December 27th, 1814

daniel_pattersonWhen we hear The Battle of New Orleans General Andrew Jackson is perhaps the first person who comes to mind. His name would become immortalized in story and song defending the Southern city that had only become a part of the United States just over a decade prior with the Louisiana Purchase. Yet, in late 1814, it was Daniel Patterson who foresaw the British attack on New Orleans. In the middle of September he lead a force to the Southern Louisiana Base of the notorious Jean Lafitte at Barataria Bay, where, in routing the pirate, he laid claim to his ships, bringing the French-American Pirate to the aid of the American cause. General Jackson wanted Commodore Patterson to sail with his small makeshift fleet to Mobile Bay to engage the British. Patterson would refuse. To engage the vastly superior British navy there would allow for them to bottlenecked. His small fleet at that inlet to the Gulf of Mexico, making them an easy target. Instead he set about laying the defense of New Orleans. By December 12th sixty British ships under the command of Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane, Commander-in-Chief of the North American and Jamaica stations anchored 14,450 soldiers and sailors in the Gulf of Mexico. The British would begin their move on New Orleans.

It would be Commodore Patterson’s defense that would delay the British. With a small, rag-tag band of ships that were no match for the power of the British fleet now in the Gulf he would push back, in the hopes that the reinforcements would soon arrive. It would save the city from being overrun by the British. Still, on December 27th, 1814 the USS Carolina, a schooner launched only 2 years prior from Charleston, South Carolina, would take heated shots from the British in an effort by the Royal Navy to destroy the resistance of the American force. The crew would be forced from her as she caught fire, and eventually exploded. It would be the last ship in Patterson’s little fleet that had caused the British so many difficulties in trying to lay claim to New Orleans. Yet if they thought that the destruction of the Carolina would have opened the door wide for an invasion of the city they would be sorely mistaken. Despite losing the last of his fleet that day Patterson had largely been effective in what he set out to do. He bought the time that the Americans needed for reinforcements to arrive. At the defense of the city, Patterson, a naval officer now with no ships any longer, would find his place offering artillery support to his compatriots, once more contributing to the decisive American victory that would push the British from Louisiana.

Praised by Jackson, had it not been for Patterson, there would have been a distinct possibility that New Orleans would have fallen. What that would have meant is perhaps a mystery as the Treaty of Ghent had already been signed to end the War but was yet to be ratified by the US government. Regardless, for his efforts Patterson would go on to be promoted to Captain and would serve in the Mediterranean Squadron in command of the USS Constitution, the flagship of Commodore John Rodger’s Fleet. He would continue to serve in the Navy until his death in 1839 at 53.

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