Andrew Jackson and the Miracle of New Orleans by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger Read Online (FREE)
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To the unsung men and women whose faithful military service has kept us free and made generals like Jackson famous. Your names and faces may not be known by the world, but you’ll never be forgotten by me.
Our situation seemed desperate. In case of an attack, we could hope to be saved only by a miracle, or by the wisdom and genius of a commander-in-chief. Accordingly, on his arrival, [Jackson] was immediately invested with the confidence of the public, and all hope centered in him. We shall, hereafter, see how amply he merited the confidence which he inspired.
—Major Arsène Lacarrière Latour
Historical Memoir of the War in West Florida and Louisiana in 1814–15: With an Atlas (1816)
In the spring of 1781, the redcoats arrived in upland Carolina, and they brought terror with them. As they searched the countryside for the rebels, they turned the region the Jackson family called home into an armed camp. Elizabeth Jackson’s youngest son, Andrew, though barely fourteen years of age, hated their presence—and quickly learned just how costly the fight for liberty could be.
On April 9, Andy and his brother, Robert, two years older, earned the wrath of the invading force by joining a battle to defend the local meetinghouse against a band of Tories reinforced by British dragoons. The fight went badly for the Americans, but the brothers, unlike a cousin who was severely wounded and captured, were lucky. They escaped and, after spending a night hiding in the brush, the two Jackson boys managed to reach their cousin’s home to deliver the news of his fate. Once there, however, their luck ran out: a Tory spy spotted their horses and informed the British of their whereabouts.
A lesson in the cruelties of war was soon delivered. As the Jackson brothers stood helplessly at the point of British swords, the enemy set about destroying their aunt and uncle’s home. Determined to make an example of these rebels, the redcoats shattered dishes. They ripped clothing to rags. They smashed furniture. Then, with the house in ruins, the commanding officer decided upon one more humiliation. He chose Andy Jackson as his target.
He ordered tall and gangly Andy Jackson to kneel before him and clean the mud from his boots. The boy refused.
“Sir, I am a prisoner of war, and claim to be treated as such.”1
Enraged by the young American’s defiance, the British officer raised his sword and brought it down on Jackson’s head. Had Andy not raised his arm to deflect the blow, his skull might have been split open. As it was, the blade gashed his forehead and sliced his hand to the bone. Not satisfied at drawing blood from Andy, the soldier turned and slashed at his brother, tearing into his scalp, leaving him dazed and bleeding.