Sidor som bilder

had been done in the destruction of the Indian force on which the invaders relied, but the general peace in Europe enabled Great Britain to turn against the United States additional armies, inured to war and flushed with the recent conquest of Napoleon. As preludes to the invasion, expeditions were sent to Pensacola, and an attempt was made to take Mobile. The latter failed through the gallantry of the garrison of Fort Bowyer; and General Jackson entered Florida, then a Spanish province, took Pensacola, and drove the British out to sea. Having thus cleared his rear of the enemy, he repaired to New Orleans, the main point of attack, where he arrived on the first day of December, 1814.

There is a remarkable sensitiveness among the Louisiana Whig patriots of this day, whenever it is said or insinuated that any disaffection existed among the population of that State which required the restraints of Martial Law. No such feeling existed prior to the battle of the eighth of January, 1815. It exhibited itself soon afterward, not among the noble band who that day laid low the chivalry of Britain, but among the non-combatants who had left the city to escape from danger, or listened in its balconies to the roar of the cannon with which they had no inclination to court a nearer acquaintance. When the battle was won, and imminent danger no longer impended, these men became all as brave as Cæsar or Napoleon, and yet as devoted to liberty as Cato or Hampden. Not only so, but they loudly asseverated, that the whole population, every soul, was equally as brave and patriotic as themselves, and needed not the restraints of the Martial Law, nor the watchfulness of their sleepless chief, to keep them from mischief. The descendants of this race live to this day, and are found in the United States Senate, where they even make an effort to get their faith endorsed by Congress. Among the patriarchs of this tribe, who are brave when the battle is over, noisy in proportion to their lack of service, and ever ready to scent usurpation in the active defenders of their country, were Judge Hall and Judge Martin in 1815, and of their descendants are Senator Conrad and Senator Barrow in 1842. Judge Hall was the principal actor, and Judge

Martin the historian, of this devoted clan. Upon this history Mr. Conrad relies for his facts, as well as his deductions; taking care, however, to notice only such passages as go to sustain his positions.

That the great mass of population in Louisiana was devoted to the gov ernment and country during the last war, has never been doubted or denied by General Jackson or his friends. Their fidelity and patriotism were proved, not by the asseverations of the Halls and the Martins, the Conrads or the Barrows, but by the rattling of their muskets and the roar of their cannon in the face of the enemy. They entered, heart and soul, into the spirit which actuated their invincible chief, and nobly stood by him in all his dangers, and proudly shared in all his triumphs.

But that every man in Louisiana was a pure and devoted patriot, incorruptible, faithful and brave, as the fireside warriors, peace patriots and Whig politicians would have the world believe, is contradicted by incontestable facts and authentic history. Judge Martin himself testifies to the fact, that a portion of the population of Louisiana had, from the pur ase of the Territory down to the late war, been disaffected to the American government. In giving an account of the transfer of the Territory to the United States, (Vol. ii., page 199,) he says:—

[blocks in formation]


on the 15th February, he stated the great disaffection of the people around him, nineteen of whom out of twenty preferred the government of Spain to that of the

United States."

passages, that no treason or disaffection existed among the population of Louisiana! At page 340, vol. ii., he says, that "not one shadow of treason or disaffection appeared among them ;" page 345, that "no State was more free from sedition, disaffection or treason;" page 351, that " every bosom glowed with feelings of national honor; everything showed nothing was to be apprehended from disaffection, disloyalty or treason."

This is asserted by the Judge in reference to a period of time when certain inhabitants of Louisiana were, as was well established, collecting information in New Orleans itself for the use of the enemy, conveying it to him by boats, acting as his pilots and guides, and leading British spies through the country to explore the most eligible route for approaching the city! If, in one spot, the entire population of a village were traitors, were there none elsewhere? Were they the only miscreants in communication with the enemy? Had not these fishermen their friends and accomplices in the city itself? It would be contrary to reason to suppose they had not, as it is contrary to fact to assert it.

Of the state of things illustrated by subsequent events, General Jackson was apprised before he reached New Orleans, through correspondence with Governor Claiborne and others.

In a letter, dated the 8th of August, 1814, the Governor, after stating that the corps of the city had resisted his orders making a requisition for active service, remarked: "I have reason to calculate upon the patriotism of the interior and western counties. I know, also, that there are many faithful citizens in New Orleans; but there are others in whose attachment to the United States I ought not to confide." August 12th, after declaring his confidence in a vast majority, &c., he says,



but there are others much devoted to the interest of Spain, and whose partiality to the English is not less observ says,able than their dislike to the American government." August 24th, he a cause of indescribable chagrin to me is, that I am not at the head of a willing and united people." September 8th, he says:-"There is in this city a much greater spirit of disaffection than I anticipated; and among the faithful Louisianians there is a

At pages 245, 249, 251, 252, 257, 260-61, may be found passages testifying to constant dissatisfaction and discontent on the part of a portion of the population towards the government of the United States.

At page 327 he states, that Nichols found emissaries to circulate his proclamation "over the country between the Mobile river and the Mississippi;" and he relates that a British emissary was arrested, having in his possession proclamations to the people of Louisiana on the 23d December, many of which the army found stuck up as it advanced to attack the invaders. It was the treason of thirty or forty fishermen, living in a village at the mouth of Bayou Bienvenu, which disclosed the channel through which the British reached the Mississippi, piloted their barges and furnished them guides and spies. Latour, in his "Historical Memoir of the war in West Florida and Louisiana" (pages 82-3), has recorded the names of ten of these traitors, of whom he says:

"These are well known to have aided the British in disembarking their troops, serving as pilots on board their vessels and boats, and acting as spies for them from the period of their arrival on our coast.

"It was their practice, when they came to town to sell their fish, to get all the information they could, for the purpose of carrying it to the English when they went out to fish in Lake Borgne. On the 20th December, the day preceding the arrival of the detachment (of American militia) at the village, the British Captain Peadie had come disguised, accompanied by the three first named fishermen, as far as the bank of the Mississippi, and had even tasted its water. It was from his report, after having thus examined the country, that the enemy determined to penetrate by Villere's canal, whose banks at the time afforded firm footing from the landing-place in the prairie to the river."

Without noticing this entire village of traitors, and many other facts of a similar character, equally well established, Judge Martin declares, in contradiction of his own authority in other

despondency which palsies all my preparations."..." From the great mixture of characters in this city, we have as much to fear from within as from without."..."I think with you, that our country is filled with spies and traitors; I have written pressingly on the subject to the city authorities and parish judges. I hope some efficient regulations will speedily be adopted by the first, and more vigilance exerted for the future by the latter."

Individual disaffection and treason were not the only difficulties the patriotic Governor informed General Jackson he had to encounter. The Legislature of the State could not be relied on for any efficient action. They had sustained the city companies of militia in refusing to obey a requisition of the Governor, ordering a draft of men to join General Flournoy, then in command of the United States' troops in that quarter, the Senate declaring the requisition illegal and oppressive, and the House of Representatives rejecting a proposition to approve of it. Some of the French residents, claiming to be subjects of France, sought exemption from military duty through the interference of the French Consul. In fine, it was the opinion of the Governor, repeatedly expressed in his let ters to General Jackson, that in case of attack, so great were the jealousies and disaffection of a portion of the people, that the chief reliance for defence must be on the regular troops and the militia of the Western States. It was with impressions made by this information that General Jackson went to New Orleans. The candor of Judge Martin as a historian, may be appreciated from the consideration, that, well knowing the facts developed by these extracts from the Governor's letters, which had been published before he wrote, he attributed those impressions to the enemies of Claiborne, &c. "Unfortunately," says he, page 340, "he [General Jackson] had been surrounded from the moment of his arrival by persons from the ranks of the opposition to Claiborne, Hall, and the State government; and it was soon discovered that he had become impressed with the idea that a great part of the population of Louisiana was disaffected, and the city full of traitors and spies." The strength of the bias which could dictate such a sentence,

is shown by the undeniable fact admitted by the Judge in the same page, that Claiborne himself was one of the principal agents in misleading the General's mind, a course which our historian charitably attributes to a disposition to magnify his own importance! But ought the Judge to blame General Jackson for believing what was told him both by the "enemies of Claiborne" and by Claiborne himself, -even if it had been wholly unfounded?

Such was the state of things at New Orleans on General Jackson's arrival. The city was full of spies and traitors. The Legislature, then in session, had interfered with the military arrangements of the government; and refusing either to adjourn or to take those energetic measures rendered necessary by the emergency, only increased the embarrassments by which the Commander of the Army was surrounded. The requisitions of the Governor had been disobeyed, though made under the authority of the General Government, and there was no assurance that they would in future be treated with more respect.

This was not all. Detachments of militia had been ordered from Tennessee and Kentucky, but the time of their arrival was uncertain. Whether they would be efficient or not, was doubtful, for they were mostly without arms. Supplies of arms and ammunitions of war had been asked by the General, the preceding summer, and a part of them were leisurely floating down the river in a flat-boat; but when they would reach the city no one could tell. There was no depôt of arms or ammunitions, or public stores of any kind, in New Orleans. General Jackson was left to create his own resources, being supplied only with men; and even of them he had a supply totally inadequate, in any hands but his own, to the defence of the city. At the time of the capture of the gun-boats on Lake Borgne, on the fourteenth of December, leaving General Jackson nothing to rely on but his land forces, he had at command but about seven hundred regular soldiers, one thousand Louisiana militia, and one hundred and fifty seamen and marines, scarcely equal to a well provided army of one thousand two hundred men. He was obliged to have the city and the country

thoroughly searched for arms, and a large proportion of those obtained were useless for want of flints; a deficiency which was made up by seven thousand pistol-flints procured from the privateersmen of Barrataria.

It is scarcely possible to make out a stronger case of necessity for the concentration of power in the hands of a military commander. Neglected by the General Government; not adequately seconded, to say the least, by that of Louisiana; almost without arms; with a force too weak, even if well armed, to make an effective defence; surrounded by a motley population, the fidelity of a portion of which was worse than equivocal; having to create an army, arms and supplies, invigorate the desponding, overawe the treacherous, animate the brave, and direct the whole against the invading foe, he needed the absolute control of all the men and means which New Orleans contained. Fully satisfied that by these means, and these only, the city could be defended, and having taken the advice of the most considerate as well as patriotic men around him, he declared Martial Law. Among those who approved the measure, were the Governor of the State, the patriotic members of the Legislature, and Judge Hall himself, who had been present at the consultations, and who, on the annunciation of the General's determination, was heard to exclaim-"Now there is some hope of saving the city.”

But, let it be remembered, Martial Law was not enforced beyond the necessity which called for it. The Governor, the Legislature, the Judges, the city authorities and all the civil magistrates, were left in the unmolested discharge of their ordinary functions, except in cases where their suspension was necessary to prevent intercourse with the enemy, and to concentrate all the resources of the city in its defence.

the proceedings, it exhibits a list of seventeen interrogatories put to the General, states that he refused to answer them, and thus concludes, viz. :

2. GENERAL JACKSON WAS FINED FOR ACTS WHICH WERE THE NECESSARY RESULTS OF MARTIAL LAW.-There was some diversity of opinion in Congress as to the specific acts for which General Jackson was fined. Nor does the record of the court, an official copy of which is now before us, show that fact with the precision which ought to be preserved in so grave a matter. On the 31st of March, 1815, the last day of

"Whereupon the Court proceeded to pronounce judgment, which was, that Major-General Andrew Jackson do pay fine of one thousand dollars."

Turning back, we find that the first order in this case, of record the 22d of March, was in these words, viz.:

"That the said Major-General Andrew Jackson show cause on Friday next, the 24th of March inst., at 10 o'clock, A. M., why an attachment should not be awarded against him for contempt of this Court, in having disrespectfully wrested from the Clerk aforesaid an original order of the honorable the Judge of this Court, for the issuing of a writ of Habeas Corpus in the case of a certain Louis Louallier, then imprisoned by the said Major-General Jackson and for detaining the same; also, for disregarding the said writ of Habeas Corpus when issued and served; in having imprisoned the honorable the Judge of stated by the witnessess." this Court; and for other contempts, as

[blocks in formation]

2. Imprisoning the Judge. 3. Wresting an order from the Clerk, and retaining it.

A short narrative will show, that two of the acts charged were the direct and necessary consequences of enforcing Martial Law, and that the last resulted mediately from the same cause.

Approving the enforcement of Martial Law, Judge Hall at first submitted to it like a good citizen. His acquiescence was attested by the fact, that he applied for and obtained a dispensation in his favor of one of its regulations, which required every person found in the streets after nine o'clock at night to be arrested as a spy, and detained for examination. As danger thickened around, he left the city and remained out of harm's way until after the battle of the 8th January. He left the people, whose rights he was afterwards too zealous to protect, to

the uncontrolled dominion of a military chieftain. Their property was seized to feed, clothe, and form shelter for his soldiers. Several persons coming into the city with reports were arrested, sent to the lines, and compelled to fight, much against their will. On one occasion, when an indignant Frenchman came to demand his bags of cotton which the General had unlawfully taken to build a breastwork between his army and the British, he put a musket into the complainant's hands, made him step up between the bags, and help to defend them. He demolished a sugar-house belonging to a private citizen, merely because it was in the way of his military operations. Innumerable were the unlaw ful acts perpetrated upon the citizen and his property in the progress of the defence unlawful according to the code of Judges Hall and Martin; and yet no Judge Hall was there, either to defend the country against a foreign invader, or the citizen against oppression under the rigors of the Martial Law! He was far beyond the reach of the groans of the oppressed, and the thunder of the enemy's cannon. But Martial Law, by bringing the entire resources of the city and its environs under the control of one energetic and sleepless mind, enabled him to baffle the proud and powerful invader, and the dark clouds of danger were breaking away. Then, Judge Hall again made his appearance in the city, not to aid in consummating the triumph of its defenders, but to resist the measure which he had approved as the only hope of safety, to weaken its defences, and distinguish himself, at a most untimely moment, as the dauntless champion of the civil power!

ish army, which arose in some cases to mutiny and desertion. The enemy were still hovering on the coast, and their future designs were undisclosed. It was incumbent on General Jackson firmly to maintain his position, and prevent the dissolution of his army, until he had an undoubted assurance that their designs upon the city had been totally abandoned.

To check the abuse committed by the French Consul, then himself a subject of Martial Law, the General or dered all the alien French claiming exemption under the certificate of the French Consul, to retire one hundred and twenty miles from the city. This order brought out a communication in the Louisiana Courier, denouncing it in strong terms, advising disobedi ence to it, and declaring Martial Law "useless," (to use the author's own words), "when the presence of the foe and honor call us to arms, but which becomes degrading when their shame ful flight suffers us to enjoy a glorious rest, which fear and terror ought not to disturb."

It will be remembered, that prior to the declaration of Martial Law some of the French citizens had claimed exemption from military duty, under certificates of the French Consul that they were subjects of the King of France. This game was now renewed, and such certificates were again granted, not only for real aliens, but to many who had been naturalized, and exercised the highest privilege of citizens by voting at the elections. This, with other causes, growing out of the nature of General Jackson's army, generated a spirit of discontent, particularly after the embarkation of the Brit

The name of Louis Louaillier, a naturalized Frenchman and a member of the Legislature, was given up by the editor as the author of the communication. This open defiance made it absolutely necessary that General Jackson should enforce the Military Law still prevailing; otherwise, his authority would have been brought into contempt, and his army dissolved. Already had whole detachments broken up and deserted, and whole companies refused to obey his orders. Intelligence that a treaty of peace had been signed at Ghent had been brought by Mr. Livingston, who arrived from the British squadron on the 10th of February; but the enemy had not suspended his hostile operations: the state of war still existed, with all its responsibilities, and an enemy's army, still powerful in numbers and discipline, was at hand to take advantage of any circumstance which could promise success in a renewal of the attack on New Orleans. To awe the restless, as well as the treacherous, and enforce obedience until danger disappeared, General Jackson ordered the arrest and trial of Louaillier for violation of the Martial Law. His publication was on the 3d March, and his arrest on the 5th. On the same day,

« FöregåendeFortsätt »