The Kentucky Rifle As Art

The Kentucky rifle, which because of its astonishing accuracy earned. A substantial credit for American victories in both the Revolution and the War of 1812, was unknown by that name until after the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. A highly popular ballad of that year described how ”…Jackson he was wide awake and wasn’ t scared at trifles/ For well he knew what aim we take, with our KENTUCKYRIFLES.” It was true that most of Jackson’s riflemen at New Orleans were from Kentucky; but in fact, most of their rifles had been made in Pennsylvania.Read more »

Humiliation and Triumph

The year was 1814, and within three weeks our “young and not always wise” nation suffered acute shame and astonishing victory

Caught in the crossfire of the Napoleonic conflict, America declared war on Great Britain in 1812 for what seemed to the government to be ample reason. The young Republic’s trade had been stifled, her seamen impressed, her ships seized by the Royal Navy. Western settlers feared British intrigue among the Indians. Canada, in contrast, loomed as an ever more inviting target for land-hungry “war hawks. ” Read more »

How Vital Was Reid’s Victory?

Did the Battle of Fayal really have an impact on the Battle of New Orleans 3,000 miles away?

Historians disagree about how crucial the battle of Fayal was to Jackson’s victory at New Orleans. Those of the nineteenth century, among them Benson Lossing, generally agreed with Jackson’s sentiments, quoted at the beginning of Mr. Baker’s article. Among more recent writers who have taken the same point of view is the late Fletcher Pratt, who in The Compact History of the United States Navy wrote : Read more »

Exploit At Fayal

A lonely, gallant battle fought by the designer of our flag set the stage for Andrew Jackson's victory at New Orleans.

When Andrew Jackson and his triumphant army rode through the streets of New Orleans after crushing Sir Edward Pakenham’s veteran troops on January 8, 1815, neither Old Hickory nor his men realized how narrow their margin of victory had been.

A Yankee Skipper Who Preyed On British Shipping Relates His Wartime Experiences

American sea captain George Coggeshall tells of his experiences evading the British navy during the War of 1812 and spending over half a century at sea.

George Coggeshall of Milford, Connecticut, was a sea captain in the great Yankee tradition. His father had been a successful shipmaster but was ruined by repeated confiscations of his cargoes by British and French vessels in the years after the Revolution. Young George, too poor to attend school, had been sent to sea as soon as he was old enough to carry a message from the quarter-deck to the forecastle. In 1809, when he was only 25, he received his first command and altogether spent some sixty years of his life at sea. Read more »

Victory At New Orleans

On August 24 and 25, 1814, British forces were in full possession of Washington; from August 29 to 31 other forces held Alexandria. From September 11 to 14 they were feeling out the defenses of Baltimore. Then the greater part of them vanished out of sight; once the British ships were over the horizon there was almost no means of knowing where they were and far smaller means of knowing what they intended, for by this time the blockade of the Atlantic Coast was highly effective, and there were few ships to bring in news even of the outside world, certainly not of the movements of the British lleet. No one could even be sure that any further offensive movement was meditated, but it was the duty of the American government to act on the hypothesis that the enemy would attempt to do all the harm possible —and that implied that British movements must be foreseen and guarded against.

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The Day They Burned The Capitol

Only a lucky rainfall put an end to our humiliation

Washington in 1814 was a capital city with no past to speak of, nothing much in the way of a present, and a future greater than any man then alive could imagine. It was a straggling country town, its dirt roads alternately ankle-deep in powdery dust and hub-deep in mud, with a general air of unfinished emptiness about it, and it was to become a great center of world power, imposing to look at, a place of destiny, majestic and secure.Read more »