December 1803 The United States and Napoleonic France conclude their transfer of Louisiana to US ownership despite strenuous objections by Great Britain and Spain that the purchase violates the terms of the Treaty of San Ildefonso.

1803–1807 In the long fight to contain Napoleon and his allies, the depleted Royal Navy is forced to bolster itself via a policy of impressment, whereby any sailor of actual or suspected British birth can be forcibly removed from a foreign vessel and pressed into military service. The United States protests that many of these unfortunate sailors are in fact naturalized US citizens.

November 11, 1807 In another blow against American commerce, the British government issues its Orders in Council of 1807 to cut off all maritime trade between France, British allies, and neutral nations, including the United States.

June 22, 1807 Chesapeake Incident: While searching for Royal Navy deserters, the frigate HMS Leopard stops and attempts to board the American frigate Chesapeake, eventually firing a broadside into her and killing or wounding 21 American seamen; the American public is outraged.

July 2, 1807 President Jefferson issues a list of grievances against Great Britain. In an attempt to secure American trade rights, the first version of Jefferson’s Embargo Act is passed the following December 22nd.

March 1, 1809 Jefferson’s unpopular Embargo Act is repealed and replaced by the Non-Intercourse Act, which lifts the costly restrictions on US vessels sailing abroad, except for those bound to British or French ports. The following year this act is replaced by Macon’s Bill No. 2, which removes all remaining embargoes on struggling American shippers.

1811–1812 So-called “War Hawks” in Congress, led by Speaker of the House Henry Clay and Rep. John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, openly call for war against Great Britain as a means to assert American sovereignty and regain lost national honor.

June 16, 1812 The British Orders in Council are repealed, but too late to prevent war with the Unite States.

June 18, 1812 The United States of America declares war on Great Britain.

July 22, 1812 Edward Michael Pakenham distinguishes himself at the Battle of Salamanca while serving under the Earl (later the Duke) of Wellington.

November 18, 1812 Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren proposes to the British Admiralty that a diversionary assault be mounted on New Orleans to reduce American pressure on the Canadian front.

August 30, 1813 The massacre of American settlers at Fort Mims, Mississippi Territory, ignites an open war between the United States and hostile members of the Creek Nation.

March 27, 1814 Andrew Jackson’s victory at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend effectively ends the Creek War and greatly reduces the danger of a British-Indian alliance.

April 10, 1814 Wellington defeats Napoleon’s forces at the Battle of Toulouse, days after the emperor’s first abdication. Great Britain is now free to redirect its veteran regiments to North America.

May, 1814 Andrew Jackson receives his commission as a major general in the US Army and is appointed to command the 7th Military District, which includes Tennessee, Louisiana, and the Mississippi Territory.

August 10, 1814 The British government officially authorizes a secret expedition against Louisiana. Admiral Cochrane is ordered to capture the mouths of the Mississippi River and the port of New Orleans. Expedition forces are to rendezvous at Negril Bay, Jamaica, no later than November 20.

August 22, 1814 Jackson arrives at Mobile to oppose the expected British attack.  Defensive preparations include strengthening Fort Bowyer on Mobile Point.

August 24–26, 1814 After routing American defenses at the Battle of Bladensburg, British troops occupy Washington, DC, and destroy the public buildings, including the Capitol, the Treasury Building, and the White House.

September 3–4, 1814 Royal Navy captain Nicholas Lockyer meets with Jean Lafitte and his men at Grande Terre, Louisiana, seeking to enlist the Baratarians and their vessels against the Americans. Lafitte stalls for time and alerts authorities in New Orleans of the British overture and of his own willingness to serve the United States.

September 11–13, 1814 The Battle of Lake Champlain effectively ends the war on the Canadian frontier, as the British force under Gen. George Prevost is beaten back. The bombardment of Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, is likewise ineffective, and the British eventually retire from the Chesapeake. Maj. Gen. Robert Ross, originally ordered to lead the planned assault on New Orleans, is killed outside Baltimore by American snipers.

September 15, 1814 First Battle of Mobile Point: British warships under the command of William Percy arrive off Mobile Point and begin firing at Fort Bowyer; a landed force of Royal Marines and Indians is repulsed by American gunnery; Percy’s frigate HMS Hermes runs aground and is subsequently destroyed.

September 16, 1814 US naval forces commanded by Master Commandant Daniel Patterson attack the Baratarian pirates at Grande Terre, capturing 80 men and 26 vessels.

October 24, 1814 Edward Pakenham receives orders to command the expedition against New Orleans that is assembling in Jamaica; he and his officers depart for Negril Bay a week later, aboard the frigate HMS Statira.

November 6–7, 1814 Seeking to deny the British a fortified harbor, Andrew Jackson’s forces enter and temporarily occupy Pensacola after a short, fierce skirmish against Spanish troops; the British depart after blowing up Fort Barrancas.

November 19–22, 1814 Still not knowing where the British force will strike, Jackson leaves some troops to protect Mobile and proceeds to New Orleans, traveling overland to personally scout possible British landing sites.

November 24–29, 1814 Maj. Gen. John Keane, commanding British ground troops in Pakenham’s absence, lands in Jamaica for the rendezvous with forces already gathered there. Pressed for time, Admiral Cochrane orders the British fleet sail north for Louisiana prior to Pakenham’s arrival, still two weeks away.

December 1, 1814 Andrew Jackson reaches New Orleans, makes a public address to rally the citizens, and establishes his headquarters. Meanwhile, Admiral Cochrane’s advance ships appear off the passes of the Mississippi.

December 8–12, 1814 The British fleet anchors near Ship and Cat Islands, and Cochrane and Keane begin planning their approach to the city; meanwhile, General Jackson personally tours and orders improvements to local defensive works, and orders all inland water routes to be obstructed.

December 14, 1814 Battle of Lake Borgne: The Battle of Lake Borgne ends with the British capture of American gunboats.

December 16, 1814 Jackson declares martial law in New Orleans, while two British officers dressed as local fishermen secretly reconnoiter a route to the city via Bayou Bienvenue to the Villeré and Delaronde Plantations. British troops begin mustering at Isle aux Poix (Pea Island), near the mouth of the Pearl River.

December 20, 1814 Two bodies of Tennessee Militia under Generals Coffee and Carroll reach New Orleans, along with Thomas Hinds’s Mississippi Dragoons.

December 23, 1814 British Landing and Night Battle: A British advance force ascends Bayou Catalan (Bienvenue) and Villeré’s Canal to the Mississippi River, capturing 30 Louisiana militiamen posted in Villeré’s house as well as Maj. Gabriel Villeré, who subsequently escapes. Jackson attacks after nightfall, stopping the British advance; the Americans fall back and begin construction of a defensive line behind the Rodriguez Canal.

December 25, 1814 Maj. Gen. Pakenham arrives and takes command of British ground forces in Louisiana; American sappers are ordered to cut the Chalmette levee after nightfall to flood the ground between the two armies, but the effect is minimal, due to a falling river level.

December 27, 1814 British gunners destroy the American sloop USS Carolina with heated shot, while Jackson continues to fortify his line and emplace his field artillery.

December 28, 1814 Reconnaissance in Force: Pakenham advances his army in a reconnaissance in force, coming under fire from American artillery and the USS Louisiana; despite some progress, Pakenham withdraws to wait for heavy guns to be brought up from the fleet.

December 28, 1814 In response to a rumor that local lawmakers were to vote on a surrender of the city to the British invaders, General Jackson dispatches an officer to investigate. The Louisiana Legislature’s meeting place is subsequently locked, and its members prevented from meeting.

January 1, 1815 Artillery Duel: British batteries open fire on Americans, who return fire; the British gunners run out of ammunition after 3 hours, but the Americans keep firing, forcing Pakenham to order the guns from his forward batteries to be withdrawn out of range.

January 4–5, 1815 Jackson is reinforced by over 2,300 Kentucky militiamen, though many lack arms and adequate clothing; meanwhile, Pakenham is reinforced by the arrival of troops from Maj. Gen. John Lambert’s brigade as he formulates his plan for a grand assault on the American line.

January 8, 1815 Final Battle of New Orleans: The main British attack on the east bank of the Mississippi is repulsed with heavy British casualties and the deaths of Generals Pakenham and Gibbs; Pakenham’s successor, Major General Lambert, decides that he cannot exploit a successful British attack on the west bank and orders his forces to withdraw.

January 9–16, 1815 Six British vessels, including bomb ships, fire on Fort St. Philip but cannot subdue or pass it. Reinforcements from the 40th Foot arrive along with the expected artillery siege train, too late to make a difference.

January 19–29, 1815 Re-embarkation and departure of the British army; Hinds’s dragoons skirmish with the British rear guard at the mouth of Bayou Bienvenue on January 25, the last land fighting below New Orleans.

January 21, 1815 General Jackson draws up and addresses the troops manning the rampart at Chalmette prior to returning upriver to New Orleans.

January 23, 1815 Religious and civil ceremonies in New Orleans commemorate the victory including a Te Deum at St. Louis Cathedral.

February 2, 1815 Still angry over Jackson’s attempt to close the Louisiana Legislature in late December, lawmakers draft a resolution of thanks naming all of the commanding officers of the regular and militia troops that had defended New Orleans, but with no mention of General Jackson.

February 4, 1815 News of the victory in New Orleans reaches Washington, DC.

February 11–13, 1815 Second Battle of Mobile Point: British forces attack and capture Fort Bowyer on Mobile Point; preparations to take Mobile itself are postponed upon the arrival of HM sloop Brazen, which carries news of the peace treaty signed the previous December. The army goes into camp on Dauphin Island, off Mobile Bay, to await official confirmation.

February 16, 1815 President Madison sends the American copy of the Treaty of Ghent to the United States Senate for ratification; the senators give their unanimous approval. Eligius Fromentin of Louisiana is one of 35 senators giving consent.

February 17, 1815 War of 1812 Ends: Representatives of the United States and Great Britain exchange ratifications of the Ghent Treaty in Washington, officially ending the War of 1812.

March 5, 1815 Upon receiving official word of the ratification and the war’s end, the British Army on Dauphin Island breaks camp and prepares to depart the Gulf Coast.

March 6, 1815 Unofficial news of the treaty ratification reaches New Orleans, but the official dispatch is delayed. Nevertheless, Jackson forwards the news to British forces on Dauphin Island. Over the next several days, he issues discharges to a large portion of Louisiana’s militia.

March 9, 1815 Reports of the defeat in New Orleans and the news of Napoleon’s escape from Elba and return to power in France reach England at the same time.

March 11, 1815 Jackson banishes federal judge Dominick Augustin Hall from New Orleans. Judge Hall had been arrested a week earlier for defying Jackson’s crackdown on civil dissent.

March 13, 1815 The official dispatch concerning the ratification of the peace treaty arrives in New Orleans. Jackson lifts martial law, pardons military offenses, and frees detainees.

March 24, 1815 Andrew Jackson is summoned by Judge Hall to face contempt charges for having illegally detained citizens and for defying the court’s constitutional authority. Jackson is subsequently found guilty of contempt and is fined one thousand dollars; he quietly paid the fine, which was eventually refunded in full and with interest by an act of Congress in February 1844.

April 6, 1815 Andrew Jackson departs New Orleans for Nashville.

Compiled by Jason Wiese, The Historic New Orleans Collection


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