I guess there may have been a more heterogeneous force that fought a major battle in American history than the one that Andrew Jackson commanded on January 8, 1815, but it does not readily come to mind. Here was the composition of his army:
1. 968 US Army regulars-Many of these men were from the 7th Infantry Regiment that had garrisoned New Orleans during 1814 and had a reputation for being slackly disciplined hell raisers. The remainder were from the 44th Infantry Regiment recruited in Louisiana.
2. 58 Marines.
3. 106 Sailors of the US Naval Battalion.
4. 1060 Louisiana Militia, including 462 free blacks. The free blacks responded to an appeal from Jackson that said they would be treated precisely the same as white volunteers and not subject to sarcasm and insult. Jackson was as good as his word, but the State of Louisiana did not give them the promised 160 acre land grants that white volunteers received. Many of the white Louisianans spoke only French, but the language barrier did not stop them and their black comrades from rendering good service in the battle.
5. 986 Kentucky Militia-The Kentuckians gave a poor account of themselves in the battle but it wasn’t their fault. Most of them were unarmed, the Army sending them to New Orleans and shipping their rifles and ammo separately. These items arrived four days after the battle. A disgusted Jackson said they were the first Kentuckians he had ever seen who didn’t have a rifle, a deck of cards and a jug.
6. 150 Mississippi Militia.
7. 52 Choctaw Warriors-The Choctaws did good service as snipers and killed at least 50 British soldiers.
8. 1352 Tennessee militia and volunteers. The mainstay of Jackson’s army, many of them had served under Jackson throughout the Creek War in 1813-1814.
9. Baratarian Pirates-Jean Lafitte’s pirates. Jackson had offered Lafitte a free pardon for every one of his men who fought. The pirates formed three artillery companies and also fought with the militia. Their exact numbers are unknown, but my best guess would be 400-600. The pirates won accolades for their fighting prowess in the battle, with Jackson singling out for praise Jean and his brother Pierre.
Facing this force were some 15,000 veteran British soldiers, sailors and Marines, all superbly trained and supplied and battle tested. God help the Americans!