The "New Rampart Street" — The Ursuline Convent — The Barracks, Chalmette Monument and Battlefield

Though it is called the "New Rampart Street," it is full of historic interest. The Rampart car, which may be taken as the visitor completes the tour of ancient Rampart Street, just at the intersection of the Rue Esplanade, or in Canal Street, if a day is reserved for such important points of interest as the Ursuline Convent, the United States Barracks or the Chalmette Monument and Battle Field, carries the tourist through the heart of the old City of Mandeville de Marigny. The car runs down Dauphine Street and returns by way of Rampart to Canal. At the corner of Esplanade and Dauphine Street is a fine old colonial house which is now occupied by Mr. Charles Claiborne, a grandson of the first American Governor of Louisiana.

#

Near the corner of Union and Dauphine stands the "Ecole des Orphelins Indigens." This was the first free school ever opened for negro children in the United States. In 1840 an old free colored woman died and left to the Catholic archdiocese a fund in trust, for the establishment of a free school for colored orphan children, and directed that her old home, which stood on the spot, should be used as a schoolhouse. Some years ago the old landmark of ante-bellum days was torn down, but the school, which had a continuous existence since its foundation in 1840, has endured.

Between Frenchman and Elysian Fields Streets lies Washington Square, the first public recognition given in New Orleans to the illustrious Father of His Country. The park is inclosed. Formerly all the parks were similarly inclosed, and at night, promptly at 9 o'clock, the watchmen cleared the park and locked the gates. The custom still maintains at Washington Square.

Just across from the square is a large, brown, two-storied brick building; this was the ancient residence of Governor Claiborne. His descendants still live in this beautiful old home.

At Washington Square the car crosses

Elysian Fields Street,

or the "Champs Elysees," as it was called by the old Creoles. What visions of Parisian splendor rise to mind at the mere mention of "Les Champs Elysees." In early days the famous old Marigny Canal ran along the street from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain. When Marigny decided to build his own city and cut up all his plantation domain into streets, he laid out this wide avenue and called it the "Champs Ulysses." Trees were planted all along the canal; beautiful sailing boats were always to be found in the waters. He intended that the New Orleans Champs Elysses should rival its famous Parisian namesake. Seeing the advantages offered by the street, the American Company which contemplated the erection of the old St. Charles Hotel offered to erect the famous hostelry in this street if they could secure the section lying between Dauphine and Burgundy Streets. But Marigny said that the Champs Elysees was for the children of France and asked such a fabulous price for the lot that the Company finding it above all consideration in sheer disgust purchased the square above Canal Street, where after many years was erected the old St. Charles Hotel. Alas! for the dreams of the colonial magnate. The "Champs Elysses" is now a railroad street, frequently used for parking cars, and none of the grandeur that its founder intended for it ever materialized. From the car window may be seen toward the Levee the depot of the Pontchartrain Railroad.

It may interest visitors to know that this is the

Second Oldest Railroad in the United States,

and that along its line, after the canal, which had been drained, was gradually filled in, were erected the first freight platforms ever used. It is a curious fact that in the old days when the engine could not generate sufficient steam, sails were attached to the cars to assist in propelling the train. This may read like a fairy tale, but its veracity was vouched for by such authoritative eye-witnesses as the late historian Gayarre the old Notary Guyol, and others. The Pontchartrain Railroad still bearing its ancient name, though owned by the Louisville and Nashville Company, runs along Elysian Fields to the old town of Milneburg, which stands on the banks of the "Old Lake," which was the only lake resort of early Creole days.

Next the corner of Dauphine and Elysian Fields is an ancient "Calaboose," or prison, which was erected when the Faubourg Marigny was a distinct municipality.

At the corner of Elysian Fields and Burgundy Streets stands the Elysium Theatre, recently erected at a cost of $30,000.

At St. Ferdinand Street the car reaches the terminus of the old French Faubourg, and there begins that thrifty and interesting "German Settlement," which did so much for the building up along industrial lines of this section of New Orleans. The settlement extends far out to the verge of St. Roch Cemetery, and towards the Barracks far into Clouet and Montegut Streets, where another distinct French settlement begins, consisting of later settlers who established here their little farms and truck gardens and supplied the French Quarter with vegetables.

The Holy Trinity Church of which Father Thevis founder of St. Roch's Chapel was for many years pastor is near the corner of St. Ferdinand and Dauphine. The customs of old German Catholic countries still maintain in this church.

At 3029 Dauphine Street is the Benedictine Convent of the Holy Family. The sisterhood was driven out of Germany after the Franco-Prussian war when Bismarck enacted the May laws. New Orleans ever friendly to the exile offered it an asylum and its work has been marked by continuous progress and prosperity.

At Press Street the car crosses the tracks of the Queen and Crescent Railroad. All this section, extending along the road from the river front to Rampart and down Dauphine and Royal for several squares, was once the

Great Cotton Press Section

of New Orleans. Here, the year round, in season and out of season, could be seen thousands of bales of the fleecy staple piled so high one above another along the sidewalks and through the extensive cotton yards that it seemed as though all the world of cotton had come to New Orleans to find a market. These were the busy days when "Cotton was King." It was stored and Dressed here in immense quantities until the Queen and Crescent Railroad came and ran its line right through the heart of the old presses and pickeries and in time acquired all this ground; the great brick-walled presses were torn down, and all that remains of the old yards are the long line of sheds under which cotton was formerly stored in the famous Natchez Press. These now Serve for car sheds.

The handsome edifice on Dauphine Street, between Clouet and Montegut Streets, is St. Vincent de Paul's Church, which was erected some thirty-five years ago on the site of the little frame chapel that did duty for a church in this section fifty years ago.

On Piety Street, near Dauphine, is the Mount Carmel Female Orphan Asylum, established sixty-three years ago. On the corner of North Peters and Reynes Streets, clearly seen from the car, is St. Isidore's College, a large educational institution under the direction of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. It was opened in 1879 as an industrial school and model farm, and is closely modeled upon the famous school of the Fathers of the Holy Cross, at Notre Dame, Ind.

The ancient

Ursuline Convent

is situated on North Peters, between Manuel and Sister Streets, but the plantation extends from the banks of the Mississippi to the woods. At Manuel Street the Rampart cars cut through the grounds, the sisters having granted the right of way. A neat little waiting place and porter's lodge marks this rear and most convenient entrance to the grounds. A paved walk leads up to St. Ursula's Hall, a modern building, in which the reception rooms of the Convent are located. A few steps further from the river banks, the full beauty of the old historic edifice bursts upon you. The Convent occupies an immense area upon which are several buildings, all communicating with one another, and with a beautiful chapel at the lower end. The main building faces the river. It is very imposing with gables and towers and broad galleries; it is always robed in white and forms a prominent landmark for mariners. The Ursulines nuns were the pioneers of the religious orders of women in the New World and the pioneer educators of women. The sisters were invited to come to New Orleans by Bienville and arrived in 1727. Their school established that same year in Chartres Street, was the oldest institution for the education of young ladies in America. It is with pride that the people of New Orleans point to the old Convent and tell of the work of the Ursulines in Louisiana. For upwards of a hundred years they were the only teachers of girls, the only nurses in hospital and on battlefield, the moulders of the virtues that formed the groundwork of the sacred sanctuary of the home. Our historians are proud to acknowledge that "they were the spiritual mothers of the mothers of Louisiana." Such early Presidents as Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson publicly and in autograph letters preserved in the old Convent told of the debt that the people owed these pioneers. The nuns removed to their present domicile in 1824. Their library contains over 10,000 volumes and the most ancient archives in Louisiana, are the records of their order. They were the first historians of the State, and the daily diary kept by one of their nuns, "Madeleine Hauchard," from the time the sisters set sail from France down through a period of over thirty-eight years, is the only record extant in Louisiana of this early period. It is written in a most vivacious and entertaining style. The grand old halls of the convent are most interesting, and no sight is more picturesque than the old Spanish courtyard, the most beautiful in New Orleans, surrounded by stately arcades and arches and quaint colonnades. The chapel of "Our Lady of Prompt Succor," which is reached from the river entrance to the curious old peaked-roofed building where the chaplain resides, was erected in 1824. The chapel contains handsome altars and a statue of "Our Lady of Prompt Succor," which was carved way back in 1700, and brought to New Orleans by the sisters when they came to found their beautiful work. The statue is of wood richly gilded and carved and represents the Virgin and Child. The solemn coronation of this statue took place in 1895. The crowns, which were the gift of the people, are of solid gold, magnificently studded with precious stones and are valued at $20,000. The work of the Ursulines runs as a golden thread throughout the history of Louisiana. For nearly one hundred and fifty years, every incident of note was in some measure connected with their earnest efforts, and their influence has always been exercised for good; so much so, that every report of Governor of early days insists upon the fact that one might "as well try to establish a government without funds as to do without sisters."

Recently the old Convent celebrated its one hundredth and seventy-sixth commencement. Year in and year out, in sunshine and shadow, as the history of the city ran, the Convent has sent out its laurel-wreathed graduate to reflect credit upon its ancient name. Still do the invitations to these exclusive occasions

#

announce "Le Couronnement de la Sagasse," or the "Crowning of Wisdom," This simple term, so beautiful and expressive, as compared to the somewhat dubious word "Commencement," so commonly in vogue, illustrates perhaps, in a forcible manner, the reason why, throughout New Orleans, there is so much significance in the names of places, streets, objects, as applied by the early colonists and retained to this day. The Ursulines were the teachers of the women of Louisiana, and the women made the homes; here the sure foundations 'aid by the nuns, bore fruit and later found expression in the life and thought of the people.

A few squares further on is the old Church of St. Maurice, lying over towards the woods. It is the parish church of upper St. Bernard Parish.

The next point of interest below the city is the Slaughter House. It is just across the lower boundary line of Orleans Parish, in St. Bernard. The slaughtering pens, or abattoirs, are in full operation about 3 o'clock p. m., and are usually interesting to visitors. Adjacent to the abattoirs are the pens where the cattle are confined pending execution. Most of the cattle received and butchered here come from Texas. The butchers are, for the moat part lagoons, who speak the language of the Lower Pyrenees.

The United States Barracks,

officially known as the Jackson Barracks, are at the terminus of the Rampart cars. The entrance, which is in a sort of network in the river front, is between two heavy brick towers over fifty years old. The Barracks buildings are disposed around the parade ground, and the whole is inclosed in thick brick walls. The corners of the walls are defended by towers pierced for musketry. Every evening the twilight gun is tired, the soldiers salute the flag in the center of the grass plot, and the nation's symbol is then hauled down for the night.

The Battle Field of Chalmette,

where General Jackson on January 8, 1815, won his famous victory over the British, is about a mile and a half from the Barracks. It may be reached by a carriage drive along the river front; but on a pleasant day the walk is enjoyable. Intelligence that the British Government had fitted out an expedition which was intended for the capture of New Orleans and Mobile reached the authorities at Washington, December 9, 1814, and the President directed the Governors of Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia to dispatch their militia to New Orleans. General Andrew Jackson went to the city to take charge of the defense. He promptly organized his forces. The Creoles gallantly enlisted. Jackson also enrolled convicts and free men of color. With the volunteers from other neighboring States, his force was speedily swelled to 5,000 men, of whom less than 1,000 were regulars. The British Army was in command of General Pakenham. It was composed of 7,000 picked soldiers, including veterans who had served under Wellington, and a portion of the British Chesapeake force under Admiral Cochrane. They were transported in fifty large vessels, and anchored off the entrance to Lake Borgne in the latter part of December. A meager flotilla of American gunboats opposed their landing, but it was speedily and effectually dispersed. The enemy took full possession of Lake Borgne, and effecting a landing an Ship Island crossed to the Northwestern end of Lake Borgne, and on Dec. 25 struck the Mississippi about nine miles below New Orleans. The British believed that their near approach was unsuspected, but Major Villere, who resided at Corinne Plantation warned General Jackson. The latter, supported by two armed vessels, took a small portion of his force end boldly attacked the enemy on the evening of Dec. 24. He succeeded in doing little else than showing the British that he was prepared to make a gallant defense. On December 28 Pakenham returned General Jackson's attack, but being unable to break the American lines recoiled before the effective artillery fire of the Americans. Nothing was then done for nearly two weeks. In that interval General Jackson was reinforced by 2,000 Kentuckians under General Adair. Of this number 700 were marched to the front. The British also were reinforced by a detachment under General Lambert, one of Wellington's officers. This brought up their number to 10,000. On the morning of January 8, 1815, the battle of New Orleans was fought General Pakenham made a desperate effort to carry the American position. The Americans, were drawn up within five miles of the city, along the banks of Rodriguez Canal and the Chalmette Plantation. The defense extended from the river back to the swamps. The British occupied a position between the Chalmette and Villere Plantations, and their field works extended to the old Bienville Plantation. The attack began at dawn and lasted till 8 o'clock. It began with artillery fire under cover of which Pakenham advanced with the main body of his troops. The Americans withheld their fire till the enemy was within 200 yards. Then volley after volley was fired with marvelous precision. The slaughter was tremendous. The attack was renewed repeatedly, but with no better results. General Pakenham was mortally wounded and was borne off the field to the plantation of Major Villere, where he died. General Gibbs, the second in command, was also mortally wounded, and General Keane upon whom the command then devolved was disabled by a shot in the neck. General Lambert then assumed command. He abandoned the attack, withdrew to the ships, and on the following day retreated to Lake Borgne. The British loss has been conservatively estimated at 2,000, of whom less than 500 were taken prisoners. The American loss was 8 killed and 13 wounded.

#

The Chalmette Monument

marks the place where the battle was fought. It stands on the grounds of the ancient Chalmette Plantation, which was laid out by M. Chalmette de Ligny, the ancestor of one of the oldest families in Louisiana. The erection of the monument was begun between 1830 and 1840, under an appropriation from the State. When the shaft reached the height of 60 feet the money was exhausted and the work abandoned. The monument has been placed by a State enactment under the care of the Daughters of 1776-1812. The Association intends to petition Congress for funds to complete the monument as the victory of the Battle of New Orleans was a national one.

#

Adjoining the monument site, is a fine old colonial building. In the year 1815 it was the residence of Mr. Montgomery, a wealthy merchant. It was here that General Jackson made his headquarters during the battle. This historic house, lately owned and occupied by Judge Rene* Beauregard, son of the famous Confederate General, has lately come into possession of the New Orleans Terminal Railway Company, which has bought up extensive tracts for terminal facilities in the Parish. The old mansion is now unoccupied.

It was here that the Marquis de Lafayette was first received when he visited New Orleans early in the century. He landed in a small boat immediately in front of the house, and was received in a room on the second floor by the then Governor, Mayor and principal officials.

Further on is the old Villere plantation, where General Pakenham breathed his last.

The property now called the Corinne Plantation is owned by The New Orleans Railway Company. General Pakenham was buried, beneath an immense pecan tree near the old mansion house. At his side was laid Colonel Dale of the Ninety-third Highlanders. The pecan tree still bears fruit, and curiously enough, while the meat of all the pecans on the plantation is the usual white and brown, the fruit of this particular tree is a deep red. The negroes have an old tradition that the blood of Pakenham saturated the soil of the tree under which he was buried, and this percolating through the roots of the tree, caused the fruit to be dyed with his blood. You could not persuade one of the negro slaves for miles around to eat one of the pecans from that tree. A short distance further down will be found the beautiful

Chalmette Cemetery.

The United States purchased, in 1805, a portion of the old battle field and converted it into this lovely burial place. The grounds, covered with hundreds of little white marble headstones, each marking the grave of some unknown

#

soldier killed in the Civil War, are laid out in a tasteful manner, with shelled walks and avenues of trees. The earthworks outside the walls of the cemetery were erected by the Confederates during the Civil War as part of the defense of the city. A mile below the cemetery is the terminal of the New Orleans and Western Railway, known as Port Chalmette. It is owned by an English syndicate and represents an investment of $2,000,000. Port Chalmette may be reached by the Shellbeach train, whose depot is at the corner of St. Claude and Elysian Fields Streets.

Returning from the battle grounds of Chalmette by the Rampart and Dauphine car, just after the curve in Poland Street, where the car station stands, are the old grounds of the "Macarty Square." The grounds are named for an ancient Franco-Irish family that followed the fortunes of the Bourbons, and came as exiles to New Orleans.

Overlooking the square is the handsome McDonogh No. 12 public school.

At the corner of independence and Rampart Streets is the Convent of the Marianites of the Holy Cross, a sisterhood which, having its mother house in France, was called to New Orleans some sixty-eight years ago to assist in the education of youth.

Two squares from Rampart street, and easily seen from, the cars, there stands at the comer of Marais and Mandeville Streets the little old French Church of the Annunciation, erected over fifty years ago for the French-speaking people of the Faubourg Marigny. It is in the old French style of architecture, as also the portion of the quaint presbytery, now the residence of Rt. Rev. Gustavo A. Rouxel, auxiliary bishop of New Orleans. The beautiful old-fashioned garden, with its little shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes, is well worth a visit.

Adjoining are the handsome convent building, school and chapel of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, an exiled order of nuns from Alsace and Lorraine, who came to New Orleans after the German occupation. The chapel is very beautiful. Night and day, at all hours, there are always two sisters kneeling and keeping watch before the "Blessed Sacrament;" hence the name. "Perpetual Adoration," which distinguishes the community.

At the corner of Rampart and Kerlerec Streets is the hall of the "Etoile Polaire," or Polar Star, the home of a Masonic Lodge, which existed in New Orleans in Pere Antoine's day, and which celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of its organization several years' ago. Riding thence to Canal Street the circuit of the French Quarter is completed.

- The Picayune's Guide to New Orleans (1904)
Rampart Str. — Ursuline Convent — Barracks, Chalmette Monument & Battlefield
As Written
Revised and Enlarged
Sixth Edition
Price, By Mail 30"
At Picayune Counter 25"
Picayune Job Print
The Picayune, New Orleans, La.


Storyville, New Orleans Red-Light District
1897-1917


Picayune's Guide Sitemap


MAIN SITE MAP # HOMEPAGE
[ The District | Storyville History | Sporting Houses | Madams | The Girls | Ernest Bellocq | Bellocq' s Women | Storyville Portraits
| Leo Bellocq | Blue Books | Maps | Pictorial Tour | The Transition | Jazz | Storyville Jazz | Sunday Sun News
| Canal Street | Early Mansions | Early New Orleans | French Opera House | Engravings | Links | Comments ]
# Copyright 1997->> storyvilledistrictnola.com Do not copy content from the page. Plagiarism will be detected by Copyscape. #