Friday, February 04, 2022

Fullbore Friday

The American tradition in the relationship between officers and enlisted personnel is not mostly the norm for Western Armies. Some more than others, but roughly the norm. It was not always so in Western Armies - and in isolated cases, in our military either.

Partially due to the revolutionary nature of our nation's birth, but mostly due to the example set by many of its earliest leaders and mentors, the habits established in the 18th and 19th centuries in our military fit a military of a free republic well.

That relationship resulted from the benchmark set by great leaders whose actions set the example for others to follow.

One of those leaders was Andrew Jackson. Most know his nickname, Old Hickory, but few known how he got it.

In the finest traditions of the military service;
Quick to take offense, Jackson was known for his sudden flashes of rage and propensity for dueling. But when given the opportunity to command troops, he also showed his strong leadership ability and earned the respect of his men.

Jackson received his first opportunity to lead in 1813. He and the 2nd Division Tennessee Regiment were sent to Washington (just north of Natchez, in what is now Mississippi) to defend against a possible attack by the British on New Orleans. Jackson battled a lack of supplies for his troops and confusion over who had ultimate control of his militia: Jackson, as an elected Major General in the militia, or Major General James Wilkinson, an experienced leader in charge of the regular US troops in New Orleans.

When Jackson received an order to disband his troops immediately, he refused to cast his volunteers adrift to find their own way home, and pledged his own money to finance the supplies needed for the trip back along the Natchez Trace to Tennessee. He gave up his horses for the sick, and walked along side of his men-encouraging them when needed, and disciplining them when necessary. His determination, combined with his willingness to suffer alongside his men, caused his men to come up with the nickname "Old Hickory."
Jackson is so often shown on a horse, but he really should be shown off a horse, with a wounded man on a horse riding beside him. 

Now I see why my ancestors fought with him.

First posted in May 2014.
UPDATE: Remember, if you want to read up on Jackson, you can't beat Claude's latest book, On Wide Seas: The US Navy in the Jacksonian Era.

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