Saturday, January 08, 2011

CWL On The Road---Battle of New Orleans Remembered on It's 196th Anniversary

The Battle of New Orleans fought on January 8, 1815, fourteen days after the armistice was signed, was the final engagement of the War of 1812. American commander Major General Andrew Jackson, defeated an invading British Army intent on seizing New Orleans and the vast territory the United States had acquired with the Louisiana Purchase. The Armistice Treaty of Ghent had been signed on December 24, 1814, peace would not the U.S until February. If the armistice had not be signed and if New Orleans had been occupied by the British, then the economic life of all U.S. territory drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries would have been at the mercy of the United Kingdom.

The Battle of New Orleans is interpreted by the National Park as well as it can with a park and budget that is limited in size. Taking the six mile trip by paddle wheeled steam ship from New Orleans to the park passes the largest American sugar refinery and other industrial sites. The sugar refinery is about a mile and a half north of the Chalmette field. In Note the southeast horizon in this picture. In the foreground are the American lines, in the center is the field of the British approach, behind the British approach field is a cemetery with 5,500 Civil War era graves. Next to the cemetery is an industrial site.

The 196th anniversary remembrance will include the dedication of the new visitor center. A visitor could take a brisk 90 second walk around the exterior of the building and reach the spot where the walk had begun. That is not to say that the visitor's center is a disappointment; for it size it does an adequate job and the bookstore has enough materials in it to satisfy most visitors to the site.

A tip to visitors: Drive to the park; it is less than twenty minutes from downtown New Orleans. CWL took the Cajun Queen riverboat which docked for only 35 minutes at the park. Nice trip on the river but way too little time to take in the battlefield and no time to take the walking tour of the British assault field or a visit to the cemetery.

CWL visited on the Friday before the Saturday and Sunday anniversary weekend. Reenactors were setting up and the park ranger expected about 150 men to represent the American 7th Regular army regiment, a battalion of free blacks, Louisiana militia, and the British army. Major General Jackson was present on the day that CWL visited and was asked if he indeed would have enough rope to hang every traitor in South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis. Jackson and CWL traded stories about the work of recognized Jackson authority Robert Remini, of the University of Illinois [Chicago Circle]. With the aid a National Endowment of the Humanities Award, CWL was a student of Remini's during a summer in 1984.

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