Twenty years after the first Battle of Plattsburgh commemoration, city officials and organizers were at city hall today to highlight some of the events planned for September 6th through the 9th.
On September 11th, 1814 the invading British fleet and ground forces were defeated at the Battle of Plattsburgh. The land skirmishes and the key naval battle on Lake Champlain are remembered annually on the weekend closest to September 11th.
Battle of Plattsburgh co-chair and advisor Kit Booth says the original intent was to build up the commemoration for a grand finale on its 200th anniversary in 2014. But it has continued and has become significant beyond the North Country. “At one point during the celebration we had 11 members of the Macdonough family here. We know that some of them will be back here again this year. And it will start of course over at the cemetery and that's always been the starting point for the Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration. That’s where Captain Downey, the British commander, is buried. And around him are buried members of both the American and the British fleet and land forces. That’s a very unusual thing you know to have combatants from both sides buried side by side in the same cemetery.”
Kent Delord House Museum Director Don Wickman noted that there has been an encampment on the grounds every year for the Battle of Plattsburgh. “People can go up and talk to reenactors. We're going to have ah period craft and trade demonstrations, hands-on activities and a 19th century fashion show. So what was fashionable back then? And Matt Keagle who’s the curator of Fort Ticonderoga is coming up and he’s going to be doing a presentation on the 1812 era uniforms that are in their collection. That's going to be an extraordinary bit of history that you don’t know about.”
Reenactor Chair P.J. Miller expects more than 100 reenactors to camp on the grounds of the Kent Delord House Museum and participate in this year’s battles. “The whole community comes out. There’s the Israel Green's Tavern. There's the Macomb Ball on Saturday night and the whole community is just so excited for the reenactors to be there. Like when you walk down the street as a reenactor it almost feels like being a celebrity. People want to talk to you. People are really interested in what you have to say about history and that’s just a fantastic thing. Everyone's just so excited here in Plattsburgh that it just makes it a fantastic event for reenactors to come to.”
Battle of Plattsburgh Poster Contest winners were announced. Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read, who is originally from Canada, says when he first came to the community he was enthusiastic to support the commemoration. “For Canadians the War of 1812 was a really significant event. This battle in 1814 really ended that war. Already the negotiations were ongoing in Ghent, Belgium for the end of the war between the British and the Americans but the British were going to have one last stand. They were going to try to go down Lake Champlain all the way to New York City and peel off all of New England for the British. Little did they know that they’d be stopped right here in Plattsburgh. This ended the War of 1812 essentially right here.”