Chalmette is a census-designated place (CDP) and the parish seat of St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. You can find Chalmette east of downtown New Orleans and south of Arabi. This area was founded by Louis-Xavier Martin de Lino de Chalmette, a plantation owner who lived from 1720 to 1755.
On January 8th, 1815, the Battle of New Orleans was fought at the Chalmette plantation. The British Army was led by Major General Sir Edward Pakenham and the United States Army was led by Brevet Major General Andrew Jackson.
The battle took place after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, the peace treaty which ended the War of 1812 between the US and the UK, on December 24, 1814, before news of it had reached the United States. Despite the British troops having advantages in training and experience, their assault on New Orleans was poorly executed, and American soldiers defeated them in just over 30 minutes. The US Army suffered 250 casualties, and the British suffered around 2,000. Chalmette plantation was destroyed during that last great battle of the War of 1812 – the Battle of New Orleans.
The battlefield has since been preserved as a national monument, and the Chalmette National Cemetery is right across from it. In the mid-1970s the battlefield became part of a multi-site National Park service property known as the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Chalmette is also home to the Malus-Beauregard House, a Greek Revival style plantation house that was built in 1830.
On August 29th, 2005, during Hurricane Katrina, a storm surge overflowed through the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet Canal and flooded most of Chalmette. In some places, waters were as high as 15 feet, and as a result, the town was destroyed. Much of the population had evacuated prior to the hurricane, but there was still a significant loss of life.
After the storm had passed, many of the buildings were deemed to be unsalvageable and toxic chemicals from local oil refineries polluted the water and became an ongoing health hazard.
The parish headquarters became a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer park for workers that were part of the rebuilding effort. Even a year after the storm, those same parish employees were working shifts around the clock to restore the community. By November, the Murphy Oil facility – which had a huge oil tank knocked over and carried away in the flood – was functional again, along with some other businesses around the intersection of Paris Road and St. Bernard Highway. The residential areas were devastated but were open during daylight hours so residents could gather whatever belongings remained in their damaged homes.
Chalmette has gradually recovered over the years and St. Bernard Parish has even celebrated Mardi Gras in the town. In 2006, one of the krewes, Knights of Nemesis, held a parade along the streets of Chalmette, even passing buildings that were still in ruins. In early 2008, schools reopened, and many of the businesses returned to the area.