By Kevin Shannahan
Natchitoches’ Fort St. Jean Baptiste was transformed from its colonial time-frame to that of the Civil War as Confederate forces laid siege to the Union held fort in two battles on Saturday, May 28, 2016. About twenty Civil War re-enactors spent the day portraying the life of a Civil War soldier for park visitors. At 2:00, skirmishes between the two sides broke out as the Confederates raided the fort. At 7:30, the fort was once again besieged with the Confederate forces succeeding in breaching the fort’s gate with a captured Union cannon.
The 7:30 battle featured a special guest. M. Gregor Trumel, Consul General of France in Louisiana, and his family came up from New Orleans to visit the fort. This marks his second visit to Natchitoches. He was here last October to present the Legion D’Honneur to Mrs. Juanita McNeal, widow of WW II veteran J. D. McNeal. While in Natchitoches, he was given a tour of the City and Fort St. Jean Baptiste where Interpretive Ranger Jeremy McCormic taught him how to throw a tomahawk. This time around, he learned how to fire a Civil War era cannon and earned his black powder certification.