It’s time again to relive that historic but fateful battle 203 years ago on the Chalmette Battlefield, only seven miles from the French Quarter. In the Battle of New Orleans, Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson led his American troops to defeat a strong British army under Gen. Edward Pakenham in a fight that shaped the history of the city.
From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, throngs of re-enactors will make history come to life, giving thousands of visitors a glimpse at the mindset and preparations for the battle by the soldiers and the camp followers who supported the troops in the Jan. 8, 1815, battle.
Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds and smells of January 1815 with campfires, cannons and living history experts in period dress as civilians and soldiers. They will witness military drills, musket and cannon firing, music, as well as hands-on activities and period craft demonstrations.
There will be a series of events, including the revival of the popular night-time tours of the battlefield for the final major battle of the War of 1812. Lantern tours will be from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday as well. The battlefield is located at 8606 West St. Bernard Highway, Chalmette.
“We are expecting about 100 living history folks with cannons on both American and British sides,” said Kristy Wallisch, a National Park Service public information officer. “Period craft demonstrators will be offering hands-on activities to allow visitors to try to do some skills that were so necessary in 1815.”
Last year, thousands of students came out on a Friday, but there will be no Friday student activities this year. The new plan is to focus on small groups to provide a better educational experience with visits throughout the year, Wallisch said. However, at Saturday’s event, there will be children’s activities, including historic games.
During the day, public parking will be at St. Bernard Parish Government Complex, 8201 W. Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette. Free shuttle buses will leave regularly from the parking area to the battlefield. The first will leave at 8:45 a.m., and the last at 2:15 p.m. The last shuttle will return to the parking area at 3:15 p.m. The full event schedule is available at www.nps.gov.
There will be a wreath-laying ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Monday, the actual anniversary of the battle, to honor the troops who fought there. Park at the battlefield at 8606 W. St. Bernard Highway, Chalmette. The battlefield will open for parking at 9 a.m.
The guided lantern tours of the battlefield will include a series of about a half-dozen 10-minute vignettes in which living history re-enactors present how people were planning and feeling on the eve of the battle, said Tony Ortego, artistic director for The Company – A St. Bernard Community Theatre.
“We have re-enactors coming in from all over with more and more notifying us daily,” Ortego said.
In addition to the battle preparation scenes including campfires on the rampart near the battlefront, there will be a vignette on what the Ursuline nuns were doing before the battle. Besides holding a prayer vigil, they were sending supplies for the battle and tending the wounded.
Ortego said the piece is a revival of a one-act play about the nuns called “Miracle Women” that was written and produced for the 2015 Bi-Centennial Celebration.
Lantern tour tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.showtix4u.com. The link to tickets will be posted on The Company – A St. Bernard Parish Community Theatre Facebook page. You also can call The Company at (504) 507-0015 to purchase tickets.
The free daily ranger talks about the battle, at 10:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m., will be held Sunday. However, there will be no talk and the battlefield visitor center will be closed Jan. 15 for the federal holiday. The talks are at the Chalmette Battlefield of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. For more information, call (504) 281-0510 or visit www.nps.gov/jela.
New center to be blessed
Archbishop Gregory Aymond will bless the new Community Center at Our Lady of Lourdes Church at 4 p.m. Jan. 13. The church is located at 2621 Colonial Drive, Violet. For more information, call (504) 682-7070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NARFE officers sworn in
NARFE, the National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees, Vernon N. Landry Chapter 1398, St. Bernard, recently swore in new officers. They are President Michael Bendich, Vice President Ellen Barrois, Second Vice President John Catalanotte, Secretary Kim Janneck and Treasurer Sylvia Keller. Pamela Lincoln of Chapter 41 administered the oath.
Vernon N. Landry Chapter 1398 meets on the second Wednesday of the month. Any active or retired federal/postal employee is eligible and encouraged to join NARFE.