Battle of New Orleans returnsJan 9th, 2012 | By William Dilella | Category: News
Nearly 200 years since the start of the war pitting British and American forces against each other once more, the battles fought and the ideals upheld are still honored. St. Bernard Parish, for it’s part in one of the defining battles of the War of 1812, will once again hold it’s historical remembrance exhibits and showcase reenactments of skirmishes.
The toils of war
“Many people believe that this last great battle of the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain was unnecessary, since the treaty ending the war was signed in late 1814,” says the National Park Service (NPS).
However, the battle that took place January 8, 1815, several weeks after the Treaty of Ghent was signed, was more than a definitive defense of the recently won war, but a signal of things to come on the world’s stage.
“The resounding American victory at the Battle of New Orleans soon became a symbol of a new idea: American democracy triumphing over the old European ideas of aristocracy and entitlement,” says the release for the NPS. “General Andrew Jackson’s hastily assembled army had won the day against a battle-hardened and numerically superior British force. Americans took great pride in the victory and for decades celebrated January 8 as a national holiday, just like the Fourth of July.”
197 years since the battle of New Orleans, the St. Bernard Parish Government will commemorate the feats performed on the Chalmette Battlefield, along with the Louisiana Living History Foundation. A reenactment will be performed on the neighboring site of La Ronde Oaks—located near what is now Paris Road and St. Bernard Highway.
“The event is a depiction of the American and British forces’ night skirmish which took place on December 23, 1814,” said Tourism Director Elizabeth “Gidget” McDougall. “The British and American [reenactors] have a re-creation of this particular skirmish, but it is held off-site.”
And though not the exact location, La Ronde does hold historical significance for the battle, as it served as a British Hospital during the hostilities.
The move by the National Park Service to hold these reenactments off-site, according to McDougall, is out of respect for the soldiers who died on that hallowed field.
“But the living historical volunteers love to do this,” McDougall said.
The National Park Service, operating locally from the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, will be operating the facilities and festivities that take place within the Chalmette Battlefield on that day.
The event will reflect those of years past, but Kristy Wallisch, with the National Park Service, said that the NPS has added more this year.
“We’re going to do a Battle of New Orleans Quest,” Wallisch said. “And that will take participants around, like a scavenger hunt, and let children and their families explore the whole of the battlefield.”
There’s an app for that
And there is an application available in both the Android marketplace and in the iTunes store, for those with the technological wherewithal and an inkling to do their own investigation through the hallowed grounds.
The “War of 1812” app not only maps the fields fought on all across the country, but provides snippets of historical context to fill in the novice hunter on what took place exactly where they are walking. The app even includes an augmented realty feature, which allows the user to view information of the landscape laid out before them that has been tagged with information about the events that took place all those years ago.
So, if so inclined, one could follow up on all the facts and showcases that comprise the war, from as far away as New York and Pennsylvania, or locally like the ones at the Battlefield or the Battle Lake of Borgne—which took place as a precursor to the Battle of New Orleans between outclassed American gunboats and high power British barges.
The Battle of New Orleans anniversary will be held on January 6 and 7, and will conclude with a wreath-laying ceremony on January 8, at 9:30 a.m. In conjunction with the Anniversary Celebration there will be an Art & Craft Fair at the Aycock Barn (at 409 Aycock Street) which will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on January 7.