Sunday, July 24, 2016
Review: Jack Caldwell’s THE PLAINS OF CHALMETTE – The Battle of New Orleans Brought to Life
Set in 1814 (and early 1815), this is the story of the Battle of New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812, told from both sides through one couple on the British side (Maj. James Fitzwilliam and his wife) and another on the American side (Maj. Matt Darcy and Anne-Marie Dansereau. On center stage are the military moves and the officers and men who fought in that battle, which extended over some time. The author gives us the benefit of his research with vivid details. There is a romance between Matt and Ann-Marie, but it is not the main theme.
The book presents a mixture of writing styles. At times, the author intercedes as “the narrator” giving us the historical background and telling us what happened. At other times, he reveals the thinking of the characters (mostly Matt and James) so we can experience the battle through their eyes.
On the American side, Maj. Matthew Darcy of Baltimore has been sent to help General Andrew Jackson defend the city. While he’s about it, he meets the daughter of a French (Acadian) plantation owner who hates the British and is none too fond of the Americans. Matt must win over Anne-Marie’s skeptical father if he is to make her his wife. Meanwhile, General Jackson must get the federal troops, the Kentucky backwoodsmen, the Creoles, the free blacks and Jean Lafitte’s Baratarian privateers to work together.
If you like rich detail in military campaigns and US history, you will enjoy this story. I must say that after a while, the passing parade of military officers’ names and the preparations for battle became a bit of a blur (I had no idea what most of the characters looked like), but I still enjoyed reading how the battle developed on both sides.
The romance, such it was, between Matt and Anne-Marie was not in the foreground for much of the book. (That neither the book description nor any other review I saw mentioned her name is telling.) This is mostly the story of a significant battle and those who played their part in it. And it held my interest.
Buy on Amazon.