The Battle of New Orleans: "But For a Piece of Wood"
The Battle of New Orleans marked a turning point in American history. The Treaty of Ghent had not been ratified prior to this last struggle in the War of 1812. More important, the victory at Chalmette on January 8th was only one battle in an extensive campaign to take the city. The British launched a series of assaults against Jackson's defenses over several months, any one of which might have resulted in the loss of New Orleans and possibly the repudiation of the Louisiana Purchase. More interesting, how was it possible that a major British expeditionary force composed of 14,500 solders, 3,500 sailors, and an armada numbering nearly 100 ships could have failed? The force thrown against Jackson defeated Napoleon in the Spanish Peninsula Campaign. Hearty veterans seasoned by years of combat fell in Chalmette. Despite numerous opportunities for victory over several months, Dame Victory withheld her smile allowing America to manifest its destiny.
Ron Chapman serves as Professor of History at Nunez Community College in Chalmette, Louisiana. The college is located near the actual site of the Battle of New Orleans. Professor Chapman recently received the Preservation Award for 2011-2012 from the Louisiana Colonials, the Nunez Community College Excellence in Teaching Award for 2004 and the Meraux Endowed Professorship (2009). He has also received numerous community service and academic honors over the years including nine awards from the Louisiana Press Association for Best Regular Column for the St. Bernard Voice, the local community's official journal for which he was written for over 28 years. Chapman possesses a special love for the rich history of Louisiana. Undoubtedly, Louisiana's story is one of the most unique state histories in the Union.