June 19, 2012
STEUBENVILLE – A ceremony was held at noon on Monday on the steps of the Jefferson County Courthouse to commemorate the start of the War of 1812, a war a local historian said had lasting effects on Ohio.
Counties across Ohio held ceremonies marking the start of the war coordinated by the State of Ohio War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission. The commission donated a period American flag that had 15 stars and 15 stripes. The flag flew at the courthouse Monday and then was given to the Jefferson County Historical Association to be flown at other events commemorating the war that ended on Feb. 17, 1815.
City Mayor Domenick Mucci said the ceremony reflects the noble deeds the country’s forefathers did to establish the glorious history of America.
Members of the Edison High School Choral Society sang the “Star-Spangled Banner,” which was written during the War of 1812. Pamela Kinkead of Edison High School played “America the Beautiful” on the flute.
The event was organized by Jefferson County Commissioner Thomas Graham,
Charlie Green, Jefferson County Historical Association vice president, was the guest speaker.
Green said the United States declared war on Great Britain on June 18, 1812.
“To Great Britain, the War of 1812 was simply an inconvenient distraction of their greater struggle against Napoleonic France. Its anonymity is certainly no fault of the war itself, which had a gripping plot: A little upstart nation with a tiny army and even smaller navy declares war in its former colonial master, one of the most powerful nations on earth, and nearly gets blown off the map, but they rally in the end to squeak out a moral victory,” Green said.
Green said land and naval battles were fought on the American frontier, which ran along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
“To the citizens of Ohio, this war was personal. Ohio was the front line during the early years of the war and major battles were fought at Fort Meigs, near Toledo, Fort Stephenson in Sandusky County and the Battle of Lake Erie. The Lake Erie battle is one of the most famous as it is where American Commander Oliver Hazzard Perry sent his famous note to Gen. William Henry Harrsion, stating, ‘Dear General: We have met the enemy and they our ours.'” Green said.
Green said some of the cannonballs used by Perry were manufactured at the Peter Tarr Iron Furnace in northwest Virginia, today located near Kings Creek in Weirton.
“Ohio was a battleground where men fought and died to protect their country, their homes, their families and their sacred honor. The forts and blockhouses throughout Ohio provided protection for the supply chain of provisions needed by the army, and, without them, the army could not have functioned.
“The war had lasting effects on Ohio, bringing about new towns, spurring settlement, and, most importantly, cementing the cultural and geographic boundaries of the Great Lakes that still exist today,” Green said.
He noted the war featured some of the most dramatic episodes in the nation’s history.
“These are familiar to most Americans, but only as fleeting moments in time, moments they often can’t quite place in the War of 1812 such as the burning of Washington, the Battle of New Orleans, the Battle at Fort Erie, the Battle of Fort Niagra, the Battle of Baltimore and the stand of Maj. George Armistead with 1,000 men to defend Fort McHenry, which gave us our national anthem,” Green said.
More than 25,000 men from Ohio served in the war and, today, those men have hundreds of thousands of descendants all over the United States, Green said.
“Gathered together, these individual stories create one collective voice that begins to form a large picture, a picture that defines our Ohio story. This flag, the very kind flown in 1812, represents the Ohio story and the American story that is the War of 1812,” he said.