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Engagement of Valjouen, 17 February 1814
The engagement of Valjouen (17 February 1814) was the second of two French victories on the same day that caught Schwarzenberg's Army of Bohemia just as it was preparing to retreat to avoid being caught by Napoleon (French Campaign of 1814).
Earlier in February Napoleon had concentrated his efforts against Blucher's Army of Silesia, inflicting defeats on Blucher at Champaubert (10 February), Montmirail (11 February), Chateau-Thierry (12 February) and Vauchamps (14 February), a period known as the Six Days Campaign. While Napoleon was winning victories on the Marne, Marshal Victor was being forced to retreat on the Seine. Napoleon was forced to move south to restore the situation, and after an impressive forced march reached Guignes on the Yerres on 16 February. At this point two of Schwarzenberg's columns were vulnerable to attack – Wrede's Bavarians were around Donnemarie-Dontilly, north-west of Bray, with one division to the north at Nangis. On the Allied right Wittgenstein had his main force in Nangis, with his leading troops further to the north-west at Mormant.
The French offensive began early on 17 February. Gerard's division, with help from the cavalry, defeated and almost destroyed Pahlen's command at Mormant, inflicting over 2,000 casualties for the loss of only 200 men.
In the aftermath of their victory at Mormant, Napoleon split up his forces to continue the pursuit of the retreating Allies. Oudinot's VII Corps was sent east towards Provins and Nogent. Macdonald's XI Corps was sent towards Donnemarie to press Wrede's Bavarians. Victor's II Corps was sent towards Villeneuve-les-Bordes, along the road from Nangis. Each of these forces pushed back their opponents, but Gerard's division from Victor's corps encountered the hardest fighting.
Gerard's division moved south from Nangis at around 1.30pm, with Huguet-Chataux's division next in line and Duhesme's division in the rear. On the previous day Wrede's Bavarians had been at Donnemarie-Dontilly, with one division further north at Nangis. As the French advanced, Wrede was ordered to retreat, and on 17 February Lamotte's 3rd Bavarian Division had moved south past Valjouan. Lamotte had orders to retreat further, but the sounds of fighting from his north worried him, and he decided to take up a defensive position just to the south of the village of Villeneuve. His position was covered on both flanks and the rear by a large forest (still present). As he waited some of the troops defeated at Mormant arrived, and retreated through his lines, reformed, and continued on their way to Bray.
Gerard decided to attack the Bavarian position, and called for help from the rest of Victor's corps. At about 3.30pm he ordered La Hamelinaye's brigade to attack, and the 86th Line quickly threw the Bavarians out of Villeneuve. The retreating Bavarians were pressed by some French cavalry, but not vigerously. Lamotte then decided to retreat in a square back towards Donnemarie. Gerard managed to launch one infantry attack on this square after it had gone about a mile, but lacked the cavalry to cause real problems. Lamotte lost around 3,000 men, but managed to escape with the rest of his division.
When the news of these two defeats reached Schwarzenberg he ordered most of his troops to cross back to the south of the Seine and then retreat on Troyes. Wurttemberg was ordered to stay on the north (right) bank and defend Montereau, to protect the left flank of the retreating Allied army.
On the French side Gerard lost around 800 men. Victor was ordered to make an overnight march to Montereau, but he ignored these orders and allowed Wurttemberg to arrive and prepare to defend the bridges. Napoleon was furious – Victor was removed from command of his corps, and Gerard replaced him. He was thus in command during the battle of Montereau.
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War of 1812
The War of 1812 (18 June 1812 – 16 February 1815) was a conflict fought between the United States and its allies, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and its dependent colonies in North America and its allies. Many native peoples fought in the war on both sides. Additionally, the United Kingdom was allied at the time with Spain and others against France and its powerful military under Napoleon, and thus Spain supported the United Kingdom in the Americas while France fought against the forces of both. The conflict began when the United States declared war on 18 June 1812, and officially ended in essentially the status quo when the Treaty of Ghent was ratified by the United States on 16 February 1815.
- Damage to the United States Capitol after the burning of Washington
- Mortally wounded Isaac Brock spurs on the York Volunteers at the battle of Queenston Heights of Tecumseh in 1813 defeats the British assault on New Orleans in 1815
- United States
- United Kingdom
- The Canadas
- United States
- 7,000 (at war's start)
- 35,800 (at war's end) : 3,049
- Militia: 458,463*
- : none
- Frigates: 12
- Other vessels: 14
- United States:
- 2,200–3,721 killed in action 
- 4,505 wounded 
- 20,000 captured 
- 8 frigates captured or burned
- 1,400 merchant ships captured
- 278 privateers captured burnt
- 4,000 slaves escaped or freed 
- Indigenous allies:
- 10,000 dead from all causes (warriors and civilians) [e]
- Unknown captured
- <20 casualties
- * Some militias operated only in their own regions
- † Killed in action
- ‡ A locally raised coastal protection and semi-naval force on the Great Lakes
The controversies that led to war centred around the economic and trade disputes between America, Britain and France that grew during the Napoleonic Wars, and therefore historical accounts on the causes, battles and outcome of this war can sometimes vary. Primary causes of the war involved the Royal Navy stopping and seizing American ships on the open sea and men believed to be British subjects, even if they claimed to be American citizens. By some estimates, from 1793 to 1812 over 15,000 Americans were forced into British service in this way. Another concern was over the British aid to the various Indian tribes helping them maintain their hold on colonial Canada and prevent U.S. westward expansion.  [f] As the impressment of U.S. citizens continued, American sentiment toward Britain grew increasingly hostile, exacerbated by flashpoint incidents such as the 1807 Chesapeake–Leopard affair. Meanwhile, the British were outraged by the 1811 Little Belt affair.  
The war was not universally popular, President James Madison signed into law the declaration of war after heavy pressure from the pro-war members in the United States Congress who had approved all six resolutions to prepare for war.  Federalist opposition to the War of 1812 in the United States had an effect, especially in New England, where it was referred to as "Mr. Madison's War". The British meanwhile had, with a change of Prime Minister, made a too late concession to avoid another front in their ongoing conflict.
With most of its army committed in Europe fighting Napoleon, Britain adopted a national-level siege strategy, focusing on blockading ports and containing the US at its borders. At sea, the powerful Royal Navy cut off trade  and allowed the British to raid the coast at will.
British land offensive operations were initially limited to the American-Canadian border and the western frontier, with help from its native allies, leaving the initiative to the Americans. However American military defeats at the Siege of Detroit and the Battle of Queenston Heights thwarted attempts to seize the British colony of Upper Canada, improving British morale. American attempts to invade British Lower Canada and capture Montreal also failed.  In 1813, the United States won the Battle of Lake Erie, gaining control of the lake and defeated Tecumseh's Confederacy at the Battle of the Thames. This defeat of Britain's most important native ally, thereby reducing resistance to expansion of their western frontier achieved a primary US war goal. The Americans made a final attempt to invade the Canadas, but the Battle of Lundy's Lane during the summer of 1814 was fought to a draw and ended the attempt. Also in 1814, using their naval mobility the British burned Washington (including the White House and the Capitol), but the Americans later repulsed British attempts to invade New York and Maryland, ending attacks into the northern and mid-Atlantic states.
In early 1815, after a peace treaty was signed, but before this news had reached the Americas, United States forces decisively defeated an attacking British Army near New Orleans, Louisiana, with an estimated casualty count of 2,000 to 60.  Coming at the same time as news of the peace this victory was viewed as restoring American national honour, and catapulted American commanding General Andrew Jackson to national celebrity, culminating in his victory in the 1828 United States presidential election.
Mounting opposition to the economic cost of the war meant British merchants lobbied for the resumption of trade with the United States. The abdication of Napoleon ended the British war with France and thus the need for impressment, removing a primary cause of the war. The British then increased the strength of their blockade of the United States coast, which had a crippling effect on the American economy.   Peace negotiations began in August 1814, and the Treaty of Ghent was signed on 24 December 1814 and unanimously ratified by the United States Senate on 17 February 1815, ending the war with no boundary changes,   except for some islands in Passamaquoddy Bay, an issue that was resolved after the war.  In the related Creek War, General Jackson besieged the city of Pensacola in West Florida, a Spanish territory, where a two-day battle ended in a Spanish surrender.  Spain eventually ceded control of Florida to the United States in 1819. 
Given the widespread British invasions, burning of American cities including the Capitol building, the blockade, and the continued confiscation of American ships and cargo, one historian suggests Americans believe they had defeated a British attack on their sovereignty, Canadians that they repulsed 'the massed might of the United States', while the British consider the war as a minor theatre in the larger worldwide Napoleonic Wars. 
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Note: The annotations to this document, and any other modern editorial content, are copyright © Princeton University Press. All rights reserved.
The British Fleet Sailed for Baltimore
The first two years of the war consisted of scattered and inconclusive battles, generally along the border between the US and Canada. But when Britain and its allies believed it had thwarted the threat posed by Napoleon in Europe, more attention was paid to the American war.
On August 14, 1814, a fleet of British warships departed from the naval base at Bermuda. Its ultimate objective was the city of Baltimore, which was then the third largest city in the US. Baltimore was also the home port of many privateers, armed American ships which raided British shipping. The British referred to Baltimore as a "nest of pirates."
One British commander, Rear Admiral George Cockburn also had another target in mind, the city of Washington.
Your letter of Aug. 14. has been recieved and read again & again with extraordinary pleasure. it is the first glimpse which has been furnished me of the interior workings of the late unexpected, but fortunate revolution of your country. the newspapers told us only that the great beast was fallen but what part in this the patriots acted, and what the egoists, whether the former slept while the latter were awake to their own interests only, the hireling scribblers of the English press said little, and knew less. I see now the mortifying alternative under which the patriot there is placed, of being either silent, or disgraced by an association in opposition with the remains of Bonapartyism. a full measure of liberty is not now perhaps to be expected by your nation nor am I confident they are prepared to preserve it. more than a generation will be requisite, under the administration of reasonable laws favoring the progress of knolege in the general mass of the people, and their habituation to an independant security of person and property, before they will be capable of estimating the value of freedom, and the necessity of a sacred adherence to the principles on which it rests for preservation. instead of that liberty which takes root and growth in the progress of reason, if recovered by mere force or accident, it becomes, with an unprepared people, a tyranny still, of the many, the few, or the one. possibly you may remember, at the date of the jeu de paume, how earnestly I urged yourself, and the patriots of my acquaintance, to enter then into a compact with the king, securing freedom of religion, freedom of the press, trial by jury, Habeas corpus, & a national legislature, all of which it was known he would then yield to go home, and let these work on the amelioration of the condition of the people, until they should have rendered them capable of more, when occasions would not fail to arise for communicating to them more. this was as much as I then thought them able to bear soberly & usefully for themselves. you thought otherwise, and that the dose might still be larger. and I found you were right for subsequent events proved they were equal to the constitution of 1791. unfortunately some of the most honest and enlightened of our patriotic friends, (but closet politicians merely, unpracticed in the knolege of man) thought more could still be obtained & borne. they did not weigh the hazards of a transition from one form of government to another, the value of what they had already rescued from those hazards, and might hold in security if they pleased, nor the imprudence of giving up the certainty of such a degree of liberty, under a limited monarch, for the uncertainty of a little more under the form of a republic. you differed from them. you were for stopping there, and for securing the constitution which the National Assembly had obtained. here too you were right and from this fatal error of the republicans, from their separation from yourself & the Constitutionalists in their councils, flowed all the subsequent sufferings and crimes of the French nation. the hazards of a second change fell upon them by the way. the foreigner gained time to anarchize by gold the government he could not overthrow by arms, to crush in their own councils the genuine republicans, by the fraternal embraces of exaggerated and hired pretenders, and to turn the machine of jacobinism from the change, to the destruction, of order: and, in the end, the limited monarchy they had secured was exchanged for the unprincipled and bloody tyranny of Robespierre, and the equally unprincipled and maniac tyranny of Bonaparte. you are now rid of him, and I sincerely wish you may continue so. but this may depend on the wisdom & moderation of the restored dynasty. it is for them now to read a lesson in the fatal errors of the republicans to be contented with a certain portion of power, secured by formal compact with the nation, rather than, grasping at more, hazard all upon uncertainty, and risk meeting the fate of their predecessor, or a renewal of their own exile. we are just informed too of an example which merits, if true, their most profound contemplation. the gazettes say that Ferdinand of Spain is dethroned, and his father reestablished on the basis of their new constitution. this order of magistrates must therefore see that altho’ the attempts at reformation have not succeeded in their whole length, and some recession from the ultimate point has taken place, yet that men have by no means fallen back to their former passiveness, but, on the contrary, that a sense of their rights, and a restlessness to obtain them, remain deeply impressed on every mind, and, if not quieted by reasonable relaxations of power, will break out like a volcano on the first occasion and overwhelm every thing again in it’s way. I always thought the present king an honest and moderate man: and, having no issue, he is under a motive the less for yielding to personal considerations. I cannot therefore but hope that the patriots in and out of your legislature, acting in phalanx, but temperately and wisely, pressing unremittingly the principles omitted in the late capitulation of the king, and watching the occasions which the course of events will create, may get those principles engrafted into it, and sanctioned by the solemnity of a national act.
With us the affairs of war have taken the more favorable turn which was to be expected. our 30. years of peace had taken off, or superannuated, all our revolutionary officers of experience and grade and our first draught in the lottery of untried characters had been most unfortunate. the delivery of the fort and army of Detroit by the traitor Hull, the disgrace at Queen’s-town under Van Renslaer, the massacre at Frenchtown under Winchester, and surrender of Boerstler in an open field to one third of his own numbers, were the inauspicious beginnings of the first year of our warfare. the second witnessed but the single miscarriage occasioned by the disagreement of Wilkinson and Hampton, mentioned in my letter to you of Nov. 30. 13. while it gave us the capture of York by Dearborn and Pike, the capture of Fort George by Dearborn also, the capture of Proctor’s army on the Thames by Harrison, Shelby and Johnson, and that of the whole British fleet on Lake Erie by Perry. the 3 d year has been a continued series of victories. to wit of Brown and Scott at Chippeway, of the same at Niagara, of Gaines over Drummond at Fort Erie that of Brown over Drummond at the same place 1 the capture of another fleet on Lake Champlain by M c Donough, the entire defeat of their army under Prevost, on the same day by M c Comb, and now recently their defeats at New Orleans by Jackson, Coffee and Carroll, with the loss of 4000. men out of 9600, with their two Generals Packingham and Gibbs killed and a third Keane wounded, mortally as is said. this series of successes has been tarnished only by the conflagrations at Washington, a coup de main differing from that at Richmond, which you remember, in the revolutionary war, in the circumstance only that we had in that case but 48. hours notice that an enemy had arrived within our Capes whereas at Washington there was abundant previous notice. the force designated by the President was the double of what was necessary but failed, as is the general opinion, through the insubordination of Armstrong, who would never believe the attack intended until it was actually made, and the sluggishness of Winder before the occasion, and his indecision during it. still, in the end, the transaction has helped rather than hurt us, by arrousing the general indignation of our country, and by marking to the world of Europe the Vandalism and brutal character of the English government: it has merely served to immortalize their infamy. 2 and add further that, thro’ the whole period of the war, we have beaten them single-handed at sea, and so thoroughly established our superiority over them with equal force, that they retire from that kind of contest, and never suffer their frigates to cruize singly. the Endymion would never have engaged the frigate 3 President but knowing herself backed by three frigates & a Razée,4 who though somewhat slower sailors, would get up before she could be taken. the disclosure to the world of the fatal secret that they can be beaten at sea with an equal force, the evidence furnished by the military operations of the last year that experience is rearing us officers who, when our means shall be fully under way, will plant our standard on the walls of Quebec and Halifax, their recent and signal disaster at New Orleans, & the evaporation of their hopes from the Hartford convention, will probably raise a clamor in the British nation which will force their ministry into peace. I say force them because, willingly, they would never be at peace. the British ministers find, in a state of war rather than of peace, by riding the various contractors, and recieving douceurs on the vast expenditures of the war-supplies, that they recruit their broken fortunes, or make new ones, and therefore will not make peace, as long as, by any delusions they can keep the temper of the nation up to the war-point. they found some hopes on the state of our finances. it is true that the excess of our banking institutions, and their present discredit, has shut us out from the best source of credit we could ever command with certainty. but the foundations of credit still remain to us, and need but skill, which experience will soon produce, to marshal them into an order which may carry us thro’ any length of war. but they have hoped more in their Hartford convention. their fears of republican France being now done away, they are directed to republican America, and they are playing the same game for disorganization here which they played in your country. the Marats, the Dantons & Robespierres of Massachusets are in the same pay, under the same orders, and making the same efforts to anarchize us, as their prototypes in France were. I do not say that all who met at Hartford were under the same motives of money: nor were those of France. some of them are Outs, and wish to be Ins some the mere dupes of the Agitators, or of their own party passions while the Maratists alone are in the real secret. but they have very different materials to work on. the yeomanry of the US. are not the Canaille of Paris. we might safely give them leave to go thro’ the US. recruiting their ranks, and I am satisfied they could not raise one single regiment (gambling merchants and silk stocking clerks excepted) who would support them in any effort to separate from the union. the cement of this union is in the heart blood of every American. I do not believe there is on earth a government established on so immovable a basis. let them, in any state, even in Massachusets itself, raise the standard of5 Separation, and it’s citizens will rise in mass, and do justice themselves on their own incendiaries. if they could have induced the government to some effort of suppression, or even to enter into discussion with them, it would have given them some importance, have brought them into some notice. but they have not been able to make themselves even a subject of conversation, either of public or private societies. a silent contempt has been the sole notice they could excite consoled indeed, some of them, by the palpable favors of Philip. have then no fears for us, my friend. the grounds of these exist only in English newspapers, credited or endowed by the Castlereaghs or the Cannings, or some other such models of pure & uncorrupted virtue. their military heroes by land and sea, may sink our oyster boats, rob our henroosts, burn our negro huts and run off. but a campaign or two more will relieve them from further trouble or expence in defending their American possessions.
you once gave me a copy of the journal of your campaign in Virginia in 1781, which I must have lent to some one of the undertakers to write the history of the revolutionary war, and forgot to reclaim. I conclude this because it is no longer among my papers, which I have very diligently searched for it, but in vain. an author of real ability is now writing that part of the history of Virginia. he does it in my neighborhood, and I lay open to him all my papers. but I possess none, nor has he any which can enable him to do justice to your faithful and able services in that campaign. if you could be so good as to send me another copy, by the very first vessel bound to any port of the US. it might be here in time for altho’ he expects to begin to print within a month or two, yet you know the delays of these undertakings. at any rate it might be got in as a supplement. the old C t Rochambeau gave me also his Memoire of the operations at York, which is gone the same way, and I have no means of applying to his family for it. perhaps you could render them as well as us the service of procuring another copy.
I learn with real sorrow the deaths of M. and M de de Tessé. they made an interesting part in the idle reveries, in which I have sometimes indulged myself, of seeing all my friends at Paris once more, for a month or two a thing impossible, which however I never permitted myself to despair of. the regrets however of 73. at the loss of friends may be the less, as the time is shorter within which we are to meet again, according to the creed of our education.
I shall write to M. Tracy, and wait, in order to do it, only for an answer from the person who undertook the translation and printing the work he last sent me. I have been very ill used by this person. flattered from time to time by his assurances of progress, which still, like my shadow walked before me, when pressed for a conclusion the last autumn, he informed me his translation was compleat, but he believed he must decline the printing. I immediately applied elsewhere, and procured an undertaker to publish it, on which, by a first letter I requested the original to be returned to me. that being unanswered I repeated the request by a second letter, the answer to which is what I now await to enable me to write on full information to mr Tracy. the distance of 300. miles between this and Philadelphia increases difficulties. on reciept of his answer I will do whatever is necessary, and make it the subject of a letter to M. Tracy, which I trust will be in time for this conveyance. This letter will be handed you by mr Ticknor a young gentleman of Boston of great erudition, indefatigable industry and preparation for a life of distinction in his own country. he passed a few days with me here, brought high recommendation from mr Adams and others, & appeared in every respect to merit them. he is well worthy of those attentions which you so kindly bestow on our countrymen, and for those he may recieve I shall join him in acknoleging personal obligations. I salute you with assurances of my constant and affectionate friendship & respect.
P.S. Feb. 26. 15. my letter had not yet been sealed when I recieved news of our peace. I am glad of it, and especially that we closed our war, with the eclat of the action at New Orleans. but I consider it as an armistice only, because no security is provided against the impressment of our seamen. while this is unsettled we are in hostility of mind with England, altho actual deeds of arms may be suspended by a truce. if she thinks the exercise of this outrage is worth eternal war, eternal war it must be, or extermination of the one or the other party. the first act of impressment she commits on an American will be answered by reprisal, or by a declaration of war here, and the interval must be merely a state of preparation for it. in this we have much to do, in further fortifying our seaport towns, providing military stores, classing and disciplining our militia, arranging our financial system, and above all pushing our domestic manufactures, which have taken such root as never again can be shaken. once more god bless you.
At a celebrated 20 June 1789 meeting at an indoor tennis court (the jeu de paume), the deputies of the third estate declared that they would not disband until they had provided France with a constitution (William Doyle, Origins of the French Revolution , 2d ed. , 174). Ferdinand VII of Spain had not, in fact, been replaced by his father, the former king Charles IV. The late capitulation of Louis XVIII, the so-called “Charter of 1814,” established a bicameral legislature in France, with the lower house to be elected by limited male suffrage, and a bill of rights to preserve freedom of religion, speech, and the press ( Connelly, Napoleonic France description begins Owen Connelly and others, eds., Historical Dictionary of Napoleonic France, 1799–1815 , 1985 description ends , 107).
The engagement at niagara was the 25 July 1814 Battle of Lundy’s Lane. During the siege of fort erie, General Edward Gaines repulsed an attempt by British commander Gordon Drummond to take the stronghold by storm on 15 Aug. 1814, and General Jacob Brown launched a sortie on 17 Sept. that was followed, a few days later, by a British withdrawal ( Malcomson, Historical Dictionary description begins Robert Malcomson, Historical Dictionary of the War of 1812 , 2006 description ends , 169–71, 172–4, 298–300). TJ greatly exaggerated the losses suffered by the British under General Edward Pakenham (packingham) at the Battle of New Orleans (Stagg, Madison’s War , 498). The USS president was captured on 15 Jan. 1815 by a British squadron that included HMS Endymion ( Malcomson, Historical Dictionary description begins Robert Malcomson, Historical Dictionary of the War of 1812 , 2006 description ends , 315).
The favors of philip of Macedon were bribes (see “philippize,” OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary , 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ). The author of real ability was Louis H. Girardin. TJ considered himself to have been very ill used by William Duane. The new undertaker TJ had found to publish Destutt de Tracy’s manuscript was Joseph Milligan.
1 . Preceding nine words interlined.
2 . Preceding eight words interlined, with the caret mistakenly placed in front of the colon.
Battle of New Orleans
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Battle of New Orleans, (January 8, 1815), U.S. victory against Great Britain in the War of 1812 and the final major battle of that conflict. Both the British and American troops were unaware of the peace treaty that had been signed between the two countries in Ghent, Belgium, a few weeks prior, and so the Battle of New Orleans occurred despite the agreements made across the Atlantic.
In the autumn of 1814 a British fleet of more than 50 ships commanded by Gen. Edward Pakenham sailed into the Gulf of Mexico and prepared to attack New Orleans, strategically located at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The British hoped to seize New Orleans in an effort to expand into territory acquired by the United States through the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. On December 1, 1814, Gen. Andrew Jackson, commander of the Seventh Military District, hastened to the defense of the city.
Once Jackson arrived in New Orleans, notice came that the British had been sighted near Lake Borgne, east of the city. In response, Jackson declared martial law, requiring every weapon and able-bodied man around to defend the city. Over 4,000 men came to the city’s aid, including a number of aristocrats, freed slaves, Choctaw people, and the pirate Jean Lafitte. Jackson also drafted a number of civilians, soldiers, and enslaved people to build breastworks spanning from the Mississippi to a large swamp, a structure that became known as “Line Jackson.” Logs, earth, and large cotton bales coated with mud were used to protect batteries of cannons. These defensive structures proved vital to the success of the United States in the battle.
The battle itself was fought just outside New Orleans, on the Chalmette Plantation, where the Americans split into two defensive positions: one on the east bank of the Mississippi and one on the west. Jackson took command of the eastern bank, with some 4,000 troops and eight batteries lined behind a parapet that stretched along the Rodriguez Canal. On the western bank, Gen. David Morgan was in charge of about 1,000 troops and 16 cannons. After a number of smaller-scale skirmishes between the forces, the Americans waited for a full-blown British attack.
On the morning of January 8, Pakenham commanded approximately 8,000 British troops to move forward and break through the American defensive lines. As they moved into range, the British took heavy fire and quickly lost Pakenham to a fatal wound. The British, now commanded by Gen. John Lambert, suffered a decisive loss on the eastern bank. Lambert then withdrew all troops from the western bank. The battle lasted about two hours. Despite being outnumbered, the Americans wounded approximately 2,000 British soldiers while suffering less than 65 casualties of their own.
Though the battle had no effect on the outcome of the war (which had been decided weeks earlier in Ghent), it gave Jackson the platform of support needed to eventually win the presidency in 1828.
Significant Events War of 1812 in Virginia
26 Dec 1812 The British declare a blockade of the Chesapeake Bay and begin destroying ships entering, departing or sailing upon the bay. Several hundred encounters between the British and merchant vessels during the blockade have been documented. Most vessels were captured or destroyed by the British (some after fierce battles) but a few outran them and escaped.
11 Feb 1813 The first of over 40 documented engagements between British troops and the Virginia militia occurred in Princess Anne County.
3 Apr 1813 After a battle of several hours, the British capture four armed American schooners off Carters Creek in the Rappahannock River.
22 Jun 1813 Several thousand British troops attack Craney Island in an attempt to capture Norfolk. They are repulsed by American defenders.
25 Jun 1813 British capture and sack Hampton for three days but sustain significant combat losses.
2 Apr 1814 British Admiral Cockburn offers freedom and protection to escaping slaves.
5 Apr 1814 British capture Tangier Island and build barracks, two hospitals & breastworks. They use the island until the end of the war to support operations in the Chesapeake (including the attack on Baltimore) and to house escaped slaves. In 1821 all traces of their fort and graveyard were destroyed by a severe hurricane and that portion of the island was subsequently washed away.
6 Apr 1814 Napoleon’s abdication releases British troops and ships for service in North America.
31 May 1814 500 British troops land and engage Accomac County militia at Pungoteague Creek. The British break off the engagement and return to their ships. Both sides claim victory.
18 Jul 1814 Canadian General Prevost calls for British commanders to retaliate for the burning of York (Toronto).
25 Jun 1814 500 British troops land and engage Accomac County militia at Camp Chesconessix & Deep Creek. Militia is overwhelmed and retreats.
20 – 22 Jul 1814 British force of 1200 raids Westmoreland County along Nomini Creek. Although the militia attempts to harass, the British are able to remove or destroy property at will.
26 Jul 1814 Twelve hundred British troops land at Narrows between Machodoc and Nomini Creeks in Westmoreland County and plunder homes in the area. Militia arrives but does not engage.
29 Jul 1814 Over 4,000 Napoleonic war veterans destined for the Chesapeake arrive in Bermuda.
3 Aug 1814 Over 1000 British enter the Yeocomico River with the assistance of escaped slaves. They land at Mundy’s Point & Cherry Point in Northumberland County and Kinsale in Westmoreland County. Although engaged by the militia at each location, at Mundy’s Point the British break out and proceed inland as far as Richmond County, seizing and destroying property along the way.
7 Aug 1814 Over 1,000 British troops land on both sides of the Coan River in Northumberland County and proceed inland, plundering and burning houses at Northumberland Court House and occupying Wicomico Church.
24 Aug 1814 Augmented by the recently arrived Napoleonic war veterans, 5,000 British troops capture and burn Washington, D. C. following the American loss at the Battle of Bladensburg.
27 Aug 1814 Alexandria surrenders to British fleet which plunders the city for 4 days.
1 Sep 1814 Captain David Porter establishes a battery at what is now Fort Belvoir to harass the British as they sail downriver from Alexandria. After two days of bombardment, the battery is destroyed and the British fleet sails back to the Chesapeake Bay.
11 Sep 1814 The British fleet was defeated in a sea battle on Lake Champlain and their ground attack was turned back at Plattsburg, NY
12 Sep 1814 British commence attack on Baltimore (North Point and Fort McHenry), but subsequently withdraw.
4 Oct 1814 British land 3,000 troops at Black & Ragged Points on the Coan River in Northumberland County. They overrun the militia and proceed to Heathsville, plundering, destroying property and burning homes for two days.
2 Dec 1814 British occupy Tappahannock in Essex County for several days, capturing arms & ammunition and burning several buildings. The militia retreat without engaging.
6 Dec 1814 The British cross the Rappahannock River and march towards Warsaw in Richmond County, where they are met by the militia at North Farnham Church. Though the militia retreats after a short engagement, the British return to their ships without reaching Warsaw.
24 Dec 1814 The Treaty of Ghent is signed.
8 Jan 1815 General Andrew Jackson defeats the British at the Battle of New Orleans.
17 Feb 1815 Congress ratifies the Treaty of Ghent – the War is over.
Source: Encounters with the British in Virginia During the War of 1812 by Myron (Mike) E. Lyman, Sr. and William W. Hankins, published by The Society of the War of 1812 in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Copyright 2008-2009 by The Society of the War of 1812 in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Records of United States Army Commands, 1784-1821
Finding Aids: Maizie Johnson and Sarah Powell, comps., "Preliminary Inventory of the Records of United States Army Commands, 1784-1821," NM 64 (1966).
- Records of U.S. Regular Army Mobile Units, 1821-1942, RG 391.
- Records of U.S. Army Coast Artillery Districts and Defenses, 1901-1942, RG 392. Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands, 1821-1920, RG 393.
- Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands, 1920-1942, RG 394.
- Records of U.S. Army Overseas Operations and Commands, 1898-1942, RG 395.
98.2 RECORDS OF GEOGRAPHICAL COMMANDS
12 lin. ft.
98.2.1 Records of geographical commands, 1798-1813
History: U.S. Army under unified field command prior to June 14, 1798. From that date until May 14, 1800, Maj. Gen. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney commanded a district that embraced GA, TN, NC, SC, and VA, with Brig. Gen. James Wilkinson commanding troops in the north and west. After Pinckney's district was abolished, Wilkinson assumed command of the army and divided it into 11 geographical districts, with an informal alignment into western and eastern departments. Reorganized February 15, 1809, into Northern, Southern, and Western Military Districts. Southern and Western Districts consolidated as Southern Department, June 1810, and Northern District designated Northern Department.
Textual Records: Letters sent and received by Maj. Thomas Cushing, commanding Troops on the Mississippi, 1799-1800. Order book, General Pinckney's district, 1800. Orders and muster reports of an expedition to the international boundary between the United States and New Spain (Mexico), along the Sabine River, LA, 1806-7. Order book, Northern Department, 1812-13. Issuances, Southern Department, 1812-13.
98.2.2 Records of military districts, War of 1812
History: United States divided into 9 military districts by War Department General Order, March 19, 1813 increased to 10, July 2, 1814 reduced to 9 by consolidation of 4th and 10th Districts, January 1815. Military districts abolished, May 17, 1815, and superseded by 10 military departments, divided equally between Divisions of the North and South.
Textual Records: Discharge and furlough book and list of officers, 1st Military District, 1813-15. Order book, 2d Military District, 1814-15. Letters received, order books, courts-martial proceedings, registers of furloughs and discharges, lists of officers, and company returns, 3d Military District, 1813-15 and order book, Commander of the Defense of the City and Harbor of New York, 1812-13. Letters sent and issuances, 4th Military District, 1813-14 and issuances and reports of the adjutant and inspector general, 4th and 10th Military Districts (consolidated), 1815. General orders issued by Maj. Gen. Wade Hampton, commanding 5th Military District, April-May 1813. Letters sent and order books, 6th and 7th Military Districts, 1813-15. Letters sent, issuances, order books, and miscellaneous records of the 9th Military District and Right Wing (1st Division), Northern Army (under unified command), 1814-15 records of the Left Wing (2d Division), Northern Army, 1814 and consolidated order book, 4th Brigade of Detached Militia, 1812- 13, and District of Oswego, Sackett's Harbor, and Ogdensburg, 1813. Detail orders, 10th Military District, 1814.
98.2.3 Records of the Division of the North
History: Established May 17, 1815, with headquarters at Brownsville, NY. Abolished in the reorganization of the field army into Eastern and Western Departments, May 1821. Consisted of 1st-5th Military Departments.
Textual Records: Letters sent, 1818-21. Order books, 1815-21. Register of officers, 1815. Consolidated order book, 1st and 3d Military Departments, 1818-21. Order books and discharge registers, 3d Military Department, 1815-19. Order book, 4th Military Department, 1815-19. Letters sent, order books, and discharge registers, 5th Military Department, 1815-21.
Related Records: Additional records of the 1st, 3d, and 4th Military Departments, 1817-21, in Records of the Eastern Division and Department, RG 393, Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands, 1821-1920.
98.2.4 Records of the Division of the South
History: Established May 17, 1815, with headquarters at Nashville, TN. Abolished in the reorganization of the field army into Eastern and Western Departments, May 1821. Consisted of 6th- 10th Military Departments.
Textual Records: Letters sent and order books, 1815-21. Letters sent, 1817-21, and order books, 8th Military Department, 1815-19. Letter book, Maj. Gen. Edmund P. Gaines, 1814 (9th and 4th Military Districts), 1815 (7th Military District), and 1817-19 (Division of the South, 7th Military Department, and Post of Fernandina, East Florida).
Related Records: Order book, 9th Military Department, June 1819- June 1821, in Records of the Western Division and Department, RG 393, Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands, 1821-1920.
98.2.5 Records of army posts
Textual Records: Records of Castle Island (Fort Independence), Boston, MA, consisting of an order book, 1786-87, and garrison records, 1803-15. Order book, Fort Johnston, NC, 1795-1811. Order books and provision returns, garrison at New Orleans, 1806-16.
98.3 RECORDS OF ARMY UNITS
31 lin. ft.
98.3.1 Records of artillery units
Textual Records: Order and company books, Regiment of Light Artillery, 1808-21 1st Regiment, 1803-15 2d and 3d Regiments, 1812-15 and Corps of Artillery, 1814-22.
98.3.2 Records of infantry units
Textual Records: Inspection return, American Regiment of Foot, May 1784. Company and order books, 1st Regiment, 1785-88 3d Regiment, 1796-1802 1st-7th Regiments, 1802-15 9th-14th, 16th, 18th, 20th-23d, 25th-27th, 30th-35th, 37th, 38th, 40th-43d, 45th, and 46th Regiments, 1812-15 Maj. Zebulon M. Pike's Consolidated Regiment, 1805-11 and 1st, 3d, 7th, and 8th Regiments, 1815-21.
98.3.3 Records of other units
Textual Records: Records of the Legion of the United States, consisting of orders, 1792-93, and enlisted returns, 1789-92. Company and order books, 1st and 3d Regiments of Riflemen, 1812- 15. Company books, Regiment of Light Dragoons, 1812-15.
Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.
This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.
A history of history painting after 1800: to 1869Francisco Goya (1746–1828), El Tres de Mayo (The Third of May) (detail) (1814), oil on canvas, 266 x 345.1 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid. Wikimedia Commons.
There are two types of history painting: the term can be applied to historia, which basically means any painting telling a story, or in a much narrower sense to paintings of historical events, which includes legend but excludes mythology, religious works, and other narrative subjects. Today and tomorrow I’m going to look at the latter, paintings showing history which were completed in the nineteenth century and later – with the exception of my first.
The nineteenth century was a period which first made history painting very popular, then is claimed to have destroyed it. Here I look at what happened, which has to start with the work of Jacques-Louis David.
Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825), Marat Assassinated (1793), oil on canvas, 165 x 128 cm, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels. Wikimedia Commons.
David’s Marat Assassinated (1793) must be one of the most famous history paintings of all time. It shows this leading member of the Revolutionary movement, an influential journalist and friend of the artist, stabbed to death in his bath by a young woman from Normandy, Charlotte Corday. She admitted if not boasted of her actions, and on 17 July she was executed in public by guillotine. Marat became a martyr for the cause, after his friend David had organised his spectacular funeral. Still clutched in Marat’s hand is the note written to him by Corday.
Jacques-Louis David (1748–1825), Marat Assassinated (detail, rotated) (1793), oil on canvas, 165 x 128 cm, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels. Wikimedia Commons.
Corday’s note, shown rotated from its orientation in the painting, gives the date, and addresses itself from her to Citizen Marat. It opens with “It suffices to say that I am very unhappy to qualify for your kindness”. This sparse and simple painting became the quintessential image of The Terror in particular, and the Revolution as a whole.
David’s new histories contrasted with that of Benjamin West, an American who set out to paint ‘modern’ histories, but through a succession of accidents ended up in Britain painting more traditional works.
Benjamin West (1738–1820), The Death of Nelson (1806), oil on canvas and panel, 182 x 247.5 cm, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England. Wikimedia Commons.
The year after Britain’s successful commander, Admiral Lord Nelson, already a national hero, had died of his wounds during the Battle of Trafalgar, West painted one of the first visual accounts.
Nelson had been on the deck of his flagship, HMS Victory, when he was hit by a marksman from the nearby French ship Redoutable. Nelson was first seen kneeling on the deck, before falling onto his side. Thomas Hardy, captain of Victory, was with him, and Nelson was shortly carried below by the Sergeant-Major of the Royal Marines and two seamen. He died three hours later.
West’s painting succeeded not on its strengths, which were few, but on its timeliness and public adulation for its subject. Exhibited first in the artist’s studio, it apparently attracted thirty thousand visitors in just over a month.
Like David, Francisco Goya preferred individual engagement to mass spectacle.
Francisco Goya (1746–1828), El Tres de Mayo (The Third of May) (1814), oil on canvas, 266 x 345.1 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid. Wikimedia Commons.
In November 1807, Napoleon’s armies occupied Spain and fought the Spanish in the Peninsular War. The people of Madrid rebelled on 2 May 1808, in an uprising which led to fierce battles. The following day, before dawn, the French forces rounded up and shot hundreds of the rebels at various locations in Madrid.
Goya’s depiction of this is one of the great paintings of European history, which concentrates attention on one of the Spanish prisoners about to be executed.
Francisco Goya (1746–1828), El Tres de Mayo (The Third of May) (detail) (1814), oil on canvas, 266 x 345.1 cm, Museo del Prado, Madrid. Wikimedia Commons.
Goya opts for the moment before the shots are fired, as the instant of greatest drama.
Larger groups could still make great paintings, though, as was demonstrated by Jean Louis Théodore Géricault in another of the major works in the European canon, The Raft of the Medusa (1818-19), showing the distressed survivors of an infamous shipwreck.
Jean Louis Théodore Géricault (1791–1824), The Raft of the Medusa (1818-19), oil on canvas, 491 x 716 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris. Wikimedia Commons.
The end result of over a year’s painstaking research and studies by the artist is a vast canvas, its figures life-sized, which has had huge impact on everyone who has seen it since 1819. Its relatively traditional approach and attention to detail give it the air of complete authenticity, although Géricault carefully manipulated its composition in several ways to make his point. For example, he shows the few survivors crowded together on a small part of the raft, and crops the image tightly to give the impression that the raft was overcrowded, which it wasn’t.
There had been plenty of recent history to paint about in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. By the time that Eugène Delacroix came to the genre, he felt that had to reach back millenia to The Death of Sardanapalus.
Eugène Delacroix (1798–1863), The Death of Sardanapalus (1827), oil on canvas, 392 × 496 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris. Wikimedia Commons.
His narrative is drawn from a contemporary play, written in blank verse by Lord Byron, which was published in 1821. That in turn relies on an account in the historical library of Diodorus Siculus, a Greek historian, and Mitford’s History of Greece. Sardanapalus was the last of the great Assyrian monarchs, ruling a large empire from his palaces in Nineveh. However, a rebellion grew against him, and the story reaches its climax in the fifth and final act of Byron’s play.
At the time, the river Euphrates was in high flood, which had torn down part of the protective walls of the city of Nineveh. Once the river started to fall again, this left no defences against the rebels. The leader of the rebels, Arbaces, offers to spare Sardanapalus his life if he will surrender, but he refuses, asking for a cease-fire of an hour. During that period he has a funeral pyre built under his throne. He releases his last faithful officer to flee for his life, and climbs the pyre. As he does so, his favourite wife, Myrrha, throws a lighted torch into the pyre, and climbs up after him, where they both burn to death.
Delacroix departs considerably from that narrative to invite us to see Sardanapalus in a different light. Most prominent in the foreground is the horrific sight of one of his courtesans about to have her throat slit by a guard. Her face looks up to the heavens, her back is arched, forcing her body and legs into an arc, as she is tensed ready for slaughter. With these scenes of carnage and destruction all around him, Sardanapalus rests, recumbent on his great divan. His face is mask-like, unmoved, and he stares coldly into the distance, his head propped by his right hand.
Paul Delaroche didn’t reach back as far, but chose a sparser scene drawn from English history.
Paul Delaroche (1797–1856), The Execution of Lady Jane Grey (1833), oil on canvas, 246 x 297 cm, The National Gallery, London. Courtesy of The National Gallery, bequeathed by the Second Lord Cheylesmore, 1902.
England in 1553 was in turmoil. King Edward VI’s reign of six years was marred by economic problems, social unrest which erupted into open rebellion, and war with Scotland these had culminated with the King’s death at the age of just 15. As he had no natural heirs, there was dispute over his succession his plan for a cousin, Lady Jane Grey, to become Queen was put into action, starting her rule on 10 July 1553. When King Edward’s half sister Mary deposed her on 19 July, she was committed to the Tower of London, convicted of high treason in November, and executed on Tower Green by beheading on 12 February 1554 at the age of just 16 (or 17).
Delaroche might appear to have made an accurate depiction of the scene, but in fact he made one major alteration: Lady Jane Grey was actually executed in the small court-like space within the Tower known as Tower Green, not in a dark room. By changing the location, it enables Lady Jane Grey’s silver-white gown to dominate the entire painting, forcing everything and everyone else back into sombre mid tones and darker. With its simple composition and charged atmosphere, it caused a sensation when first exhibited at the Salon of 1834.
Although Jean-Léon Gérôme’s later reputation was made on his careful reconstructions of classical Roman gladiatorial combat, he didn’t have to look so far back for one of his most memorable history paintings.
Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824–1904), The Death of Marshal Ney (1868), oil on canvas, 64.1 x 104.1 cm, Sheffield Gallery, Sheffield, England. Photo from Militärhistoria 4/2015, via Wikimedia Commons.
Michel Ney (1769-1815) was a leading military commander during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and was made a Marshal of France by Napoleon. Following Napoleon’s defeat and exile in the summer of 1815, Ney was arrested, and tried for treason by the Chamber of Peers. He was found guilty, and executed by firing squad near the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris on 7 December 1815.
Gérôme shows Ney’s body abandoned after the execution, slumped face down and lifeless in the mud, his top hat apart at the right edge of the canvas. The firing squad is being marched off, to the left and into the distance. This reinforces Gérôme’s powerful image of a cold, bleak, heartless execution.
His timing contrasts with Goya’s above, and that chosen by Édouard Manet for another scene from recent history.
Édouard Manet (1832–1883), The Execution of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico (1868), oil on canvas, 252 x 305 cm, Kunsthalle Mannheim, Germany. Wikimedia Commons.
Manet shows the moment of The Execution of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, with a disorganised firing squad at almost point-blank range of their victims. In this painting, Manet puts them in field dress which could easily be interpreted as being French. Their faces are turned away from the viewer, only their body language and actions being clear. At the back of the squad (right of the painting) their commander is fiddling with his rifle, and disinterested in the execution.
Maximilian appears to be an old man, although he was only 35 at the time. The nearer of his generals assumes the expression of horror, and appears in his posture to have been hit by bullets. Maximilian’s face is oddly neutral, and he appears to be holding the hand of the general on each side of him. The other, distant, general appears almost detached from the group, with an odd expression and little body language.
In 1870, history painting remained in rude health, with the masters of the day continuing to innovate in their themes and compositions.
Europe 1813: Battle of Leipzig
By October 1813 Russian, Prussian, Austrian, and Swedish armies were converging on the French in Saxony, prompting Napoleon to pull back to Leipzig. However, he was still severely outnumbered and, despite Napoleon’s generalship, the Allies decisively defeated the French in a four-day battle.
14 Sep–7 Oct 1813 Cossack raid on Cassel▲
In mid September 1813 Russian and Prussian forces crossed the Elbe into the Napoleonic Kingdom of Westphalia and laid siege to Magdeburg. Leading a force of five Cossack regiments, six squadrons of regular cavalry, and four guns, the Cossack commander Alexander Chernyshyov raided across the country, frightening the Westphalian king Jerome Bonaparte into fleeing his capital, Cassel (Kassel). Chernyshyov held Cassel for several days—and seized its stores and treasury—before abandoning the city and returning back east to the Elbe. in wikipedia
7 Oct 1813 Battle of the Bidassoa▲
In early October 1813 Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington, led almost 90,000 British, Portuguese, and Spanish troops against Nicolas Soult’s 62,000-strong French lines behind the Bidassoa river, between the Pyrenees and the Atlantic coast. Learning that, unbeknownst to the French, the lower Bidassoa was fordable, Wellington launched a surprise attack on the relatively weak French coastal positions and thereby outflanked the enemy. Although casualties were light on both sides, Soult’s men abandoned their positions, leaving the Allies with a foothold on French soil. in wikipedia
8 Oct 1813 Treaty of Ried▲
On 8 October 1813, after several months of persuasion attempts by the Austrians, King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria agreed to sign the Treaty of Ried with the Austrian Empire. In accordance with the treaty, Bavaria left the Confederation of the Rhine and, on 14 October, declared war on Napoleon, making the French position in Saxony precarious. Following this action, Prussia and Russia also joined the Treaty of Ried, confirming Austrian guarantees of Bavaria’s independence and territorial continuity after the war. in wikipedia
16–19 Oct 1813 Battle of Leipzig▲
In October 1813 four Allied armies—the Russians under Tsar Alexander I, the Austrians under Karl von Schwarzenberg, the Prussians under Gebhard von Blücher, and the Swedes under Crown Prince Charles John (Bernadotte)—converged on the French in Saxony, prompting Napoleon to withdraw westwards from Dresden to the more defensible position of Leipzig. Here, from the 16th to the 19th, some 185,000 French and allied troops held off the attacks of a growing Allied force that eventually amounted to over 350,000 men in what would be dubbed the ‘Battle of the Nations’, the largest single engagement of the Napoleonic Wars. Ultimately Allied numbers prevailed and, after suffering some 73,000 casualties—including captured and defected—for 54,000 Allied killed and wounded, Napoleon fled the battle, narrowly escaping across the Elster River with the remnants of the Grande Armée. in wikipedia