Published October 18, 2012
NEW ORLEANS – The National Park Service is holding the first of four meetings to hear what people interested in the War of 1812 would like to see for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans on and around Jan. 8, 2015.
People from museums, state and local governments, and "folks off the street" are invited, said Ranger Kristy Wallisch.
Thursday's meeting was scheduled at noon in the French Quarter; two were Thursday evenings in other parts of the city and a Saturday meeting at the Chalmette Battlefield Visitor Center.
"We tried to scatter them around" to make them convenient for as many people as possible, she said.
The Park Service has held memorial ceremonies in Chalmette since 1934, when the Chalmette Battlefield was transferred from the War Department. It is one of six units making up the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.
Camps of living history re-enactors were added in the early 1980s. Like the American troops at the battle itself, they include Indians, African-Americans and people playing the parts of Barataria pirates as well as more conventional troop re-enactors.
Others who helped the U.S. Army, Navy and Marines included militia from Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky and Tennessee. Locals in the Louisiana militia included Cajuns from the countryside, city-born Creoles and Islenos — St. Bernard Parish residents from the Canary Islands.
"All those people working together managed to win the Battle of New Orleans, so we need lots of people to commemorate it," Wallisch said.
The battle occurred about two weeks after negotiators signed the Treaty of Ghent, but well before Congress ratified the treaty on Feb. 16, 1815, ending the war.
It also occurred several months after the war's previous big event — the assault on Fort McHenry, Md., during mid-September of 1814 — so re-enactors will have a breather, Wallisch said.
She said groups from Canada and all over the United States have been in touch. Many of those messages boil down to "Tell us the dates and we'll start saving our pennies and vacation dates," she said.
The battle itself isn't re-enacted. Costumed re-enactors march, fire cannon and volleys of rifles, and describe daily life and their part in the battle.
"I think we'll have an enormous turnout for living history," Wallisch said.
There's also a possibility of a series of commemorations, starting with Gen. Andrew Jackson's arrival in New Orleans on Dec. 1, 1814. "Every few days there's something else," she said.
Oct. 18, noon, 419 Decatur St., New Orleans
Thursday, Oct. 25, 7-8 p.m., Studio A, 4th floor, Loyola University communications and music building, St. Charles Avenue at Calhoun St., New Orleans
Thursday, Nov. 8, 5:30-6:30 p.m., New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2020 St. Charles Ave.
Saturday, Nov. 17, 11 a.m.-noon, Chalmette Battlefield Visitor Center, 8606 W St Bernard Highway, Chalmette