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Troops will march in Natchez on Friday

Andrew Jackson re-enactor Grant Hardin from Knoxville, Tenn., will reprise his role this weekend during the  events in Natchez and at Historic Jefferson College.
Andrew Jackson re-enactor Grant Hardin from Knoxville, Tenn., will reprise his role this weekend during the events in Natchez and at Historic Jefferson College.

NATCHEZ — Much like in 1813, General Andrew Jackson’s troops won’t see much action on the battlefield in Natchez this weekend.

But that’s not stopping re-enactors from parading through downtown Friday and eventually camping at Historic Jefferson College for a living history enactment Saturday.

Jackson’s troops will march again from Natchez to Nashville along the Natchez Trace as portrayed by members of the 7th U.S. Living History Association and re-enactors from several states representing the Tennessee Militia of 1813.

The event will commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and help remind the public of the role of the Natchez Trace in that war, said Bryant Boswell, president of the Natchez Trace Parkway Association.

Jackson and his troops spent nearly a month in Natchez, the rendezvous point, in 1813 awaiting orders to head to New Orleans and protect the Gulf Coast.

But after eagerly awaiting his orders for battle, Jackson was finally sent a different message.

“They sat here for almost a month and finally got orders to disband his men and go back,” Boswell said. “He had no provisions and little supplies, but he walked with his troops all the way back to Nashville on the Trace.

“His troops were so impressed, and they said he was tough as a hickory tree, which is when he earned the name ‘Old Hickory.’”

To commemorate the bicentennial, re-enactors will begin a week-long list of events that will begin with a military parade at 6 p.m. Friday from Natchez Under-the-Hill to the Eola Guest House and Prentiss Club.

A living history educational initiative will follow from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Historic Jefferson College.

“It’s going to be a real rendezvous type atmosphere, but it will also have that military association as well,” Boswell said. “There are certainly going to be a lot of soldiers and period-dressed people all over town this weekend.

“We’re just trying to bring a lot of pre-Civil War history down to Natchez.”

Re-enactors will march, drill and listen to a stirring speech by Jackson on the north end of the campus.

On the south end of the campus, a pioneer encampment will show what life would have been like in the 1700s and 1800s during the annual Pioneer Day at Historic Jefferson College.

Robin Person, branch director at Historic Jefferson College, said the opportunity to offer both events in the same weekend worked out perfectly.

“(The association) asked us if they would be able to camp here, and we already had the living history thing planned the prior weekend, so we just decided to combine the two,” Person said. “We have a fantastic venue that’s under-utilized for historic things, and we really want people to be involved with it.”

More than 50 craftsmen, traders, sutlers (pioneer merchants) and Native Americans will gather to demonstrate crafts and abilities, show off their survival skills and do a bit of visiting and trading.

Also making an appearance this weekend will be Will Hayden and Shawn Webster of Red Jacket Firearms. The gun shop is featured on the Discovery Channel show “Sons of Guns,” which chronicles the Baton Rouge gun manufacturers.

Admission is $5 for adults older than 12 on Saturday only.

Historic Jefferson College is a state-owned historic site, operated by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and is located off U.S. 61 — 4 miles northeast of Natchez.