Although the Treaty of Ghent, which officially ended the War of 1812, was signed in December 1814, word of the treaty had not reached North America when a large contingent of veteran British troops advanced on New Orleans on Jan. 8, 1815, with the intent of capturing the vital Mississippi River port.
A hastily assembled American army under the command of Gen. Andrew Jackson beat back the British, securing the port and making Jackson a national hero, which helped propel him to the presidency.
Just downriver from New Orleans, the site of the historic victory is preserved at Chalmette Battlefield, one of several units of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.
A new visitors center, which opened on the battle’s anniversary in 2011, replaced one destroyed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina. The new center, more than twice the size of the old one, has displays, interactive exhibits, artifacts, maps and short films about the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans and its impact on Louisiana and the United States.
There are also new wayside signs along the battlefield’s walkways and road.
— www.nps.gov/jela/chalmette-battlefield.htm —
One of the most beloved icons of the War of 1812 is the USS Constitution, dubbed Old Ironsides during several successful battles with British ships.
The U.S. Navy, in cooperation with the National Park Service, operates the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world and still an active-duty naval vessel. Active-duty sailors give guided tours of the frigate, displayed ready to sail, at the Charlestown Navy Yard.
Across the pier, the private, nonprofit USS Constitution Museum provides in-depth information about the ship’s history, including its construction and its role in the war.
In July 2009, after 10 years of research, the USS Constitution Museum opened a new exhibit, “All Hands on Deck: A Sailor’s Life in 1812,” which presents previously untold stories of the ship’s crew in an innovative, interactive format in which visitors assume the roles of actual sailors who served on the ship.
— www.ussconstitutionmuseum.org —
Constructed on the Maumee River in 1813 by Gen. William Henry Harrison, Fort Meigs withstood two British and Indian attacks and sieges later that year. The Ohio Historical Society has reconstructed the 10-acre fort, one of the largest log forts ever constructed in America, on its original site.
From April through October, visitors can learn about the war, the fort’s key role in the United States’ successful defense of the Northwest Territory and the broader story of the fight for Ohio from 1750 to 1815.
The reconstructed fort includes seven blockhouses, five artillery batteries and a warehouse. The museum and education center has interactive displays and exhibits of hundreds of artifacts found at the site by extensive archaeological investigations that have provided significant knowledge about military life at the time.
Historical interpreters in period clothing do musket and rifle demonstrations and answer questions.
— www.fortmeigs.org —