Tonawanda News

December 1, 2013

Flames along border to re-live War of 1812

by DON GLYNN don.glynn@niagara-gazette.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Two historic forts and nearby communities along the Niagara River will be under siege again this month as part of colorful pageantry to commemorate the War of 1812. 

The events also marking the 200th anniversary of peace between the U.S. and Canada are set for Fort Niagara in Youngstown, Buffalo, Fort Erie and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Major reenactments are designed to ignite interest in two of the most destructive attacks on both sides of the border: the Americans destroying Newark (now Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.) on Dec. 6, 1813, and the British seeking revenge in capturing Fort Niagara Dec. 19, and then torching homes and villages from Youngstown to Buffalo.

Known as America’s “Second War for Independence,” it started in 1812 and ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent in December 1814. Among the major issues that caused the conflict: The British taking seamen off U.S. ships and forcing them to serve in the Royal Navy, sailors’ rights, and free trade. Canada at the time was considered a group of British colonies which Americans repeatedly failed to invade.

On Saturday, Buffalo and Fort Erie will again light fires on the shores of the Niagara River to symbolize the treacherous burnings two centuries ago. Buffalo has planned day-long activities including Tea With Dolly Madison, tours of the USS Trippe at the Buffalo Marine Center, a lecture presented by Chris Brown on the War of 1812 and a huge fire at 6 p.m. at Squaw Island. A reception with refreshments will follow at St. John’s Church, 85 Amherst St., in Black Rock.

Fort Erie’s fire will be lit at 6 p.m. at the Old Coal Docks (Jarvis Street and the Niagara Parkway). The night before, on Friday, a camp-out fundraiser will begin with 10 local celebrities braving the cold and spending the night in an encampment to raise money and supplies for area charities.

On this side of the border, the history buffs will need that early bird energy if they’re planning to help commemorate the bicentennial of the British capturing Fort Niagara on Dec. 19, 1813. Shortly after that sneak attack, the troops destroyed many settlements along the Niagara Frontier, from Lewiston to Buffalo. Bob Emerson, executive director of Old Fort Niagara, said the re-enactment of the seizing of the fort — at precisely the same time as the original assault 200 years ago — will begin at 5 a.m. Officials said it will be imperative that all visitors be inside the fort by 4:45 a.m. Doors will open at 4:30 a.m.

A commemorative ceremony and symbolic flare lighting is set for 7:15 a.m. at Faulkner Park in the village. Plans also are under way to host a community breakfast at village restaurants, starting at 7:30 a.m.

Two special programs for the occasion will be presented between 8:15 a.m. and 9:15 a.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Youngstown. The first one will include a power point presentation on the War of 1812 by the Niagara County Historical Society and the second will feature a short video, “Niagara on Fire,” provided by the Niagara-on-the-Lake 1812 Bicentennial Committee.

A climax to the day-long events will be the 6:30 p.m. dedication of the Tuscarora Heroes Monument, at Center Street and Portage Road, Lewiston.