As part of General Jackson's attacking force in this action was the "Battalion of Free Men of Color."When the United States bought the Louisiana Territory in 1803 its French and Spanish citizens already had several existing militia units. Among them were several companies composed of intermixed free blacks and Creoles. The U.S. authorities soon disbanded these units. However, with the impending invasion of the British Army to capture New Orleans in late 1814, the governor authorized the reorganization of a new battalion of the black freeman. It was commanded by Major Pierre Lacoste, a prominent black property (and slave) owner. He had been the former commander of the battalion disbanded in 1804. The new battalion numbered 280 men, later reinforced by an additional 180 men. It fought well this night, gaining praise from Jackson himself. And it saw combat as part of the American line that repelled major British assault on January 8, 1815. Once the enemy threat was removed, as often happened following the end of other periods of national crisis, the black battalion was again disbanded by the government. No black would again serve in any state militia or Regular Army capacity until 1862 during the Civil War.A painting by Charles McBarron for the U.S. Army Art Collection
1814Villere's Plantation, Louisiana - An advance force of some 1,500 men, preceding a British army numbering nearly 10,000 troops, is attacked by General Andrew Jackson on this night. The British, having landed several days earlier on Lake Borgne, are tasked with the capture of the New Orleans. Jackson, himself a former Tennessee militia general before being appointed a general in the Regular Army, had under his command about 1,000 Regular Army solders reinforced by militia units drawn from Louisiana and Tennessee. His attack this night involved about 2,000 troops, about three quarters of them militia. They successfully surprised the British, who failed to adequately guard their camp. The American attack proved so effective that they soon overran the outer British defenses and hand-to-hand combat took place in the English camp. After about an hour of fighting, the Americans broke off the engagement and withdrew. They caused so much confusion in the enemy ranks that it was several days before the British could get themselves prepared to advance on the city. Meanwhile, Jackson had his men entrench and fortify a dry canal blocking the British advance. From this position his army, now numbering 5,300 men (mostly militia and even some pirates), repelled the British assault launched on January 8, 1815. In one of the most lopsided victories in history the American's inflicted a decisive defeat on the enemy force, killing at least 291 and wounding more than 1,200 more. Jackson's army suffered only 13 killed and 39 wounded. The British retreated to their ships, only learning in February that the peace treaty ending the war on had been signed in Belgium on Christmas Eve. Jackson became a national hero, eventually leading to his election to the presidency.