On this day in 1815 the city of New Orleans was celebrating like it never had, in fact like never would again before the advent of the Mardi Gras celebrations 55 years into the future. Thousands of celebrants jammed the streets around the square facing the St. Louis Cathedral to get a glimpse of the saviour of New Orleans. January 23, 1815 was the day appointed to give thanks and celebrate the first great military victory of a young American nation. That victory marked the end of the War of 1812, a war that had seen the Capitol and White House in Washington D.C. ransacked and burned by rampaging British soldiers. The war was a great and embarrassing low point in American history. After pillaging the east coast in the summer of 1814 the British turned their eyes to the gulf coast and New Orleans. In the fall of 1814 General Andrew Jackson rushed to the defend the gulf and flushed a British Army from Pensacola. From there Jackson moved to New Orleans and energized a city that was ready to capitulate. Jackson called for every able-bodied free citizen, white and black alike, to defend the city. Armies from across the South converged on New Orleans to defend the city. The British Army made landfall on December 23rd and Jackson met them before they had a chance to bed down for the night. He fought them to a draw in a spectacular night battle. Jackson drew a line at the Rodriguez Canal and waited for the British to attack. They attacked on December 28, 1814 but withdrew under a withering fire from the entrenched American army. The British formed up and attacked again on January 8th and were cut down by the hundreds in a decisive American victory. For years January 8, 1815 was a day celebrated in the U.S. much like we celebrate the Fourth of July today. But after the American Civil War Andrew Jackson’s great victory in the South was largely forgotten, much like the War of 1812. Today the square where Jackson was received by the thankful citizens of New Orleans on January 23, 1815 is known as Jackson’s Square in memory of the American hero and his great American victory at New Orleans.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at email@example.com