The best books to understand the Battle of New Orleans

Donald R. Hickey Author Of Glorious Victory: Andrew Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans
By Donald R. Hickey

Who am I?

I’m an award-winning author and professor of history at Wayne State College in Nebraska. Called “the dean of 1812 scholarship” by the New Yorker, I’ve written eleven books and more than a hundred articles, mostly on the War of 1812 and its causes. I didn’t become interested in this battle until well into my academic career, when I decided to turn the series of articles on the War of 1812 that I had written into my first book. I quickly became fascinated by the cast of characters, headed by tough-as-nails Andrew Jackson; Baratarian pirate Jean Laffite; and the British commander, Sir Edward Pakenham, who was the Duke of Wellington’s brother-in-law. No less intriguing was the magnitude of the U.S. victory and the British defeat, the profound and lasting legacy of the battle, and the many popular misconceptions about what actually happened in the battle or what might have happened had the British won.


I wrote...

Glorious Victory: Andrew Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans

By Donald R. Hickey,

Book cover of Glorious Victory: Andrew Jackson and the Battle of New Orleans

What is my book about?

In this lively and eminently readable book, Don Hickey draws on a lifetime of research to succinctly summarize the battles and campaigns of the War of 1812—America’s “forgotten conflict”—before launching into the story of the battle that saved New Orleans, made Andrew Jackson a hero for the ages, and shaped the American memory of the war.

Aimed at students and the general public, Glorious Victory will reward readers with a clear understanding of Andrew Jackson’s role in the War of 1812 and his iconic place in the postwar era. In the process, it shatters many widely held myths about the most famous battle of the war and the extraordinary impact it had on the new nation.

The Books I Picked & Why

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The Life of Andrew Jackson

By Robert V. Remini,

Book cover of The Life of Andrew Jackson

Why this book?

A good place to start for understanding the Battle of New Orleans is a biography of the central character. A life-long student of Jackson, Robert Remini in this work provides a distillation of his 3-volume study on Old Hickory. Readers will learn about Jackson’s contentious early life and rise on the Tennessee frontier, his remarkable success as a general in both the Creek War and the War of 1812, and his postwar career, culminating in his presidency.


Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands: The Creek War and the Battle of New Orleans, 1812-1815

By Frank Lawrence Owsley Jr.,

Book cover of Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands: The Creek War and the Battle of New Orleans, 1812-1815

Why this book?

This traditional account of Jackson’s war against the Creeks and the British does a good job of tying together these two wars and showing how Jackson’s success in the first led seamlessly to his role in the second. A little dated but still rewarding.


The British at the Gates: The New Orleans Campaign in the War of 1812

By Robin Reilly,

Book cover of The British at the Gates: The New Orleans Campaign in the War of 1812

Why this book?

This account by a British scholar draw upon British sources to present their side of the story. Reilly shows how the Gulf Coast campaign originated and evolved and does a fine job of delineating the British characters who played a central role in the battle.


The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf

By William C. Davis,

Book cover of The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf

Why this book?

The Laffite brothers, Pierre and especially Jean, loom large in the mythology of the Battle of New Orleans, although in truth the contribution of the Baratarian pirates to Jackson’s great victory was rather modest. In this work, Davis fleshes out the life and character of the two brothers, showing how the accepted view of their contribution to Jackson’s success in the campaign has been overstated.


Historical Memoir of the War: In West Florida and Louisiana in 1814-15

By Arsène Lacarrière Latour,

Book cover of Historical Memoir of the War: In West Florida and Louisiana in 1814-15

Why this book?

Originally published in 1816, this contemporary account of the battle by Jackson’s chief engineer is rich in detail and includes a valuable appendix of original documents. Although perhaps too favorable to Jackson, an account like this by someone who was there and in the know cannot be ignored.  In the new edition, Gene Smith has made some minor changes in Latour’s text and, more importantly, added some new documents. He also includes in a separate envelop the maps that accompanied the original edition


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