A Bloodless Victory is available December 24th.
Here’s an advance taste of the book:
In October of 1817, the New York National Advocate enticed its readers with the news that, at long last, they could visually perceive how the American victory at New Orleans came to pass. Jean-Hyacinthe Laclotte had finally completed his much-anticipated depiction of the battle, and it was now for sale in the United States. Laclotte served as one of Jackson’s engineers throughout the campaign and made numerous sketches during the British assault on Louisiana. He prepared the print from his sketches, from his experience during the campaign, and from interviews with other veterans of the engagement. Now, Americans could own a depiction of the battle whose “accuracy [was] attested to by all the officers of the army who resided at New Orleans when the drawing was completed.”
The National Advocate’s article captured the imagination of the country, and word quickly spread from the Chesapeake to New England that Americans could now buy Laclotte’s print. Many editors reprinted the Advocate’s story, telling their readers that from “a national point of view, [the print] merits encouragement,” and assured their readers that they themselves already had a copy in their office. The battle had been “one of the greatest deed of arms yet known on the continent of America and which decided the fate of an important war.” American interest grew even further when some newspapers reported the possibly apocryphal story that “the English have taken so great a liking to these engravings, that they do not allow them to remain in the print-shops, but buy them up as fast as they appear.” The foreign correspondent to the Albany Argus assured the American audience, however, that “all [the British] efforts to prevent the circulation of them will be fruitless—some thousands are on their way to the United States, if not already arrived.”
During the decade following the Battle of New Orleans, Americans became enthralled with the “ardent love of country” and “enthusiasm” of the city’s defenders. They relished the idea of understanding how the United States could go from getting its capital sacked and burned by an invading army to inflicting one of the most lopsided defeats in British military history until that time. How had an inexperienced American army bested British soldiers who had not once but twice put down the Corsican Ogre, Napoleon Bonaparte? A flurry of music, theater, and print media strove to answer this question for Americans, and sometimes to further the authors’ own agenda in the process. In the case of snuffboxes sold with rather dubiously accurate depictions of the battle enameled on them, these were merely efforts to capitalize monetarily on the popularity of the event. Other times, artists and authors actively used the Battle of New Orleans to promote an ideological or political agenda. All of these efforts left an indelible mark on the national memory and a skewed understanding of the Battle of New Orleans, creating myths and legends of the event which continued well into the twenty-first century.