Thursday, May 19, 2005

Could New Orleans Have Been Our Hong Kong?

As I have mentioned recently, I just finished watching The History Channel's "The War of 1812". I never knew much about that war except that the White House and a few other federal buildings were burned to the ground. I had forgotten that we actually invaded Canada too! The war started when the British started to take our sailors and force them to serve in the British Navy. This was called "impressment". It went on because they needed men in their battles against Napoleon. The French were the dominant force in Europe at the time, and so they saw it as justified.

There were only three decent-sized battles in the entire war though. First was DC, where we were thoroughly beaten, mostly in terms of an unorganized retreat as much as actual casualties. It would have been worse and the city would have had more damage from fire too if a very strong hurricane hadn't come right after the British took the city (no Weather Channel yet). That put out the fires and caused many British casualties actually. They then pulled out of the city. Then there was Baltimore, and the still-famous Fort McHenry attack, where Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner". That attack was an American victory, though it was more of a "holding our ground" kind of victory.

The third was the Battle of New Orleans. By the time this battle started, Great Britain had shipped thousands of extra troops overseas to fight, since they had just finished beating Napoleon at Waterloo in 1814. As troops massed outside New Orleans on both sides, a peace treaty had already been signed in Belgium, but of course it still took a few weeks for a ship to cross the ocean for anyone in North America to find out (no phones or even telegraphs yet). We were vastly outnumbered by a far better trained and equipped army, but won one of the most lopsided victories in military history! Some scholars believe that if the British had taken over New Orleans at the time that the peace treaty was ratified by Congress, that the treaty would have indicated that Britain could retain control over it. Thus Britain could have owned a significant city at the mouth of the Mississippi for a long time to come, kind of like with Hong Kong in China. Can you imagine if New Orleans had just become an American city in the year 2000 like Hong Kong?

4 comments:

Hector Vex said...

I dunno, it's already kind of like Hong Kong anyways, what with the Asian Transvestite Hookers wondering around...

Erik Grow said...

Patronize Asian transvestite hookers often, do you? *;-)

Hector Vex said...

No way. I'll GIVE IT TO my hookers, not TAKE IT from them... if you know what I mean... and I think you do... wink wink nod nod.

nicnerd said...

that is the city I forgot on my list on the other post, New Orleans = suck