One of the most noted of them was Joseph Paul Antoine Garrigues de Flaugeac, who returned to his home in St. Landry Parish after the fight with the rank of brigadier general in the state militia and, as a souvenir, the field glasses of the fallen British leader, Major Gen. Edward Pakenham.
De Flaugeac was born in 1780 into an aristocratic family in southern France. He became captivated by Napoleon's grand schemes as a young man and joined the army when he was only 17 years old. He fought during a victorious Italian campaign, then volunteered to join an ill-fated expedition sent to Santo Domingo to try to put down a slave rebellion there.
He survived the yellow fever that decimated Napoleon's troops in the Caribbean, but was wounded, captured by a British landing force, and jailed in Cuba.
He thought his troubles were over when he and two companions--Van Hill and DeBaillon--were released and set sail for France in 180. But there was more adventure in store.
Their ship sank early in its voyage back to France and the three were half-dead, floating on a makeshift raft, when they were rescued by a merchant ship bound for New Orleans.
De Flaugeac and his companions were working as longshoremen on the New Orleans levee when they met Grand Louis Fontenot, a man of some distinction in St. Landry Parish. Fontenot invited them to St. Landry Parish. They accepted the invitation and liked what they saw--particularly the three Fontenot daughters.
De Flaugeac married Marie Louise Fontenot and settled near Opelousas, becoming a trusted surveyor and judge. His friends married two other Fontenot daughters.
By December 1814, Garrigues and Marie Louise were the proud parents of two daughters, Celeste and Claire, and of a newborn son, Adolphe. He had been elected to the state senate when Louisiana became a state and the legislature was in session when news came that the British were about to attack New Orleans and that Gen. Andrew Jackson was desperate for fighting men to make a defense.
De Flaugeac, then in his middle 30s, could have evaded service because legislators were exempt from fighting. Further, Gen. Jackson didn't trust Louisiana's French Creoles. De Flaugeac took neither excuse. He volunteered for the fight, in which he was placed in command of an artillery.
The venerable historican Charles Gayarre described de Flaugeac's role.
"A little before daybreak ... as soon as there was sufficient light for observation," Gayarre wrote, "a rocket went up. It was the signal for attack. The British, giving three cheers, formed into [a] close column of about sixty men in front and advanced in splendid order, chiefly on the battery commanded by Garrigues de Flaugeac, which consisted of a brass twelve-pounder, supported on its left by an insignificant battery. ... On the right was a battery commanded by United States officers. An oblique movement was made to avoid the terrible fire of the de Flaugeac battery, from which every discharge seemed to tear open the column, and sweep away whole files."
After the battle, Jackson commended the gallant Frenchman for refusing the legislative exemption and "rendering essential service to his country."
Gayerre says the flattery didn't turn his head. Rather, "after the battle he disappeared from the city and merged his interests again in the life of his plantation."
De Flaugeac served in the senate for 18 years, retired from public office, and was sent back to the legislature, where he was serving as a state representative at the time of his death on June 25, 1845. He is buried in the St. Landry Church Cemetery.
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