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Restoring History: War of 1812 Uniform

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Back in the 1920’s, the Louisiana State Museum acquired a military uniform from the War of 1812.  It was in bad shape.  Now, the museum  hopes to have the uniform restored in time for the Battle of New Orleans Bicentennial in January.  News With A Twist reporter Deepak Saini learned about the painstaking detail that goes into bringing history back to life.

The War of 1812, a 2 year conflict between the United States and Great Britain, seeing its final major battle in New Orleans.  200 years later, a piece of that history is being sown back to life.

“It is a one of a kind coat. It is the only one of its kind known to exist. There are very few uniforms that still exist from the War of 1812.  The coat was worn by a man named Lt. Col. William Sutherland Hamilton. Hamilton was originally from North Carolina but his family had moved to Louisiana before the war of 1812,” says Wayne Phillips with the Louisiana State Museum.

The military uniform survived war and two centuries but not hungry insects.  The museum hired Jessica Hack to restore the uniform.  Hundreds of hours have gone into all the fine details.

“You have the outside material which you can see, then you have interlinings and linings inside of linings,” says Jessica Hack of Jessica Hack Restoration.

No pictures of Lt. Col. William Hamilton are known to exist but the uniform reveals clues about the man who wore it.

“This uniform does have a lot of braiding on it, on the sleeves and on the collar, which does say something at Lt. Col. Hamilton’s rank,” says Phillips.

The number “3” on the buttons reveal he served in the 3rd U.S. Rifle Regiment.

“There are a lot of people out there who know about this coat. This is the only one of its particular pattern to exist in any museum anywhere or any collection so its value really cant be overstated,” says Phillips.

A valiant piece of history offering a glimpse back in time.

The restoration is going to cost about $35,000.  The Louisiana State Museum is accepting donations.  For more information or to make a gift, call the Louisiana State Museum Foundation at (504) 558-0493 or visit www.thelmf.org.