Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PAKENHAM, Sir Edward Michael, British soldier, born in Pakenham Hall, County Westmeath, Ireland, 19 March, 1778; died near New Orleans, Louisiana, 8 January, 1815. He was the second son of the Earl of Longford. His early education must have been that of a mere school-boy, for he became a lieutenant in the 92d foot on 28 May, 1794, and a captain in the same regiment on 31 May of the same year. On 6 December he was made a major in the 33d dragoons, and on 1 January, 1798, he was transferred to the 23d dragoons. He was subsequently promoted to lieutenant-colonel, 17 October, 1'799, brevet-colonel, 25 October, 1809, and major-general, 1 January, 1812. Pakentmm served in the peninsula and the south of France under his brother-in-law, the Duke of Wellington, in various capacities. After corn-man(ling first a battalion and then a brigade, he became adjutant-general, and finally was placed at the head of the division that broke the French centre at the battle of Salamanca. The duke used to say that this was the best-manceuvred battle in the whole war. The two armies faced each other, and moved in parallel lines for three days. They saw clearly from opposite rising grounds whatever went on in either camp, the valley that divided them measuring not more than half a mile across. General Marmont's object was to interpose between Wellington and Badajoz; Wellington's object, to prevent this. In their eagerness to gain their point, the French leading divisions outmarched those that followed, and thus caused a vacant space in the centre, of which the duke took instant advantage. " Now's your time, Ned," he said to Pakenham, who stood near him. The hint was enough. Pakenham kissed his brother-in-law, and, giving the word to his division, moved on, and won the battle The death of General Ross before Baltimore led to the selection of Pakenham to command the British force that had hitherto operated in the Chesapeake, but which were now to be used in an expedition against New Orleans. He ought to have joined it in Jamaica, to which re-enforcements were sent, but adverse winds detained him, and he did not reach his command till after the landing had been effected below New Orleans and an action had taken place in which each side had lost more than 200 men. He found the army in a false position on a narrow neck of land flanked on one side by Mississippi river, and on the other by an impassable morass. He had opposed to him one of the ablest of the generals that the United States has produced. (See J, CKSON, ANDREW.) After a costly reconnoissance, Pakenham erected bastions of hogsheads of sugar, and mounted thirty guns, but on 1 January, 1815, these defences were destroyed by the American fire. In the week that followed both sides were re-enforced. It is just possible that if Pakenham had been patient enough to wait the development of his own plans he might have carried the American lines and entered New Orleans. It was his intention to attack on both sides of the river before dawn on 8 January But there was delay in crossing, and he impatiently sent up the signal rocket before his men on the west side of the river were ready. He was killed in the unsuccessful assault that followed.
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