Jean Lafitte
Historic Resource Study (Chalmette Unit)
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1. Louis de Tousard, American Artillerist's Companion, or Elements of Artillery (2 vols; orig. pub. Philadelphia: C. and A. Conrad and Company, 1809. Reprint, New York: Greenwood Press, Publishers, 1969), I, 507.

2. See ibid., pp. 444-45, 448.

3. Dennis Hart Mahan, A Complete Treatise on Field Fortification, with the General Outlines of the Principles Regulating the Arrangement, the Attack, and the Defense of Permanent Works (Orig. pub. 1836. Reprint, New York: Greenwood Press, Publishers, 1968), p. 64.

4. Ibid., p. 65.

5. J. Jebb, Practical Treatise on Strengthening and Defending Outposts, Villages, House, Bridges, &c., in Reference to the Duties of Officers in Command of Picquets, as laid down in the Field Exercise and Evolutions of the Army (3rd Ed.; London: W. Clowes and Sons, 1848), pp. 10-11. "With a moderate share of luck, some little Slope or Broken Ground will offer itself; and some Hedge or Ditch, Bank, Wall, Road or Wood, will be found, either placed exactly as if it were there on purpose to be Defended, or a Plan could be readily arranged for turning it to some account." Ibid., p. 28.

6. Ibid., p. 1.

7. Ibid., pp. 1, 10.

8. Tousard, American Artillerist's Companion, I, 501-02; Mahan, Treatise on Field Fortification, pp. 28, 29-30, 31; Horace Fenwick, Essays on Field Fortification, intended for the Use of the Junior Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers of the British Infantry (Dublin: Richard Milliken and Son, 1833), pp. 91-93; Jebb, Practical Treatise, pp. 12.

9. Tousard, American Artillerist's Companion, I, 501, 502-03.

10. Mahan, Treatise on Field Fortification, p. 33.

11. Ibid.; Tousard, American Artillerist's Comparison, I, 503, 506.

12. Ibid., p. 503.

13. Jebb, Practical Treatise, pp. 14, 21-22; Fenwick, Essays on Field Fortification, pp. 180-82, 184-86, 187.

14. American Artillerist's Companion, I, 18-19.

15. Ibid., pp. 1, 2, 3.

16. Mahan, Treatise on Field Fortification, p. 79.

17. Tousard, American Artillerist's Companion, pp. 8, 26-28; Mahan, Treatise on Field Fortification, pp. 91-92.

18. Ibid., pp. 83-84; Tousard, American Artillerist's Companion, I, 1, 22, 23-24, 33.

19. Mahan, Treatise on Field Fortification, p. 86.

20. Tousard, American Artillierist's Companion, I, 4, 33, 69.

21. Ibid., pp. 53-54.

22. American Artillerist's Companion, I, 40.

23. Mahan, Treatise on Field Fortification, pp. 86-87. Other theorists, including Tousard, recommended that five sleepers be laid, and that their length be 14 feet. America Artillerist's Companion, I, 40. For more on the heurter, or hurtoir, see ibid., p. 41.

24. Mahan, Treatise on Field Fortification, pp. 87-88. Once again, there existed slight differences of opinion among theorists regarding measurements. Tousard believed the planks should be "ten or twelve feet long." They were to be arranged "the first against the hurtoir, the second against the first, and so of the others." American Artillerist's Companion, I, 41-42.

25. Ibid., pp. 25, 45-47; Albert Manucy, Artillery through the Ages: A Short Illustrated History of Cannon, Emphasizing Types Used in America (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1949), pp. 50, 53, 55.

26. Tousard, American Artillerist's Companion, I, 48.

27. Fenwick, Essays on Field Fortification, pp. 187-88.

28. Tousard, American Artillerist's Companion, I, 297-98, 209-10.

29. Ibid., 298-304. Often experienced gun crews managed to reduce the number of commands; indeed, some were proficient enough to get by with only the order "charge!" between rapid successive rounds. William A. Mense, The Weapons of the Battle of New Orleans (New Orleans: The Battle if New Orleans, 150th Anniversary Committee of Louisiana, 1965), p. 27.

30. William Stevens, A System for the Discipline of the Artillery of the United States of America; or, the Young Artillerists Pocket Companion (Albany: Websters and Skinners, 1815), p. 44; Tousard, American Artillerist's Companion, I, lxxiii.

31. Ibid., pp. 210-20, 269-70, 2976; Meuse, Weapons of the Battle of New Orleans, pp. 35-38, 44-48.

32. J. G. Tielke, The Field Engineer; or Instructions Upon Every Branch of Field Fortification. Trans. by Edwin Hewgill (2 vols.; London: J. Walter, 1789), I, 227.

33. Meuse, Weapons of the Battle of New Orleans, pp. 39-40.

34. Andrew Jackson, "Battle of New Orleans" manuscript. Andrew Jackson Papers. Library of Congress. Presidential Papers Microfilm, Series 4, Reel 64; Parton, Life of Andrew Jackson, II, 109-10. Jackson repeated his request to the Mayor for intrenching equipment and arms on December 29. Livingston to Mayor Girod, December 29, 1814. Andrew Jackson Papers. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Presidential Papers Microfilm. Series 3, Vols. F-K, Reel 62.

35. Latour, Historical Memoir, pp. 145-46. See also Latrobe, Impressions Respecting New Orleans, p. 45. Parton stated that the mill was on the levee, but this would seem to be an insufficient distance for the requisite water power to accumulate. Life of Andrew Jackson, II, 109. See also Alexander Walker, Jackson and New Orleans. (New York: J.C. Derby, 1856), pp. 309-10. Bassett stated that the canal was "twenty-five feet wide and four or five feet deep." Life of Andrew Jackson, I, 191. The width figure seems to be too great, given the testimony below of British officers and others describing the finished works.

36. Ellery, "Notes and Comments." See also Nile's Weekly Register, February 4, 1815, p. 360; and Henry C. Castellanos, "The Invasion of Louisiana. Inner History, Gathered from Contemporaneous Sources." (Typescript copy in the Louisiana State Museum library), p. 20.

37. Ellery, "Notes and Comments."

38. Ibid., "Particulars in relation to Battle of N. Orleans"; Tatum, "Journal," p. 112. Alexander Walker wrote: "Though the great majority of them were unused to manual toil, there was no want of zeal or energy in their work. A rivalry sprung up, which could build the highest mound in front of his position or dig the ditch deepest. Each soldier claimed the mound in his front as his 'castle,' and such was the value attached to these 'castles' that the General was induced to countermand an order he had given for the whole line to incline to the left to make room for a small reinforcement, by the strong remonstrance of the soldiers, who placed a higher value on their own than their neighbor's work." Jackson and New Orleans, p. 195. The story is plausible, but is probably apocryphal. Walker gave no sources for it. Moreover, Jackson himself related that many of the men were reluctant to do physical labor almost to the point of mutiny. Brown, Amphibious Campaign, p. 107. Charles B. Brooks bridged these extremes in attitude in his Siege of New Orleans, p. 168.

39. "General Carroll's Expedition," pp. 51-52. See also "Diary of Levi Lee." Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville. A sketch of a cross section of the American line purportedly drawn by an unidentified British officer shows a ditch filled with water 8 feet deep and 12 feet wide at the top. On the inside edge of the ditch is what appears to be a line of pickets said to be 4-1/2 feet tall. "Sketch of the Position of the British and American Forces during the operations against New Orleans from the 23d Decr to the 8th of Jany ." Ca. 1815. Manuscripts Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University. See also what appears to be the draft for this map entitled "Plan of Battle of New Orleans" drawn by J. F. Bourgoyne, ca. 1815. Historic New Orleans Collection. Another British source stated that Jackson's men used barrels and sugar casks which were left "standing isolated, the apertures between them being filled up with mud and all sorts of odds and ends placed along the edge of the ditch... [a] contemptible expedient...." Cooke, Narrative of Events, pp. 201-02.

40. Report of Captain H.D. Jones, Royal Engineers, March 30, 1815, quoted in Ritchie, "Louisiana Campaign," p. 54. Graphic depiction of this sort of construction using earth bolstered by pickets and palings can be seen in similar, if not identical, procedures employed in erecting the works at Fort St. Leon. See "Plan and Profiles of the Fort St. Leon at the Englishtown. 1817." National Archives. Cartographic Archives Division. Drawer 133, Sheet 13.

41. Historical Memoir, p. 146. See also Bassett, Life of Andrew Jackson, I, 184. Jackson biographer Augustus C. Buell explained that "the mode of constructing the earthwork was to make 'cribs' of small logs, cobhouse fashion, and fill them in with the heavy, damp earth from the old ditch, well packed and rammed in place." History of Andrew Jackson, I, 401. Buell's source for this information is unknown. No other source examined by the present writer contains such a description, although DeGrummond perpetuated it in Baratarians, p. 97, and in Renato Beluche: Smuggler, Privateer and Patriot, 1780-1860 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1983), p. 109.

42. Ellery, "Notes and Comments"; Tatum, "Journal," p. 112; Dickson, "Sketch of the Position"; Ritchie, "Louisiana Campaign," pp. 53-54; Dickson, "Journal of Operations in Louisiana," p. 21.

43. Frank Otto Gatell, "Letters by John Palfrey and His Sons," The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XLIV (January-April, 1961), p. 158. Parton, who did not identify his source, wrote that "the canal was deepened and the earth thrown up on the side nearest the city. The fences were torn away, and the rails driven in to keep the light soil from falling back into the canal." Life of Andrew Jackson, II, 110. Buell states that the labor was performed by slaves impressed for the purpose rather than by soldiers. "About all the soldiers did toward throwing up the lines was to stand guard over the working parties of slaves...." History of Andrew Jackson, I, 402. While slaves eventually were employed on the intrenchments the initial work was indeed accomplished by the soldiers.

44. Cooke, Narrative of Events, p. 202; General Court Martial Held at the Royal Barracks, Dublin, for the Trial of Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Hon. Thomas Mullins, Captain of the 44th Regiment of Foot.... (Dublin: William Espy, 1815), pp. 55, 59. See also Parton, Life of Andrew Jackson, II, 111.

45. Ibid., p. 59; "A Contemporary Account of the Battle of New Orleans by a Soldier in the Ranks," The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, IX (January, 1926), pp. 12-15; Hector M. Organ To Samuel Mordecai, January 19, 1815. Manuscript Division, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Yet another American account stated that the ditch was about 6 feet wide and the parapet about 4 feet high. Manuscript of M.W. Trimble entitled "Trimble's Account of the Battle of New Orleans" (copy in the library of the Chalmette Unit, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park).

46. Report of Captain H. D. Jones, Royal Engineers, March 30, 1815, quoted in Casey, Louisiana in the War of 1812, p. 72. Another British observer, however, stated that three deep parallel ditches had been dug across the whole front; in rear of these was a strong loop-holed palisade...." A. B. Ellis, The History of the First West India Regiment (London: Chapman and Hall, Ltd., 1885), p. 149.

47. Ellery, "Notes and Comments."

48. "Journal," p. 112.

49. Parton, Life of Andrew Jackson, II, 110; Reilly, British at the Gates, p. 261.

50. See Report of Captain H. D. Jones, Royal Engineers, March 30, 1815, quoted in Casey, Louisiana in the War of 1812, p. 72; S. Putnam Waldo, Memoirs of Andrew Jackson, Major-General in the Army of the United States; and Commander-in-Chief of the Division of the South (Hartford: John Russell, Jr., 1818). Typescript copy in the Louisiana State Museum library. Latour stated that the redan was necessitated by the presence near the canal of "enormous holes in the soil made impassable by their being full of water...." Historical Memoir, p. 149.

51. "Notes and Comments."

52. Livingston to Jackson, December 25, 1814, in Correspondence of Andrew Jackson, II, 125; James, Border Captain, p. 247. DeGummond, Baratarians, p. 101, wrote that Laffite personally suggested the extension to Jackson on the field, a statement not supported by known facts.

53. "A Contemporary Account of the Battle of New Orleans," p. 12.

54. Report of Captain H. D. Jones, Royal Engineers, March 30, 1815, quoted in Casey, Louisiana in the War of 1812, p. 72; Waldo, Memoirs of Andrew Jackson; Abraham R. Ellery, "Plan Showing the disposition of the American Troops, when attacked by the British Army, on the morning of the 8th Jany, 1815." Manuscripts Division, New York Public Library; Border Captain, p. 262; Brown, Amphibious Campaign, p. 133. Latour stated that a log walkway, or banquette, was constructed behind the breastwork. Historical Memoir, p. 147. Jackson later had the line measured and it was reported to him to be 1527 yards long, presumably not including the westward extension on the left. Casey, Louisiana in the War of 1812, p. 73. Buell's map, in History of Andrew Jackson, indicates that the westward extension lay next to an old ditch that emptied into Rodriguez Canal.

55. Parton, Life of Andrew Jackson, II, 175.

56. Ibid., Walker, Jackson and New Orleans, p. 315.

57. "Notes and Comments", Brown Amphibious Campaign, p. 133; DeGrummond, Baratarians, p. 125. Brooks states that the extreme left was occupied by the Second Louisiana militia. Siege of New Orleans, p. 180. Since 1815 various forces of erosion, habitation, and levee construction have occurred to impact the historic scene at Rodriguez Canal. Although Jackson's line was never completely filled in after the campaign, the long period of occupation of the surrounding land affected the canal's appearance and by the start of the twentieth century much of the site had been obliterated. In 1904 the army constructed a road along the east side, apparently utilizing part of the breastworks as fill. Rex L. Wilson, "The Search for Jackson's Mud Rampart," The Florida Anthropologist, XVIII (No. 3, Part 2), p. 105. In 1957 archeologists tried to determine the precise shape of the canal, placing test trenches across it at intervals, but the project proved inconclusive. Six years later, as part of Jackson's line was being reconstructed by the National Park Service, another archeological project ensued which resulted in the excavation of a cypress log and boards likely used in the fortifications. A 6-pounder cannon ball was also recovered. Ibid., pp. 105-06, 107-08. See also, James W. Holland, "Notes on Some Construction Details of 'Line Jackson' at Chalmette" (unpublished report dated May, 1963, in the library of the Chalmette Unit of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park).

58. The incorporation of the batteries into the line is clearly evident in the contemporary engraving by Hyacinthe Laclotte, "Defeat of the British Army, 12,000 strong, under the Command of Sir Edward Packenham [sic] in the attack of the American Lines defended by 3,600 Militia commanded by Major General Andrew Jackson, January 8th 1815, on Chalmette plain five miles below New Orleans, on the left bank of the Mississippi." Prints Division, New York Public Library.

59. "List of officers and men serving at the Batteries, with their names, rank, and Corps to which they respectively belong. Also the names of Men killed and wounded up to this date—Camp 16th Jany, 1815." Andrew Jackson Papers. Manuscript Division. Chicago Historical Society.

60. Tatum, "Journal," pp. 114-15; Parton, Life of Andrew Jackson, II, 132. See Latour, "Plan of the Attack and Defence of the American Lines below New Orleans on the 8th January, 1815," in Historical Memoir. It should be noted that the relative distances given by Tatum and Latour do not agree. The writer has subscribed to Tatum's figures because he was a topographical engineer who seems to have kept a diligent record of such things. Latour, moreover, has been shown to have been prone to error on numerous occasions. (It should be noted that Latour's account, comprising one of the earliest comprehensive treatments of the New Orleans campaign by a participant, must nevertheless be viewed with caution. Although the author was an engineer, he often became confused over details, especially between those in his text and those depicted on his maps. He also exhibited a tendency to be somewhat less accurate in describing events than in relating processes or methodology. Furthermore, it appears that Latour's book was initially sold by subscription and that the author purposefully over-elaborated on the exploits of men and units whose actual service did not warrant such attention. These problems therefore weaken the narrative from a historical standpoint. See Ritchie, "Louisiana Campaign," p. 37.)

61. Ibid.

62. Betsy Swanson, "Annotated Archival Source Listing Relevant to the Archaeological, Architectural and Historical Interpretation of the Rodriguez Plantation Buildings, Chalmette Unit, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park" (3 vols.; unpublished report dated October, 1984, in the National Park Service Southwest Regional Office, Santa Fe), I, 4-6. Today the site of the Rodriguez house is approximately 20 yards east of the west boundary of the park and 186 yards from the present sea wall.

63. Ibid., II, 23-26.

64. Ibid., I, 11.

65. J. Rodriguez, Defense Fulminante contre La Violation des Droits du Peuple (New Orleans, 1827), pp. 55-56, quoted in Betsy Swanson, "A Study of the Military Topography and Sites Associated with the 1814-15 New Orleans Campaign" (unpublished manuscript dated June, 1985, in the National Park Service Southwest Regional Office, Santa Fe), pp. 6-7

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Last Updated: 05-Sep-2004