202. There is no way to appreciate the 1812 – 1815 danger to what was to become the contiguous 48 states of the USA without knowing and understanding related history on both sides of the Atlantic.
203. The situation in America has been considered, up to a point, but absence of information regarding the British view has been a signal shortcoming of US education.
204. In Britain, personal comments and media information reveal that some of the king’s subjects still resented the loss of the colonies and considered Americans in terms that might be called “deplorables” today.
205. Expressions of ostentatious and perhaps fatal over confidence in the outcome of the conflict were manifest in the opinions of some British leaders.
206. Lord Castlereagh, British secretary of foreign affairs, declared his expectation of reducing the US sea port towns to ashes, possessing New Orleans and having command of all of the rivers of the Mississippi valley.
207. Admiral Cochrane, commander of the naval forces in the American theater, had complete contempt for the Americans and considered them no better than dogs.
208. Lord Pakenham, commander of the military forces, was known to believe the Americans would flee at the sight of the gleaming steel of bayonets on the rifles carried by thousands of advancing Redcoats.
209. Already possessing Canada, and certain that the Mississippi valley was to be “delivered to the king” by their forces, it was foreseen that the Americans would become prisoners in their own country.
210. The preeminent truth that has been ignored by our educators was, according to Winston Churchill, that the validity of the Louisiana Purchase had met with vehement outcries as being invalid. At least that was true in England.
211. Accepting that opinion would mean to the British that the USA did not legally “possess” the territory.
212.Lord Pakenham had been given orders to ignore any news of a treaty of peace until he had received official notification of ratification. After gaining possession of New Orleans, his orders were to extend British control of as much of the Mississippi valley as possible. He had already been named to become the governor of the newly acquired territory.
213. Even though Pakenham lost his life in the battle at NO, the navy continued attempting to move up the river. That advance was stopped when a multi day naval attack on Ft. Saint Phillip ended on January 18, thanks to the earlier preparations directed by Jackson and the fortuitous participation of the privateers.
214. With awareness of the information in #188, #206 and #209 through #213, it is not without basis to claim that the British leadership was bent on using the occasion of war to acquire valuable land in America and eliminate westward expansion of the USA.
215. After leaving Louisiana, the British did succeed in a second effort to take control of the fort at Mobile Bay.
216. As luck would have it, the influence of the highly respected Duke of Wellington was reported to have been a strong influence in the British negotiators’ abandonment of their insistence on uti possidetis. The final treaty agreement did, however, contain the word, “possessions”.
217. The Treaty of Ghent was signed on December 24, 1814, but not ratified in the US until February 17,1815. The treaty called for the return of US “possessions” that were occupied by the British. Had Cochrane and Pakenham been successful, the interpretation of that word may have been determined by the power of the sword.
218. Reviewing the time line of certain events may help to understand the relevance of all of this information:
1813- Britain proposes treating for peace
1814, April – Napoleon defeated
1814, June – US negotiators arrive at Ghent
1814, August – British burn Washington
1814, August – British negotiators arrive at Ghent, appear to stall, insisting on uti possidetis
1814, November – British prepare invasion force
1814, December 9 – Invasion force off Louisiana coast
1814, Dec. 15 – Jan. 5 – Hartford Convention
1814, Dec 24 – Treaty of Ghent signed
1815, Jan. 8 – Main British force surrenders at NO, but navy continues attempt to control Mississippi
1815, January 17 – British naval force repulsed
1815, February 17 – Treaty ratified by US Senate
219. The results of the New Orleans conflict would have been far different had the British been less casual in the pursuit of what appears to have been their pivotal objective, control of the Mississippi valley.
220. For whatever the reasons, the British chose to first demonstrate their military superiority at Washington DC in August, but could have chosen to arrive off the coast of Louisiana in August, or even September, not December.
221. Little or no defensive preparations would have been made because the historically pivotal person who pulled that off would not have been on the scene. Andrew Jackson had suffered a gun shot wound in Nashville, Tennessee, and was bed ridden there for two weeks in September.
222. It would not be an unreasonable opinion to believe the defense of New Orleans would have resembled that of Washington DC…. British expectations would then have been replaced by fact, and the negotiations in Ghent could have resulted in several destructive paths of US history.
223. However, the actual results of the events shared here, and numerous others omitted for brevity, seemed to evidence unlikely fortuitous favor on one party and consistently bad luck accompanied by uncharacteristically poor judgment on the other. Thus, one crippling blow to the establishment of the original 48 states was averted.
224. Now, back to the committee from Hartford (#192) and their demands. After adjourning on Jan 5, they awaited the news of the most certain disaster at New Orleans. Instead, they were first shocked by the results of the lopsided American victory, then shortly thereafter by the news from Ghent. The overwhelming sense of relief and pride throughout the nation ended their anticipation of a possibly splintered USA or a constitution revised to their benefit. A second bullet was dodged.