A Bloodless Victory is available December 24th.
Here’s another taste of the book:
The monument made for an impressive sight: a tower of marble one hundred feet tall which shined brightly in the crisp winter air. Only a decade before, the Chalmette Monument sat half-finished and nearly forgotten in a cow pasture. Now in January 1915, it stood overlooking the fifteen thousand spectators gathered around its base. These admirers had come from around the United States to be on the spot where, exactly one hundred years earlier, Andrew Jackson and his army had defeated the invading forces of Great Britain.
Five “true daughters” of the original battle’s participants sat in the shadow of the monument as the United States Daughters of 1812 organization dedicated the obelisk “to the memory of the American soldiers who fell in the Battle of New Orleans.” Suddenly, American and British flags rose up the shaft of the monument, celebrating the one hundred years of peace between the United States and Great Britain which followed the battle.
Considering the apathy toward the battle’s commemoration during the turn of the twentieth century, the event had been a remarkable success. From the 1890s to the 1910s, the public memory of the Battle of New Orleans received bursts of attention and enthusiasm, thanks to women’s patriotic organizations around the country. These groups played an important role in battlefield and historic site preservation across the United States. In the South, groups like the Daughters of 1812 were especially important because they provided opportunities for white Southerners still upset over the Civil War to reengage in American patriotic events.
In the early 1890s, numerous women’s patriotic organizations formed across the country, such as the Colonial Dames, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), and the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). The UDC in particular played a prominent role in shaping American historical memory, especially in the South. The UDC formed in 1894 through the national consolidation of numerous state organizations. These hereditary patriotic organizations originally organized with the intention of caring for Confederate veterans, widows, and orphans. Yet they quickly became vehicles for airing Southern grievances and coordinating resistance to federal government interference in Southern society. The US government considered these organized women’s groups less threatening than gatherings of men, who might take up arms, and paid little attention to their meetings. Groups like the UDC played a critical role in shaping the memory of the Civil War and in developing the Lost Cause in the South.
The United States Daughters of 1812 also wrote its official charter in Washington, DC, around the time that the UDC formed. The Daughters of 1812 slightly predated the UDC and formed with the purpose of promoting US rather than Confederate patriotism. The 1812 organization even chose blue and gray for its official colors, ostensibly for the blue worn by the navy and the gray worn by the army during the war. This color scheme also represented a less-than-subtle suggestion of the group’s true intentions. The organization strove to emphasize an era before the Civil War, when, as they saw it, regional division did not threaten to tear the country apart. By the early 1900s, the popular memory of the War of 1812 depicted a second American Revolution when the various states of the Union fought as one in a common cause. That memory appealed to some Southerners who grew tired of the Lost Cause and the constant emphasis on a lost war. The successes of the War of 1812 in the west appealed to people during the 1890s and 1900s for the same reasons historians have identified for the advances of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in the same period. In New Orleans especially, home to the South’s greatest non–Civil War military success, the Daughters of 1812 grew dramatically in membership.