Posts Tagged With: Battle of New Orleans

CHALMETTE BATTLEFIELD

From Mary’s desk:

The Battle of New Orleans led by Maj. General Andrew Jackson against the British Maj. General Sir Edward Pakenham took place on  the Chalmette Plantation just 6 miles south of New Orleans. The “real” war was far removed from New Orleans and was instigated by impressment of sailors,  the British fomenting the Indians,  and the desire for some Americans to annex parts of British held Canada. The war was moving half-heartedly because Britain was also fighting Napoleon. Once they defeated Napoleon,  the British moved battle hardened troops to finish the job and wipe up the Americans. One aim was to take the Port of New Orleans and control access to the interior.   In fact a treaty was signed before the battle of New Orleans took place but Pakenham was ordered to keep on fighting until the Treaty was ratified.

Pakenham had encountered and won several skirmishes leading up to Chalmette, his troops were tired and he proposed to rest. When Jackson found his troops were nearby, they decided to engage them immediately, as night was falling. They stationed themselves behind this small levee formed the Rodriquez Canal from which the plantation watered their crops.  Every manuever Pakenham tried was met with heavy fire from American embattlements and in the morning, the American troops were aghast at a sea of red bodies on the opposite side of the canal.

The British dead exceeded 2000, the Americans 18. The battle was a turning point in the war. Britain finally recognized that Americans were a serious challenge and couldn’t be fought so far from home.

A National Cemetery was dedicated on this battlefield in 1864 for the reinterment of Union Soldiers who died in Civil War Hospitals and were buried in nearby locations. Ultimately, 15,000 veterans and some dependents of wars on American soil were placed here, over 6,000 of them unknown.

The gravestones reflect the company, infantry, cavalry or other designations of rank and place as in the stone above, hospital steward and below, volunteer infantry from the Spanish American war.

The battlefield was flooded during Katrina and the visitor center destroyed. It is just now being rebuilt as so many places in Louisiana still wait even after five years.

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St. LOUIS CATHEDRAL AND THE CABILDO

From Mary’s desk:

On the 18th and 19th we visited the Cabildo, the St. Louis Cathedral and the 1850 House, all connected in a surround which makes up one end and one side of Jackson Square in the European manner of government. Even small villages in France and Spain were set up in this manner. The church, the offices of government, the communal well, the market,  all centrally and efficiently located for people to gather and do business.

The St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest Catholic Church in the United States. Built in 1717, replaced, burned down and the final Cathedral stands on the same spot. The Ursuline Convent, nearby, is believed to be the oldest French building still standing in the Mississippi Valley. Interesting that the Ursulines and Jesuits both had slaves during the Antibellum years. Then later, they took in children of slaves and did many good works. Politics and religion were closely entwined making me grateful our constitutional fathers had the wisdom to separate Church and State.

This beautiful carved wooden hand, fronted by a mothers beautiful face,  held the head of the baby to be baptized.

The carved wooden pulpit is also a beautiful work of art as are the stained glass windows that line both sides of the church. Beautiful old world type frescoes cover the ceiling. A must see if you get to New Orleans.

The Cabildo, which is the Spanish word for Government Council, is one of the most comprehensive, thorough and easy to understand museums I’ve ever visited. Louisiana typically does a  great job on their museums and keeps the prices affordable as well. Not all of them have the whirlwind Jimmy Jackson at their service, however. Jimmy gives you the best tour, suggests places to eat to suit your taste (if asked) and made our museum tour extra relevant.

Its tough to give a true feel for the place. It takes you from the early Indians,  through the War of 1812, the Civil War and reconstruction. Added to that was a modern Rock and Roll exhibit and a gallery of the years best pictures of 2009 culled to 85 from 55,0000 submitted.  I was impressed by the fact that the Indians here so outnumbered the settlers, both French and Spanish, that they could compete with the intruders. They held tightly to the secrets of their medicinal herbs and bartered  using  the knowledge of food plants, the land, the swamps, and weather. All the settlers failed at growing wheat and embraced the local food of the Indians. Only later did they turn to rice and sugar and tobacco. The photo above is playing cards used in place of hard currency. Readily available, one card equaled about 12 cents.

And, as always, appalled at man’s inhumanity to man. Above is a slave collar with bells. The slaves, despite their servitude, managed as best they could, some sense of community and family. That is here too. In fact, the records indicate that more slaves and free people of color attended church, were baptized, married and participated than the settlers.

The Louisiana purchase, signing the papers for transfer from the Spain, to France to the United State is covered fully here. The papers were signed in this building. The Battle of New Orleans is also comprehensively covered. Don’t miss this museum when you visit. The picture above is one of thousands of bottles used to mark the borders of the Louisiana Purchase. Survey notes were sealed inside and the bottles were buried in huge heaps to mark their spot. Not all of them were recovered and could still be out there waiting for somebody to find.

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The Battle Of New Orleans

Jim says: Yesterday was our final day in the New Orleans, Louisiana area (for this visit). On a beautiful sunny Saturday, with temperatures in the low 60’s, with a gentle breeze we headed for the site of the The Battle Of New Orleans.

Located six miles to the South of New Orleans, it is known locally as the Chalmette Battlefield because it was fought on the grounds of the then Chalmette Plantation. This area was especially hard-hit by hurricane Katrina and after almost five years the battlefield area is still in the recovery process.

We crossed the Mississippi River TWICE by ferry today as part of our journey. First from the West Bank to the East Bank on the Algiers-Chalmette Ferry and on return on the Port Nickel-Bell Chasse Ferry.

Picture
The American front line of defense in the Battle of new Orleans.

After the battlefield we visited the Chalmette U.S. National Cemetery just one mile South where over 15,000 veterans and their dependents are buried.

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The Chalmette U. S. National Cemetery.

To see the other 39 photos I took, click this link…
http://picasaweb.google.com/jimjrver/20100220NewOrleansLA022010#

Here’s the official government link for the Chalmette Battlefield…
http://www.nps.gov/jela/chalmette-battlefield.htm

Here’s a Wikipedia link about the Battle of New Orleans…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_New_Orleans

Parts of Chalmette were under 15 feet of water from Hurricane Katrina, here’s a Wikipedia informational link…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalmette,_Louisiana

Today we leave the Bayou Segnette Louisiana State Park where we have been situated for the last 14 days for the Town of Venice situated at the mouth of the Mississippi River. It’s only about 80 miles away and we probably will not arrive there until tomorrow.

This departure all begins a notable change in our RVing lifestyle. Since Mary met me in Tucson on January 9th we have traveled about 2,000 miles and have “been on the go!” We had a commitment to arrive in New Orleans on February 7th for Mardi Gras. Next commitment is to arrive in New England near the end of May…about three months from now. For the next month or so, we are going to substantially slow the pace by hanging out and enjoying the many features of Southern Louisiana. Be sure to follow along with us as we do so.

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2010
For more information about my three books, click this link:
http://www.panamaorbust.com

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PIRATES AND SWAMPLAND

I suspect that the town of Jean Lafitte is the only town in America named for a pirate. Many pirate movies use the type of landscape available in the 20,000 acre Louisiana Barataria Preserve we visited yesterday, just a small part of where Lafitte plied his trade. Lafitte was sort of the Robin Hood of the high seas, commanding and feeding over 1,000 men who escaped the tyranny of the British Government and took to piracy. Lafitte controlled the whole territory of Barataria, a swampland so vast and difficult, no one could dare to catch them. He saw himself as serving an economic need, in a new country, helping to feed and clothe a part of the population the government ignored. He was arrested and his ships taken by the American Authorities who hounded him and then pardoned him three times. He identified with the Americans. He tried to warn them they were about to be attacked by the British. He sided with Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 and gained a pardon for his crimes. In his own sense of honor, he left Barataria and quit piracy in the Louisiana area. He didn’t consider himself a pirate, but a privateer. He moved his operations to Galveston and founded a new empire there. He was a gentlemanly figure with impeccable manners and felt betrayed by a country that didn’t understand his aim. He never attacked an American ship.

Book cover: Jean Lafitte

Book cover: Jean Lafitte “The Corsair”
by E.H. Suydan

Jim and I hiked about 4 miles through the swampland on lovely manicured plank walkways at a time of year without mosquitos, no leaves on the trees and not much of the storied wildlife this area is famous for. We saw birds and squirrels that darted away with lightening speed. Signs that read: Do not feed the alligators. Places where plant life was crushed as though some awakened critter languished on a spare piece of ground. Wintering cardinals were beautiful in this gray bearded environment of Spanish Moss. The day was crisp and cool, the air clean, and we’d like to come back in the spring or summer to see the same place with a different landscape. What we saw will be covered over and invisible at another time of year: amazing fungi, water reflections, bright red lichen, stark cypress ghosts against a blue, blue sky and changing environments of the fecund swampland asleep.
This beautiful white heron stood and posed for us for several minutes
The bright red wintering cardinal showy in the gray of a winter swamp.
A few flowers and berries overwinter and feed busy squirrels.
Cypress knobs poke up their heads among the roots of young trees. Cypress is a soft wood almost logged to extinction because of its resistance to rot. Few huge slow growing cypress are left. Two in the whole preserve.
Interesting fungi, here are only two of many varieties we saw.
Splashy colored lichens, something unnoticeable in summer or spring.


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