The First Chalmette Monument was the Grand Army of the Republic monument.
First Chalmette Monument
Photo of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Monument, by George François Mugnier. Undated photo, likely from the 1880s. This monument stands in the Chalmette National Cemetery, on the end closest to the river. The Latin inscription translates to, “While they are silent, they shout.” Locals referred to it as the “First Chalmette Monument.” The 1907 obelisk claimed the title “Chalmette Monument” upon its completion.
Chalmette National Cemetery
New Orleanians buried Enslaved Americans, along with troops fighting on both sides of the Southern Rebellion, as early as 1861, in Chalmette. So, in 1864, the Union Army formalized this burial ground. They designated 17.5 acres of land from the “back” of the Chalmette battlefield as a National Cemetery. Locals know this area as the “British side” of the battlefield. The British advanced to this location on 8-January-1815. Of the approximately 15,000 people buried in the cemetery, over 6,500 are unidentified. Additionally, most of these are United States Colored Troops (USCT), whose graves are marked only by numbered headstones. While most of the burials here date to the Southern Rebellion, four veterans of the 1815 battle rest here.
Grand Army of the Republic
The Grand Army of the Republic was a Union Army and Navy veterans organization, founded in 1866, at Springfield, Illinois. The organization claimed membership of 410,000 by the 1890s. Union veterans established local chapters, known as “posts” across the country, including many cities in the former rebel states. The GAR post in New Orleans funded and erected the monument in Chalmette Cemetery in 1874. It stands on the river side of the cemetery, because that side was the main entrance for years. So, over time, the levee system along the Mississippi River grew, swallowing up River Road near the cemetery.
The National Park Service took over management of both the battlefield and cemetery in 1933. They moved the entrance from the river side to the St. Bernard Highway (LA 46) side. Visitors now enter the cemetery from St. Bernard Highway, circle around the GAR monument at the other end, and exit back to the highway.
This Pirate’s Alley Postcard presents the New Orleans landmark from Royal Street to Chartres Street. The Newberry Library, University of Illinois, retains the original copy as part of the Curt Teich Postcard Donation. So, the card shows the corner of the St. Anthony’s Garden. The garden offers green space to those working at the St. Louis Cathedral some . The buildings on the right remain in place today. So, first floor space of these buildings contains retail shops. A man walks down the alley, approaching a gas lamp. The lamp marks the intersection of Pirate’s Alley and Cabildo Alley. A right turn into Cabildo Alley connects you to the back of the Cabildo building and St. Peter Street.
The legend of the pirates
The namesakes of the alley are the “pirates” Jean and Pierre Lafitte. Many prefer to think of them as privateers. Did they meet in the mists that creep into this alley? Finding pirates on dark night in the French Quarter? Hard to day. Pirate’s Alley separates St. Louis Cathedral from the seat of Spanish Colonial government, the Cabildo. Additionally, W.C.C. Claiborne, territorial governor of Louisiana, set up shop in the Cabildo. Officers of the United States Navy, seeking to close down the Lafitte brothers’ base in Barataria Bay, would no doubt present themselves to Claiborne to report on their progress. So, clandestine meetings between pirates and their customers right next to government offices doesn’t make sense. Fast forward to the middle of the 19th Century. New Orleans welcomes visitors as the second largest port city in the United States. So, the mystique, the lore of the pirates and the lore of the 1815 battle enticed tourists to stay around, perhaps an extra day or two, exploring the Vieux Carré, possibly down to the battlefield.
While the visual is fascinating, the more likely places for clandestine meetings between pirates would be the blacksmith shop reputed to be owned by the brothers. Other locations include the Old Absinthe House and other warehouse buildings in the city. The Lafittes supervised a number of smuggling operations. Jean moved between Barataria and New Orleans, while Pierre handled the business aspects of the operations in the city.
This Pirate’s Alley postcard scene entices the modern visitor. Turn into the alley from Rue Royale. Stop for a beverage in the bar at Cabildo Alley. Peer into the entrance of the Cabildo. You may even encounter a couple getting married, just outside the cathedral. Pirate’s Alley is a popular place to tie the knot.
Chalmette Monument 1930s is a photo from a WPA-sponsored arts program.
Chalmette Monument 1930s
Photo of the monument at Chalmette National Battlefield commemorating the Battle of New Orleans, on 8-January-1815. The obelisk, 100 feet in height, looks over the battlefield, which is one of the five sites of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.
Building the Obelisk
The Chalmette Monument 1930s originated in 1840. New Orleans marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of the battle in 1840. The battlefield was essentially a sugarcane field in 1840. So, city leaders formed the Jackson Monument Association. They purchased the battlefield site. The association also acquired state funding. Part of the preservation plans included a large-scale monument. Members of the association gathered at the battlefield. They laid the cornerstone of the obelisk.
Construction of the obelisk moved slowly. While Jackson’s death in 1845 sparked interest in the project, the turmoil leading up to the Southern Rebellion stalled the project. So, the actual rebellion completely stalled the project.
The Southern Rebellion itself renewed interest in the battlefield site. While the site was privately held during the Union occupation, the US Army seized a portion of the land. They built a cemetery for both Union and rebel soldiers. Most of the early burials in the cemetery were United States Colored Troops. Rebels buried there were, over time, re-interred to other local cemeteries.
After the rebellion, the cemetery continued as a burial site for military personnel. The cemetery helped renew interest in preserving the overall battlefield site. The federal government designated the battlefield a National Historical Park in 1907. Federal ownership accelerated work on the monument.
The monument and the city
While there are much higher monuments around the US, the Chalmette Monument 1930s offers an incredible view of the battlefield. Chalmette is only about five miles from the city. So, that’s about the length of Canal Street.
Chalmette Battlefield was a long-standing destination for eighth-grade class field trips, as those students studied Louisiana History.
Chalmette Monument 1930s photo was shot by photographer Erol Barkemeyer. The Works Projects Administration (WPA) sponsored a number of arts and historic preservation projects in the late 1930s. So, these programs helped employ people across the nation during the Great Depression. Additionally, WPA programs contributed much to the citys infrastructure. The photo is part of the State Library of Louisiana’s WPA collection.
The Hunters of Kentucky told a very one-sided story of the Battle of New Orleans
The Hunters of Kentucky
On the 9th of January in the year 1815, about one-quarter of the American forces at Chalmette originated from Kentucky. Major General Andrew Jackson led skirmishes and full-blown battles across the Gulf Coast during the War of 1812. While he enjoyed success during that campaign, the Battle of New Orleans was the big victory. The story, from the Kentucky point of view, became a poem and song in 1821.
Samuel Woodworth wrote poem. Noah M. Ludlow sang it in New Orleans in 1822. Jackson ran for President of the United States in 1824. His campaign used the song to tout his military career. Jackson’s campaign printed broadsides like this one to spread the story of the battle. While many in the 1820s claimed the poem was written in 1815, it’s more likely the date was 1821.
The Hunters of Kentucky is sung as a narrative. Performers sing Woodworth’s lyrics to the tune of the traditional Irish song, Ally Croker.
General to Politician
Jackson represented Tennessee in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. He accepted an appointment to the Tennessee Militia, rising to the rank of Major General. From there, accepted an appointment in the regular army. Jackson fought in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. After that war, he commanded troops in the First Seminole War.
He ran for President in 1824. That’s the election where The Hunters of Kentucky played its first role as campaign prop. Jackson lost that election to John Quincy Adams. He failed to gain a majority of either the popular vote or the Electoral College. The election went to the House of Representatives, which chose Adams.
In 1828, Jackson ran a second time, easily defeating Adams. He served two terms as President.
While The Hunters of Kentucky served is purpose in promoting Jackson, its accuracy is in dispute. The poem exaggerates the role of the Kentucky Riflemen. Artillery fire from the American line had a much more devastating effect on the British advances than the shooting of the riflemen.
Ballou Battle of New Orleans is a mid-19th Century illustration of the 1815 battle
From Ballou’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion comes this engraving of the Battle of New Orleans. While the battle happened on January 9, 1815, this drawing is likely from the mid-19th Century.
Gleason’s and Ballou’s
This illustrated magazine began as “Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion” in 1851. Frederick Gleason founded the venture in 1851. Gleason sold his interest in the publication to Maturin Murray Ballou in 1855. Ballou re-named the magazine after himself when he took over. Ballou’s ceased publication in 1859. Since the page says “Ballou’s” at the top, Ballou Battle of New Orleans dates from 1855-1859.
Ballou Battle of New Orleans is attributed to John Andrews. This particular image is part of the Louisiana State Museum collection, from a presentation titled, “America at War.” LSM dates the image at “approximately 1815.” So, that means they thought it contemporary to the battle. Since the heading puts it at 1855ish, this may be from an article on the fortieth anniversary of the battle. Additionally, given that the one other entry in the Louisiana Digital Library from Andrews is from 1875, it’s not likely the drawing was done close to 1815.
The Wikipedia entry for Gleason’s/Ballou’s lists the following people as artists and authors:
The Pictorial featured artists such as Winslow Homer, and authors such as: Giddings H. Ballou, Susan H. Blaisdell, Alice Carey, Sylvanus Cobb, Jr., Sophronia Currier, Mrs. S.P. Doughty, Francis A. Durivage, Aglaus Forrester, Mrs. H.C. Gardner, Joseph Holt Ingraham, Grace Lee, Mary A. Lowell, Mary L. Meany, Ellen Alice Moriarty, Arthur Morton, Frances P. Pepperell, Mary E. Robinson, M.V. St. Leon, Frederick Ward Saunders, Sue M. Scott, Maurice Silingsby, Frederick Stanhope, Horace B. Staniford, John Thornberry, Winnie Woodfern, and Joseph Wolf.
Winslow Homer drew New Orleans chess legend Paul Morphy for the Pictorial, so that will make for an interesting rabbit hole.
Ballou Battle Detail
The artist for this engraving placed themselves behind the left side of the American line on 9-Jan-1815. “Kaintocks,” the Kentucky Riflemen of song and story, observe the enemy advance on the left. Towards the middle, other riflemen engage, firing on the British. The wheel of a cannon is barely visible on the right side. Several black men are visible, center and right. Jackson sits atop his horse, waving his hat. The British line moves towards the Americans, background left.
So, this illustration requires further consideration. Off to the rabbit hole list it goes!
Comus first paraded in 1857. So, Comus 1968 rolled through Uptown New Orleans over a century later. While the krewe no longer parades, their heritage lives on in several other krewes. Comus declined to parade in 1991, because of the city’s “Mardi Gras Ordinance” targeting discrimination. While the krewe withdrew from public view, they eventually prevailed in court over the city.
A note in the top right of the drawing shows the title, “Triumph of Jackson, 1815.” Comus 1968 presents the battle from the perspective of memorial. While the actual battle was quite bloody, this design invokes reflection. A handwritten note on the left says, “Andrew Jackson on a white horse on front of float.” This may be a suggestion to the designer (who is not identified). That suggestion was likely rejected, since an equestrian image takes the parade-goer to Jackson Square. Comus 1968 challenged the crowd’s education.
So, instead of the general, Comus 1968 offers a triumphal arch, supported by two columns in the Ionic style. Live Oak branches with acorns, then white roses, flow out from the martial symbolism, to under the arch.
A musket sits on top of a military drum, inside a wreath of victory. Next to the drum is a hunting horn, symbolizing the transition from hunters, trappers, and farmers to soldiers defending their city. A further cluster of muskets with fixed bayonets protrudes from banners and flags.
The red flag of a British regiment is the most prominent of the banners. While the red-white-blue bunting gives the float a neutral take, the British flag actually looks more like a Beauregard flag from the Southern Rebellion. A classic regimental flag would have the Union Jack in the top left corner, rather than covering the flag.
The bales of cotton indicate the economic basis for Britain’s move on New Orleans.
Small float parade
The notes at the bottom shows this float was #11. It had ten men, five a side. Their positions overall in the lineup appear at the bottom.
Image courtesy the LaRC: Watercolor on paper, 14 x 17 inches, Comus float designs, Carnival Collection, Manuscripts Collection 900, Louisiana Research Collection, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana