Saturday, November 10, 2012
By Robert V. Remini
Viking, 1999. 226 pgs. Nonfiction
Baby-boomers may remember Johnny Horton's rendition of "The Battle of New Orleans" topping the charts in the late fifties, a perky little stick-in-your brain number, but the whole truth of that pivotal battle in the history of our country is laid out with precision and immediacy in this fine book. Andrew Jackson's regulars, and his sharpshooting Tennessee volunteers made hash of the regimented, battle-tested Wellington brigades of British thrown against them and proved to the larger community of nation's that the United States was capable of defending itself as a sovereign nation. Remini lays out in convincing detail the role weather played in the battle, the shortsightedness of British arrogance, the joining of all the separate "societies" of New Orleans in support of the troops, and the terrible losses of the battle itself. Remini's book is a remarkable work of history, the victory he describes attended by two sharp ironies: slaves were used to dig the moats and build the breastworks in this battle for freedom, and an end to the war had already been negotiated in Ghent some days before the battle began. A book well worth reading on the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.