Sunday, September 20, 2009

Battle of New Orleans

I had always heard about the Battle of New Orleans, but never really paid much attention to the story. Yes, I had seen the statute of Andrew Jackson in the square down in the French Quarter, and knew he was important in some battle, but little did I know.

This monument, honoring the American victory in 1815, was proposed by Andrew Jackson in 1840. Construction was started in 1856 but stopped soon after due to lack of funds. It was started up again in 1894 and completed in 1908.

This plantation home, built by the widow Chalmatte in 1839, was not on the property at the time of the Battle of New Orleans.

These remains were. The De La Ronde family owned this home and some of the lands where the battle was fought. This was about where the British line was located yet De La Ronde was an American.

These trees were planted by the De La Ronde family in front of their home. Now there is an oil production facility on the river, but back then, the trees would have gone all the way to the riverbank.

January 8, 1815, was the defining moment for the Battle of New Orleans. General Andrew Jackson led his small group of American soldiers, along with many locals, to defend the port of New Orleans from what became the last battle in the Revolutionary War. Until the Civil War, January 8 was celebrated just like we now celebrate the 4th of July. Even though the United States declared their independence from Britain in 1776, we were still fighting skirmishes with Britain on and off until this battle. Dec 25, 1814, a treaty was proposed, but not ratified until February 1815. The British commander was under orders to continue to take the port, just in case the treaty was not ratified. But the British were soundly defeated. Over 2000 British were wounded or killed, with only 6 American casualties.

Now this is Fort Pike. It never saw battle of any kind, serving more as a trading post and slave holding place. The rains in the previous days left several inches of water throughout the fort. Although the water was dried up the day we were there, it had left lots of mud. They would not let us in. I noticed this fort was very similar in architecture to Fort Jackson and others I have seen. The ranger told us that over 80 forts around the U.S. were built using this plan.

Personally, I didn't see any mud, but we were assured it was there and we could not go in.

I also asked whether Katrina damaged this fort. The ranger said it destroyed trees in the area, did flood the structure, and did lots of damage to the bridge across the bayou, but no real damage to the structure. All the damage I was seeing was due to age.

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