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The War of 1812
Half an Alligator The Battle of New Orleans II



Half an Alligator The Battle of New Orleans II
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.49

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    frontal, hawkish, indomitable, Leather-clad, bayou, offensive, assault, overrun, sniper, commander, all-out, bulky, bounds, formidable, gristle, savvy
     content words:    New Orleans, General Andrew Jackson, General Jackson, Native American, French Creoles, General Robert Ross, Edward Pakenham, As Christmas, West Indies, Old Hickory


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Half an Alligator The Battle of New Orleans II
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     Christmas came and went in New Orleans. In 1814, the season was not a happy one. The people of the city spent the holidays dreading what was to come. The British army was camped eight miles from town. Would the enemy troops overrun the city? Would they burn it, as they had Washington, D.C.?
 
2     Besides that, General Andrew Jackson had the town buttoned down in the firm grip of martial law. Townspeople and slaves alike had been put to work. In the plain between the city and the British camp, Jackson had had deep trenches dug. British forces would have to cross the jagged ground. But the terrain would not be the enemy's toughest obstacle.
 
3     Behind the trenches stood Jackson's mud wall, braced by bulky bales of cotton. Camped in the shadow of the mud rampart were General Jackson and an army that may have been the wildest mixture ever to fight under the American flag. Leather-clad frontiersmen mingled with regulars of the U.S. army. The few Native American fighters tended to cluster with the riflemen. Little groups of French Creoles lounged here and there. The black Haitian battalion, former slaves, kept mostly to themselves. Roaming amongst them all were Jean Lafitte's buccaneers.
 
4     Each man had a story. Each bore the scars of life lived outside the bounds of ease and plenty. A song later described the troops. The writer claimed that each man was "half a horse and half an alligator." None of the men could boast more "gristle" than their leader, the man they called "Old Hickory." The rough, ragged crew would have followed Jackson anywhere. He was one of them, and somehow the toughest of them all.

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