In 1814, we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip…
New Orleans recently celebrated the 200th commemoration of the historic battle that wears its name — the last armed conflict in which American forces faced a foreign army on U.S. soil. And, in true Big Easy fashion, the attendees turned it into one very big victory celebration.
The original battle took place on January 8, 1815, and brought the War of 1812 to a close with a British defeat. The conflict was unique in American history as it was the only armed clash that took place after its war was technically (though not officially) over. American and English forces previously agreed to end hostilities, but the treaties weren’t sign, sealed and delivered before General Andrew Jackson led his mix of regular army and militiamen south through Louisiana to meet the English before they could reach New Orleans.
About 3,000 veteran re-enactors headed to New Orleans to re-create the battle for interested New Orleans locals and lovers of history. The anniversary was a week-long affair with more than 10,000 spectators watching as the battle raged again. The men and women who work to make history come alive again make sure their uniforms, weapons, camp equipment and other paraphernalia are period accurate to revisit 1815 with as much devotion to detail as possible.
Once fighting commences, the muskets crack and the cannons boom — sending massive smoke rings into the sky and the smell of gunpowder wafting into the hills. The players know their characters’ actual historical fates, knowing when to die and when to attack or retreat in keeping with the battle records.
The battle re-creations were narrated by Tim Pickles, a New Orleans-based actor and the man who plays General Edward Pakenham, the ill-fated commander of the British expeditionary force that fell in Louisiana, during any event looking back to the conflict of 1815..The Bourbon Orleans Hotel served as the HQ for the British Forces, hosting General Pakenham’s Last Supper and other events to turn the look back at the Battle of New Orleans into a party worthy of its hometown.
Below you can look through a collection of images from the Battle of New Orleans reenactment and the surrounding pageantry. As the photos reveal, it was a serious family affair with attention paid to historical accuracy. Once assembled, it was both an important look back to a key and often forgotten moment in American history and another inspiring moment in a city full of them.