CHALMETTE, LA (WVUE) - There is going to be a huge anniversary in New Orleans in a few months. This coming Jan. 8 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. And you will have a chance to witness battle re-enactments that will be like nothing you have ever seen at the Chalmette site.
It was a stunning military victory. Andrew Jackson's patchwork force of army infantry, militia and volunteers, outnumbered nearly two-to-one, defeated some of Britain's most seasoned troops. And for the first time in 200 years, the Battle of New Orleans will be recreated on a grand scale.
The reenactment that we are planning will be the biggest war of 1812 reenactment that has ever been staged," historian Timothy Pickles said. Pickles is also one of the organizers.
Living history "soldiers" numbering 1,500 have already signed up to take part, as the Battle of New Orleans marks its 200th anniversary in January.
"They want to have clothes made in the correct style, in the correct cloth, they want to learn the drill of the period. They want to learn how everything is done in the period," Pickles said.
To do this kind of a war reenactment the organizers had to find a new battlefield because you typically cannot stage this kind of an event at a national park historic site.
The Mereaux foundation is providing the land for the Louisiana living history foundation to stage the re-enactment.
You know there is a joke that when something is difficult you said that takes an act of Congress, well presenting a re-created battle, on a piece of federal land literally does take an act of Congress," Pickles said.
The new battle site is north of the national park, behind the St. Bernard Parish government building. Plans call for the site to be developed into a permanent battlefield park.
"It won't be exclusively war of 1812," Pickles said. "It can be used by all kinds of historians and creators of festivals."
Over the next two-and-a-half months, trees will be cleared, and the earthworks of Jackson's defensive line will recreated. Although the U.S. and England had agreed to a treaty prior to the battle, the victory at New Orleans critical.
It had not been ratified so the war wasn't over. Not only that, the treaty did not cover this area. If Britain had captured any of the land that was part of the Louisiana Purchase they did not have to give it back," Pickles said.
And New Orleans will soon be treated to a once-in-a-lifetime recreation of one of the most significant victories in the early history of America.
You can also attend a "Call to Arms" gala being held in New Orleans this Saturday night. It's a fundraiser for the creation of the battlefield park in Chalmette. For more information on tickets, or to make a donation to the Living History Foundation of Louisiana, visit http://www.lalivinghistory.org/events/.