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The Surrender of Fort Boyer

After the battle of New Orleans, Gerneral John Lambert and Admiral Cochrane look over what's left of the British force. One third of their infantry and three out of four major generals are casualties. Supplies of food and ammuinition are extremely low. General Lambert decides to withdraw his remaining troops while he still can.

The British withdraw was handled with dicision and skill, the work parties built roads through swamps and sixteen bridges over creeks and gullies. Between January 8th and 18th the heavy guns, ammunition, supplies and wounded were gradually evacuated. All of these movements went unknown to the Americans, who remained uncertain about what the British intented to do. The American commander Andrew Jackson failed to maintain contact with the British, he was content with bombarding the British camp from time to time. The last British outpost withdrew on January 18th at about 3:00 a.m. replacing their sentries with uniformed dummies.

By noon on the 19th 4,700 men had safely encamped after the bridges had been destroyed.

General Lambert decided to land his force on Dauphin Island to reorganize, this however would require the British to capture Fort Boyer.

Jackson had strengthened Fort Boyer and in his words "ten thousand men cannot take it". Lieutenant William Lawrence was in command of the American fort, it had a total of twenty-two guns, three of them were thirty-two pounders. It was garrisoned by a total of 370 officers and men.

The British move to take the fort. Their intelligence is correct, this fort will not withstand a regular siege. On February 8th General Lambert lands about 1,000 men east of the fort to block any reinforcements by land.

The British move to within 200 yards of the fort and begin to dig their siegeworks. The Americans fire at them killing about ten men, but the British continue to work.

After completing the siegeworks the British gunners had: four 18 pounders, two 8 inch howitzers, two 6 pounder rockets, three 5 and a half inch and two 4.4 inch mortars and a hundred 12 pounder rockets.

Everything is now ready for the British to bombard the fort, once they begin the crowded fort would become a slaughterhouse. General Lambert summons the fort to surrender, offering to let the women and children leave before they open fire.

Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence had not sent a force to stop the British from setting up their siegeworks because he was greatly outnumbered. To stop what will be nothing more than the slaughter of his men he surrenders the fort on February 12th. Thereafter military etiquette takes over, hostages were exchanged, the British flag was raised over the fort, and it's gate was occupied by a company of British infantry. The next morning the Americans march out of the fort with the honours of war.

American losses, if any had been few. The British had about 25 casualties.

With Mobile Bay secured with British warships and Fort Boyer in British control the Americans hurried back to Mobile, with the prospect of having to face a heavy British attack. However on February 13th a British dispatch ship arrived off Mobile Bay with notice that the United States and England had signed a peace treaty in Ghent on Christmas Eve. December 24th 1814.

The battle of New Orleans and the taking of Fort Boyer need not have been fought, but news took to long to reach the opposing armies to tell them the war was over.