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War of 1812: Andrew Jackson Ready and Waiting
by William P. Meyers

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Andrew Jackson would become a President of the United States of America and the founder of the Democratic Party. Along the way he would murder many of his fellow men and live a life of depravity unmatched, so far as we know, by any other American President.

Continued from Andrew Jackson 1806-1812

Andrew Jackson had hated the British since the Revolutionary War. For years he had hoped the U.S. would again go to war with the British Empire. The causes of the War of 1812 were complex, but in the end the main American motivation (the United States of America initiated the war) was desire to conquer more land. Jackson was typical of the richest men in the America: his fortune derived largely from land speculation made possible by taking native American Indian lands by force. The goals of America in the war were to conquer Canada, Florida, and lands beyond the western boundaries of our nation. Students should note that the House of Representatives vote for the war was 79 in favor, 49 against. "Canada, in itself, was a lush prize. The War Hawks made no bones about their determination to seize this enormous and richly wooded area, so desirable and apparently so defenseless." [Thomas A. Bailey, The American Pageant, 3rd ed., p. 203]

Jackson had long been a major general in the militia of the state of Tennessee, elected as such by the other officers in that voluntary militia. On March 7, 1812 he wrote a letter echoing the federal government's call for volunteers and extolling the glory of war. He also put off his plans to move his family to Mississippi. On June 18th the House of Representatives passed the war resolution. On June 21st that news arrived in Nashville. "General Jackson offered the President [James Madison] his militia division of twenty-five hundred trained men ... and promised to have them before Quebec in ninety days." [James, p. 143-144]

But Jackson was out of favor because of his prior cavorting with Aaron Burr. Two of his regiments were borrowed, but the general was left idle for some time, except for drilling his remaining troops. He did buy his troops new rifles, using promissory notes, which began to circulate as currency in Tennessee.

Finally in October 1812 the War Department ordered Jackson's friend, Governor Blount, to take the militia to New Orleans. Jackson could go only as a subordinate. He argued with Blount that he should select officers, rather than continue the tradition of allowing the soldiers to elect their officers. But in the end Blount commissioned Jackson a major general of U.S. volunteers. 2500 volunteers turned out at Nashville on December 10, 1812, but it was exceptionally cold. Just over 2000 men were inducted, and the troops departed for New Orleans on January 7, 1813. James Wilkinson, in charge of the army at New Orleans, had these troops camp at Natchez in February. Jackson was still not trusted, so while the U.S. suffered defeat after defeat, the volunteers of Tennessee, including general Jackson, were dismissed, but with the offer (except for Jackson) to enlist under Wilkinson. Jackson decided to march his troops, intact, back to Tennessee. It should be noted that Jackson took good care of his soldiers, including the sick, going so far as to walk himself while sick men rode his personal horse.

Idle in Tennessee, Jackson got himself involved in another feud and duel, then attacked Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Hart Benton at the City Hotel in Nashville on September 4, 1813. For once Jackson came out worse than his opponents. Jesse Benton shot him even as Jackson's own close-range shot at Thomas Benton missed. Jackson's left shoulder was shattered by one slug, his left arm also ended with a ball in it. Jackson refused the doctors' request to amputate his arm. The feud would have grown wider, but word arrived that a Creek army had won a major battle at Fort Mims on August 30, 1813.

Andrew Jackson received a committee of citizens at the Hermitage, lying wounded in his bed. Jackson's cavalry formed up. Smelling blood, Jackson was reanimated. The government, at last, had authorized action for General Jackson and his volunteers.

Next: Andrew Jackson Fights the Red Sticks

Main source: The Life of Andrew Jackson by Marquis James, Bobbs-Merrill company, 1938.

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