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The Battle of New Orleans in History and Memory

232 pages / 5.50 x 8.50 inches / 15 halftones, 2 line illustrtations

Military History | Regional Studies

  Hardcover / 9780807164655 / November 2016

The Battle of New Orleans proved a critical victory for the United States, a young nation defending its nascent borders, but over the past two hundred years, myths have obscured the facts about the conflict. In The Battle of New Orleans in History and Memory, distinguished experts in military, social, art, and music history sift the real from the remembered, illuminating the battle’s lasting significance across multiple disciplines.

Laura Lyons McLemore sets the stage by reviewing the origins of the War of 1812, followed by essays that explore how history and memory intermingle. Donald R. Hickey examines leading myths found in the collective memory—some, embellishments originating with actual participants, and others invented out of whole cloth. Other essayists focus on specific figures: Mark R. Cheathem explores how Andrew Jackson’s sensational reputation derived from contemporary anecdotes and was perpetuated by respected historians, and Leslie Gregory Gruesbeck considers the role visual imagery played in popular perception and public memory of battle hero Jackson.

Other contributors unpack the broad social and historical significance of the battle, from Gene Allen Smith’s analysis of black participation in the War of 1812 and the subsequent worsening of American racial relations, to Blake Dunnavent’s examination of leadership lessons from the war that can benefit the U.S. military today. Paul Gelpi makes the case that the Creole Battalion d’Orleans became protectors of American liberty in the course of defending New Orleans from the British. Examining the European context, Alexander Mikaberidze shows that America’s second conflict with Britain was more complex than many realize or remember. Joseph F. Stoltz III illustrates how commemorations of the battle, from memorials to schoolbooks, were employed over the years to promote various civic and social goals. Finally, Tracey E. W. Laird analyzes variations of the tune “The Battle of New Orleans,” revealing how it has come to epitomize the battle in the collective memory.

  1. “What We Know That Ain’t So”: Myths of the War of 1812 (DONALD R. HICKEY)
  2. “I Owe to Britain a Debt of Retaliatory Vengeance”: Assessing Andrew Jackson’s Hatred of the British (MARK R. CHEATHEM)
  3. “The Dreams of Empire”: The War of 1812 in an International Context (ALEXANDER MIKABERIDZE)
  4. Objects of Scorn: Remembering African Americans and the War of 1812 (GENE ALLEN SMITH)
  5. In Defense of Liberty: The Battalion d’Orleans and Its Battle for New Orleans (PAUL GELPI)
  6. Lessons Learned from the War of 1812 for the US Military in the Twenty-First Century (BLAKE DU NNAVENT)
  7. One Hundred Years of Hickory and Cotton Bales: The Battle of New Orleans Centennial Celebration (JOSEPH F. STOLTZ III)
  8. Continually Heroic: Portraying Andrew Jackson through Classical and Contemporary Heroic Devices (LESLIE GREGORY GRUESBECK)
  9. The Battle of New Orleans in Popular Music and Culture (TRACEY E. W. LAIRD)

LAURA LYONS MCLEMORE is the author of Inventing Texas: Early Historians of the Lone Star State and other works on history and memory. She is William B. Wiener, Jr., Professor of Archives and Historic Preservation at Louisiana State University, Shreveport.

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