In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in a town in New Orleans
I have been waiting for years to use these lyrics in a blog. This song written by Johnny Horton was the no. one song in 1959. I knew the song before I’d even heard of the War of 1812.
Ever since I started this National Park project, I knew that I’d be going to Chalmette Battlefield, part of Jean Lafitte National Historic Park. Of course, the famous song that came out of the War of 1812 was the Star-Spangled Banner, of course. But the tune isn’t as catchy.
The Battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1815, was the last significant battle of the war of 1812. You know, that’s the war that’s almost forgotten in the U.S. but not in Canada. We declared war on Great Britain partly so we could conquer Canada and get rid of the British north of us. Well, it didn’t work but the war did seal our fate as a country. The United States was going to last. We weren’t going to revert to a colony. As the website says, American democracy triumphing over the old European ideas of aristocracy and entitlement.
Chalmette Battlefield, south of New Orleans, is a quiet site. The battlefield is now a large, well-maintained lawn. There’s a one-and-a-half mile walking and driving loop which explains the strategy of both sides. On the loop, they’ve planted a British flag; after all we’re all friends now.
I climbed the monument put up by the Daughters of the War of 1812. The state actually built it and it was completed in 1908. On the site, we visited the Malus-Beauregard House, a Greek Revival plantation style house. The battle only took two hours and we spent a lot more time at the site.
But there’s life around the battlefield site. In particular, we saw an oil refinery with its several smoke stacks. You can only buffer parks so much from the everyday and oil refineries are part of life in Louisiana.
We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they begin to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico