The Natchez Trace: An Important Path in the War of 1812

Andrew Jackson with the Tennessee forces on the Hickory Grounds, 1814. Library of Congress.

Andrew Jackson with the Tennessee forces on the Hickory Grounds, 1814. Library of Congress.

Near Columbia this weekend, there’s a commemoration of a war that took place 200 years ago. It’s a reenactment of one of the key moments in the War of 1812 — Andrew Jackson mustering a volunteer army to march down the Natchez Trace to New Orleans. What was an important trade route became a military supply line.

When the war started, many Tennesseans weren’t worried about a British invasion of Nashville. Ann Toplovich of the Tennessee Historical Society says most were concerned about what might happen to New Orleans.

“For Tennesseans, this was an especially alarming thing because that was their primary commercial port. So, the Natchez Trace became extremely important as a route for moving military force from the United States down to defend New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.”

Battle of New Orleans, via Wikimedia Commons

Battle of New Orleans, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1812, Jackson led a force of around 2,000 men down the Natchez Trace under his command.

By mid 1813, the men returned to Tennessee. Two years later, Jackson and his men trekked down the Trace again. He led US forces to victory at the Battle of New Orleans.

Muster on the Trace: Prelude to the War of 1812. will recreate Jackson’s mustering of the troops, before the march to New Orleans. The event is taking place at Gordon House Historic Site, on the Natchez Trace Parkway near Columbia. There’s more about the reenactment here.

Note: An earlier of this version of this story stated that Jackson’s victory in New Orleans ended the war. This was not the case. The war ended prior to the battle, though neither side knew that a peace agreement had been signed. We regret the error. Also, you can find out more about the Battle of New Orleans and other places in the south that were important to the conflict in this PBS documentary.

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