In 1815, Britain's crack troops, fresh from victories against Napoleon, were stunningly defeated near New Orleans by a ragtag army of citizen soldiers under the fledgling commander they dubbed "Old Hickory." It was this battle that first defined the United States as a military power to be reckoned with and an independent democracy here to stay.. "The Battle of New Orleans sets its scenes with an almost unbelievably colorful cast of characters, starting with the happenstance coalition of militiamen, regulars, untrained frontiersmen, free blacks, Indians, and townspeople. Swashbuckling privateer Jean Laffite talks his way out of possible imprisonment to lead the Barataria pirates into arms for the United States. The proud, reckless British general Pakenham - certain that it will be only a matter of days before America is reduced once more to colonial status - finds himself forced to ferry his miserable troops across a Louisiana lake in a Gulf storm, and then discovers to his gentlemanly dismay that agile Choctaw and Tennessee "dirty shirt" sharpshooters make a sport of picking off his sentries by night. The city's Creoles, somewhat suspicious of the enterprise and only recently American citizens, after all, draw the line at blacking out their street lamps. And finally, there is Jackson himself - tall, gaunt, shrewd, by turns gentle and furious, declaring, "I will smash them, so help me god!".
Superbly written, fast-paced account of one of America's most significant but little-remembered military victories.