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Video by Tricia Towey for Scalawag.

The largest slave revolt in American history started on the night of January 8, 1811. Led by a slave driver named Charles Deslondes, a small band of slaves injured plantation owner Manuel Andry and murdered his son Gilbert. Armed with muskets and farming tools they started a two-day march along the Mississippi River towards New Orleans. 

More slaves joined the march, growing their numbers to more than 500. Their plan was to meet other revolutionaries in New Orleans and take over the city. But before they even made it to the city limits, the rebels were confronted by U.S. federal troops and the slave owners' militia. 

The rebel slaves that survived the bloody battle were sentenced to death by firing squad and their heads were placed on poles along the river to intimidate the other slaves. This story has been lost to history, until recently. 

Over 200 years later on November 8 and 9, 2019 over 200 actors retraced the steps of the rebel slaves. Lead by artist Dread Scott, the first 1811 Slave Rebellion Reenactment was six years in the making.

To learn more about the Slave Rebellion Reenactment visit:

Read more about this story, including interviews with the actors, in our upcoming print issue.

Tricia Towey is a filmmaker based in New Orleans who focuses on unseen Southern culture.