courtesy COUNTRY ROADS MAGAZINE
Tuesday, January 06, 2015 – Sunday, January 11, 2015
It’s a bicentennial in St. Bernard! Each year on January 8, over 150 re-enactors gather to commemorate the Battle of New Orleans, in which American troops landed a victory over the British opposition in the final major conflict of the War of 1812. 2015 marks two hundred years since the battle took place, and Chalmette Battlefield National Park and the Louisiana Living History Foundation (LLHF) aren’t skimping on living-history exhibits, cannon-fire demonstrations, children’s activities, lectures, and the largest re-enactment ever put on for the War of 1812. Activities include:
January 6: General Pakenham’s Final Supper, presented by LLHF and the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, adopts the finery and fashion of a British Mess as the enemy troops dined in high style before the big skirmish. Raise a glass to King George! Cocktails start at 6:30 pm; the five-course dinner at 7:30 pm. 717 Orleans Street. $149; tax and gratuity included. Reservations at (504) 571-4672. Costumes welcome.
January 7: Memorial Service at the grave of Jordon Noble in St. Louis Cemetery #1 presented by LLHF. Jordon Noble was an African-American enlisted soldier and drummer of the 7th U.S. Infantry. After the Battle of New Orleans, Noble stayed in New Orleans and is a legend in the Treme neighborhood in which he lived. Visit lalivinghistory.org for more information.
January 8: Commemoration Day, presented by the park, will be marked with a morning ceremony reflecting the importance of the bicentennial as well as the many people and groups involved in the battle. 8606 West Saint Bernard Highway.
January 9: LLHF kicks off the re-enactments this evening with a staging of the December 23, 1814 night battle at their reenactment site, 8207 Patricia Street. Earlier in the day, a second line parade of Jackson’s troops will wind through the French Quarter. Both events are free. More details at lalivinghistory.org.
January 10: The LLHF battlefield at 8207 Patricia Street is the setting for re-enactments of the second, third, and fourth skirmishes in the overall conflict. It starts with The Reconnaissance in Force (December 28, 1914), followed by The Artillery Duel (January 1, 1815) and The British Victory on the West Bank (January 8, 1815). $10; free for children under 12. Out of the elements, the Friends of Cabildo hosts a symposium at the Old U.S. Mint with presentations and panel discussions. 10 am–4 pm at 400 Esplanade Avenue.
January 11: Andrew Jackson’s great victory comes to life as the Battle of New Orleans is re-enacted on the LLHF battlefield. $10; free for children under 12. Following the battle, Antoine’s Restaurant in the French Quarter (itself a historic setting) will host a Victory Dinner and Ball to celebrate the big win. 713 Saint Louis Street. Details and ticketing information to follow.
For up-to-date information on all the events, visit lalivinghistory.org or nps.gov/jela.
Battle of New Orleans written and produced by Jeffery Pipes Guice
Article below courtesy COUNTRY ROADS MAGAZINE
January 8, 2015, marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the big Battle of New Orleans. (There was a little Battle of New Orleans during the Civil War, but it’s less interesting.) As with any battle, there were a lot of crucial “ifs.” If General Andrew Jackson hadn’t made a bilingual speech to New Orleans’ assembled (and significantly polyglot and international) residents in Jackson Square, addressing each racial and ethnic group separately to explain why each should want to defend New Orleans against the British; if Jackson hadn’t also broken the law, declaring martial law in New Orleans before the battle; and if a surprise attack hadn’t delayed the British so that only four thousand American troops could defend New Orleans against twice as many British troops on January 8, 1814, then New Orleans—and more importantly, control of the Mississippi River and the entire Louisiana Purchase, which were then in U.S. hands—might have been lost.
Historians long considered the Battle of New Orleans an afterthought to the War of 1812, fought after the United States and Great Britain had already negotiated terms to end the war. The war itself was also frequently swept under the historical rug, dismissed as a “spot of bother” between the still-young United States and a Britain distracted by Napoleon. Sure, Washington burned, and sure, we got The Star-Spangled Banner out of it; but by and large, the war was muscled out of the lineup of memorable American wars.
This view has recently been reevaluated, especially with respect to the significance of the Battle of New Orleans. Historians now point out that while the treaty ending the war, signed in Ghent in what eventually became Belgium, was signed and ratified by Britain before the battle, Congress had yet to see it due to the several weeks’ travel time across the Atlantic. The battle is now placed in its larger context, as part of a longer British campaign against the relatively short American Gulf Coast (the portion that was part of the United States before Florida and Texas came into the Union) and which could conceivably have resulted in New Orleans, with the rest of Louisiana, being torn off the United States and thrown back to Spain, in order to strengthen Spain against a bellicose France. Seen in this light, the War of 1812, and the Battle of New Orleans, deserve a much bigger place in history than they’ve been given so far; and St. Bernard Parish, site of the battlefield, is ready to celebrate the bicentennial with thrilling reenactments, cutting-edge research, and all the flash and excitement this anniversary deserves.
For years after the Battle of New Orleans, January 8 was celebrated as a day of national celebration, much like the Fourth of July. Do your part to revive this tradition by going out and sampling some of the wonderful living history that will play out all across St. Bernard Parish the week of the anniversary, having some fun, and remembering the good luck, great generalship, and even greater fighting Americans of all creeds, tongues, and colors that made this huge victory possible for our young country.
A tour of French Quarter sites and buildings connected to the Battle of New Orleans through fact as well as legend.