Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Tennesseans at War, 1812-1815: Andrew Jackson, the Creek War, and the Battle of New Orleans

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Tennesseans at War, 1812-1815: Andrew Jackson, the Creek War, and the Battle of New Orleans

Article excerpt

Tennesseans at War, 1812-1815: Andrew Jackson, the Creek War, and the Battle of New Orleans. By Tom Kanon. (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2014. Pp. [viii], 263. $49.95, ISBN 978-0-8173-1829-1.)

Overshadowed by the attention paid to the Civil War's sesquicentennial, the War of 1812 bicentennial commemoration seemingly proceeded with little public notice. Not so among historians, including Nicole Eustace, Paul A. Gilje, Donald R. Hickey, Gene Allen Smith, and Alan Taylor, who have attempted to remind us that "Mr. Madison's War" affected Americans of all kinds and played an important role in helping create the United States' national identity.

Tom Kanon adds to this conversation by examining the ways Tennesseans contributed to the war effort. He notes the tensions that existed among Tennesseans who fought in and experienced the war: geography (East Tennessee versus West Tennessee, or what is now considered Middle Tennessee); military rank (militia troops versus officers); and class differences (the lower classes versus the elite). These tensions appear repeatedly throughout Kanon's narrative, reflecting the internal divisions that pervaded not just the Volunteer State but other parts of the Union as well. A more complete examination of the Tennessee state legislature and any of its war-related debates would undoubtedly have reinforced this point.

Kanon rightly argues that "for most Tennesseans who served between 1812 and 1815, the Creek War was the War of 1812" (p. 3). He also recognizes the connection between Tennesseans' invasion of Creek lands and their economic interests. While they often cited defense and revenge as the reasons for prosecuting the war against the Red Stick Creeks, prominent Tennessee leaders understood that they stood to gain financially from removing the Creeks, either by force or by treaty.

Not surprisingly, Andrew Jackson plays a prominent role in Kanon's assessment of the war. The portrayal of the Tennessee leader is familiar: Jackson was motivated by revenge for Indian atrocities and love of the Union, and his defeat of the British at New Orleans allowed him to "[become] known as a second George Washington. …

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