It was broad daylight when the British point reached the head of Bayou Mazant. Maj. Gen. John Keane had accompanied the advance, and now he decided to get to the river road by way of the Villere Canal. The canal's length was 8 miles, the first quarter of which rerquired a bridge of boats in some places. by 10:00 A.M., the entire advanced party had landed and was toiling toward the river road through the heavy swampy terrain. Loitering around the Villere Canal was 30 American militiamen when a detachment of British soldiers surprised and captured them. Maj. Gabriel Villere, their commander, jumped out of a window, and made his way through the swamp to carry the alarm to Gen. Andrew Jackson.
After leaving the canal, ?? Thorton advanced for about 1/2 mile toward New Orleans and stopped. He had only 1,600 men. Certain officers recommended to Keane that the column stay in the tall reeds until the advance. Thorton, in contrast, wanted to push on without delay as far as possible. Informants told him that the city had only 5,000 American defenders, and that a swift thrust would be able to capture it. Keane, however, believed Joseph Ducros, a prisoner who inflated the number to 10,000 men.he ordered Thornton to put his brigade into bivouac and wait for reinforcements.
A rumor of British presence reached Jackson at noon, and Villere soon confirmed it. He ordered the town ransacked for firearms, and every able-bodied man, enrolled in some military unit, called out. By sunset, jackson had accumulated a force of about 2,100 men. These men advanced to the LaRonde plantation, undetected by the British, and took a position concealed by an avenue of trees. Seperating them from the British force was a cultivated area about 1,200 yards wide, bounded on the north by a swamp, and on the south by the Mississippi River, here 1,000 yards across.
The American schooner, USS Carolina, carrying 14 guns and 95 men, slipped unoticed in the gloaming into position to enfilade the British camp, now brightly illuminated by campfires. Jackson had agreed with Commodore Daniel Patterson that the ship's first gunfire would start the battle. At 7:30 P.M. on December 23, she fired a shot. They threw the British camp into confusion. Half an hor later, Jackson moved forward to the attack. In the total darkness, friends were indistinguishable from foes. and fired into each other. the fight lasted for hours.
In spite of the losses, Thornton wanted to move out toward the city the next day, but Keane decided to wait for the rest of his army.