Jacques had participated 1779 with Governor Bernardo de Galvez in defense of Louisiana during the American Revolution [see post "Monday's Military-Our Own Revolutionary War Heroes", July 4, 2011 for more information]. He was appointed Second Lieutenant on April 5, 1785 with the 5th Right Louisiana Militia. He married my 5th great-grandmother Aimee Marie Victoire Felicite Durel (1768-1843) on October 1, 1787. Together they had ten children, including my 4th great-grandfather Jacques Omer Fortier (1792-1823). In addition to serving with the volunteer militia, Jacques owned Pasture Plantation, a sugar cane plantation, below Belle Grove in "Cannes Brules", in what is now Kenner, Louisiana.
By 1803-05, Jacques had risen to the rank of Colonel in the Louisiana Militia. He would play a significant role in the largest slave uprising in American history, until recently largely unknown. This year, on January 9-11, 2011, marked the 200th Anniversary of the 1811 German Coast Slave Uprising. Along with local exhibits, guest lectures and a wide variety of special events commemorating the event, American Uprising: The Untold Story of America's Largest Slave Revolt was released. Written by Daniel Rasmussen, it tells the story of three days in New Orleans' history, what led up to it and what the consequences were for the men who fought for their freedom.
There are now websites dedicated to the event (www.1811SlaveRevolt.com and www.theslaverebellion.org) and blogs discussing it. National Public Radio tells the story - go to www.npr.org/2011/01/16/132839717/american-rising-when-slaves-took-on-new-orleans to listen to it - as does Wikipedia - www.en.wikipedia.org/1811_German_Coast_Uprising. My story is taken from the Genealogy Trails History Group website, www.genealogytrails.com/lou/orleans/slave_revolt.html.
1811 German Coast Slave Uprising
[Note: The German Coast was a region of Louisiana settlement located above New Orleans on the Mississippi River, from east to west, in what is now St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, and St. James Parishes. The name comes from the large number of Germans who first settled the area in 1721. Eventually French settlers moved into the area, joining their culture and families and, along with other settlers, helped to create Cajun culture.]
"It began January 8, 1811, on a plantation owned by Manuel Andry in St. Charles Parish, thirty-six miles south of New Orleans (near the present-day town of Norco). Charles Deslondes, a refugee from St. Domingue who worked as a slave driver on the plantation, organized the other slaves on the plantation. With the support of runaway slaves, or "maroons," who lived in the nearby swamps, Deslondes' band wounded Andry and killed his son.
|from The Times-Picayune, January 3, 2011|
[CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]
Seizing weapons on the plantation, they set off on the road along the river headed for New Orleans, gathering recruits from other plantations as they went. Accounts differ, but they numbered between 150 and 500 strong. Alarmed planters fled with their families down-river to New Orleans ahead of them, sounding the alarm. During the night of January 9 and the morning of January 10, a detachment of United States regular troops and two companies of militia attacked the slaves at Jacques Fortier's plantation in St. Charles Parish, stopping the advance on New Orleans. Sixty-six slaves were killed. Seventy-five were held for questioning. [Note: Charles Deslondes was not taken in. One observer noted: 'Charles had his Hands chopped off then shot in one thigh & then the other, until they were both broken - then shot in the Body and before he had expired was put into a bundle of straw and roasted!']
After a week of investigation, Judge Pierre Bauchet Saint Martin of St. Charles Parish empanelled a tribunal of plantation owners, some of whom had suffered property damage in the revolt. [Two of the tribunal members were Adelard Fortier (1775-UNK), younger brother of Jacques and my 6x great uncle, and Edmond Fortier (1784-1849), son of Jacques' brother Michel II (1750-1819), and my first cousin 5x removed.]
Of the seventy-five slaves who were held, twenty-five were tried at Noel Destrehan's plantation. On January 15, 1811, after one day of investigation, the tribunal condemned eighteen of the slaves. They were taken to the plantations of their respective masters, where they were shot and their heads cut off and mounted on poles as an example to the remaining slaves.[In response, this letter was sent:]
March 6, 1811- Col. J. Fortier, in his private name, and in that of all the inhabitants of the upper coast, begs leave to address to General Hampton, and the offers and troops under his command, as well as to the detachment of the corps of marine, the sincerest expressions of thankfulness, for the zeal and promptitude with which they have been protected. The respect for the persons and property and strict discipline of the troops, deserved the greatest encomium. The body of volunteers are also requested to make a merited share of praise for their courage and patience, in suffering privations and unavoidable fatigues on such occasions; and although the invaluable service which they have rendered to the county can be feebly expressed, it will ever be engraved in the hearts of all the inhabitants, and peculiarly in that of col. J. Fortiers."