While Major General Edward Pakenham was scheduled to command the British army in Louisiana in December, 1814, the British attack began on December 23, 1814, two days before Pakenham's arrival. The interim commander, John Keane had proved too cautious, and the forces under Andrew Jackson's command were able to create an earthenwork at Rodriguez Canal.
Pakenham arrived on Christmas Day, with 3000 men and his second-in-command, Major General Samuel Gibbs. He immediately met with Gibbs, General Robert Ross, and Admiral Alexander Cochrane. Ross, who was acting only in an advisory capacity, quickly became a quiet ally for Pakenham, forcefully advancing ideas that Cochrane found distasteful but that Pakenham found agreeable. Thus, Pakenham was able to avoid a frontal assault on the American position, opting instead to attack Jackson's right flank. This plan called for removing the big guns from the naval vessels, attacking the American position at the west bank after pushing out the American war ships in the river itself. With the west bank secured, a frontal assault could work.
The attack on the west bank came on January 8, 1815. Concurrently, Pakenham was to personally oversee the attack on the Jackson Line and Chalmette. However, when Colonel William Thornton engaged the American Iron Battalion across the Mississippi River, Pakenham was forced to wait for the outcome of that battle before attacking Jackson.