USCT Graves at Chalmette National Cemetery

Chalmette National CemeteryJazz Fest is here in New Orleans, and the weather just couldn’t be better for it. I’m not going this weekend, opting instead for the more affordable and more my speed Festival International Louisiane in Lafayette. Before heading off for music galore, though, I decided to take a day riding around this beautiful town, away from crowds. After tooling down to the Quarter for a visit to my bike shop (which is busybusy with Fest bike rentals), and some lunch, I hit the St. Claude bike lane again, hoping to avoid boat traffic so I could ride out to Chalmette National Battlefield–previous attempts to visit have been thwarted by slow-moving trains. I wasn’t sure what I’d find since post-Katrina floodwaters took out some of the cemetery walls and the visitor’s center, but the place looked beautiful and felt oddly peaceful given the construction, port activity, and traffic surrounding the place. I did some learning at the visitor’s center, about the War of 1812 and the Battle of Orleans, and then rode over to see the cemetery. I snapped this picture of the Freedman’s sector, where Black soldiers were buried under the authority of the Freedman’s Bureau. Each headstone is marked “U.S.C.T.,” or, “United States Colored Troops.” Out here in St. Bernard Parish lie the remains, many unidentified, of so many soldiers from so long ago marked by the racism of the time, a racism that has changed shape, surely, but still persists. It was a quiet and peaceful ride and visit, and afterward, riding through the French Quarter already crawling with Fest-ers (including some famous people!), I was happy to have spent the day away from those particular crowds.

2 thoughts on “USCT Graves at Chalmette National Cemetery

  1. Pingback: Fazendeville at the Chalmette National Battlefield « What I Saw Riding My Bike Around Today

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