The idea of a memorial to the Battle of New Orleans (Sept. 28, 2013, p. 1A) is commendable but wrongly conceived as reported in the paper.
We need not shed crocodile tears over the nice British lads who were killed there in 1815. They were not taking a stroll in the Louisiana swamp when they came to grief.
Rather they were members of a crack British force of troops including the Black Watch (93rd Highlanders) and other elite units who were fresh from burning and sacking Baltimore and Washington, D.C., where they burned down the White House (Dolly Madison saved the famous portrait of George Washington as she fled).
They had similar plans for New Orleans, which would give Britain control of the mouth of the Mississippi River — and nullify the Louisiana purchase.
The heroes of this battle were Andrew Jackson and his Tennessee and Kentucky backwoodsmen and his unlikely allies Jean Lafitte, Andre Boutte and their pirates. The long rifles of the Tennesseeans and the artillery of the pirates, tactically deployed in defensive positions to intercept and demolish the invaders saved the day. An estimated 2,600 Brits, including their commanding general Packenham, were killed, their force decimated, with only 8 American dead and 13 wounded according to some accounts. The Americans outthought and outfought the invaders. (The president of BP was offered an opportunity to play the part of Packenham in a recent re-enactment of the battle in Chalmette but for some odd reason declined.)
This battle decisively concluded the long American Revolution begun with the Boston Tea Party in 1775, formally ended with the Peace of Paris of 1783 after the British defeat at Yorktown with French help, then revived in its second phase by persistent British designs to dominate the newly independent United States in what is called Mr. Madison’s war.
An armistice had been signed before New Orleans but nobody got the word. The resounding American triumph there emphatically sealed our independence as a sovereign nation.
It marked a definitive rejection of the tyranny of George III (explicitly so called in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 when his sovereign power over America was rejected) and his complicit ministry and Parliament.
They didn’t try it again. New Orleans was convincing, and we should remember it.
So memorialize this. Find out the names of the Americans who were killed and make monuments in the new park to them as heroic founders of our nation, one uniquely devoted to Liberty under Law. As former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said when she spoke at LSU in the mid-1990s, “There has never been anything like the United States of America!”