Happy Sunday, and holy cow, is it June already? How did that happen?
Today, I’d like to offer up a brief, biased history of the Battle of New Orleans, which will lay the groundwork for a sneak peek at the June 24 release of my Jean Lafitte novelette “Jackson, Square.” My plan is to run the story over the course of a week here on the blog, then release it as a very inexpensive download for Kindle, including some bonus material.
The Battle of New Orleans
It’s the winter of 1814, and the War of 1812 has been grinding on for a couple of years as the British try to reclaim control of the United States, particularly the recently acquired Louisiana Purchase. The British Navy is home-ported in Pensacola, Florida, and is planning a massive invasion of New Orleans.
Only problem is, there’s a pirate named Jean Lafitte and his horde of at least a thousand (maybe three times that many) men living in Barataria, south of the city. The Brits need to get past Lafitte to mount their invasion. So King George himself makes Jean an offer: help us, and we will make all of you British citizens and give you land. Don’t help us, and we’ll destroy you. Jean requested, and was granted, two weeks to review the “offer.”
Not one much given to ultimatums, and as a Frenchman not overly fond of the Brits, Jean saw an opportunity. He sent letters to legislators and to the governor of Louisiana, warning them of the British plans and reminding them that he was simply a “stray sheep, wishing to return to the sheepfold.” The governor urged the newly arrived American commander Andrew Jackson to consider Lafitte their ally. Andrew Jackson, a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, wanted nothing to do with the Baratarians, calling them thieves and “hellish banditti.”
Didn’t Jean have an interesting signature? Note that he spelled his name Laffite rather than Lafitte–history has changed it.
Problem was, Jackson was seriously outgunned and outnumbered by the British. Finally, he had no choice but to meet with Lafitte. Jean, the oh-so-helpful-would-be-patriot, said he and his men would help Jackson fight off the British, providing guns and cannons and powder, if the United States would grant a presidential pardon to every man who fought. Jackson had no choice but to agree.
In January 1815, Jean rearranged the organization of the American and Pirate troops, and, long story short, helped Andrew Jackson win the Battle of New Orleans and effectively ended the War of 1812. The field where the battle took place was six miles outside New Orleans in what is now St. Bernard Parish and is part of the vast Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.
(The Americans, by the way, resumed their raids on Jean’s strongholds after the war, and, furious, he went back to pirating. Bah on Andrew Jackson and the double-crossing Americans!)
Sentinels of New Orleans 2.1
It’s the Battle of New Orleans, Part Deux, as the historically undead pirate Jean Lafitte again crosses paths with the historically undead Andrew Jackson. Only this time, they’re on opposite sides.
The paper tacked to the cracked plaster wall inside the door of Beyond and Back had already been covered in smudges and obscenities, but the bold lettering at the top remained legible. Jean paused to read it with mounting anger:
Nominees for Representatives on the Interspecies Council
Votes for seats with multiple candidates to be held on Saturday, November 15
Unopposed candidates will automatically assume seats on January 1
Mon Dieu. How had the wizards moved so quickly? He had been away from the Beyond for only a month.
Jean ripped the flyer from the wall and took it with him to his usual table in the far left corner, near the back door leading into the alley. One never knew when a hasty escape might be needed. A successful man such as himself had enemies, even in Old Orleans, the Beyond’s version of a border town between the preternatural and human worlds.
Waving off the barman’s attempt at conversation after bringing the customary glass of brandy, Jean ran a scarred finger down the list of candidates. Each preternatural group would have its allotment of representatives on the council. The nominees for the larger groups like wizards, shapeshifters, and elves filled the top part of the sheet. At the end of the roster was the entry he sought:
Self-nominated to Represent the Historical Undead:
President Andrew Jackson
The very name sent anger racing through Jean’s blood. Not only had that arrogant peacock never lived in New Orleans, he was a priggish, dishonest tyrant who should not be allowed to represent so much as a goat.
Frowning, Jean sipped his brandy and studied the barroom, filled even at midday with denizens of the Beyond’s border town, all drinking alcohol and smoking small cigars he’d smuggled from the modern world.
He motioned for the barman, who hurried over with a face blanched in alarm. At least someone in Old Orleans had the proper fear of incurring the wrath of the famous privateer Jean Lafitte. “You are unhappy with something, Captain?”
Mais oui, he was most unhappy. He jabbed a finger at the flyer. “Monsieur Jackson. Does he frequent the establishments in Old Orleans? Do you know if he is now living in the city?” One could usually rely on a purveyor of spirits to know the affairs of a community. Even the goings-on of a man such as Jackson, who would consider himself far too superior to be seen in a common barroom.
The barman scanned the crowd and spoke softly. “The president has been known to frequent the home of the Baroness de Pontalba when she holds her soirees. She’s said to be having a large one this very evening to celebrate his nomination to the Interspecies Council. He rents an apartment across the square from her when he is in the city. Number four.”
Jean slid a coin across the table and sat back with a smile as he crushed the flyer in his fist and threw it to the floor. He needed to pay a visit to that blackguard Andrew Jackson.
And there’s your preview! You’ll also see some other familiar faces, as DJ, Alex and Rene Delachaise each have small roles in the story.
Now…did you win a book this week? I’m still (always) trying to get caught up on mailings. Life won’t leave me alone! If you see your name please email me with your snail-mail info to suzannej3523 at gmail dot com.
JOANNE won Friday’s five-book TBR Clearance prize.
SANDYG265 won her choice of The Golem and the Jinni, or a mystery book from my TBR pile in her choice of genre.
CHRISTINA KIT won the $10 gift card to her online etailer of choice for participating in Shop Talk this week. Let me know your preferred site.
GAMISTRESS66 won this week’s Reader’s Choice contest, and picked Prince of Shadows by Nancy Gideon.
And that’s it for today! Come back tomorrow for a MONSTROUS Reader’s Choice selection.