powered by AFI
In August, 1814, as the British seize and burn the President's Palace in Washington, D.C., Senator Crawford of Louisiana plots with British naval officers to attack New Orleans. Meanwhile, the Corinthian sets sail from New Orleans carrying Marie de Remy, whose sister Annette loves privateer Jean Lafitte, who is wanted by Governor Claiborne. Lafitte and his thousand pirates hold Barataria, a territory of bayous which separates the ocean from New Orleans and claims allegiance to no nation. When pirate Captain Brown sinks the Corinthian , breaking Lafitte's rule never to attack an American ship, the sole survivor is a Dutch girl, Gretchen, who falls in love with Lafitte. On the advice of Crawford, the British bribe Lafitte to lead them through the bayous to attack General Andrew Jackson's army at New Orleans. Lafitte, however, convinces his men to fight for "the only shore that has let [them] stay" and turns the letters of conspiracy over to Claiborne. Now a man of honor, Lafitte proposes to Annette. Crawford, however, convinces Claiborne that Lafitte's letters were forged and when Lafitte's men greet the American ships, they are met with cannon fire and taken prisoner. Lafitte escapes, however, and when General Jackson learns of Crawford's demands for surrender, Lafitte offers his army of pirates in exchange for their pardon and a head start of one hour for his own escape. Behind bales of cotton, aided by Dominique You, ex-cannoneer for Napoleon, Lafitte defeats the Scottish army, while Jackson fights the British. That night at the victory ball, when Annette sees Gretchen wearing Marie's dress and the miniature of her mother, she demands to know the wherabouts of the Corinthian . As leader of his men, Lafitte takes responsibility for Brown's crime and is about to be hanged when Jackson fulfills his promise of Lafitte's escape. As Lafitte's ship sails, Gretchen, at his side, swears her loyalty to him.