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If the Battle of New Orleans had turned out different

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  • Jim & JoAnn Gallen
    Last autumn I had a conversation with a Canadian scholar during which I commented that, had the British won the Battle of New Orleans, they might not have
    Message 1 of 12 , Jan 27, 2012
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      Last autumn I had a conversation with a Canadian scholar during which I commented that, had the British won the Battle of New Orleans, they might not have lived up to the terms of the Peace Treaty, just as they had not evacuated the forts called for in the treaty ending the Revolution. His comment is that he thinks that the British would have complied because the British government so broke at that time that they needed peace. Jim Gallen

      ---------- Original Message ----------
      From: lee@...

      It's interesting to speculate... [snip]
      But the Americans were ill-equipped to fight
      Britain indefinitely, particularly after the defeat
      of Napoleon. The American government was
      on the verge of collapse when the Peace Treaty
      was signed. [snip]
    • James Yaworsky
      ... My understanding is that the British didn t evacuate the forts called for in the treaty ending the Revolution because the Americans didn t carry out the
      Message 2 of 12 , Jan 27, 2012
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        --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Jim & JoAnn Gallen" <jmgallen1@...> wrote:
        >
        > Last autumn I had a conversation with a Canadian scholar during which I commented that, had the British won the Battle of New Orleans, they might not have lived up to the terms of the Peace Treaty, just as they had not evacuated the forts called for in the treaty ending the Revolution. His comment is that he thinks that the British would have complied because the British government so broke at that time that they needed peace.


        My understanding is that the British didn't evacuate the forts called for in the treaty ending the Revolution because the Americans didn't carry out the provisions in that treaty calling for payments to Loyalists for property lost, etc. I don't believe the Loyalists were *ever* compensated, whereas the British eventually withdrew from the forts when outstanding border and other issues were settled by treaty in 1796.

        In my opinion, the British government was hurting for cash but the British had immense resources at this time [fact] and would hardly have refrained for cash reasons from breaking a treaty because they had gained some "unexpected" advantage like capturing New Orleans, if they were inclined to break treaties [opinion].

        In fact, at the time the negotiations were going on, the British fully expected they *would* capture New Orleans yet still signed the treaty.

        I think the British would have honoured the treaty no matter what happened, because the Britain of 1815 (and ever since, for that matter) was by and large a principled civilized state that honoured its treaties.

        The Britain of the late 18th century and the era of the Napoleonic Wars has a lot more in common with the Britain that stood up to the Kaiser and Hitler than the average American seems to realize. I say this with the greatest of respect for my American friends. But there seems to be a mindset in many American minds that the Brits of this earlier era were bloody-minded untrustworthy tyrants, and somehow they then morphed in to the "heroes of the West" we see in Churchill's era...

        Jim Yaworsky
        41st
      • Jim & JoAnn Gallen
        Jim, I certainly respect your opinion. I would point out that the scholar with whom I spoke gave financial distress as the reason that Brit ian would have
        Message 3 of 12 , Jan 27, 2012
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          Jim, I certainly respect your opinion. I would point out that the scholar with whom I spoke gave financial distress as the reason that Brit ian would have lived up its treaty but did not comment one way or the other whether he thought that they would have been inclined to adhere in the absence of financial distress. I took it that the financial situation was a threshold issue which answered the question without getting into the matter of Britain's inclination or disinclination to adhere to the treaty if they had gained an advantage after the signing. As an Irish-American I am familiar with the saying that the reason the Sun Never Set on the British Empire is that God does not trust an Englishman in the dark. Jim Gallen

          ---------- Original Message ----------
          From: "James Yaworsky" <yawors1@...>
          [snip]
          I think the British would have honoured the treaty no matter what happened, because the Britain of 1815 (and ever since, for that matter) was by and large a principled civilized state that honoured its treaties.
        • ONeil
          Interesting discussion about this subject. Thanks. I enjoy the parlay. If I may inject the opinion of a New Orleanian who wrote a novel about the battle. Had
          Message 4 of 12 , Jan 27, 2012
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            Interesting discussion about this subject. Thanks. I enjoy the parlay.

            If I may inject the opinion of a New Orleanian who wrote a novel about the battle.
            Had Gen. Pakenham won the battle, I really do not think the US would have allowed any country to control the mouth of the river for long. The US might not have immediately taken it back, but I think the Manifest Destiny people would have pushed the Americans to take the mouth of the Mississippi back.

            However, if the British had won and kept New Orleans, I think the city would have been well off, something like Hong Kong, an economic powerhouse. Only I wonder what the US would have done during the Civil War. No way it would have allowed the commerce of the Confederacy to flow through New Orleans. Interesting speculations.

            FYI: Before I started writing BATTLE KISS, I also thought of the British as conquering robber barons. By the time I finished my research, I knew better. Pakenham was a tragic hero and the British army at New Orleans, incredibly heroic, suffering greatly for king and country. That's what made the subject of that particular battle so fascinating. It was the last time the US and Britain met as enemies on a major battlefield. It's sacred ground here, at least to me.
          • James Yaworsky
            ... [snip] I really do not think the US would have allowed any country to control the mouth of the river for long. The US might not have immediately taken it
            Message 5 of 12 , Jan 27, 2012
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              --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "ONeil" <denoux3124@...> wrote:
              [snip] I really do not think the US would have allowed any country to control the mouth of the river for long. The US might not have immediately taken it back, but I think the Manifest Destiny people would have pushed the Americans to take the mouth of the Mississippi back.[snip]

              I agree. In fact, any other outcome of the war other than a return to the status quo ante bellum might very well have led to another war. Certainly, if Tecumseh's aim of setting up some sort of Indian state in the then-unsettled parts of the American mid-west had been realized, it would have been the same story...

              On second thought, make that "*would* have led to another war"...


              Jim Yaworsky
              41st
            • James Yaworsky
              [snip] As an Irish-American I am familiar with the saying that the reason the Sun Never Set on the British Empire is that God does not trust an Englishman in
              Message 6 of 12 , Jan 27, 2012
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                [snip] As an Irish-American I am familiar with the saying that the reason the Sun Never Set on the British Empire is that God does not trust an Englishman in the dark. Jim Gallen


                Well, my mother's maiden name was McGuinness. The whole Anglo-Irish thing is, to say the least, a complex subject.

                However, the saying you quote is, on its face, a gross oversimplification of many thousands of individual incidents, some that involve knaves on the make, but some that involve saints trying to do their best for all concerned.

                At its worst, the saying is a most unwarranted slur on the actions of many, many honourable Britons.

                It is very similar to every native American condemning each and every descendant of the Europeans who chose to settle in the United States as being tricky land-stealing untrustworthy b*stards. Lumping all of them in with the homicidal killers of some of the massacre incidents in the Plains Indian Wars, etc.

                In the great scheme of things, or on the vast measuring scale of history, if you will, the British have more to be proud of than to be ashamed of, and have contributed more to the civilized world we know than most.

                The point, however, and I would hope that it is a trite one, is that British actions and policy in the War of 1812 were never motivated solely by a desire to steal stuff from the United States of America.

                Jim Yaworsky.
              • Jim & JoAnn Gallen
                O Neil, It sounds like an interesting book. I agree with you that Manifest destiny, along with Jefferson s comment that the possessor of New Orleans is the
                Message 7 of 12 , Jan 27, 2012
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                  O'Neil, It sounds like an interesting book. I agree with you that Manifest destiny, along with Jefferson's comment that the possessor of New Orleans is the natural enemy of the United States, would have prevented long term British occupation unless that occupation drew Western territories into an independent country or some British associated territory. The Hong Kong comparison may have merit. If New Orleans had remained a Hong Kong type enclave until the Civil War that would have complicated things. The Union would have wanted to blockade it which might have been a bigger spark than the Trent Affair. Jim Gallen

                  ---------- Original Message ----------
                  From: "ONeil" <denoux3124@...>
                  [snip]
                  Had Gen. Pakenham won the battle, I really do not think the US would have allowed any country to control the mouth of the river for long. [snip]
                • Jim & JoAnn Gallen
                  Jim, I agree with you that the Irish history is a complex issue that can never really be untangled. I also agree that my statement is an gross
                  Message 8 of 12 , Jan 27, 2012
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                    Jim, I agree with you that the Irish history is a complex issue that can never really be untangled. I also agree that my statement is an gross oversimplification that should never guide relationships with individual Englishmen. I suspect that virtually any peace treaty will lead to acts of non-compliance that could be used by any party to justify violations of the terms. I respect your view that the British would have lived up to their treaty obligations as a matter of principle. I could be wrong but I lean to the idea that, if they had won New Orleans and had wanted to keep it, they would have done so and cited some real or imagined American violation of the treaty terms to justify their actions. Fortunately we will never know.

                    Jim Gallen
                  • alastair.sweeny
                    I believe that if the British had won the Battle of New Orleans, they would have looted the city of all its booty, and taken it to Jamaica. From my researches,
                    Message 9 of 12 , Jan 28, 2012
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                      I believe that if the British had won the Battle of New Orleans, they would have looted the city of all its booty, and taken it to Jamaica. From my researches, I believe that was Admiral Cochrane's main goal. Cochrane was in charge of the expedition, and his lust for treasure led to the military debacle.

                      --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Jim & JoAnn Gallen" <jmgallen1@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Last autumn I had a conversation with a Canadian scholar during which I commented that, had the British won the Battle of New Orleans, they might not have lived up to the terms of the Peace Treaty, just as they had not evacuated the forts called for in the treaty ending the Revolution. His comment is that he thinks that the British would have complied because the British government so broke at that time that they needed peace. Jim Gallen
                      >
                      > ---------- Original Message ----------
                      > From: lee@...
                      >
                      > It's interesting to speculate... [snip]
                      > But the Americans were ill-equipped to fight
                      > Britain indefinitely, particularly after the defeat
                      > of Napoleon. The American government was
                      > on the verge of collapse when the Peace Treaty
                      > was signed. [snip]
                      >
                    • ucmilitiagreen
                      ... Britain was also war-weary and was trying to force a quick end to the conflict. If Britain had the appetite for another total war they would have sent a
                      Message 10 of 12 , Jan 28, 2012
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                        --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "James Yaworsky" <yawors1@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "Jim & JoAnn Gallen" <jmgallen1@> wrote:
                        > >
                        > > His comment is that he thinks that the British would have complied because the British government so broke at that time that they needed peace.
                        >

                        Britain was also war-weary and was trying to force a quick end to the conflict. If Britain had the appetite for another 'total war' they would have sent a lot more of everything to North America than they did, even if it meant holding the line in Canada for another year to do so. Given the state of American politics and it's own economy in 1814 it's likely their government would have collapsed under the strain of such an invasion and the New England States would have broken away from the Union, perhaps in a bid for neutrality. Britain could have outlasted America (as a unified nation-state) under those circumstances. A complete military occupation would have been unlikely (all those damned snipers), and ultimately unnecessary to bring the United States to heel. Fortunately for the Americans, Britain had had enough fighting the French and did not feel threatened enough by the United States to put the effort in.

                        >
                        > In my opinion, the British government was hurting for cash but the British had immense resources at this time [fact] and would hardly have refrained for cash reasons from breaking a treaty because they had gained some "unexpected" advantage like capturing New Orleans, if they were inclined to break treaties [opinion].
                        >

                        Well what you must consider is the scale. What might happen on a local/tribal level was often different than what would happen between nation-states. Britain increasingly saw herself as the leader of the 'civilized' world, and would not undermine both her reputation and the rule of law on the world stage by blantantly breaking treaties with other nations.

                        > In fact, at the time the negotiations were going on, the British fully expected they *would* capture New Orleans yet still signed the treaty.
                        >

                        True of the government, although I'm not sure whether the negotiators in Ghent were aware of the operation.

                        > The Britain of the late 18th century and the era of the Napoleonic Wars has a lot more in common with the Britain that stood up to the Kaiser and Hitler than the average American seems to realize. I say this with the greatest of respect for my American friends. But there seems to be a mindset in many American minds that the Brits of this earlier era were bloody-minded untrustworthy tyrants, and somehow they then morphed in to the "heroes of the West" we see in Churchill's era...
                        >

                        Unfortunately, it seems that the black-and-white pablum served to most Americans as historical 'truth' conveniently ignores facts and sticks to the popular narrative of Good/Freedom triumphing over Evil/Oppression. It ignores the comparative tax rates of people in the colonies before the Revolution to those in Britain and the disproportionate amount the British government was spending on the colonies. Hence the tax hikes (which still would have been less than those in Britain). The media doesn't help. Brits are commonly the bad guys (or blowhards who just aren't as good as the American protagonist), and films like Gibson's "The Patriot" are just grotesque distortions of history. Even if it has some pretty good action scenes. :)

                        All we as reenactors can do is educate people who are interested enough to listen.
                      • ONeil
                        In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, alastair.sweeny wrote: I believe that if the British had won the Battle of New Orleans, they would have looted
                        Message 11 of 12 , Jan 29, 2012
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                          In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "alastair.sweeny" <infonauts@...> wrote:
                          I believe that if the British had won the Battle of New Orleans, they would have looted the city of all its booty, and taken it to Jamaica. From my researches, I believe that was Admiral Cochrane's main goal. Cochrane was in charge of the expedition, and his lust for treasure led to the military debacle.

                          As I wrote BATTLE KISS, I realized Gen. Pakenham was a tragic hero and the British soldiers seamen and Royal Marines - Irish, Scots, Welsh, English, West Indians - were incredible brave. Admiral Alexander Cochrane, however, was the villain, an avaricious scoundrel who brow beat Gen. Keane into attacking New Orleans from the wrong direction. My book is a novel. Fiction writers love a good villain and thankfully I had Cochrane.
                        • Gerard DeLos Reyes
                          I believe you maybe wrong...when the British came to take New Orleans, if they had won the Battle of New Orleans. My premise is they would ve
                          Message 12 of 12 , Feb 1, 2012
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                            I believe you maybe wrong...when the British came to take New Orleans, if they had won the Battle of New Orleans. My premise is they would've stayed, my reasoning is, they came with an Armade of 64 ships and enough troops (including summer troops i.e Royal West Indians regiments) to garrison the city and enough adminstrators to run the city...of course they may be looting...but, I believe and many down here believe they would've rewritten the american history... They would've taken the mississippi and held it for many years. The Treaty of Ghent would certainly not be honored by the British--irregardless what the contents were and what it said.....but all this is hypthoical ...

                            From: ONeil <denoux3124@...>
                            To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
                            Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2012 4:48 PM
                            Subject: 1812 Re: If the Battle of New Orleans had turned out different


                             
                            In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "alastair.sweeny" <infonauts@...> wrote:
                            I believe that if the British had won the Battle of New Orleans, they would have looted the city of all its booty, and taken it to Jamaica. From my researches, I believe that was Admiral Cochrane's main goal. Cochrane was in charge of the expedition, and his lust for treasure led to the military debacle.

                            As I wrote BATTLE KISS, I realized Gen. Pakenham was a tragic hero and the British soldiers seamen and Royal Marines - Irish, Scots, Welsh, English, West Indians - were incredible brave. Admiral Alexander Cochrane, however, was the villain, an avaricious scoundrel who brow beat Gen. Keane into attacking New Orleans from the wrong direction. My book is a novel. Fiction writers love a good villain and thankfully I had Cochrane.




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