The British at the Gates:
The New Orleans Campaign in the War of 1812

Robin Reilly
Foreword by Donald E. Graves

In 1814, Britain mounted a massive seaborne assault against the United States. The British burned public buildings in Washington, forcing President Madison and his cabinet to flee the city, but the Americans successfully defended Baltimore (commemorated in “The Star-Spangled Banner”). The British then sailed south to launch a bold ­attack on New Orleans, which was defeated by the Americans under the inspired leadership of Andrew Jackson.

A fascinating blend of diplomatic, social and military history, the book sets the battles to capture New Orleans within the context of the War of 1812, explaining the issues that led the United States to declare war on Britain. Here are the glitter and decadence of New Orleans on the eve of battle, the heroics and crafty dealings of the pirate Jean Lafitte, and the military triumphs and fiascoes that preceded the final conflict beside the Mississippi River.

Robin Reilly’s account of the Battle of New Orleans and the events that led to it is regarded by many experts as ­unsurpassed. This is the first paperback edition.

Robin Reilly was born in England. After serving as an officer in the Royal Artillery, he worked for Josiah Wedgwood and Sons, eventually becoming general manager, before starting a long career as a writer. He lives in England.


“This is battle history at its best – scholarly and lively.” Library Journal

“An objective and incisive account. [Reilly] holds our interest while he outlines the broad picture of international politics. The tempo increases with the attack on Washington and Andrew Jackson’s perilous expedition down the Mississippi, and then the reader is prepared and waiting for the big confrontation in New Orleans. The battle scenes are graphic.” Publishers Weekly

“Judicious and perceptive.” Kirkus Reviews

“The author, a British historian, has lived enough years in New Orleans to show the warmth of his personal feelings for its people, its history and its traditions. Objective and incisive, scholarly yet lively, this is a fascinating exploration of the Battle of New Orleans.” Sunday Advocate, Baton Rouge

“Anyone interested in military or political history will enjoy it.” Jackson Sun, Jackson, Tennessee

“An excellent account, particularly of the campaign and conditions in Louisiana.” Financial Times, London

“Good story-telling, fair comment and balanced history.” The Economist, London

“An important work based on a careful study of primary and secondary evidence… Reilly writes with a clear, vivid and highly readable style.” Louisiana History, Baton Rouge

“Deserves a high place on the Louisiana history shelf. It is a fine piece of research and writing.” Times-Picayune, New Orleans

“Reilly has produced an excellent, highly-readable work which must be reckoned with by scholars. It will be enjoyed by the general reader as well.” Florida Historical Quarterly