Commemoration Meeting of Veterans of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans

Veterans Commemoration Free Men of Color Militia picAll of those who fought and died to preserve the fragile United States as more and more territory was added to the growing nation were seldom acknowledged decades or even centuries after military conflicts.  African American newspapers would keep alive, for those ignored by the mainstream press, the contributions and heroism of people of color.  In 1870 such a commemoration was remembered in one of the local Louisiana newspapers.

VETERAN CELEBRATION

Entertainment and Speeches at Economy Hall

“Sunday last, the fifty-fifth anniversary [1870] of the battle of New Orleans, was distinguished, by the celebration of that memorable event, by “the Veterans” who yet remain.  They met in the Mechanic’s Institute, where it was advertised, that appropriate speeches would be made.”

[The Mechanic’s Institute was significant because on July 30, 1866 during the Reconstruction period, a riot occurredVeterans commemoration Mechanics Institute outside the building.  The riot took place as black and white delegates attended the Louisiana Constitutional Convention which had reconvened since the Louisiana Legislature recently passed the black codes and refused to extend voting rights to men of color.]

“But by some derangement of the programme, the gathering dispersed, and the veterans waited the arrival of the second militia Regiment under command of Col. Jas. Lewis.  They soon came up and formed an escort for the venerable few, to Economy Hall.”

[The First and Second Battalions of Free Men of Color, comprising over six hundred men, played an important role in the Louisiana campaign, just as free black men had during the colonial period in the service of France and Spain. Louisiana was the first state in the Union to commission a military officer of African descent, and an act passed by the Louisiana legislature in 1812 was the first in the nation to authorize a black volunteer militia with its black line officers.]

Veterans Commemoration Economy Hall[Economy Hall was a dance hall in Treme bordering on Storyville and the French Quarter and was important to this group since it was the headquarters of the Economy and Mutual Aid Association, an integral part of the financial and social safety net of organizations for the black community.  The Economy was typical of numerous social aid and pleasure clubs and benevolent associations that provided a variety of social services, including brass band funerals and dances.]

“Arriving there a magnificent spread presented itself to view.  The guests soon dropped in, and that Veteran, of the Veterans Jordan B. Noble, announced that all was ready, and there sat down nearly one hundred persons.”  [Jordan B. Noble (ca. 1800-1890), free man of color, was a drummer for the Seventh U.S. Infantry Regiment during the Battle of New Orleans; he was a veteran of later battles in Florida (1836) and Mexico (1846), and served with the Louisiana Volunteers during the Civil War. In later life, “Old Jordan” often played his drum in parades around New Orleans, until his death in 1890.]

“It would perhaps be considered invidious to mention any names, of a crowd where nearly all were prominent, but risking that penalty, we mention, Hons. O.J. Dunn, P.B.S. Pinchback, H.J. Campbell, A.C. Barber, C.C. Antoine, J.H. Ingraham, M. Carr, J. Sella Martin, Judge Hiestand, V.E. McCarthy, Col. J. Lewis, L.T. Delassize, E. Davis, R.M.J. Kenner, F.C. Antoine, H.C. Tournoir, D. Young, Recorders Houghton and Staes.”

“There was a harmony prevailing the entire proceedings which rendered it exceedingly pleasing to be there and every one present seemed to fully enjoy his participation in the celebration; and after nearly fours [sic] hours of enjoyment the company dispersed.  We left that hall with one feeling uppermost in our mind, as we gazed on the venerable forms of those veterans who having reached the allotted three score years and ten will not in all human probability, at the next return of the day be this side the grave, to celebrate it with thier [sic] fellows, who may yet remain in “the fast thinning ranks”.”

Note:  Many slaves and free men of color fought in the various wars during the French and Spanish periods. During the Spanish period, there were several units of Free Men of Color in the state militia. During the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815, about 600 soldiers of color, mostly free men and some slaves, fought under General Andrew Jackson in the defense of the city against the British. The Louisiana Division of the New Orleans Public Library has a microfilm index of all men, black and white, who fought in the Battle of New Orleans.

L.A.G.

Sources: Louisianian, 29 December, 1870,  dotsofpaint.blogspot.com/2012/01/free-men-of-color-at-battle-of-new.html, blackpast.org/?q=aah/new-orleans-massacre-1866, crt.state.la.us/museum/online_exhibits/Cabildo/6.aspx, nps.gov/jazz/historyculture/jazz_history.htm, http://hnoc.minisisinc.com/THNOC/SCRIPTS/mwimain.dll/144/THNOC_MANUSCRIPTS/WEB_DETAIL_M2A_INHOUSE/REFD+%27mss%20201%27?SESSIONSEARCH, :  nutrias.org/~nopl/info/aarcinfo/guide/military.htm

4 thoughts on “Commemoration Meeting of Veterans of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans

  1. I’ve been following the military History of our Creole soldiers for over 15 years and I am still finding , from different archives even more than you have posted on your web page.

    Did you know that Creole soldiers were used as mercenary soldiers in the Caribbean and the the World famous Buffalo Soldiers were founded right here in New Orleans…and Creole soldiers were used by the Spanish governor to fight in the Indian Wars.. They were also the only persons of color to serve as officers in the Union during the civil War.. Your stories are amazingly accurate. I would like to share some of them on my web site f

    • Hello Augustine,

      Thank you for your kind words of support for our efforts and thank you for informing us about your research on Creole soldiers. Regarding your request to share our information on your website, as of now, our policy is that we do not link to, support links from, or allow our research to be shared on other websites, blogs, etc.

  2. Can anyone provide source information on the Creole band and musicians (other than Jordan Noble) at the Battle of New Olreans in 1814-15?

  3. Dr. White, Thank you for visiting CreoleGen! I didn’t write this particular post, one of our other writers, Lenora Gobert, is the author. I would however recommend that you consult the article done by Charles Kinzer in American Music, (Autumn, 1992) entitled “The Band of Music of the First Battalion of Free Men of Color.” Maud Cuney-Hare also references the free black musicians at the Battle in her book Negro Musicians and Their Music. Please visit CreoleGen in the future!

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