JACKSON, Andrew. Autograph letter signed ("Andrew Jackson") as Major General, to Colonel Andrew Hynes, "Camp 4 miles below Orleans," 13 January 1815. 1 page, 4to (9 5/8 x 7½ in.), repairs to folds and a small tear, minor stain affecting one letter of signature.
OLD HICKORY TRIUMPHANT, FROM THE BATTLEFIELD AT NEW ORLEANS FIVE DAYS AFTER JACKSON'S GLORIOUS VICTORY
Five days after the victory over the British at New Orleans (which he himself termed "one of the most brilliant victories in the annals of the War") Jackson complains that a shortage of arms had jeopardized his success. Commanding a motley 4,700-man army composed of volunteers, militia, free blacks and the pirates of Jean Laffite, Jackson had fortified a line behind a canal bordered by a cypress swamp and the Mississippi. When the British Army under General Packenham finally attacked on January 8, 1815, the American army was well entrenched. The British frontal assault was decimated by accurate American fire; British casualties exceeded 2000 seasoned veterans, while Jackson's force suffered only 70 casualties.
Jackson and his force remained on the alert for a renewed British attack, and up until the day before, were still under fire from ships of the Royal Navy. Writing from the battlefield, Jackson tells Hynes that "I feel it my duty to apprise you that the arms we have been so long expecting & of which we stand so much in need, have not yet arrived." He implies that he might have accomplished more if the promised munitions had arrived: "Had they been with us on the morning of the 8th I think I should have been able to have rendered you an account with which you would have been greatly pleased. The want of them continues to expose me to great hazard." How unfortunate it is, he observes, "that our preparations are always so far behind the events which make them necessary!" Jackson concludes with a bitter indictment of the supply system: "Allow me to say sir that so far as regards the supplies of the army, the agents whom [the] government has employed, have, in great many instances, more egregiously deceived them; and that in making those appointments, above all others, the utmost circumspection should be used."
The great irony of Jackson's dramatic victory lay in the fact that it had been fought after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent (December 24, 1814), which officially ended hostilities (see lot 42). Nevertheless, the impact of the victory was profound, and in time, "produced a President and an enduring belief in the military ability of free people to protect and preserve their society and their way of life" (Remini, The Battle of New Orleans, p. 198).