Highlanders advance at the Battle of New Orleans, 1815 [extended]
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Extracts from the 1958 movie âThe Buccaneerâ (119 min). Music by Elmer Bernstein.
âThe Buccaneerâ is a 1958 War film, made by Paramount Pictures â as was the 1938 version -- and shot in Technicolor and VistaVision. The historical setting is during the War of 1812, telling a heavily fictionalized version of how the pirate Jean Lafitte helped in the Battle of New Orleans and how he had to choose between fighting for America or for the side most likely to win, the United Kingdom.
The film is a remake of the 1938 film of the same name which starred Fredric March and Akim Tamiroff. The 1938 version was produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille, but he was seriously ill by the time the 1958 version was made, so he was only the executive producer on that version, leaving his then son-in-law, Anthony Quinn, to direct. It was the only film that Quinn ever directed. Henry Wilcoxon, DeMille's long-time friend, who made frequent appearances in his films, was the actual producer, and DeMille did not receive screen credit, though students of his films would probably say that his touch is obvious throughout the film. Nevertheless, DeMille was unhappy with the film and tried unsuccessfully to improve it; critical response was generally unfavourable, despite some impressive battle scenes.
The 1958 film stars Yul Brynner as Lafitte, Charles Boyer in the Akim Tamiroff role and Claire Bloom. Charlton Heston plays a supporting role as Andrew Jackson. It was the second time that Heston had played Jackson, having portrayed him earlier in the film âThe President's Ladyâ. Also featured in the cast are Inger Stevens, Henry Hull, E. G. Marshall, Lorne Greene, Ted de Corsia, Ed Hinton, and Douglass Dumbrille.
The main attack began under darkness and a heavy fog, but as the British neared the main enemy line the fog lifted, exposing them to withering artillery fire. Lt-Col. Thomas Mullins, the British commander of the 44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot, had forgotten the ladders and fascines needed to cross the eight-foot-deep and fifteen-foot-wide canal and scale the earthworks, and confusion evolved in the dark and fog as the British tried to close the gap. Most of the senior officers were killed or wounded, including Major General Samuel Gibbs, who was killed leading the main attack column on the right comprising the 4th, 21st, 44th and 5th West India Regiments, and Colonel Rennie who led a detachment of three light companies of the 7th, 43rd, and 93rd on the left by the river.
Possibly because of Thornton's delay in crossing the river and the withering artillery fire that might hit them from across the river, the 93rd Highlanders were ordered to leave Keane's assault column advancing along the river and move across the open field to join the main force on the right of the field. Keane fell wounded as he crossed the field with the 93rd. Rennie's men managed to attack and overrun an American advance redoubt next to the river, but without reinforcements they could neither hold the position nor successfully storm the main American line behind it. Within a few minutes, the American 7th Infantry arrived, moved forward, and fired upon the British in the captured redoubt: within half an hour, Rennie and nearly all of his men were dead. In the main attack on the right, the British infantrymen either flung themselves to the ground, huddled in the canal, or were mowed down by a combination of musket fire and grapeshot from the Americans. A handful made it to the top of the parapet on the right but were either killed or captured. The 95th Rifles had advanced in open skirmish order ahead of the main assault force and were concealed in the ditch below the parapet, unable to advance further without support.
The two large main assaults on the American position were repulsed. Pakenham and his second-in-command, Major General Samuel Gibbs, were fatally wounded while on horseback, by grapeshot fired from the earthworks. Major Wilkinson of the 21st Regiment reformed his lines and made a third assault. They were able to reach the entrenchments and attempted to scale them. Wilkinson made it to the top, before being shot. The Americans were amazed at his bravery and carried him behind the rampart. With most of their senior officers dead or wounded, the British soldiers, including the 93rd Highlanders, having no orders to advance further or retreat, stood out in the open and were shot apart with grapeshot from Line Jackson. General Lambert was in the reserve and took command. He gave the order for his reserve to advance and ordered the withdrawal of the army. The reserve was used to cover the retreat of what was left of the British army in the field.