“I WILL SMASH THEM,
SO HELP ME GOD!”
AND WILL BE DEALT WITH ACCORDINGLY”
Jackson learned of the loss of the gunboats upon his return from reconnoitering the Chef Menteur area. His response was to send urgent word to John Coffee waiting near Baton Rouge, and to Major Thomas Hinds and his Mississippi Dragoons higher up the Mississippi. The messages were clear. I need you. Make haste. The first order went out from Robert Butler, Jackson's adjutant general, on the fourteenth, the day the gunboats were taken, for Coffee to march immediately to New Orleans. Jackson wrote two days later:
I need not say to you, to reach me by forced marches, it is enough to say, that Lord Cochrane is on our coast with about eighty sail great and small, and report says he has taken all our gun Boats in the lakes. I have still a hope it is not true, notwithstanding a naval officer reports he saw the engagement & saw the gun Boats strike.
I am astonished that the T. & Kentucky Troops are not up. If heard from, please to detach an express, to them to proceed night and day untill the arive—and notify the commander of the Detachment of the regular Troops to proceed without delay to this place. In great haste … 1
Jackson's first order reached Coffee at 8:00 P. M. on 16 December. Coffee replied at four the next morning that “by exertion shall move my command this morning at sun rise, no time will be lost by me untill I reach New Orleans, I think we will reach you in four days….” Coffee was camped on the Mississippi at the mouth of Sandy Creek, twenty miles north