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War of 1812's Beginning Recalled as "Chalmette Remembers"

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

National Park News

Nearly 400 visitors commemorated the beginning of the War of 1812 Saturday, June 16, as “Chalmette Remembers.” The program marked the bicentennial of the declaration of war on June 18, 1812, and was held at Chalmette Battlefield in Chalmette, Louisiana; the battlefield and adjoining national cemetery are part of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Living history reenactors offered a glimpse of life in Louisiana in the days before the war began, a local author spoke at the battlefield visitor center, and visitors cast their vote for or against the declaration of war.

When the United States declared war on Great Britain in 1812, the country was sharply divided. The battlefield program shared the controversies as well as the routines of life at the time. Highlights included

• The Premier Creole ladies of New Orleans, a local living history group, who discussed the possibility of war with visitors and the excitement of being the newest American state. They also demonstrated their needlepoint skills, shared period children’s games, and talked about daily life in 1812 New Orleans.

• Members of Plauché’s Uniformed Battalion of Orleans Volunteers, local living history reenactors who portray one of Louisiana’s earliest militia troops, pitched a period tent and discussed War of 1812 tactics, uniforms, and weapons.

• A talk by Stephen Estopinal, author of "El Tigre de Nueva Orleans/The Tiger of New Orleans," a novel set during the War of 1812’s New Orleans campaign. Estopinal dressed as a Louisiana militia member and carried his 1790 fowling piece in case of a surprise British invasion; his wife accompanied him and portrayed a farmer’s wife.

• The opportunity for visitors to cast their vote for or against the declaration of war. Laptop computers at the battlefield visitor center connected to the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine website and its interactive online game. The game let players hear the pros and cons from notables such as President James Madison and Francis Scott Key as well as “ordinary” citizens like a New Orleans resident and an American sailor and free man of color.


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