Jackson Barracks, October 2011. The Washington Artillery on the Parade Field
|Location||6400 St. Claude Ave., New Orleans, Louisiana|
|Architectural style||Greek Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||76000969|
|Added to NRHP||November 7, 1976|
Jackson Barracks is the headquarters of the Louisiana National Guard. It is located in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana. The base was established in 1834 and was known as New Orleans Barracks prior to July 7, 1866 when it was renamed in honor of Andrew Jackson. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
After the War of 1812, the U.S. Congress realized coastal cities were not adequately defended, so they prescribed the Federal Fortifications Act. The Act, signed by Congress on July 19, 1832, provided over $180,000(USD) for the acquisition of lands, the building of barracks to house U.S. Troops, and the establishment of command and control centers. The original property for the new barracks in New Orleans, Louisiana (100 yards x 300 yards) was purchased on December 16, 1833 from Pierre Cotteret to support the new Forts Pike, Macomb, Jackson, Livingston, and St. Philip.
Lieutenant Frederick Wilkinson, designed and supervised the building of the new logistics base; build from 1832 to 1836, the new Barracks called “New Orleans Barracks” housed four infantry companies and came equipped with a prison, a storehouse, and four 3-story guard towers. His quadrangle design, in the center of the post, was intended to be a rallying point in the event of an attack. The backs of the buildings were designed with no outward facing windows and acted as a wall. The houses were joined together with a 10 foot brick facade that fortified the post. The front of the Barracks by the river, had a levee, road, railroad, and a trolly-car track for supplements. The back of the Barracks by St. Claude Avenue, housed a Powder Magazine to store ammunition. The first troops were in the barracks by February 1837. Colonel David E. Twiggs, the commanding officer of the 2nd Regiment of Dragoons, was chosen as the first commandant of the Post. During this time, Ulysses S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, George B. McClellan, J.E.B. Stuart, P. G. T. Beauregard, were all stationed at the Barracks, although not at the same time.
During the Mexican–American War, New Orleans Barracks was chosen as a post for sending and receiving troops. The wounded troops returning from Mexico initiated the construction of a federal hospital in 1849. It became the first Public Service Hospital for Veterans in the country. Additional property was purchased expanding the Barracks north of Saint Claude Avenue to allow for the new facility. The hospital was a French designed, four-building, 2-story, open-bay hospital ward, and one surgical operating-theater in the center. The hospital remained active until 1888 when it was demolished. The sturdy wood was salvaged and used to construct additional bungalows around the Barracks.
In 1861, Louisiana seceded from the United States. Confederate forces took control of the Barracks and held it for less than one year, when in 1862, Federal forces re-captured it.
On July 7, 1866, the barracks was renamed “Jackson Barracks” after the colonial who led the Battle of New Orleans, "Old Hickory", Andrew Jackson. Three years later, the United States reorganized its “colored troops” into colored regiments. An ACT of Congress signed March 3, 1869, reduced the four colored regiments to two. The 39th and 40th Regiments were consolidated and renumbered as the 25th Infantry Regiment headquartered at Jackson Barracks, under command of Colonel Joseph A. Mower until May 1870. Known as the Buffalo Soldiers, they served the United States during the Indian wars and Spanish–American War.
During World War I, the Barracks was used as a muster station where General John J. Pershing reviewed the troops leaving for war. Following World War I, the property was declared “excess” by the Federal Government and gave it to the State of Louisiana. The Louisiana Adjutant General, Major General Raymond Fleming, made Jackson Barracks the home of the Louisiana National Guard. General Fleming transformed the post from an infantry post to a Cavalry and artillery post where it housed the 108th Cavalry Regiment and the Washington Artillery. A new horse stable was built for the many horses posted at the barracks, and a polo field was fabricated to exercise the horses in exhibition games on the week-ends.
Over the years, the Mississippi River slowly moved closer to the Barracks. Finally in 1912, the river breached the levee that protected the post destroying the road, railroad, and a trolly-car tracks. The executive office building and the front two guard towers were dismantled in order to make room for a new levee. There was not enough remaining space to allow for the construction of a new road or rail system.
During the Great Depression, Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long, Jr. used his political ties in Washington, D.C. to get federal monies for Louisiana State constructions. Governor Long enlisted the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, to carry out public works projects in Louisiana. Using WPA personnel, Jackson Barracks was extensively renovated including the construction of a new executive office building named “Fleming Hall” after Major General Raymond H. Fleming, the first Adjutant General commanding at Jackson Barracks.
When the United States entered World War II, the Federal Government took control of the barracks to use it as a port of embarkation. The polo field was transformed into temporarily billeting for men preparing to ship overseas in support of the war.
During the war, the current Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 required that all men aged 18 to 45 were liable for military service for a term of one year. By the early summer of 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked the U.S. Congress to extend the term of duty for the draftees beyond twelve months. Many of the drafted soldiers threatened to desert once the original twelve months of their service was concluded. A plan submitted by Louisiana Adjutant General Raymond Fleming, was to organize a conference and study he best way to procure manpower in the event of an emergency and develop a new Selective Service Act. Jackson Barracks was the location chosen to host the Conference. The finalized Report #2438 was submitted to the 80th Congress - 2d Session and became the Selective Service Act of 1948; it required all men aged 19 to 26 to register, and all men aged 19 to 26 liable for 21 months' service, followed by 5 years of reserve duty.
At the conclusion of World War II, the barracks was again given to the State of Louisiana for use as the Louisiana National Guard Headquarters, with a proviso that the Federal Government can, at any time of crisis, take control of the property.
Post World War II
In 1960, a portion of the property was dedicated to the Louisiana Department of Corrections. A work release prison and two Armories were then constructed. Jackson Barracks was officially entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and in 1977, the official Louisiana National Guard Museum was constructed from the renovated Old Powder Magazine. Officially named, Ansel M. Stroud, Jr. Military History and Weapons Museum it contains artifacts from each of the nine major United States conflicts. The museum is a member of the Army Museum System.
In 1991, Warren Camouche the founder of Thugs United, started the Jackson Barracks Prison project. With the help of Loyola University, the prison gained a library, law school classes, literacy classes, creative writing, and conflict resolution classes. In 1993, the prison was closed as a consequence of a three-man escape and a subsequent murder by the escapees. In 1995, there was an extensive renovation of the armories, an Organizational Maintenance Shop was constructed, and the inactive prison complex was transformed into a police training facility.
In 2005, the entire Jackson Barracks Complex was virtually destroyed by floodwater from Hurricane Katrina.
On August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina made its landfall in southeast Louisiana as a Category 3 storm. As the storm moved inland, the storm surge caused a breach in the Industrial Canal levee and submerged parts of Jackson Barracks with more than 20-feet of water. Residents and troops were caught in the floodwater and were evacuated via boats to the Mississippi River levee, where National Guard helicopter pilots evacuated them to the Louisiana Superdome. The tidal surge virtually destroyed the entire Jackson Barracks Complex. Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey after touring the devastated Barracks, noted that Jackson Barracks is “a very important piece of American history that needs to be preserved."
Congress authorized 100 percent of the funding for re-construction. The majority of the Barracks was rebuilt from scratch, except the 1837 Old Powder Magazine and 14 antebellum homes in the Original Garrison that received a Federal Emergency Management Agency-funded $35 million restoration. The entire complex was re-designed so all office and executive complexes were in close proximity, and all new structures would have their operational infrastructures above the first floor.
The Jackson Barracks Historical Renovation was created to ensure the preservation of the largely intact historical area. ENR Texas & Louisiana was chosen to head the project. Yeates & Yeates Architects, New Orleans  was selected to design structures matching the original Greek Revival theme. Most of the historical buildings were completely meliorated, including structure replacement. The team fully restored over 17,500 square feet of wood-framed buildings to original designs and used original materials when possible.
91 new housing cottages were erected at the north end of the barracks, and new armories were build with state-of-the-art features, including a bomb-proof facade, advanced fire retardant systems, dedicated water and electricity utilities, and stand-alone command & control facilities.
The total cost of re-construction due to Hurricane Katrina was $325 million.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
- "Record Number: 371015". National Register of Historic Places. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
- Geaux Guard web site on Jackson Barracks accessed February 2012
- Nunez History Lecture Series Feb 2012
- Lecture by COL John Pugh - Nunez History Lecture Series 2004
- MyNewOrleans.comFeb 2012
- Fort Davis NHS
- "Jackson Barracks History". THE 122ND BOMB SQUADRON RESTORATION UNIT. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
- "Jackson Barracks History".
- [RS 25:851, CHAPTER 18. ANSEL M. STROUD, JR. MILITARY HISTORY AND WEAPONS MUSEUM, §851],
- Army Museum System Directory, U.S. Army Center of Military History
- Feb 2012
- MyNewOrleans.com Feb 2012
- jackson_barracks_welcomes_back Feb 2012
- MyNewOrleans.com Feb 2012
- NOLA_Politics Feb 2012
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