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patriotic veil over the causes which produced this unexpected step. It does not belong to me to inquire into its expediency or its motives. Such an inquiry is entirely foreign to the purposes of this work. As it was to be expected, the resumption of maritime commerce was followed by a renewal of spoliations on the part of Great Britain, who mistook our patience for weakness, and ascribed to timidity and other unworthy motives, a conduct which merely arose from an earnest and laudable desire to preserve peace, and avoid the effusion of human blood. Far from foreseeing the privations and hardships to which the people of America would submit, and the exertions which they were capable of making, if driven to extremity, Britain, blinded by her pride, saw in the removal of the embargo nothing else than the result of an inordinate thirst for maritime commerce, and an effeminate attachment to the luxuries with which she had been in the habit of supplying us. As little she foresaw how much she would have to suffer before she discovered her mistake-how much of her treasure was to be spent, and of her blood was to be spilt, before she should be taught to know the spirit and perseverance of a nation which she affected to view with contempt. At last the repe. tition of injuries filled the measure of American longanimity, and war was solemnly declared by the United States, on the 18th of June, 1812. So little premeditated was this measure—so much was it produced by a sudden burst of the national indignation, that no preparations had been made to support the dreadful contest that was now about to take place. Our military es. tablishment was hardly sufficient to afford garrisons for the most exposed points of our widely-extended frontier—the numerous ports upon our sea-board were left exposed, unguarded and unfortified, and our marine consisted only of a few ships of war. But the bravery and energy of our citizens promised abundant resources for our military operations on the land side, and the skill and martial ardour of our seamen, and particularly their excellent commanders, presaged certain and glorious triumphs on the ocean. The riches of an immense soil, and the activity and patriotism of its inhabitants, gave a sufficient pledge to the government to justify the reliance which they had placed on the aid and co-operation of the nation, which, on another and ever-memorable occasion, had proved to the world that there are no sacrifices that it is not ready to make in
support of its independence, and in the defence of its just rights.
Thus the United States were forced into a war which they had not provoked;-America took up arms in support of her rights, and for the preservation of her national honour, with a firm determination not lay them down until the object should be attained. Provi,
dence blessed our efforts, and our arms were crowned with the most brilliant triumphs over those of our enemy. The army and navy exhibited a noble rivalship of zeal, devotion, and glory. In the one Lawrence, Bainbridge, Decatur, Perry, M‘Donough, Porter;in the other Pike, Scott, Brown, Jackson, and many more, proved to the enemy, and to the world, that we possessed resolution to defend our rights, and potver to avenge our injuries.
The relation of these various exploits is the proper province of history. An abler pen than mine will one day consecrate to posterity this monument of American fame. My humble task has been to collect a part of the materials that may serve to erect it, and which I offer in the present work.
The volume which I present to the public is devoted to the relation of the campaign of the end of 1814 and beginning of 1815: that is to say, from the first arrival of the British forces on the coast of Louisiana, in September, until the total evacuation, in consequence of
of peace, including a period of about seven months. During that space of time, particularly from the 14th of December to the 19th of January, events of the highest importance succeeded each other with rapidity; but it was in the short period, from the 23d of December, the day of the landing of the British troops,
to the memorable 8th of January, that the American arms acquired that lustre which no time can efface.
Nec poterit tempus, nec edax abolere vetustas. The preparations which the British government had made for the conquest of Louisiana were immense. So certain were they of complete success, that a full set of officers, for the administration of civil government, from the judge down to the tide-waiter, had embarked on board of the squadron with the military force. The British speculators, who are always found in the train of military expeditions, had freighted a part of the transports for conveying the expected booty, which they estimated beforehand at more than fourteen millions of dollars. The British government well knew that they could not keep Louisiana, even if they should obtain the possession of it. They were not ignorant that the western states could pour down, if necessary, one hundred thousand men to repel the invaders; they therefore could only rely on a momentary occupation, which they hoped, nevertheless, to prolong sufficiently to give them time to pillage and lay waste the country. Therefore they had neglected no means of securing the plunder which they expected to niake. Such, indeed, was their certainty of success that it was not thought necessary in Europe to conceal the object of the expedition. At Bordeaux, at the time of the embarkation of the troops, the conquest of Louisiana was publicly spoken of as an
enterprize that could not fail of succeeding, and the British officers spoke of that campaign as of a party of pleasure, in which there was to be neither difficulty nor danger. It is even asserted, (though I will not vouch for the truth of the assertion) that the prime minister of Great Britain, lord Castlereagh, being at Paris when the news of the capture of Washington arrived there, boasted publicly that New Orleans and Louisiana would soon be in the power of his countrymen.* Yet this formidable expedition had already sailed from Europe when its precise object and destination were not known in America. It will be seen, in the course of this memoir, that about the beginning of December, the greatest part of the British force had arrived on our coast, when general Jackson had hardly sufficient time to make the first preparations for defence. Without fearing to be accused of flattery, we may justly call him (under God) the saviour of Louisiana: for, in the space of a few days, with discordant and heterogeneous elements, he created and organized the little army which succeeded so well in humbling the British pride. It is true, that the love of country, the hatred of England, the desire of avenging the outrages which we had suffered from that haughty power, fired every heart;—but all this would have availed nothing without the energy of the commander-in-chief: which will appear so much
* Niles's Historical Register, vol. vii. p. 389.