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The Battle of New Orleans:
The United States and Britain had already negotiated an end to the War of 1812 when their troops met on the Plains of Chalmette near New Orleans in 1815. Word of the peace had not yet reached that far west, so a group of professional British soldiers clashed with a rag-tag band of about 4,000 "frontiersmen, militiamen, regular soldiers, free men of color, Indians, pirates, and townspeople" along the banks of the Mississippi River. These were "citizen-soldiers" in the finest sense, writes Robert V. Remini, the acclaimed biographer of Andrew Jackson, and they were commanded by a man whose military experience had commenced only two years earlier. Yet the battle "was one of the great turning points in American history" because it "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 may oversell the battle's importance, but not by much. His enthusiasm is the mark of a historian in love with his subject. The Battle of New Orleans (and the War of 1812 in general) has tended to suffer more from neglect than from too much attention. This concise book, full of workmanlike prose, is a fine introduction to what Remini calls "America's first military victory" (he downplays Saratoga and Yorktown as "simply surrenders, nothing more"). Military history buffs won't want to miss it. --John J. Miller [via]