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    Jean Lafitte

    National Historical Park and Preserve Louisiana

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Recognizing Our Roots

Image of young men dressed as Tennessee volunteers at the 1815 Battle of New Orleans

A park ranger (left) and local JROTC cadets portray the Tennessee militiamen who fought at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

What was it like to be a soldier at the Battle of New Orleans? How did local women support the troops? High school students in three states are finding out through Jean Lafitte's Recognizing Our Roots program.

Recognizing Our Roots is a living history program for area high school students in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) and for Choctaw youth from Louisiana's Jena Band of Choctaw Indians, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The young people study the Battle of New Orleans with the help of Jean Lafitte rangers and local historians. They take field trips (real or virtual via web conferencing technology), learn to handle muskets, drill in 1815 military style, cook over campfires, and do research for their roles as members of the battalion of New Orleans free men of color, Jugeat's Choctaw volunteers, volunteer Tennessee militiamen, or as camp followers for the troops. More information about the program and a December 2012 event is available here.

To discover the students' adventures in their own words, check out the wikis created by students who served as living history reenactors during the Battle of New Orleans anniversary at Chalmette Battlefield in 2011 and 2012.

Image of high school students in 1815 period dress practicing military drills
Learning the basics of military drills was an important part of a volunteer militiaman's education.
Image of young women in 1815 dress serving lunch to young men in period militia clothes
They say that an army marches on its stomach; one of the jobs of camp followers was to make sure their soldiers were well-fed.
Image of women dressed in 1815 style talking to students on a field trip
Students on a field trip find out how clean clothes and campfire cooking helped American troops win the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.

Did You Know?

Men dressed as 1815 soldiers march across Chalmette Battlefield.

Two volunteer battalions of free men of color fought in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. These men were the first black American troops to receive pay, equipment, pensions, and bounty land grants equal to that of their white counterparts.