October 10 1814: Andrew Jackson Aroused

September 4 1813: Andrew Jackson in a Gun Fight

On September 4 1813, Andrew Jackson is nearly killed in a gun fight in a Nashville tavern. The gun fight was the result of a feud between Jackson and Thomas Benton and his brother Jesse Benton. In turn, this feud had its origins in an earlier duel. Jesse Benton had become ensnared in a duel with William Carroll, who would later become governor of Tennessee. Jackson acted as Carroll’s second at the duel. Both Carroll and Jesse Benton survived the duel, but Thomas Benton blamed Jackson for the affair. He made various threats against Jackson, who in turn promised to deal harshly with Benton.

Jackson had already fought several duels. In 1795, he fought a duel with Colonel Waitstill Avery. Avery had been opposing counsel in a case. Jackson took exception to some words used by Avery in the courtroom and had challenged him to a duel. No one was killed in that duel as both men appear to have intentionally fired so as to miss each other.

That was not the case in the duel that Jackson fought in 1806. In that duel, Jackson faced an expert marksman in the person of Charles Dickinson. Dickinson had accused Jackson of not paying a horse bet, and of being a coward and bigamist. The latter insult was an attack on the honour of his beloved wife Rachel, which Jackson would not forgive. When the duel came, Jackson allowed Dickinson to fire first. Jackson was hit in the chest. The bullet entered inches from his heart and broke some ribs, but Jackson would not and did not go down. Instead, he took his time aiming at Dickinson, who was required by the rules of honour that governed duels to stand still once he had fired his shot. Jackson placed one hand over his wound to stop the bleeding, took aim with the other hand, and shot. His pistol misfired. Jackson drew back the hammer. He aimed, and shot. Dickinson was hit in the chest, collapsed and later bled to death from his wound. Jackson would carry Dickinson’s bullet in his body for the rest of his life.  Continue reading

March 15 1813: A Furious Andrew Jackson

On March 15 1813, Andrew Jackson is furious. He received the night before a letter from the newly appointed Secretary of War John Armstrong dismiss him and his troops. Jackson had been marching to New Orleans, when he had been ordered to stop with his men in Natchez, Mississippi. Now he is being dismissed. Jackson is particularly angry that he is being asked to give up his equipment, in particular the tents, which he will need to march the 500 miles back to Nashville. He will refuse to comply with that part of his orders. Continue reading

March 13 1813: My Men Shall Not Die

…we are here without any orders or advices, from any quarter, fed Sometimes on the poorest beef on earth – and without any necessity for us being here – But no discontent prevails – perfect harmony – and I will stay here untill the government orders us to March to some point without murmur or complaint, if we were on the North West we could be of some service, here none – and we would with cheerfulness March tomorrow to cumody of government ordered us – The mode of supplying the army must be altered, or it never can act with expedition or affect – it will be always badly supplied and with bad provisions – when I receive yrs of the 22nd. I shall write you, I am busily engaged preparing my troops for the field – who progress in discipline faster than any troops I ever saw & has the fixed ammunition ever reached Nashvilles or where is it, what shall my Detachment do for munitions [inserted: of war] and supplies of medicine – I am buying medicine here at my own risqué – My men shall not die, if my credit or purse can prevent it – I am truly astonished that the governor has not wrote me – I have not recd’ a single line from, The Secretary of War, or Member of Congress, and here I am with 2000 of the finest troops in the world inactive and eating the publick beef- without service when men are so much wanted to the North West – Our Government must act with more energy, activity, and system – or they are lost, and the Liberties of our country gone – disgrace will bring on general disgust – the expense will create a National debt and heavy taxes – and the inquiry will be made how all this expense and no service done – I can answer for one; I am sent where there is no enemy – nothing to do, and where there never existed in fact sufficient ground of alarm to have authorized , In being sent here – but the voice of my [text loss] I have and will obey, It is my duty to [text loss] duty of the President to order – we have [text loss], funerals since we disembarked.

— Andrew Jackson writes to William B. Lewis, March 13 1813

Feb 6 1813: Secretary of War Dismisses Andrew Jackson

On February 6, 1813, the newly appointed Secretary of War writes to Andrew Jackson to dismiss him. Jackson had been marching to New Orleans, when he had been ordered to stop with his men in Natchez, Mississippi. Now he is being dismissed. Armstrong writes:

Sir: – The causes of embodying and marching to New Orleans the corps under your command having ceased to exist you will, on the receipt of this letter, consider it as dismissed from the public service, and take measures to have delivered over to Major-General Wilkinson all the articles of public property which may have been put into its possession. You will accept for yourself and the corps the thanks of the President of the United States.

Jackson will receive the letter on March 14, 1813, and on March 15, 1813, he will write to Secretary of War John Armstrong informing him that he will be disregarding part of the order and keep the equipment, in particular the tents, which he will need to march the 500 miles back to Nashville.