Vanity Fair
DREADS REBELLION Image Credit: Vanity Fair
DREADS REBELLION Image Credit: Vanity Fair

Dread's Rebellion

IN 1811, SLAVES IN LOUISIANA STAGED THE LARGEST PLANTATION UPRISING IN U.S. HISTORY. ARTIST DREAD SCOTT IS MOUNTING A PROVOCATIVE REENACTMENT TO ASK THE QUESTION: WHAT IF THOSE REVOLUTIONARIES HAD SUCCEEDED?

Julian Lucas

On a cloudy March afternoon, I climbed a levee in Montz, Louisiana, with the artist Dread Scott. The wind was whipping, and muddy water streamed through an open dam into the Bonnet Carré Spillway. The area, once home to sprawling riverfront plantations, is now dedicated to wildlife and recreation. But the day we visited, its hiking trails, off-road-vehicle courses, and historic cemeteries were under water. The crowns of submerged cypresses swayed in the current; across the spillway, the sprawl of Shell’s Norco oil refinery floated like a mirage. A sign on the barbed wire fence read, “No Trespassing, U.S. Government Property.”

Bonnet Carré hardly resembles the decorous greenswards of Gettysburg or Lexington. But this November, once its waters recede, Scott will lead some 500 costumed rebels over the spillway on foot and horseback in a reenactment of America’s largest-ever slave revolt. Chanting “On to New Orleans” and “Freedom or death,” they will retrace the little-known German Coast uprising of 1811 in a 26-mile march east along the Mississippi River, brandishing axes, muskets, blunderbusses, and cane knives as they cut an anachronistic swath through the nearby industrial towns.

With a budget of more than $1 million, the event


Continue Reading with Magzter GOLD Subscription

Log in if you're already a subscriber

Continue Reading This Article For FREE By Downloading The Magzter App

Magzter for iOS Magzter for Android

To continue reading on the website, Click here

Get unlimited access to thousands of curated premium story and 5,000+ magazines

Try FREE for 7 days or

Download the Magzter App and
Try FREE for 30 days


More from Vanity Fair