The Bicentennial of the Battle of the “Dirty Shirts” and the “Red Coats”

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American cannon at the Chalmette Battlefield near New Orleans, Louisiana where the Battle of New Orleans took place.

 

Down in south Louisiana, Andrew Jackson is a big deal. Nearly everything there is named after him — Jackson Square in the New Orleans French Quarter sports a large equestrian statue of its namesake, Fort Jackson once guarded the mouth of the Mississippi River, Jackson Barracks houses the headquarters of the Louisiana National Guard, and Jax Brewery (now defunct), and others — and rightly so.  It was because of his panache and leadership that New Orleans was spared during the War of 1812.

Considered one of the greatest upsets in military history, Jackson and his outnumbered ragtag troops defeated the greatest fighting force of that time.  He gathered troops from every corner of the city, surrounding swamp, neighboring towns and even other states to fortify his defenses against the approaching British.  His troops consisted of militias from states as far away as Kentucky, local citizens of assorted nationalities, free blacks, and even a few pirates. With numbers, weather and lack of training against them, these “dirty shirts” surmounted the odds that day and achieved victory over the “red coats” in the last major battle of the War of 1812.   Thursday, January 8, 2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans.

I have a vested interest in this battle since one of my ancestors fought in it, Jean Baptist Armant, a sugar planter, then 35 years old, a private in the 6th Regiment, Landry’s Militia, and another ancestor was in a support role in Mobile and Mississippi, Lt. Col. George Henry Nixon, who led the 13th Regiment Mississippi Militia.

© 2011 Melinda Holloway All Rights Reserved

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