Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Patriotic Fire by Winston Groom

The Battle of New Orleans is a strange battle to discuss. It was the last battle in the War of 1812. It was fought after the war had actually ended. Since transportation was so slow the news of the war’s end did not arrive in time to prevent the battle. One one side were the invaders. General Packinham led an army of battle hardened British soldiers. Many of them had campaigned against the French armies in Portugal, Spain, and France with the Duke of Wellington. They were not an army used to defeat. Against that force was General Andrew Jackson of Tennessee. Jackson had assembled a motley crew of Louisiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky volunteers, US Army regulars, Baratarian pirates, and Choctaw warriors. When on January 8, 1815 the 11,000 man British force attacked it was repulsed with heavy losses by the Americans.

Winston Groom, best known as author of Forrest Gump takes the reader on a fascinating ride through the story of this war. Groom introduces the conflict by discussing an ancestor of his who fought at the battle. Then he gives a long background on the history of Jean Laffite and his Baratarians. He discusses the city of New Orleans, the background of the war, Andrew Jackson, and a host of other things. Groom is a brilliant author and his prose really shines forth in this book. He doesn’t pretend to be a professional historian. Where the records are confusing or contradictory, which is often, he gives several possibilities and then shares which one he like best. This is a great book about a fascinating battle. Do yourself a favor and read this.

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