War of 1812 and its effects on America

#11
New Orleans is very over hyped.

It was a Frontal assault on a fortified position.
Something the British had done before at
Cuidad Rodrigo
Badajoz (3 times ... 2 failures)
San Sebastián.

And they usually took heavy casualties. Infact their first (only) attack at New Orleans was less of a cock up than most of their other attempted storms.

On their left flank they had completely routed the Americans (85th Light Infantry, Royal Marines and Sailors) and captured their objective.
In their first attack where everything had gone wrong... the 93rd blundered about in front of cannons, the 44th completely collapsed and forgot the ladders... despite of all this they were STILL able to get men inside. Which puts it at possibly one of their most successful attempted first wave attacks (At 3rd Badajoz they attacked 5 times before they could get in).
American losses were mainly on the left bank or at the point where the 21st had broken the defenses. Notably, 85th aside, most of the attacking force was very green and inexperienced. The peninsula veterans in the force being kept out of it...
Veteran British soldiers didn’t even consider New Orleans a big battle... a silly, badly planned skirmish... though understandably since the rest of the war had been a colossal failure for the US this was a much needed boost to her crushed ego...

US army did not come out of the war of 1812 with an enhanced reputation. In fact it’s performance was the source of much concern and ridicule in the US. The US Navy cane out looking all heroic and with boosted popularity.

The redcoats were not unstoppable. They had been beaten before in small skirmishes, by the US in the war, and had lost battles to the French and Spanish in the preceding 20 years of conflict.

Trenches were not new. The British used them in Spain, and Shakespeare used trencherman to mean a soldier. They are possibly older than that in seige warfare.
Thanks for the information.

Yes Trenches themselves are ancient but I mean't being used to win a large engagement in the gun powder era away from buildings or towns as a means to victory.

The French and British obviously relied on their Infantry lines to win open field engagements rather than dig and set up trenches and earth works so I was wondering if back in Europe there was ever a shift towards using trenches in this period away from fixed building positions rather than what I consider a near suicidal death march.
 
Feb 2016
3,995
Japan
#12
This battle was fought very close to the city limits and was not an open field battle. Jackson had barely any regulars and mostly citizen and militia forces.. a field battle was not in his interest.
Defensive lines had been built before and it was not a new inovation. The US had won other small battles in the open field and building defensive lines did not replace their linier and light modes of warfare.

In Europe the use of defensive works in battle was common.
Torres Vedras has been cited already in 1809.
The building of redoubts was similar see Poltolva, Borodino, Balaclava being famous examples.
 

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,447
Stockport Cheshire UK
#13
It was an open field engagement.

The Americans were not in a fort, a town, a City .......... they were out in the open field with some self made earth work defences and cover.
Sorry, but you cannot claim it was an open field engagement, if you admit the US defenders were behind earth work defences and cover.
The term ‘open field’ means a field with nothing in it, which clearly wasn’t the case at New Orleans.

That is not the same as a fixed walled construction that you have to siege, a ditch or trenches in a field is not a City and can be overrun by foot, a walled fort can't be, you'd need ladders and canon.
If you have studied this battle surely you are aware that one of the main reasons the attack failed is because one of the units forgot to bring ladders with them, making the assault on the fortified positions far more difficult

But essentially that is the point of the whole conversation, in not being disciplined or trained enough to match the British head to head the Americans created defences like you would enjoy from a fort to the open field so they could avoid having to go face to face.
it was a defensive line protecting a city, these types of defences pre-date firearms.
 
#14
Sorry, but you cannot claim it was an open field engagement, if you admit the US defenders were behind earth work defences and cover.
The term ‘open field’ means a field with nothing in it, which clearly wasn’t the case at New Orleans.

If you have studied this battle surely you are aware that one of the main reasons the attack failed is because one of the units forgot to bring ladders with them, making the assault on the fortified positions far more difficult

it was a defensive line protecting a city, these types of defences pre-date firearms.
As I stated I know they pre date firearms, but what I'm asking is had they been used to fight a war in this era of gun powder in the open field before, away from Fort, City or town and if so was it successful and why wasn't it adopted more widespread in Europe .......... I already got my answers earlier with "Bunker Hill" etc.

Would you say Bunker Hill wasn't in an open field either?

I think the empasse we have is you consider an open field with a trench ....... not an open field, where as I do because without the trench it would be just that, there are no walled fixed buildings, Town, City, Fort, its a field.
 

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,447
Stockport Cheshire UK
#15
I think the empasse we have is you consider an open field with a trench ....... not an open field, where as I do because without the trench it would be just that, there are no walled fixed buildings, Town, City, Fort, its a field.
The Americans were using the cities canal system as a base for a series of defensive lines. The British were attacking a defensive position with a large ditch/canal in front of raised earthworks, it wasn't just a trench.
To be classed as an open field battle there would have to be no significant obstructions between the two sides, but there clearly was.
 
#16
The Americans were using the cities canal system as a base for a series of defensive lines. The British were attacking a defensive position with a large ditch/canal in front of raised earthworks, it wasn't just a trench.
To be classed as an open field battle there would have to be no significant obstructions between the two sides, but there clearly was.
What about Bunker Hill?

Was that location not more in an open field setting?
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,069
Dispargum
#17
When discussing the history of trenches, I find it useful to think in terms of all battles are either sieges or open field battles. Since sieges lasted much longer, it was profitable to dig trenches. We see trenches being used in sieges almost as soon as gunpowder weapons appear on the battlefield circa the 14th century. Open field battles were usually over in a few hours so that it was not usually profitable to dig trenches although there were exceptions. If a defender occupied the field of battle well in advance of the attacker's arrival, there might be time and incentive to dig trenches. This latter case describes Bunker Hill and New Orleans. These two battles were fairly short in duration, but because the defenders had time to prepare, they used that time to prepare trenches and/or other earthworks. I call New Orleans an open field battle because there was no prolonged siege.
 
Feb 2011
868
Scotland
#18
What about Bunker Hill?

Was that location not more in an open field setting?
On this reasoning, World War 1 was an encounter in the open field- just trenches present after all.

Try telling the poor men who fought there that it was really a battle in the open as they went over the top.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,069
Dispargum
#19
On this reasoning, World War 1 was an encounter in the open field- just trenches present after all.
Try telling the poor men who fought there that it was really a battle in the open as they went over the top.
I only made the distinction between sieges and open field battles in the context of the history of trenches. Prior to the mid-19th century sieges usually had trenches while open field battles generally did not. The reason was the time factor - sieges lasted long enough for trenches to be worthwhile but with a few exceptions open field battles did not last long enough to bother digging trenches. After the mid 19th century when trenches became common place it no longer makes sense to distinguish between sieges and open field battles for the purposes of understanding trenches.

What else can we call all battles that are not sieges? I'm certainly open to considering other terms. In sieges there are usually high walls which block line of sight, line of fire, and movement. Trenches and other types of earthworks generally do not present the same kind of obstacles as high walls. At New Orleans, the British certainly felt they could get over the American earthworks (if only they had remembered to bring their facines and ladders). I'm unaware that the British ever gave serious consideration to a lengthy artillery bombardment to batter down the American earthworks.
 

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,447
Stockport Cheshire UK
#20
What else can we call all battles that are not sieges? I'm certainly open to considering other terms. In sieges there are usually high walls which block line of sight, line of fire, and movement. Trenches and other types of earthworks generally do not present the same kind of obstacles as high walls. At New Orleans, the British certainly felt they could get over the American earthworks (if only they had remembered to bring their facines and ladders). I'm unaware that the British ever gave serious consideration to a lengthy artillery bombardment to batter down the American earthworks.
The term "open field" refers to land that has no obstructions in it, this term therefore cannot be applied New Orleans.
As for how to describe this battle, how about... battle
 
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