11/25/2014 10:02 AM
BATON ROUGE – Perhaps no conflict in American history is more important yet more overlooked
and misunderstood than the War of 1812. Begun by President James Madison after decades
of humiliating British trade interference and impressment of American sailors, the
war in many ways was the second battle for United States independence. Ronald Drez’s
“The War of 1812, Conflict and Deception: The British Attempt to Seize New Orleans
and Nullify the Louisiana Purchase,” published by LSU Press, reconsiders this war and the crucial role of the Battle
of New Orleans.
At the climax of the war – inspired by the defeat of Napoleon in early 1814 and the
perceived illegality of the Louisiana Purchase – the British devised a plan to launch
a three-pronged attack against the northern, eastern and southern U.S. borders. Concealing
preparations for this strike by engaging in negotiations in Ghent, Britain meanwhile
secretly issued orders to seize New Orleans and wrest control of the Mississippi and
the lands west of the river. They further instructed British commander Gen. Edward
Pakenham not to cease his attack if he heard rumors of a peace treaty. Great Britain
even covertly installed government officials within military units with the intention
of immediately taking over administrative control once the territory was conquered.
According to Drez, the British strategy and the successful defense of New Orleans
through the leadership of Gen. Andrew Jackson affirm the serious implications of this
climatic battle. Far from being simply an unnecessary epilogue to the War of 1812,
the Battle of New Orleans firmly secured for the United States the territory acquired
through the Louisiana Purchase.
Through the use of primary sources, Drez provides a deeper understanding of Britain’s
objectives, and “The War of 1812, Conflict and Deception” offers a compelling account
of this pivotal moment in American history.
Drez, an award-winning author and former U.S. Marine Captain, served as the assistant
director and research associate to Stephen E. Ambrose at the Eisenhower Center, and
to Douglas Brinkley at the University of New Orleans for 20 years. Drez is the principal
historian and president of Stephen Ambrose Tours Inc.
Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2014