Primary Documents of the Battle of New Orleans 1815

Pakenham’s Orders

John R. Grodzinski
Below are four Letters from Earl Bathurst, to Major-General Sir Edward Pakenham, dated 24 October 1814, which provided direction for the expedition against New Orleans.

War Department

24th October 1814

M Genl The Hon

Sir T. Pakenham



It has occurred to me that one case may arise affecting your situation upon the Coasts of America for which the Instructions addressed to the late Major General Ross have not provided.

You may possibly hear whilst engaged in active operations that the Preliminaries of Peace between His Majesty and the United States have been signed in Europe and that they have been sent to America in order to receive the Ratification of The President.

As the Treaty would not be binding until it shall have received such Ratification in which we may be disappointed by the refusal of the Government of the United States, it is advisable that Hostilities should not be suspended until you shall have official information that The President has actually ratified the Treaty and a Person will be duly authorized to apprise you of this event.

As during this interval, judging form the experience we have had, the termination of the war must be considered as doubtful, you will regulate your proceedings accordingly, neither omitting an opportunity of obtaining signal success, nor exposing the troops to hazard or serious loss for an inconsiderable advantage. And you will take special care not so to act under the expectation of hearing that the Treaty of Peace has been ratified, as to endanger the safety of His Majesty’s Forces, should that expectation be unhappily disappointed.

I have etc.


About the author

John R. Grodzinski

John R. Grodzinski

Major John R. Grodzinski, CD, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of History/Département d'Histoire
The Royal Military College of Canada/
Collège militaire royal du Canada
PO Box 17000 Stn Forces
Kingston, Ontario
Canada K7K 7B4

Author of Defender of Canada: Sir George Prevost and the War of 1812, University of Oklahoma Press, 2013.