• The Battle of New Orleans was the final major battle of the War of 1812, fought between the British Empire and the newly formed United States. The battle, which took place on January 8, 1815, featured the British aggressors intent on capturing New Orleans, which they thought would give them control of the vast majority of the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. The battle itself was fought on the grounds of the Chalmette Plantation, roughly 8 kilometers (5 miles) south of New Orleans, Louisiana.

    The Battle of New Orleans is referred to by many historians as the greatest American land victory of the war. American troops, led by future President Andrew Jackson, defeated the much larger British force, which bolstered U.S. hopes for a speedy end to the war.

    The battle is also famous for some of the characters involved, including noted French pirate Jean Lafitte who, with his fellow pirates, fought for the U.S. military and even claimed special accolades in the field of artillery.

    The importance of Louisiana (especially New Orleans) to the fledgling United States was tantamount to success in the war at large, and the continued growth of the nation. In 1907, the battleground was established as a federal park, which currently resides in Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve, and acts as a reminder of the importance of the battle that took place there.

    1. Why was keeping New Orleans free of British control so important to the United States?

      New Orleans was one of the most important port cities in the U.S. at the time. The city allowed access to the Mississippi River, an important route for both transportation (of both troops and civilians) and shipping. Many strategists during the War of 1812 saw control of the Mississippi River as control of the war itself.

    2. What advantages did the U.S. have over British forces at the battle with regards to the environment?

      British forces were unaccustomed to fighting in the swampy, humid climate of the Louisiana bayou. Many U.S. troops, on the other hand, were from the area and found the terrain famillar and relatively easy to navigate.

    3. Why do you think the U.S. government wanted the help of Jean Lafitte during the Battle of New Orleans?

      On the surface, a law-breaking pirate seems an odd choice for an ally in battle, but Lafitte and his crew proved to be valuable assets in the fight against the British aggressors. Lafitte and his men had intimate knowledge of the area, as well as skills in the field of artillery. Fueled by a growing distaste for the British after they took over his base of operations on the nearby Barataria Preserve, Lafitte agreed to fight for the U.S.

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