Andrew Jackson

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Andrew Jackson - Good Evil & The Presidency - PBS Documentary

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Andrew Jackson

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Leadership - Andrew Jackson at New Orleans by Scott F Paradis

As we are commemorating the bicentennial of The War of 1812 it's worth considering a leadership example from one of the most beloved and hated, venerated and reviled of American presidents. By today's polarized standard, beloved and hated, venerated and reviled may not seem that noteworthy but Andrew Jackson's story is.

From humble beginnings Jackson rose to occupy the most powerful post in the land. He was a battle-hardened warrior, the founder of the Democratic Party, and the architect of the presidency as we know it. He had an almost mystical connection to the American people. He believed in immutable values, focused on what he believed, and acted forcefully and decisively. The example here however, is not of Andrew Jackson the president, but rather of Andrew Jackson the general and the Battle of New Orleans.

People tend to think of the Battle of New Orleans as a one-day engagement. Actually what most people know as the battle was the culminating action of a campaign.

Major General Andrew Jackson was appointed as commander of the 7th Military District headquartered in a vulnerable New Orleans. His force was the most polyglot band to ever fight under the Stars and Stripes. Augmenting a hard-fighting core of Army regulars from the U.S. 7th Infantry Regiment were local militiamen, African-American freemen, frontiersmen, marines, sailors, Choctaw tribesmen, and a colorful band of outlaws led by Jean Lafitte ? "pirates".

The British contingent, though not huge by European standards, was a formidable force. The British commander, Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, a proud, stern, domineering Scot, assembled the mightiest armada ever to sail North American waters. His naval flotilla, transporting over 14,000 ground troops, consisted of more than 50 ships, including his triple-decked, 80-gun flagship.

The grand strategy was to capture Mobile, march along the coast to Baton Rouge and from there seize New Orleans by way of an inland assault opening the entire Mississippi Valley to conquest. In August a small contingent of British troops established a base of operations at Pensacola in Spanish-held Florida. Jackson recognized the Americans' exposure to an overland attack. Preferring offense to defense, he invaded Florida, denying the British the overland option.

The massive British armada staged in Jamaica through the months of September and October allowing the Americans much-needed time to maneuver from New Orleans to Florida and back to Louisiana again. The British fleet arrived near the entrance to Lake Pontchartrain on December 8th - sailing up the twisting Mississippi would have been a treacherous proposition.

After overwhelming a small American flotilla guarding access to the lakes the British scouted a waterway leading nearly to the Mississippi. On the morning of December 23rd, a British vanguard of some 2,000 soldiers landed nine miles south of New Orleans. Jackson, astounded at the British having reached so far, with such a force, realized the enemy was at the gates. That evening, Jackson attacked the unsuspecting British troops resting in their camp.

Moving quickly the Americans struck the British hard then withdrew north to the banks of the Rodriguez Canal, about four miles south of New Orleans. There they built a fortified mud rampart, more than half a mile long, anchored to the Mississippi River on one end and an impassable cypress swamp on the other.

The British, after scouting the defensive earthworks and attempting to dislodge the Americans with an artillery barrage, attacked in full force on the morning of January 8th. On that damp and foggy Sunday morning, a ragtag band of severely outnumbered Americans stood as one immovable corps. As the British advanced the fog lifted. Deprived of their misty cover the British troops were exposed to withering artillery fire and the long rifles of the defending frontiersmen.

The American fire was so intense and so well directed that many British soldiers flung themselves to the ground or dove for cover. The advance floundered. Within half an hour, most of the senior British officers were either killed or wounded including the overall ground commander. His successor wisely ordered a retreat, pulling the British survivors off the field.

The Battle of New Orleans was nothing short of a massacre. The British suffered over 2,000 casualties to the Americans 71.

How did a largely outnumbered ragtag patchwork of regulars and polyglot militia soundly defeat the world's most powerful, disciplined, well-equipped and experienced military force? By acting as one team ? bound by common values, focused on a worthwhile mission - guided by decisive leadership.

Leaders by their conviction, their focus, and their discipline are the sparks that fire a powerful engine. Andrew Jackson inspired his men at New Orleans. The single defining characteristic of a leader, any leader, is inspiration. A leader inspires people. A leader stirs people. A leader, through word and deed, causes people to move, to act; and action is the proof of leadership.

When Jackson saw a threat he leapt into action. He invaded Florida. He attacked the British vanguard south of New Orleans. He stood firm when the onslaught came. Jackson took action. We need leaders like Andrew Jackson, men who lead from the front. If they are going somewhere worthwhile - others will follow.

Copyright (c) 2012 Scott F Paradis

Scott F. Paradis, author of "Warriors, Diplomats, Heroes, Why America's Army Succeeds" and "Success 101 How Life Works", focuses on the fundamental principles of leadership and success; http://Success101Workshop.com

Article Source: http://www.earticlesonline.com/Article/Leadership---Andrew-Jackson-at-New-Orleans/1679945

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