As the morning went on the French Quarter slowly became untenable for our furry ones. More people, more anxiety. Not sure if our doggies were more stressed than us- that’s up for conjecture. We are not into crowds so we assume our mutzos aren’t either. We head back to the car, pay our parking fee and head out of the French Quarter .
Heading up I-10 towards camp in Slidell we see a sign to Chalmette Battlefield. Heck, it’s early, why not? So about 10 miles off of the interstate we find The Chalmette Battlefield. And we don’t have a clue as to the history of this place. But we’ll soon find out!
The British decided that they didn’t want to give up the colonies, now the United State of America. Great Britain had violated the U.S. maritime rights and were whipping up anti- U.S. sentiment with the Native Americans .
The battle was fought in 1815 on the plantation of the de Chalmet family, the very disciplined British led by Major General Sir Edward Pakenham against a rag tag U.S. army composed of volunteers and conscripts that General Andrew Jackson had assembled.
A situation that must have added a little angst for General Jackson was a brigade from Kentucky arrived without rifles believing that Jackson had arms for them but Jackson believed that they would bring their own.
The British arrived by boat via the Mississippi River which runs along side the de Chalmet Plantation. A few skirmishes were fought with little success then a major assault by the British in an attempt to conquer the Americans. Try as they might, the British could gain no ground and took heavy losses. British casualties in the first half hour of the major battle numbered 2000, American casualties 60. Again and again the British were repulsed. This action, believed to be the last major battle of the War of 1812, the Battle of New Orleans, is also known as the Battle of Charlmette.
We learn about the battlefield at the visitors center, then walk a portion of it. This place is one of three locations of the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park. The de Chalmet’s fate is much like so many plantation owners in the time of war- they went broke and sold the plantation to the St. Amand brothers. The St. Amands were prominent free people of color who already owned several plantations It was not unusual for free people of color to own plantations and slaves in Louisiana. The brothers rebuilt the property, repairing damage caused by the Battle of New Orleans and returning the land to sugar production.
Next door to the battlefield is the Chalmette National Cemetery. This place was established in 1864 for the reinterment of Union soldiers who died in hospitals in various nearby locations.
However, many Confederate soldiers are also buried here, as well as black Union soldiers of the same era, sometimes shoulder to shoulder with one another. This is much different that what we’ve observed in other parts of the north where Union and Confederate troops are segregated into their own cemeteries in different locations- and I’m not sure of how the colored troop casualties were treated. As time went on soldiers from every war up to and including some from the Vietnam War are here. In all 15,000 soldiers are buried here.
The weather has been pretty gloomy. If not stormy, cloudy and or foggy. Most days on our entire two month trip have been overcast with little to no blue sky.
Taking advantage of a break in the rain we took a 20 minute ride to Fountainebleau State Park. It was initially developed as a sugar plantation on 2800 acres of land. It is bordered on three sides by water- Lake Pontchartrain, Bayou Cane and Bayou Castine- and characterized by a convergence of diverse ecosystems.
It’s a very pretty park that has walking trails, interpretive bayou trails, two RV parks, and a grand beach on Lake Pontchartrain. The large grassy area are soaking wet, lake like, or maybe swamp like would be a better description so a romp on the grass with the mutzos is out. Darn.
So that should wrap it up for our time here in the Big Easy. More is coming!