The two sides began meeting in August of 1814. The terms Britain first presented called for the United States to cede border territories to Canada which the Crown forces now controlled and return the Northwest Territory to the Indians as had long been promised. The Americans balked at these terms but were saved when word of several US victories, especially the defeat of Prevost at Plattsburg, reached Belgium and the British decided to drop their demands. Instead, both nations were to return all territory taken by either side during the conflict with commissions set up to settle any disputes afterwards. Ironically, no mention at all was made about any of the issues over which the United States claimed to have gone to war in 1812 in the first place. With the defeat of Napoleon the aggressive blockade by the Royal Navy had become unnecessary quite apart from anything that happened in America. A treaty was signed on December 24, 1814 that was to go into effect when ratified by the governments involved. However, communications being what they were at the time, the war would enter one more year before hostilities ceased.
The British fleet which had attacked Ft McHenry had regrouped and was now moving with a veteran invasion force toward the vital Mississippi and Gulf port of New Orleans, Louisiana. Jackson set to work with the ruthless efficiency that made him an effective commander. He distrusted the population of New Orleans and put the city under martial law for fear that they would submit to the British to spare themselves. He also put his southern militia to work digging earthworks for his riflemen and artillery. The upcoming fight had every indication of being a desperate battle. There was Jackson with a small force of around 5,000 ragged but tough riflemen and coming to attack him were more than 10,000 crack British troops commanded by Major General Sir Edward Packenham, brother-in-law to the famous Duke of Wellington who had defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. The British lines also included some Indian allies and Negro soldiers from the British West Indies. The Americans were also aided by the pirates of Jean Lafitte who had made a career of raiding mostly Spanish shipping while the US looked the other way.
|Sir Edward Packenham|
|The battle of New Orleans|
To be concluded next week with Part VI, The Results of the War