But while the rifles did not look like much, each man could shoot dead a running rodent from a spot away. They did not waste bullets. Each shot fired was either a kill or a wound. Most of the Americans had never seen New Orleans. They came because Jackson had asked them. That was good enough.
They ran so fast that the Hounds couldn't catch 'em. On down the Mississippi To the Gulf of Mexico.
Back East, Washington had been burned. The President had to run away. Yankees started discussing how it would feel to be British again. When the news arrived about the momentous victory, it was considered a miracle. Then came word of the Treaty of Ghent, which had actually been completed before the Battle of New Orleans. The United States of America would never look back.
Having already read about the War of 1812, I thought, well, it was a funky war. What more could be said? But this book was enlightening, as it laid out the consequences of Jackson's victory. Before this momentous event, the United States of America was still an East Coast-driven entity. Madison, Monroe, and Quincy Adams were the leading lights, men whose attire and attitude still reflected the 18th Century. But Andrew Jackson changed that. The men who fought the Battle of New Orleans represented the new West...which, at that time, was Kentucky and Tennessee. Rough-hewn. Spat tobacco. Dressed in buckskins. They were assisted by the French-American pirates, who decided to defend their city. Earrings and swords.
Robert Remini's writing is perfect. That is, his sentences hit the mark the same way his backwoods men shot their guns. Find the target, shoot, reload. Those are my kind of sentences. He is a Jacksonian. Since I'm not, I have decided to find his bio of Mr. Jackson, so I can learn more about this strange avatar of Manifest Destiny. And while I'm at it, what is it with Americans and their ability to pull rabbits out of their hats when it comes to finding great leaders? I mean, they had Washingon-Adams-Jefferson-Franklin while France had Robespierre-Danton-Marat-de Sade. They had Andrew Jackson, while France had Bonaparte. They had Lincoln, while England had Lord Raglan. They had Patton-Bradley-Eisenhower-MacArthur while France had...De Gaulle. They even had Churchill (half American). Seriously. Is it the water?
My apologies for the long review. I obviously like this book. It's not very long, but I learned what I needed to know and now I have a thirst to know more about that period and of Andrew Jackson, who would become the 7th President of the United States. Homeboy was a game-changer and so was this battle.
January 8th is now my new favourite day of 1815. Take that, Wellington (my previous favourite 1815 leader).
Book Season = Summer (beignets and chicory, mes enfants)
The sort of history of battle you don't see much anymore: rousing and entertaining, full of brave deeds and long odds overcome. Huzzah indeed! Not much attention is paid to the causes of the war or its broader social context, and while that might have been of interest, frankly it is not much missed here. The focus is mostly on Andrew Jackson--Remini is a biographer of Jackson--and it works as a means to tell the story of the battle in a truncated and readable fashion. In the concluding chapter he does make a brief case for the importance of the battle as the decisive moment in a war that transformed the USA from a feisty little upstart colony that was viewed with disdain by the Europeans into a true nation with a distinct national identity worthy of respect.
Remini's brief, but eminently readable, history of the Battle of New Orleans focuses less on Old Hickory (Andrew Jackson) than it does on the battle itself, its major players, and its significance in forging the American psyche.
Prior to the War of 1812, the newly independent America was still very much a "European" nation in its mannerisms and outlook. Its citizenry still had many of the trappings of the old world (powdered wigs, waistcoats, leggings, etc). Despite the winning of independence, America did not have the respect of Europe nor was it clear they deserved it.
So with the War of 1812 and the resounding defeat of the British at New Orleans by a decidedly more "Western" and post-revolutionary army, the shift of America from a collection of "former British colonists" to a nation uniquely American began to take hold.
The fact that the battle was won by Jackson, a fiercely anti-British character who helped usher in the first major populist political movement in the country in stark contrast to the Federalist and Virginia dynasties of the past helped immensely. Remini insightfully notes that many of the seminal works describing the character of "America" (including most notably de Tocqueville) were written during the rise of and presidency of Jackson.
The best histories provide narrative drive to tell a solid story while also placing the events in a coherent context along that historical timeline. Remini's Battle of New Orleans does both wonderfully.
Old Hickory is one of my favorite Americans of all time. This short story gives a great rendition of the final battle of the war of 1812, in which he lead. It tells the story of how several cultures and backgrounds came together to repulse an organized and invading army. The lopsided results are evidence of a people that are hell-bent on overcoming adversity and protecting freedom. It's what separates us from the rest of the world.
This is a great addition to any library and helps tell the denouement of the war and the "end of the beginning" of the United States.
This book was much more than I was expecting. I've never been a great fan of American historical nonfiction, but seeing the hope and enthusiastic sprits of the American people in this book have me hope for the future of our country as it struggles right now. I hope we can unite in spirit soon and re-establish the American spirit of justice and freedom.
I liked this much more than Meachum's American Lion.
Much more engrossing, much more interesting. Lot's of interesting facts about Jackson and the war of 1812. Liked the details about the Creek War and dealing with the Pirates Lafitte helping against the British in New Orleans. To me, this war of 1812 is really the forgotten war in American History.
I finished this fast paced history book in 2 days and it was fantastic! We’re heading to New Orleans so I’ve been stocking up on some gulf history and it’s been so surprising. This is a 6 hour audiobook and I couldn’t recommend it though. Picture this... Andrew Jackson (complicated American hero/horror show) teaming up with pirates to win “America’s first military victory.” Seriously, this was a fun one. If you’re a history nerd like myself, check it out.
The Battle of New Orleans Andrew Jackson and America's First Military Victory by Robert v. Remini was a tougher read. It was rich with historical information that at times could make it very boring. Although most of the book tended to be quite boring I did learn some new thing about that major battles Andrew Jackson fought in. Most of these battles I had only learned about through history class which did not take such an in depth look at them, so seeing all parts of these important battles and what led to them was very interesting. Even though most of The Battle of New Orleans tended to be boring and packed with historical information, it was interesting to see the in depth look the author takes on Mainly the Battle of New Orleans and other battles. One such battle was when Andrew Jackson went into Florida to take on fleeing hostile Native Americans. Another thing I liked was that it had a nice balance between the actual Battle of New Orleans and what led up to it. It wasn't all the boring politics of the battle and the people involved. Overall this book did have some good and interesting parts which made it not something terrible to read. The Battle of New Orleans was an incredibly boring book. The action in it did make up for some of the extensive history that it continually threw out at you, but overall a very slow read that was packed with information. It gave extensive backgrounds on most of the people involved with the Battle of New Orleans which made it very boring to read. This also made it hard to focus because at time I didn't care about a certain figure's background. This book is meant to be informational of The Battle of New Orleans and the ending of The War of 1812 and it did accomplish that task. It just did that in one of the most boring wars possible. "The Battle of New Orleans Andrew Jackson and America's First Military Victory" overall was a very historical book. It showed a lot of maybe not so well know information about the Battle of New Orleans. With that said, if you are not into information-heavy books I would not recommend this book to you. It will most likely take you a very long time to read and you won't get much enjoyment out of it.
A quick popular history of the New Orleans campaign, generic to a fault. Nothing distinguishes this book; the style is brisk and chatty and the narrative quick and straightforward, but there is nothing remarkable here. To its detriment, the book also completely neglects the social and political ramifications of the battle, instead confining its scope to a straight record of events; something I find egregious in a history.
This is a detailed and clearly written account of the Battle of New Orleans and the skirmishes that preceded and followed it. However, it does not place the battle into an larger historical context (e.g. race relations - free black soldiers and Indians fought on both sides), which, combined with Remini's sometimes gag-inducing patriotism, makes this book less intellectually satisfying than it ought to be.
I found it to be a nice, concise history of the battle. The only thing I think that could make it better would be more and better maps. I found it very interesting how ahead of his time Jackson was in tactics. His defense of New Orleans was more akin to something later in the Civil war (as opposed to the Napoleonic tactics the Brits used as well as both sides at the beginning of the civil war.)
An error ridden and infantile account where stupid British gentlemen fighting a "clean and gentlemanly" war are defeated by Jackson and his dirty and practical frontiersmen. Jackson is the hero of the story (the author even chides us for no longer looking at him in a heroic light). So Jackson's more questionable decisions are not mentioned or if mentioned only briefly. I would laugh but I have seen historians in New Orleans peddling the same sort of bullshit.
This is mostly a military history. As I am more interested in character development both nationally and individually, it wasn't quite as satisfying as I had hoped. We do see Jackson's will imposed on the disparate people of New Orleans, and this is interesting. After his victory, we see this will as a picture of emerging national unity.
Remini has written a definitive and extremely readable account of the battle of New Orleans. He does a good job not only of describing the campaign that resulted in the clash of armies near New Orleans, but also places the battle in context as the first truly "American" victory.
A brilliant, colorful book on a battle that had more consequences for America than most people ever realize. Remini's book has been given high marks for great reasons, and you'll be done with this book before you know it!
By and large I found this to be a deeply thoughtful and detailed and enjoyable read in the genre of military history of the early American Republic. The one real problem I have with this book is one of framing. The author considered Great Britain to have been the one real enemy of the United States and lamented the hostility between the United States and France during Adams' administration, which makes him a decidedly Anglophobic historian. Additionally, the author seems to be a bit of a homer for Andrew Jackson (himself a deeply controversial man ), and this book expresses the unfortunate belief that New Orleans was the first military victory of the United States, which is untrue on all kinds of levels, whether one looks at America's colonial warfare alongside Great Britain, America's striking victories in the American Revolution, or the previous victories in the War of 1812, on land as well as on sea. Beyond these faults of framing, though, and they are likely to be pervasive in the author's writing, the book as a whole is an enjoyable narrative of a victory by a complex, polyglot force over military professionals who profoundly underestimated their opponents.
The book itself is about 200 pages long or so and begins with a narrative that sets the context for New Orleans in Jackson's successful moves on Mobile and Pensacola after winning the Creek War (1), before looking at the state of New Orleans on the eve of the battle (2). After this the author looks at the beginning of the invasion (3) and Jackson's indecisive night attack that blunted the British initiative (4). A thoughtful discussion of a little-remembered artillery duel (5) precedes a discussion of the final preparations for a battle everyone knew was coming (6). After this the author spends a significant portion of time discussing the main engagement on January 8th that led to the death of many soldiers and general officers among the British expeditionary force (7) before discussing the final assault that failed to break Jackson's defenses (8). The book then closes with a discussion of the repercussions of New Orleans for the confidence of the young republic and the reputation Jackson gained as a result of his famous victory. After this there are notes, a bibliography, and an index that provide some additional sources and commentary for the interested reader.
There are at least a few notable qualities of this book. For one, the author appears to be greatly fond of Jacksonian democracy, and so he tries to whitewash the racism that Jackson and the 19th century Democratic party is so (rightly) associated with. He also appears to have a strong agenda in pointing to the capacity of the United States to form a cohesive identity out of disparate elements, and the complex bedlam of ethnicities and cultures in New Orleans certainly allows him the chance to show the heroism and canny pragmatism of Jackson and the other men of Tennessee and Kentucky, pirates like the Lafitte brothers, and other vagabonds and exiles that made up New Orleans' population. Remini tends to be a historian who is hostile to the New England WASPs of which I claim a fair amount of my own ancestry and background and one wonders if this is history or merely some kind of cheerleading for populism in elegant and narrative disguise. This book is a classic example of a work which can be greatly enjoyed by a reader but whose perspective makes it impossible to trust the author's integrity in the purpose of his writing and in the larger ideological aims he appears to be aiming unsuccessfully at.
This is a good quick book on an early battle in American history. Robert V. Remini loves Andrew Jackson and he comes across heroic in this book. There is much to admire about Jackson; how he cared for his soldiers and put them first; he was aggressive when he needed to be but held back when attacking would get men killed for a long shot; his preparation and handling of the battle are first rate. Jackson was also helped by the British. Even though their army was a veteran of the Napoleonic wars, their actions here left much to be desired. They were slow, arrogant and showed amazing incompetence in planning out the campaign.
The book does open my eyes as to the British in this fight. I have always heard the American side. It was also as I suspected a campaign with intermittent fighting for over a month, until the assault on the American line on Jan. 8th, the bloodbath everyone remembers. The British did not fight this battle anywhere near their capabilities. They did underestimate the Americans who were better shots than they assumed. The real surprise was how well the American artillery handled itself as they went toe to toe with the British and got the better of them.
Remini loves Andrew Jackson too much. The army Jackson commanded was diverse with Americans, French Creoles, free blacks, Choctaw Indians and sailors. It had some veterans but mostly men who had never seen combat before. Jackson's handling of this force is praised but knowing Jackson's racist views it makes one wonder how he handled each unit. Remini brushes over this making it seem like he treated them all the same but one has to wonder, did Jackson in some way see these men as useful for his ambition? Did he change his views as the situation required or did he just act as the enlightened gentleman here? It is sad when one realizes that after helping Jackson establish his reputation, that propelling him all the way to the White House, the Choctaws would still be removed from their land by President Jackson 20 years after the battle.
Robert V. Remini also oversells the battle's importance by claiming this military victory was the first great victory for the United States as a country. It can be argued that Saratoga and Yorktown were greater and had far more significance. If it is based on the battle itself and the casualties, very few battles live up to the ratio of the Americans inflicted on the British and in the end the battle meant nothing as peace was already signed and the combatants would know within a month.
This book is a nice introduction into the battle and perhaps Andrew Jackson. Just be prepared for the perspective to be very pro-Jackson.
This is a short book, approximately 200 pages, by Robert V. Remini focusing only on Andrew Jackson's role in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. The level of detail included in this book is precise giving the reader a snapshot of this oft-forgotten war but important in forging the American character. The unison of different classes and ethnicities on the American side saw swashbuckling pirates, free Blacks, Creoles, Indians, frontier backwoodsmen, and French citizens, among others, united in their cause to dislodge and dispel the invading British forces from New Orleans. The Americans prove overwhelmingly victorious in this battle soundly defeating the British while inflicting maximum carnage despite a peace treaty having been drawn up beforehand and not reaching General Jackson due to the glacial pace in which news traveled in those days.
Military history fans will especially relish this retelling as it goes over military strategy and emplacements. More maps, however, would have proven useful in illustrating key battles and surges. Overall, a fine book from the most prominent Jackson biographer that concentrates on this important and shocking American victory over arch nemesis Great Britain.
We all have heard of this battle as the big battle won after the War of 1812 was over. In the many books that I have read, all the stories basically stated that this battle as over very quickly and the Americans smashed the British. While Jackson and his army did smash the British, is was not quick nor guaranteed. If the British did succeed in taking New Orleans, the future of the US would have been quite different.
This book went into this battle in fair, but not deep, detail. From the pirates under Lafitte, the Free Blacks, the French, the Creoles, the Cajuns, the Kentuckians, the Tennesseans, Choctaws and Cherokees, to the British side and all the heroes of the Peninsular War under Wellington. As with so many battles, a change here and change there could have had a very different outcome.
To say that the US won the War of 1812, as taught in our schools, has always been laughable. What is undeniable is that the US did kick the British in the rear end in the Battle of New Orleans. This was a good book to understanding why.
This book went through the details of the Battle of New Orleans and told in intricate detail what we know about how it went. Remini begins by admitting Jackson's strength wasn't in technical or tactical know-how as much as in his charisma, his ability to keep disparate forces with little supplies in line, and the engineering work his soldiers completed.
Just as important, in Remini's opinion, were the blunders committed by the frightened, cold, and lonely English. Though this was a full scale British Invasion, their knowledge about the lay of the land was limited and much of their planning poor. By the time they committed to battle, they had almost lost (except then their soldiers forgot the fascines and ladders, and that I think was the last straw).
The admission of weakness on the west flank/bank was something I thought Remini wouldn't have done, given his admiration of Jackson, but I found his objectivism about as good as it could be (given that the greatest criticism of Remini is lack of objectivism).
Caveat about this review: I love Remini's work. Pretty much all of it.
When I visit family in New Orleans about three times a year, I always pick up a Louisiana book at the local bookstore. I favor cultural and political history over military history so this little gem, published in 1999, was new to me. Like most Americans, all of what I knew of the Battle of New Orleans was the 60's song about the bacon and the beans. I always thought the Battle of New Orleans was a little swamp skirmish in the War of 1812 that occurred after the war was officially over. Big surprise. Who knew the breadth and scope of the situation?
Robert Remini wrote this little book as an aside, complementary to his renowned Andrew Jackson biographies. In today's world, the coverage would feature MORE breadth and scope. He can't do anything about that now. Future histories will tell the entire story.
Great overview of the battle that changed America from a continental stepchild to a legitimate and independent nation in its own right. Jackson gets full (and then some) credit for melding a crazy patchwork of whites, blacks and native americans into a cohesive fighting force and defeating the vastly superior British military. Current revisionist history aside, he was a remarkable man...absolutely fundamental in the shaping of the nation.
I listened to the audiobook and that's why I didn't rate it five stars. The narration wasn't up to par, especially at the faster speeds I typically listen at. Great narration holds up at double speed, this I had to run at x1.25 to clearly understand. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't suck and I'd recommend it to a friend, but it did detract a little.
Readable and clear history of the important battle during the War of 1812 (that lasted until February 18, 1815) between the British and the Americans. Book focuses heavily on the military conflict and key players involved. It definitely gave me a good portrait of what happened and some of the historical important, especially as a definitive military victory over the British's best units. That said, I didn't feel like the book add much of a human or narrative element to the telling of the events.
Definitely recommended for someone looking to better understand of this military battle but if you are looking for more about the people involved, like Andrew Jackson, soldiers themselves or British leaders, you might want to look to other books.
I would actually rate this a 2.5, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt as a nonfiction book. It's always harder to get and maintain a reader's attention with nonfiction.
There were some parts of the book, like the explanation of the governor's interactions with the pirates that I found very interesting. Of course there are plenty of pirates (and worse) that took part in the history and building of our nation. Some of them were acceptable, or at least became acceptable in the retelling of history. Other "pirates" ask to be of assistance and are rejected.
Other parts were like a really boring play by play of the battle events. That was boring.