Novels by Jack Caldwell


The Plains of Chalmette:
a Story of CRESCENT CITY

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(Excerpt from Prologue:)

There are many reasons the United States and Great Britain went to war in 1812. The British, contemptuous of their former colonies, never truly accepted American independence. England embargoed U.S. trade with Europe and impressed -- or more accurately, kidnapped -- their sailors. They sold guns and weapons to native tribes in an effort to stop western expansion by the new country. And they dismissed American complaints with a wave of their snuff-stained handkerchiefs.

As for the angry, ambitious Americans, who chewed their tobacco rather than sniffed it, they viewed the territories to the north with a jealous eye. It took little to convince them that Canadians desired American-styled democracy rather than British rule. It never occurred to the Americans that some people might prefer a king to a Congress.

Though all these are valid reasons for conflict, what cannot be overlooked was that America had been embroiled in Europe's wars since 1754.

The Seven Years' War was the first worldwide conflict. Britain with their allies and France with theirs slaughtered each other across the globe: Europe, Asia, India, and North America. In the colonies, it was called the French and Indian War, and it was during this hostility that Britain won the majority of its spoils. The French were kicked out, and as a side note, so too were the Acadians -- the future Cajuns of Louisiana.

Wars were expensive, and Britain tried to recoup their investment by taxing their colonies. However, the colonists did not take well to being taxed without representation, becoming one of the causes of the American Revolution. France sent ships and funds to help the Americans -- not to defend freedom but to bedevil Great Britain. France was smarting from the loss of its colonies and eager for revenge.

America became free, and France became bankrupt. The French Crown tried to tax its way to prosperity, and that led to its overthrow. The successful revolutionaries, when not chopping the heads off their internal enemies, tried to export their homicidal republic, which led to the next round of European wars. The French Republic evolved into the French Empire, and the wars went on.

The United States tried to remain impartial, but their claim of neutrality was acknowledged by no one. America and France almost went to war in 1798 over trade. When in 1806 both Britain and France ordered blockades of each other's ports, America was caught in the middle. Its port cities suffered greatly. Warehouses were filled with rotting food and languishing dry goods. Men were thrown out of work.

So the pressure built. Great Britain would not let the puny United States trade with Napoleon's France and refused to recognize American citizenship for former Englishmen. The naïve Americans thought Canada would be easy pickings. The native tribes, armed by the British, fought new settlers from the east.

Finally, Congress heeded President Madison's call and declared war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812, fifty days after the new state of Louisiana was admitted into the Union.

The young, arrogant, and overconfident Americans soon discovered that, while an earnest militia -- helped by a small number of regular Army troops -- might win a defensive war and a new nation's freedom, it was next to useless as a conquering horde. Invasion after invasion of Canada was attempted, and by 1814, the only thing the United States had to show for it was the dubious satisfaction of burning York (modern-day Toronto). And while their new state-of-the-art 44-gun frigates like USS Constitution won spectacular battles against the renowned Royal Navy, America had nowhere near enough ships to break a crippling naval blockade.

Worse for the Yankees, time had run out. Hubris had been Napoleon's fatal flaw, and his ill-conceived invasion of Russia signaled his end. In London, the lords of the Admiralty and the generals in Horse Guards could now turn their attention to the irritating war in North America.

Great Britain decided it was time to rein in the upstart Americans for good. Veteran troops from Wellington's successful Peninsula campaigns would punish the United States and put an end to their plans of continental domination.
Britain's plan was simple and potentially devastating:

Step one: Avenge York's burning with a raid on Washington, DC. While America's attention was diverted, attack from the flanks.

Step two: March south from Canada, cut the United States off from the Upper Midwest, and establish the Indian border state.

Step three: Bottle up the Americans forever.

To fulfill the third goal, all that was needed was to take and hold one city: New Orleans.

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