1812 Bicentennial and Civil War Sesquicentennial Bring Reenactments, Living History to New York State
Albany, N.Y. - The year 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812. This is also the second year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, a five-year commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. For those who love battlefield reenactments and encampments, living history villages and thought-provoking historical exhibits and lectures, there could be no better time to explore New York State.
In contrast, no Civil War battles were fought in New York State. Nevertheless, as the most populous state in the Union, New York ranked number one among the states in number of troops supplied (an estimated 400,000), casualties (more than 46,000), war material production and financial support. Many of the Union’s top officers were from New York State, and the first known Union officer killed in the War was New Yorker Col. Elmer Ellsworth. New York State’s women also bravely supported the troops as nurses, aides and on the home front.
This year, a series of special events will be bringing these two important events in U.S. history to life as visitors commemorate the days of the War of 1812 and the Civil War. In addition to reenactments and living history sites, carefully curated exhibits and lectures will illuminate New York’s critical role in both of these pivotal events in U.S. history and the ways that they changed New York.
“We’ve found that War of 1812 events are drawing visitors, history enthusiasts and novices alike, who are eager to learn about this lesser-known event in U.S. history,” says Sara Ogger, executive director of the New York Council for the Humanities, which is funding War of 1812-related events statewide and is also providing Civil War grants and programs throughout the duration of the sesquicentennial. “It’s been incredible to see the support among academics, journalists, and legislators to bring important but forgotten stories of War of 1812 to light.”
Here are some highlights of ongoing or upcoming War of 1812 and Civil War-related events:
• Now and ongoing: Web-based War of 1812 exhibition by the New York State Museum in Albany (On the Web)
To mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the New York State Museum has launched a statewide commemorative website and web-based exhibition. The site is designed as a clearinghouse for information about New York’s role during the War of 1812 as well as events celebrating the anniversary across New York State and in Canada. The website will be a growing and evolving statewide resource for the duration of the bicentennial commemorations. For details, visit http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/Warof1812/
• Now through October: 2012 Lois McClure Schooner Tour, stopping at towns along the canals and waterways of New York State, Canada and Vermont.
The Lois McClure is a working replica of a canal schooner that offers hands-on dockside educational programs. To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812, the schooner will visit about 40 communities in the U.S. and Canada. Many ports were important fortifications during the War of 1812, including Kingston, Ontario, Sackets Harbor, NY and Oswego, NY. The route will follow the Oswego, Erie and Champlain Canals to Lake Champlain and end with visits to Essex, NY and Vergennes, VT, both with prominent roles in providing ships for the American 1812 naval effort. For details, phone 802-475-2022, or visit www.lcmm.org/our_fleet/lois_mcclure.htm .
• Now and ongoing: Peace Garden Trail (Greater Niagara, Finger Lakes and other regions)
This garden route covers over 600 miles across the U.S. and Canada. Modeled on the International Peace Garden concept that originated in Canada in 1990, this permanent trail of Peace Gardens is being established along the historic route where events of the War of 1812 determined the future of Canada, the United States and the fate of many First Nations and Native American people. Peace Garden sites in the Finger Lakes include the War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Gardens at the Williamson Pultneyville Historical Society in Pultneyville, and at Sodus Point, where a monument memorializes the many lives lost at the Battle of Troupesville here. For a free multi-region Peace Garden Trail brochure and audio guide, contact the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce’s Tourism Promotion Agency (Greater Niagara), phone 800-622-2686 or visit http://www.ipgf.org/gardens/?type=1812.
History as Theater:
• “On The Side Of The Angels,” a Civil War living history performance, September 10 to 17: Navy Week on Buffalo’s waterfront. (Greater Niagara)
Visits by modern warships and replicas of 1812-era tall ships will be accompanied by performances by Navy bands and a demonstration by the Navy’s “Leap Frogs” parachute team. For details, visit http://www.navyweek.org/Buffalo2012/index.html
Just for kids:
• August 13 - 17: Civil War Week (for kids), Fort Ontario State Historic Site, Oswego (Thousand Islands-Seaway)
Fort Ontario, a recruiting center during the Civil War, will host a living history program, Civil War Week, for youths aged 8 to 16. Kids will learn about 1860s military drill and bayonet combat, play 19th century croquet, learn to decipher coded messages and much more. Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4:30 pm. Contact: Paul Lear, e-mail Paul.Lear@parks.ny.gov or 315-343-4711 or visit http://www.fortontario.com/
Museums, Talks, and Hands-On Exhibits:
• Permanent Collection: American Wars Gallery, West Point Museum, West Point (Hudson Valley)
The Museum’s War of 1812 display is part of its American Wars Gallery. The exhibit contains original uniforms, weapons and artworks that illustrate the U.S. Army participation in the conflict. Military uniforms, flags, weapons and military art from America and Europe are on display. Other galleries include U.S. Army History and an extensive fine art collection including Hudson River School artists. Open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. For details, call 845-938-3590 or visit www.usma.edu/museum .
• Now through December: War of 1812 displays, Historic Palmyra (Finger Lakes)
Five living and working buildings–the Palmyra Historical Museum, Alling Coverlet, Phelps General Store, Print Shop and the Erie Canal Depot, all still in their original community, offer displays of community life and events from 1800 through to 1976. This year, a special exhibit features the War of 1812 with artifacts and information on General John Swift, Major William Howe Cuyler and Drs. James and John Lakey. For details, call 315-597-6981 or visit http://www.historicpalmyrany.com/ .
• Now through August 4: “Wayne County Call of Duty: The War of 1812,” Museum of Wayne County History, Lyons (Finger Lakes)
This new exhibit on the War of 1812 focuses on the two battles fought in Wayne County — Pultneyville and Sodus Point. This event is free and open to the public. For details, phone 315-946-4943 or visit http://www.waynehistory.org/
• Now through December 1: “A Civil War Panorama: Columbia County 1860-1865,” Columbia County Historical Society, Kinderhook (Hudson Valley)
This extensive exhibit showcases the involvement of Columbia County in the Civil War with a timeline, a wealth of military items on loan from private and museum collections, and biographical stories and items illustrating the lives of individual soldiers. For details, phone 518-758-9265 or visit http://www.cchsny.org/ .
• Now thru mid-October: “James Vanderpoel House of History, Kinderhook (Hudson Valley)
Learn about life on the home front in the re-created parlor of the Burt family, who lived in the house during the Civil War. Then explore the life of a soldier, from enlistment to camp to battlefront. Try on a Civil War soldier’s uniform, step into the shoes of a battle reporter, or write a letter home. For details, phone 518-758-9265 or visit http://www.cchsny.org/
• Now through October: Civil War Exhibit at the Chester Railroad Station, Chester (Hudson Valley)
Civil War memorabilia will be on exhibit every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in this restored 1915 Arts & Crafts-style passenger station. Rotating exhibits relate the history of Chester and the railroad. For details, phone 845-469-2591, or visit http://www.chesterhistoricalsociety.com/.
• Now through August 31: “In the Army Now: Life of a Chemung County Soldier” at the Chemung Valley History Museum in Elmira (Central New York)
More than 1,000 soldiers from Chemung County served in the Civil War. This exhibit reveals their everyday life, including camp life and medical treatment for local regiments. This is part of a larger Chemung County Civil War Experience series which includes the Trolley into Twain Country tours. The tours, which operate during July & August, include two Civil War sites in Elmira: the site of the former Civil War Prison Camp (also known as Hellmira) and Woodlawn National Cemetery (final resting place of over 3,000 Confederate soldiers who died at Hellmira. For details, visit http://www.chemungvalleymuseum.org/
• Now through 2012: Interactive Civil War exhibits, Roberson Museum, Binghamton (Central New York)
Commemorating the Civil War Sesquicentennial, this special exhibition features 12 real-life profiles of individuals including women, African-Americans and draftees to convey what life was like for a variety of people of the region during this time and how the Civil War changed their lives. There is also an interactive encampment. The exhibition draws on items from local private collectors and historical societies. The museum is open Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. and Friday from 12 to 9 p.m. For details, visit http://www.roberson.org/.
• Now through October: Flight of a Civil War Balloon replica, Genesee Country Village & Museum, Mumford (Finger Lakes)
The Intrepid, the world’s only Civil War manned balloon replica will take to the air and then return to remain on exhibit. The exhibit has two prominent supporters: renowned documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and adventure balloonist and Virgin Group Chairman Sir Richard Branson. For details, visit http://www.gcv.org/.
• August 9: Old Stone Fort Museum Complex - Civil War Lecture at Old Stone Fort Museum, Badgley Annex (Central New York)
At 7 p.m., Gus Truin will speak about the U.S. Christian Commission in the Civil War. For details, phone 518-295-7192, email Office@SchoharieHistory.Net,or visit http://www.theoldstonefort.org/.
• September 2: “The Navy’s War” by author George C. Daughan, Battle of Plattsburgh (The Adirondacks)
As part of the March of the British weekend, George C. Daughan, winner of the 2008 Samuel Eliot Morison Award, will recount the thrilling story of how a handful of heroic captains and their stalwart crews overcame spectacular odds to lead the U.S. to victory. The half-hour lection starts at 6:30 p.m. For details, visit http://www.champlain1812.com/calendar.html
• September 5: “The Civil War of 1812 by Alan Taylor, Plattsburgh College, Plattsburgh (The Adirondacks)
Alan Taylor, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and professor of history at the University of California, Davis, will tell the riveting story of how the War of 1812 redefined North America, from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is free. For details, visit http://www.archives.nysed.gov/apt/events/index.shtml.
• September 15, 2012 through May 2013: Keeping the Home Fires Burning: Life on the Chemung County Homefront at the Chemung Valley History Museum in Elmira(Central New York)
More than 1,000 soldiers from Chemung County served in the Civil War. This exhibit reveals the everyday lives of those left at home–their wives and children. For details, visit http://www.chemungvalleymuseum.org/.
• September 16, 2012, “If This Quilt Could Talk-Show and Tell” at the Historic Mentz Church, Montezuma (Finger Lakes)
The subject of this program, which runs from 2 to 4 p.m., is a quilt based on a book, “Kisses From Your Beloved.” It will include a discussion on the quilt blocks made in connection with Civil War love letters from the book, revealing stories, politics and other pressing issues of the era. Free. For details, phone 315-776-4656.
• Starting September 22: “An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War” at the New York State Museum, Albany (Capital-Saratoga)
An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War will open at the New York State Museum on September 22. The 6,500 square-foot exhibit will unfold in three sections — Antebellum New York; New York’s contributions to the war effort, 1861-1865 and reconstruction and legacy of the war. Visitors will discover the tremendous contributions made by New York to the war and the great legacy of this defining moment in American history.
The State Museum is planning several programs to complement the exhibition. These will include a series of monthly lectures by local and regional Civil War scholars. There also are plans for a variety of educational family programs that will include re-enactments, stories about the experiences of well-known citizens, and a look at the lives of soldiers and families. Other programming will teach children about the artwork of that decade, and allow them to create their own. For further information and updates go to http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/ For details, phone 518-474-2274, email NYSLTRN@mail.nysed.gov, or visit http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/ .
• Oct 6 - 7: Old Stone Fort Museum Complex - History Fair, Schoharie (Central New York)
More than 300 years of Schoharie Valley history will be celebrated with reenactments, demonstrations, artisans, crafts, music and food. Admission: Adults $1, under 18 free. For details, phone 518-295-7192, email email@example.com, or visit www.theoldstonefort.org
• October 7: “The Gettysburg Address: Overlooked Influence, Unique Perspective,” a lecture at the Old Brutus Historical Museum, Weedsport (Finger Lakes)
At 2 p.m., David Carlyon will share a unique perspective about Lincoln as a performer and politician as it relates to slavery and American ideals. Free. For details, phone 315-364-8666.
Reenactments of Civil War and War of 1812 Encampments and Battles:
• August 4-5: War of 1812 Weekend, Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, Sackets Harbor (Thousand Islands-Seaway)
This annual War of 1812 re-enactment event on the Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site includes military maneuvers, camp life, cooking, music and more. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For details contact Constance Barone, NYS Parks, at 315-646-3634 or visit http://www.sacketsharborbattlefield.org/.
• August 16: War of 1812 Boot Camp, Plattsburgh (The Adirondacks)
Visitors of all ages will gain an experiential understanding of this important time in history and how it touched four nations. Participants will be given period costumes to wear and be immersed in an authentic 1812 military encampment. Here, they experience the camp life of a soldier while learning about the pivotal role the Battle of Plattsburgh played in the War of 1812. Each boot camp is kept small and out of the public eye so there is no pressure to perform. Platoon sizes will range from four to 12 people. The cost is $50 for a half day (4 hours); $75 for a full day (8 hours). For details, visit http://www.champlain1812.com/ReenactorsBootcamp.html
• September 1-2: War of 1812 Encampment at Old Fort Niagara, Youngstown (Greater Niagara)
American and British forces will meet in a reenactment of the War of 1812 on the Niagara frontier. Programs run daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and there will be a night battle depicting the British capture of Fort Niagara on Saturday at 7 p.m. For details, call 716-745-7611, or visit http://www.oldfortniagara.org/.
• September 1 -2: Civil War Reenactment Weekend, Museum Village, Monroe (Hudson Valley)
A Civil War encampment will be set up at Museum Village, one of the state’s largest living history museums. More than 200 reenactors will bring history to life as families prepare meals, tend to children, wash laundry and meet other basic daily needs. There will be battle reenactments, fashion shows, riding demonstrations and medical exhibits as well as 19th century-style vendors and antiques for sale. The event will run Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For details, phone 845-782-8247, or visit http://www.museumvillage.org/.
• September 1-3: March of the British, from Dewey Tavern in Champlain to Culver Hill in Plattsburgh (The Adirondacks)
Reenactors dressed as 1814 British soldiers will be marching each day. They will be following the route of the British invasion and ending at Culver Hill and Halsey Corners on the 3rd for a Memorial. The weekend will also feature lectures, concerts, battle reenactments, fireworks and parades. For details, visit http://www.champlain1812.com/calendar.html.
• September 7 - 9: The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration Weekend, Plattsburgh (The Adirondacks)
The Battle of Plattsburgh, also known as the Battle of Lake Champlain, ended the final invasion of the northern states during the War of 1812. A full weekend of tours, concerts, reenactments, fireworks, entertainment, parades and other events are scheduled to celebrate the Bicentennial of General Alexander Macomb’s and Master Commandant Thomas MacDonough’s defeat of the British army on September 11, 1814. For details, visit http://www.champlain1812.com/calendar.html
• Sept. 29 and 30: Civil War Weekend, Fort Ontario State Historic Site, Oswego. (Thousand Islands-Seaway)
Drills, tactical weapons, demonstrations and 19th century children’s activities will be featured on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For details, email Paul.Lear@parks.ny.gov. phone 315-343-4711, or visit http://www.fortontario.com/.
This is just a sampling of the many special events commemorating the War of 1812 and the Civil War anniversaries. For more information, visit http://www.iloveny.com/ and check the War of 1812 events listings at http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/Warof1812/. Media can find press releases and more at thebeat.iloveny.com.
About New York State
New York State features 11 beautiful vacation regions. New York’s attractions span from landmarks such as Niagara Falls, to the wine trails of Hudson Valley and treasures like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Whether it’s wide-ranging outdoor activities for the whole family like fishing, hiking and boating, culinary wonders and farm-to-table fresh foods, or the rich history and culture of one of the 13 original colonies, New York State offers diverse activities for all travelers. For more information, visit http://www.iloveny.com. Media can find press releases and more at thebeat.iloveny.com.
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Empire State Development