A New Understanding of the Battle of New Orleans

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.

For more information, contact Jenny Keegan at 225-578-6453 or jenniferkeegan@lsu.edu or visit www.lsupress.org.

Ernie  Ballard 
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2014