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Login Name Post: Another Battle of New Orleans question        (Topic#298359)
MinnieBall1 
40 Cal.
Posts: 272
01-13-16 05:03 PM - Post#1538318    


I was watching a documentary on the battle with what appeared to be some great reenactment footage and I was wondering how close to the American line the British got before they were fired on? It looked as though they broke 100 yards, but I don't know. Do you?

 
crockett 
Cannon
Posts: 6195
01-14-16 01:35 PM - Post#1538452    

    In response to MinnieBall1

If you can picture the Mississippi River. You are on the eastern shore looking downriver. Your line is from the river at a 90 degree angle headed east to some woods- that was the American line. To the south- downriver is a large open field, say 400-500 yards to the British line. It might be farther- like 700 yards. It looks flat but there are actually a lot of ditches crisscrossing the field. It could not have been a very easy field to cross.
In front of the American lines was a ditch. Just prior to the battle the Americans dug out and deepened that ditch. It was a death trap. The British soldiers got into that ditch and with wet slippery boots I doubt they could crawl out up to the American line. It was shooting fish in a barrel.
Commanders in time get a big head, hubris. Figure their troops can do anything and so they go with a frontage assault. Seldom works very well no matter how good the troops may be.
When did the Americans open fire? I'm not sure on that but the Americans had a fair amount of artillery. I sort of assumed the British were under some sort of fire during the entire attack.
If I recall one rifle man was such a good shot that guys were handing him their loaded rifles so he could keep up a steady stream of shooting. It implies the shots were far enough away that a good rifleman was needed and the multiple shots also imply the British must have been fairly far off.
The Battle of New Orleans might have been unique because of the large amount of riflemen. I think with muskets the practice was to wait until the enemy got fairly close but the American rifle men may have started shooting at 150 to 200 yards. Maybe someone else has the exact facts.

 
54ball 
58 Cal.
Posts: 2450
54ball
01-20-16 09:26 AM - Post#1539754    

    In response to MinnieBall1

My specialty is The Creek War, the year before. I'll have to get into my research about the battle of New Orleans.
I do remember it was supposedly foggy that dawn morning.
Now military doctrine of entrenchments at the time gave the musket a 300 yard field of fire. So orders about the "whites of their eyes" may have more to do about conserving ammunition especially if the defender is short on powder and ball.
If a defender has a supply of ammunition the wait till you see the whites of the eyes order actually gives up some tactical advantage.

The British main body on the East side made it's first push along the river at redoubt #1. Then the main body was ordered across the field at an oblique angle to hit the dirty shirts under generals Coffee, Carrol and Adair. As the British crossed the field at this angle they were raked by artillery. It is said this artillery is what killed General Pakinham. There is also the possibility that it was musketry as well. If so, that agrees with the 300 yard musket shot.
Remini states that the Cannon fire was murderous but it was the musketry and rifle fire poured on from Line Jackson that finally broke the 44th as they stood in formation awaiting scaling ladders. it is said that many on Line Jackson had tears in their eyes when firing on such brave men.

Some British actually made it over the wall, others took refuge against it.

 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 6153
01-31-16 12:13 PM - Post#1542473    

    In response to MinnieBall1

The Light Company of the 93rd Sutherland Highland Regiment actually captured a parapet on the American line, but could not hold it as they were not reinforced. They were driven off by some members of the 7th U.S. Infantry, Beal's Rifles and U.S. Marines.

Much to the consternation of those who have assumed both Riflemen and Musket Armed Americans did the greatest damage to the British Forces, it was the Artillery of the U.S. 7th Regiment that did by far the overwhelming majority of casualties on British Artillery and Soldiers.

So, yes, there were some examples of close in fighting during the battle but not a major part of it.

Gus

 
tenngun 
Cannon
Posts: 6518
tenngun
02-05-16 05:18 AM - Post#1543776    

    In response to Artificer

Many of the 'Kentucky Rifles' lost their rifles in a boat accident coming down the river and were shooting muskets. Me thinks the effectiveness of Jacksons riflemen was more important in memory then on that day.

 
smoothshooter 
45 Cal.
Posts: 891
02-07-16 01:38 AM - Post#1544297    

    In response to crockett

Tenngun is correct; there weren't as many rifles as is generally thought. Many were lost before the battle when troops were being transferred across the river. For some reason, a large portion of the rifles were sent across separately without their owners on a large bateaux, which sank during the crossing.
Jackson subsequently sent squads of soldiers into New Orleans and the surrounding countryside going door-to-door confiscating any useable guns they could find, to be issued as replacements. These were mostly old, rusted, barely serviceable muskets, and shotguns. It was noted that many were the Spanish military " escopeta " muskets with the Miquelet locks.

 
Gene L 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1178
09-18-16 01:05 AM - Post#1589189    

    In response to smoothshooter

The old fiddle tune "The 8th of January" was to celebrate the Battle. It's the same tune as Johnny Horton's "The Battle of New Orleans" song in the 1960s...if you remember that.

 
hawkeye2 
58 Cal.
Posts: 2145
09-20-16 12:08 AM - Post#1589521    

    In response to Gene L

  • Gene L Said:
The old fiddle tune "The 8th of January" was to celebrate the Battle. It's the same tune as Johnny Horton's "The Battle of New Orleans" song in the 1960s...if you remember that.




I've been trying to forget it since 1959. It got so much air play that it was actually painful to listen to.

 
Wes/Tex 
Cannon
Posts: 7719
Wes/Tex
09-23-16 12:44 AM - Post#1590101    

    In response to Gene L

  • Gene L Said:
The old fiddle tune "The 8th of January" was to celebrate the Battle. It's the same tune as Johnny Horton's "The Battle of New Orleans" song in the 1960s...if you remember that.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oj60xbERtRU

yep


 
Loyalist Dave 
Cannon
Posts: 6029
Loyalist Dave
10-19-16 07:10 AM - Post#1594122    

    In response to crockett

  • Quote:
Seldom works very well no matter how good the troops may be.



Actually for the British it worked quite well for about four centuries. Their mind set was NOT they had muskets with a bayonet, they looked upon the firelock as a spear that could shoot. It's also not just how good their troops were, it's how bad the opposing forces were.

When the Continentals were trained to deal with bayonets and a charge, it stopped working so well. Then in the following century, the British had just finished the campaigns against Napoleon, and had done well in the receiving of the frontal assault, and waiting until the right moment to execute the same. Then they get to America, where WE understood that if you multiply your firepower with obstacles..., you don't need to deal with the incoming bayonets. After the War of 1812 The British tear up Africa, Asia, and India, but you find the occasional ooops such as The Zulus (frontal attack with spears), The Boers, and The Dervish. It wasn't until the end of the 19th century that they started to consider doing something different, and not until WWI that they finally got the message...., but it took the Germans to show them things had really changed, and that was at Dunkirk.

LD

 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 6153
10-19-16 02:56 PM - Post#1594171    

    In response to Loyalist Dave

Not meaning to be personally critical of anyone, there are some things mentioned that should be discussed.

Yes, the British relied heavily on the Bayonet in the AWI, but it was not because they did not know or train to shoot quickly. No British "Awkward Soldier" (what we would call Recruits today) was to be excused from additional drill training until he could load and fire very quickly for a sustained period. Most of the time the Americans ran from a Bayonet Charge, with some exceptions after Von Steuben, and that's why they used it so much as well as conserving ammunition. A Bayonet Charge often stopped the Americans from shooting more, so it sometimes actually saved casualties, though not at places like Breed’s Hill, of course.

When Napoleon first started out and before he really had time to train much of his Army, he came up with really HUGE, somewhat rectangular shaped formations. He believed sheer numbers, even of barely trained or untrained men, would overcome even experienced enemy Regulars. There was a name for those formations that sadly I have forgotten. Well, those formations did not last long when much smaller units of British regulars poured volley after volley into them and tore them apart. Perhaps Napoleon only believed these formations necessary to gain time to better train much of his Army? I don't know about that for sure, but it is a reasonable speculation.

The 300 yard range of Musket Fire was indeed commonly used to describe distances between ships and more commonly around large fortifications, where there may have been or was that much open ground beyond the walls. However, at best it would have been harassing fire, even when shooting against large formations of troops from the walls – unless they continued to stand still when fired upon.

Fairly common British tactics during the AWI called for them to close to 100 yards or 100 paces and fire. The Officers would then “size up” the effect and yes, often call for a bayonet charge as it worked so often. Had it not worked as often, they would have called for more rounds fired, before the bayonet charge.

"Not firing until you see the whites of their eyes" was an old and well used tactic long before the Battle of Breed's/Bunker Hill. This is one time Wiki has something rather well documented, so I don't have to type out more on the subject. Scroll down in this link to "The whites of their eyes"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bunker_Hill#.22The_w...

There was much more reason to wait until such short distance, than only to conserve ammunition. First, in the heat of combat, it greatly increased the chances of most balls hitting an enemy soldier. Also, a musket ball at that range would more likely pass through the bodies of the men in the front rank and kill or wound the men in the second and sometimes third ranks. That meant more casualties for each round fired. So a smaller number of soldiers could inflict more casualties, than for which the numbers of their shots fired would normally account.

Going over many accounts of the Battle of Breed’s/Bunker Hill, including British accounts, the Americans opened fire at 60 paces or approximately 50 yards. It stopped the British charges time and again until they ran out of ammo. Had the Americans actually had enough ammo, there was another portion of the field close by that would have showed what would have happened. The American Colonel Stark, whose men were on the left flank of the main American line, set up to “refuse the left flank.” Stark had served as a Lt. under Major Robert Rogers in the FIW and was a VERY good Commander. He had his New Hampshire men pound aiming stakes into the ground 40 yards in front of his position, before the battle, and warned his troops most direly against firing before the British crossed that line. The British tried three major attacks against this position and were decimated each time. So they decided it was better to try some other place to attack. So had the main American line had enough ammo, it is more than likely the British would have pulled back and tried some other place and probably on another day.

Gus


 
Artificer 
Cannon
Posts: 6153
10-20-16 09:10 AM - Post#1594310    

    In response to crockett

"In front of the American lines was a ditch. Just prior to the battle the Americans dug out and deepened that ditch. It was a death trap. The British soldiers got into that ditch and with wet slippery boots I doubt they could crawl out up to the American line. It was shooting fish in a barrel."

What many folks don't realize is the water line there is VERY close to the surface of the ground, that's why New Orleans cemeteries have traditionally been "above ground" cemeteries.

When they dug that ditch deeper, the water would have oozed up to additionally form a low moat of water in the bottom of the ditch, making it that much more difficult to cross.

In spots where some British Troops actually made it to the ditch and in it, they tried in vain to climb the slippery mud embankments, to get up to the fortified line. Some of them took out their bayonets and attempted to cut steps into the embankments, but to no avail.

Gus

 
Loyalist Dave 
Cannon
Posts: 6029
Loyalist Dave
04-19-17 07:13 AM - Post#1625361    

    In response to Artificer

  • Quote:
The British tried three major attacks against this position and were decimated each time. So they decided it was better to try some other place to attack....,

...,In spots where some British Troops actually made it to the ditch and in it, they tried in vain to climb the slippery mud embankments, to get up to the fortified line. Some of them took out their bayonets and attempted to cut steps into the embankments...,




In both battles the Brits are trying to move up a slope, pretty steep in both cases, long regarding Breed's Hill, and short, concerning The Ditch at New Orleans....

In both cases, Tommy didn't do so well slogging it uphill.

LD

 
Le Nez 
40 Cal.
Posts: 135
04-27-17 06:46 PM - Post#1626610    

    In response to Loyalist Dave

Hadn't makeshift ladders been made that were suppose to be packed in by the first assaulting troops (inneskilling regt mebbe?) for the purpose of getting across the Rodriguez canal? But 1/2 way into the assault the regt commander realized the ladders had been forgotten so he detailed a portion of his troops to go back for them.

But,,,,,,,

Those troops became entangled with the second assault causing quite an additional mess out in the middle of the field. Sorry been a while but I seem to remember reading this. If BS, disregard! 😉

Chalmette is a pretty cool place. As are the Packingham Oaks down the road.

 
Wes/Tex 
Cannon
Posts: 7719
Wes/Tex
04-30-17 09:52 PM - Post#1627049    

    In response to Le Nez

Yes, ladders had been made but were forgotten in the rush and had to be retrieved after the advance started. Oops!

 
Le Nez 
40 Cal.
Posts: 135
05-01-17 10:24 PM - Post#1627237    

    In response to Wes/Tex

  • Wes/Tex Said:
Yes, ladders had been made but were forgotten in the rush and had to be retrieved after the advance started. Oops!



Thanks Wesley!

How are things out at Indian Lake these days???

 
Wes/Tex 
Cannon
Posts: 7719
Wes/Tex
05-02-17 12:22 AM - Post#1627244    

    In response to Le Nez

  • Le Nez Said:


Thanks Wesley!

How are things out at Indian Lake these days???



Quiet thankfully!

 
Le Nez 
40 Cal.
Posts: 135
05-02-17 07:17 AM - Post#1627267    

    In response to Wes/Tex

Excellent!!

I also seem to remember another tidbit I read were some of Pushmataha's Mississippi troops (mainly some of the Choctaws) were detailed into the swampy woods to the American left flank, deployed perpendicular to that line, where they could take cover and deliver infalade fire on the assaulting British.

 
RonRC 
45 Cal.
Posts: 826
RonRC
05-03-17 08:07 AM - Post#1627386    

    In response to Le Nez

According to my readings, Le Nez is correct. The Royal Marine engineers were to bring the ladders that would have aided in traversing the swamplands that existed from the Mississippi to the ditch in front of the constructed embankments holding the American troops. Due to some miscommunication, the Royal Engineers were late with the ladders. The British troops bogged down in the wet swampland.

Jackson stationed some troops in the woods, most of whom had rifles, on one side of the swamp. Other American troops were at the banks of the Mississippi on the other side of the swamp. That put the Royal Marines in a cross fire as well as under fire from the front by American artillery. This all occurred before the British ever reached the ditch.
British casualty rates were very high.
Ron

 
Wes/Tex 
Cannon
Posts: 7719
Wes/Tex
05-04-17 11:47 PM - Post#1627679    

    In response to RonRC

All my research puts the blame on the 4th Foot (East Essex) whose commander, Lt. Col. Thomas Mullins failed to give proper instructions to his regiment to bring the ladders and fascines planed to be used to fill the ditches and scale the parapets of the American defenders.

Most of the Royal Marines involved in the assault were detached to the river crossing to engage and capture the cannon batteries on the western bank of the Mississippi. I'm not saying their engineers didn't participate on the swamp's edge, just hadn't seen it before. That's the fun of research...always learning something new!

 
colmoultrie 
50 Cal.
Posts: 1488
08-23-17 07:35 PM - Post#1641253    

    In response to Wes/Tex

Great discussion, guys! It's erudite and cordial, with detailed back-and-forth and reasoned disagreement and concurrence. I knew a good deal of the info presented, but far from all.

 
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