A few weeks ago, it was just an overgrown patch of woods in Chalmette. But now that 20-acre site is being cleared and turned into a new battlefield for the largest War of 1812 reenactment ever held in the U.S. About 1,500 British and American re-enactors are planning something very special for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. FOX 8's Dave McNamara has an update in tonight's Heart of Louisiana.
Exactly 200 years ago this month, Andrew Jackson had teams of men rushing to build an earthen barrier to defend New Orleans. Now a new "line Jackson" is rising in Chalmette. It will be the site of a massive bicentennial re-enactment of the battles between Jackson's force and British invaders.
"The people will see that it's not just a case of a few volleys and the British run away," said Tim Pickles with the Living History Foundation. "Very, very much more than that. It's a hard-fought campaign."
This new wilderness stage is designed to take the military actors and spectators back in time when the survival of New Orleans was at stake.
There is a common notion that the Battle of New Orleans was a one-day event. But it was actually a series of attacks and artillery duels that lasted for several weeks. Five of those battles will be re-enacted on this field.
We met some of the 7th Infantry re-enactors at Fort Jackson in Alabama, their last gathering before New Orleans.
"This is not a costume," said re-enactor Steven Abolt. "It's a uniform and it's the uniform of the United States. "May not be the current uniform, but it was."
Abolt, of the 7th Infantry Living History Association, is one of the tailors who recreates these 200-year-old hand-sewn uniforms.
"As you notice, the clothes are extremely restrictive," Abolt said. "They are very tight-fitting, they keep your head direct to the front, your chest out - it's the only way really you can stand. And it dictates a lot of your movements."
And the actions that take place on this new battlefield will closely follow history.
"Using the military formulas of the day, every man being allotted 2 square feet of space and the artillery, by the time we put all our participants they are we are going to fill that entire line and we are going to be stacking men three and four ranks deep, which is exactly what happened in the original battle," Abolt said.
"Those of us that have created it, most of us are in the film, TV, theater industry, and we have a sense of spectacle," Pickles said. "We know what the crowd wants to see, as well."
The battles will be recreated with troops and cannons on a scale not seen on a field in Chalmette in 200 years. You can buy tickets for the three days of battle reenactments, scheduled for Friday, Jan. 9 through Sunday, Jan. 11.