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A First September 9/11. 200 Years Ago!
Historic Moments SERIES
The War of 1812 was a massive symbol of British Arrogance as it fought its "little brother" in the western world, pressing Americans into service on the high seas and generally pushing the U.S. around. They ended up burning the White House and Dolly Madison saved the portrait of Washington. Also the "Stars and Stripes" has its origins in this conflict.
This war was in various places in Canada and New York, and on the sea, in the Chesapeake Bay and Washington DC. Napoleon was in Russia in 1815, playing out his super tragedy, utterly wiping out his own forces through his own over estimations, and freed up British soldiers to fight in this conflict. In the end, it was the Amerindians who suffered the most. They lost their ally, as the British left this continent for good. Because of the loss of this war, and the departure of the Brits, the native Americans backed off in their resistance to American settlement in the mid-west. So, the one concrete outcome was the quicker more peaceful settlement of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa.
The First September 11, Also In New York
On September 11, 1814, on Lake Champlain in upper state New York, the British attacked with a force of 14,000 and were defeated by a group of Yankees and Green Mountain Boys, numbering about 5,000. The American Captain, Thomas Mac Donough absolutely destroyed the British fleet that was built, and constructed just to conduct this battle could not match the Americans. The Army, because of this, fearing severed lines of communications, retreated back into Canada.
The Battle of New Orleans Conducted With Error, Arrogance, Overestimation and Underestimation
Then all the way down in the Gulf of Mexico, another event was rapidly developing in December, just a few weeks later in 1814. While there was fighting in many places, the historic battle took place on January 8, 1815, AFTER the Treaty had been signed in Ghent. Arrogance, miscommunication and slow communications seem to plague the conflicts of this time.
The start of this war could also have been prevented, were it not for communication slowness. In a historical twist coming from distance, (a situation that would come to play again at the close of the war, with the post Treaty of Ghent Battle of New Orleans), if the US had delayed its declaration of war, it would have learned that the embargo and the Non-Intercourse Act had worked, and that the Orders in Council had actually been repealed weeks before the June 18, 1812 war declaration
"In 1814, We Took A Little Trip..."
Finally, on January 8, the day commemorated today as the victory day in the Battle of New Orleans, two British generals, including Major General Pakenham, were killed in battle, with a third severely wounded. The way witnesses and soldiers talked about the combat, they characterized it as confused and haphazard. The dark hours of that foggy morning were portrayed in the movies, and it stands out as a very one sided battle. Britain suffered over 2,000 casualties in that decisive battle, whereas Jackson lost only 71 men. The British forces withdrew through Lake Borgne and into the Gulf, firing on Fort St. Philip for over a week before sailing out to sea for good.
Colonel Jackson came down to New Orleans and immediately caused a stir amongst the local populace. Never has a more polyglot army fought under the Flag. There were of course, U.S. Army members, but there was also a well-adorned group of New Orleans militia. Black former slaves fighting as free men and Kentucky and Tennessee sharpshooters were also there. If you remember the movie, Jean Lafitte's men were basically a colorful group of Pirates, but no one doubts their fighting ability. British mistakes helped much. But still, Jackson's troops held their ground, crammed together shoulder to shoulder and sent withering fire toward the Redcoats in the dawn mist.
British Petroleum Ironically The Painful Participant in a New Problem
Recently, BP has made a donation to help out the fishermen who have been impacted by the oil slick. After comments about America and American litigiousness, BP executives have apparently taken on the challenge. Of course at this writing, this is far from over. I found it strange and ironic that the Brits were involved anew down in New Orleans. Although there is no real connection between these events, nevertheless, it makes one realize that one must always be alert, efficient, mindful and fully conscious in order to prevent calamity. That is probably the strongest comparison. The incompetence and over confidence displayed over 200 years ago, seems to have plagued the British once again. Clean up efforts have been halting and needless to say, imperfect. The jury is still out, but incompetence is still in.