NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana National Guard dedicated a ceremony to the memorial green space at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans to honor those who have served from 1837 to present day.
Their dedication ceremony honored Native Americans, soldiers, enslaved peoples, and civilians who lived, served, and died there.
During the ceremony were Tribal members of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
Others were there to speak on the importance of the historic site.
According to geauxguardmuseaums.com, Jackson Barracks was built in the 1830s under the Jackson Administration to house the Federal military garrison defending the city of New Orleans and the Lower Mississippi Valley. The post was originally referred to as “The U.S. Barracks” or “The New Orleans Barracks.” It was rechristened in 1866 to honor Andrew Jackson, who was not only the Commander in Chief during its construction, but is a revered figure in the area for routing the British in the 1815 Battle of New Orleans. Louisiana Governor A.B. Roman wanted the post to be located in the city proper but a site downriver was selected by the military.
The first troops to occupy the New Orleans Barracks were the Second Regiment of Dragoons commanded by Colonel David Twiggs, who later commanded the defense of New Orleans as a Confederate general in the Civil War. With the outbreak of the Second Seminole War in the 1830s, the Barracks served as an assembly area for troops being sent to fight in Florida. During the forced removal of the Seminoles to the Indian Territory– present day Oklahoma, New Orleans was a temporary stop on the migration west. Sick Native Americans received medical treatment at the Barracks hospital and some who died were buried on post.
It is unknown how many people are buried here and who they were. The cemetery was in use from the post’s opening, in 1837, until the Civil War.
During the period of Indian Removal in the mid-19th century, thousands of Seminoles and Muskogee (Creek) Indians passed through New Orleans, forced from their homelands in Florida and Alabama to resettle in the Oklahoma Territory. Between 1837 and 1859, many of the tribal groups were confined at Jackson Barracks as they awaited transport up the Mississippi River by steamboat. Those who died at this way station were buried here, in the post cemetery, along with others who lived or were stationed at Jackson Barracks.
On January 17, 2005, a construction crew renovating a building on the site came across human remains. Archaeologists determined that this was the original post cemetery and still held the remains of an unknown number of men and women. One of the two bodies accidentally uncovered in 2005 was a Seminole woman, who was identified through her tribal jewelry, the layers of bead necklaces and silver mementos, commonly worn at the time. After the archaeological investigations, it was decided to leave all the burials undisturbed and establish a memorial green space to the memory of those who have been at rest here for more than 150 years.
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