History Lesson: How the Grudge Saved New OrleansPosted: February 11, 2012
We’re here in Jackson Square, New Orleans. In my opinion it’s the most beautiful part of one of America’s most beautiful cities. New Orleans was a city that changed hands between the French and Spanish several times before finally becoming a part of the United States with the Louisiana Purchase. Yet it was nearly lost to the British twelve years later. The story of how a grudge helped save the city of New Orleans for the United States is a quite a tale from history. And who better to tell that story, legend, or cartooned anachronism better than our old friend Andrew Jackson.
You may remember President Jackson from an earlier piece I did called “How to Defend Your Honor“. It was quite fascinating to hear the intricate details on how to properly, professionally, and purposely kill your enemies. It remains one of the most popular pieces ever in the (short) history of The South Will Blog Again! As I promised a few months ago, we’d have Andrew Jackson back. So without further ado I present my old friend Old Hickory…
Hello again gentle readers. It’s been a few months since I’ve last guest blogged for this site. Since then I’ve been told it’s grown quite a bit in popularity. No doubt I had a good deal to do with it. People are always looking for dueling advice on the World Wide Web, and what better place to get it than this site? In any case I’m glad to see that the increased site visitation has plumb improved the quality of the drawings. It used to be much cruder around here. Why I looked like a Tom Turkey trying to squeeze out golden Goose eggs in that there last post. Doubtless I am more properly drawn and attired for this piece.
And what a piece it is. I get to talk about my SECOND favorite topic (the first is smoking poltroons)…revenge. And not just revenge against one rascal but an entire nation of rascals…the British. Now Southern Blogger has told me that y’all and the British are friends now and have been for some time. I keep forgetting that’s the case now…partly because I forget lots of things besides my enemies list. Well, bygones be bygones let me tell you the story of why I hate them redcoats and then what I did about it…
I was born in the Waxhaws. Some folks think that’s in South Carolina and some folks say it’s in North Carolina. We were never really sure. If it was in South Carolina we weren’t like them pink Palmetto sissy britches on here last week. Nor like that rascal John C. Calhoun I nearly strung up for sassin’. No, we were pure backwoods. That might surprise you being that I’m quite proper and all. Or maybe not.
My people were from Ireland but were Scotch Presbyterians. You call them Scotch-Irish today…well and lots of other things. Folks never did like my people. Well, my daddy died before I was born and me and my siblings well we come up real hard and all. Mother did the best she could and we all helped around the homestead. I was apprenticed as a boy but never did take the the trades much. I wanted to see action. And we got plenty of it during the end of the Revolutionary War.
Things were rough in the Western Carolinas. We had lots of in-fighting and feuding between the true Patriot side and them knock kneed Tories. I could give you the details but you might as well watch Mel Gibson’s “The Patriot” for the real story. He’s real good at telling history just the way it was.
Back in 1781 we had a bunch of massacring going on. Killed of a bunch of my kin. Made me a real angry lad. To top it all off one of them finely dressed British officers came to our place. He was knocking things around and causing a scene. Maybe his powdered wig was on too tight. His soldiers were stealing our chickens and messing up the garden. Believe me when I say I told them what I thought. Then that officer got real smart and ordered me to shine his boots. He didn’t think much of me or knew I was already helping out the Patriot Cause. Well that being said I wasn’t no boot shiner. I didn’t take kindly to it at all. He took his sword and rose to strike me. I blocked him but he cut my left arm and face. He left a scar…and a very angry boy.
After that day I vowed revenge against the British Empire. Not just that one officer, or his regiment, nor even his king. No I swore revenge against the entire British Empire. I might be a loose cannon but I like to aim high. And I don’t need to remind y’all that I shoot straight…and to kill.
In the meantime I got a lot of fighting experience in my time. I was an Indian fighter on the frontier as you might know but did my best fighting in politics. No, I’m not talking in a metaphor right now, I mean I actually did some great fighting. I got myself a law degree, made it into public office and one by one worked my way up the ladder into the new state of Tennessee.
Tennessee was my kind of place. You couldn’t get elected hog catcher in Tennessee unless you proved your manhood with a test of combat. Could be in war, could be the other kind. I had plenty of both under my belt so I rose kinda far. And well there were plenty of sniveling poltroons in my way I left dead behind me. I ain’t gonna apologize.
Well…it still took a lot of work to rise pretty far and we had lots of wars and raids along the frontier. Then the War of 1812 came along. Them British were taking our sailors and pressing them into their service, insulting our flag, and harassing us along the border. They were clearly behind all the frontier raids. I know. I could just smell it. Every time the hen starts to howl you know the red rooster is stealing the eggs. That’s a metaphor by the way.
I can’t say I was sorry to see the war come. I always liked a good fight. Especially against them British. I was sent to the West Florida region and you can say I picked a few scraps down there. I fought anywhere and everywhere I could and I didn’t mind who wanted to fight for me whether they be red men, white men or black men. Just as long as they weren’t red coats!
But I have no qualms in saying I was an ambitious man. Overall the war was going bad because of them snivelers and stockjobbers back in Washington and I needed to prove myself and single-handedly save the nation. Quite a task for a humble man like me.
Then came New Orleans.
The British were sending some crack troops toward the Gulf of Mexico. They were fresh from whooping up on Bonaparte and no doubt they thought they were going to chase us like a pack of hounds going for a wounded duck hanging on a rabbit’s legs. They were aiming for New Orleans and with that the whole of the Mississippi River. America would then be cut in twain. Well I wasn’t going to let that happen. So I took my men and went to New Orleans to defend the city. I needed extra recruits. I didn’t care where they came for and I didn’t ask any persnickety questions. Questions as you know are for poltroons.
Now obviously some folks didn’t like the kind of people I had in my army. They also didn’t like the idea of how I was going to defend their city to the last. You got to keep in mind that a lot of French people were still in charge of New Orleans. I’m not saying they are a bunch of cheese eating surrender monkeys, but they were fond of cheese, had big ears, and well were fixin’ to surrender. A least I suspected some of them of it.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not some kind ignorant backwoods ogre. I cut quite a dashing figure in polite society. The ladies did love to dance a turn with me, but I was always partial to my Rachel. Well nevertheless the poltroonish behavior of some of the leading “men” did tweek my nerves. I’m not a man who likes being tweeked. I declared martial law. Some of them protested. One said he was a mayor, or a lawyer, or a judge or something. You’ll have to look it up in the history books. I paid him no mind. Any gentleman who had trouble sleeping at night because of my battle plans…well I found them more suitable lodgings.
The British landed in mid December. I had employed our navy and a local sailor of…let’s just say ‘fortune” to disrupt their plans. I also sent my men to attack and provoke the British just below the city. It was a gamble to attack a superior force. For all I knew they had some 25,000 men. I could only round up a few thousand. We slowed their attack and began to dig in. They could no longer take the city quickly and now had to run through us to get their prize. Well I wasn’t in the mood for gift giving…
So I lined up my men along a canal. We dug the canal ditch deeper and placed cotton bales, earth, planks and any kind of barrier we could up for protection. Like my men, it was a rag tag looking bunch…but quite fierce. The terrain in front of the ditch was swampy and descended on down to the river. Only a foolish blockhead would attack our force head on. And I knew them redcoats to have lots of blockheads as officers.
Well around the 8th of January they attacked us. They sent some of their best soldiers our way I have to say. Shame some their good soldiers had such cud peddlers to lead them. They hit us again and again, but my men and our breastworks held. Them redcoats poured what they could into us, but they got stuck in the swamps and couldn’t push past us. So they turned and skedaddled it back to their ships and away from New Orleans. Sounds like it’d make for a great song.
New Orleans was saved. By me. Folks later told me that the peace treaty had already been signed. They claimed our battle didn’t really matter. Well you can believe that if you believe that the British Empire, or any empire or country in that situation would have ever given back New Orleans and with it the Mississippi River. Nope, we turned the polecats against the hounds and sent them dogs barking back across the Atlantic.
As for me? Well my enemies on THIS side of the ocean were downtrodden. Ole Andy here became the toast of the nation and it got me all the way to the White House. There I fought the Sally Britches-Bankers, the Tom Fool Eastern lawyers, the Poltoony Politicians, and every one of them backstabbing curs that ever said a bad word about me, my family, my men, my home of Tennessee, and my beloved Rachel. I beat them all down…
And I never did shine them boots.