While imprisoned in Camden, South Carolina, young Jackson was attacked by a British officer, Major Coffin, for refusing to clean his boots. Coffin slashed Jackson with a sword, Jackson ducked and threw up a hand. He was cut to the bone on his left hand and forehead, and carried the scars for life.

Andrew and Robert contracted smallpox in prison, from which Robert died soon after. Their mother subsequently died of cholera, contracted while nursing American soldiers. An orphan at 14, Andrew had early on developed a deep, abiding hatred of the British.



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Had Britain and America’s  Eastern elites been successful, The U.S. might have ended up looking like the map above, reduced to a third rate nation, and under Britain’s thumb once more.  Can anyone seriously believe that had Pakenham taken New Orleans January 8th that Britain would not eagerly have nullified a treaty not yet confirmed by the U.S.? Again the question: why is the war forgotten? Was it overshadowed by the Civil War 50 years later? Was it due to the US wanting to ‘make nice’ with Britain? Did Eastern elites and press want to bury their shame and the reality that a backwoods brawler like Jackson saved their quivering skins?

The principal players in Louisiana’s life-and-death drama were raised in occupied Ireland. Major General Edward Pakenham was born in Westmeath, and took part in the brutal suppression of Ireland’s 1798 rebellion. Pakenham was the brother-in law of Dublin-born Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, who, five months after the British rout at New Orleans, ended Napoleon’s imperial career at Waterloo.

General John Keane, 1st Baron Keane GCB GCH, born in Belmont, County Offlay, was the second son of Sir John Keane, 1st Baronet, Member of the Parliament of Ireland, later member of the UK parliament when England abolished Ireland’s parliament outright after the ’98 United Irish rebellion.

Major-General Robert Ross from Rostrevor, County Down, who oversaw the burning of Washington, was killed near Baltimore September 12 by an American sharpshooter.

Having burned Washington in August 1814, the British tried capturing Baltimore on their way down to New Orleans, launching a fierce bombardment on Fort McHenry. We hail the survival of the fort and its “broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight” in our national anthem. But it took nearly 100 years and an executive order by President Wilson in 1916 to make the anthem official. And yet another 15 years passed before Herbert Hoover in 1931 confirmed the order in law.

        Andrew Jackson was born near Lancaster, South Carolina. His parents, and two older brothers, Hugh and Robert, had emigrated from Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim. Jackson’s father, also Andrew, died shortly before Andrew’s birth. His mother hoped he’d become a Presbyterian minister. Andrew had little time for religion and preferred fighting, cursing and hell-raising. At 13 he went off with his brothers to fight the British.

Jackson’s eldest brother Hugh died of heat stroke following a battle, and in 1781 both Andrew and his brother Robert were captured. When Andrew refused to polish the boots of a British officer, Major Coffin, he was nearly killed. Coffin slashed Jackson across the face with his sword.

What the U.S. could have looked like: surrounded, never rising as a world power, had Britain won the battle of New Orleans.


Just over 200 years ago on JAN. 8 1815, U.S. General Andy Jackson achieved an astounding victory in the “forgotten” War of 1812. Jackson and some 4000 American volunteers and militia crushed a superior force of 10,000 British Army and Royal Marines, part of a larger Royal Navy fleet manned by 18,000 veterans of the world’s most powerful military machine which had just defeated Napoleon, greatest military genius of the time. These troops had left America’s new capitol at Washington City (now D.C.) in ashes only four months earlier. So why is 1912 America’s “forgotten war”?

British troops burned America’s White House and most of Washington City, August 24, 1814.

The Battle of New Orleans is often dismissed as unimportant because the U.S. and Britain had signed a peace treaty at Ghent, Belgium on December 24, 1814, 15 days before the battle. But that ignores the fact that the treaty was not official until ratified by the U.S. Senate and signed by President Madison. Ratification did not occur until February 16, 1815, more than a month after the battle.

That assault on New Orleans was planned long before British commissioners joined the peace talks in January 1814. British foreign secretary Lord Castlereagh boasted that once the large seaport towns of America were “laid in ashes" and New Orleans captured, the British would command "all the rivers of the Mississippi valley and the Lakes (making) the Americans little better than prisoners in their own country."

Britain had allied with Native American tribes, seeking to create a vast Indian nation across Native lands in Ohio and the Indiana and Michigan Territories, designed to block American expansion west of the Mississippi.

Peace talks were begun in January, 1814, but Britain dragged out negotiations all year. Pursuing its customary “divide and conquer” strategy employed so successfully in Ireland, Britain hoped to capture New Orleans, cut America in two, and block the new nation’s access West beyond the Mississippi and South into the Caribbean. A buffer state would rise between a 13-state U.S. and the rest of the continent, including Canada. The east coast would easily be controlled by the British sea power.

The treaty was finally signed at Ghent on Christmas Eve, 12 days after the British fleet arrived east of New Orleans at Lake Borgne. News from Ghent took more than six weeks to reach Washington by ship. Meanwhile, the British North American Army, commanded by Major General Pakenham, advanced on New Orleans. The outcome of the battle would decide whether America could grow into a superpower, or remain a third-rate state. Pakenham had reportedly been promised an earldom and carried in his dispatch case a commission as governor of Louisiana.

New England’s prosperous Yankee merchants, suffering from a U.S. imposed embargo against British goods, were against the war. Unemployment was high and the federal government nearly bankrupt. Massachusetts refused to release troops to help President Madison, and except for Governor Gilman of New Hampshire, most other federal requisitions for state militia were denied by the states.  Madison, in turn, sent no troops to defend New England from attacks by Britain and its Native allies. Massachusetts Governor Strong attempted to negotiate a separate peace with Britain, while Nantucket Quakers signed a neutrality agreement. Britain encouraged the secession fever, and every Eastern newspaper but one was calling for expulsion of western states from the union. Leaders across New England, mainly Federalists, met in secret session at Hartford, Connecticut, threatening to secede- and toss the world’s first and only democratic union, in existence barely 30 years, onto the trash heap of history.

Deliberately sketchy records were kept of the secret Hartford Convention, and its final draft did not mention secession. Massachusetts sent three commissioners to Washington to present the terms, but by then General Jackson had blasted the bejaesus out of the most powerful army in the world and sent it packing (along with the Federalist Party) with the help of what both England and New England would agree were the dregs of society- "a motley rabble of saucy boys, Negros and molattoes, Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs"- as founding father John Adams, in his defense of British soldiers, called a similar group of “common” Americans whom they had shot off the street 45 years before, in the Boston Massacre.

The greatest army of it’s time was brought low at New Orleans by American soldiers, citizen militia and riflemen whose weapons were an essential part of their everyday life.

General Pakenham, shot off his horse, died that day. A force of 4732 Americans routed an 11,000 man British army, killing 700, wounding 1400 and capturing another 500. American losses were 7 dead, 6 wounded.

© 2016 Morley Broadcasting