La Grua Center to host War of 1812 presentation

Monday, July 30, 2012

By The Sun Staff

LaGrua Center


The LaGrua Center in Stonington Borough.


STONINGTON — “The Rockets’ Red Glare Over Stonington” — an exploration of the War of 1812 in Connecticut and of the Battle of Stonington — will be presented by the Stonington Historical Society on Aug. 15 at the La Grua Center in Stonington Borough. Admission to the 6 p.m. program is free and open to the public.

The nation is now commemorating the bicentennial of the commencement of the War of 1812.

This discussion will be presented by four of the contributing authors of “The Rockets’ Red Glare: The War of 1812 and Connecticut,” which was recently published in conjunction with an exhibit at the Lyman Allyn Museum in New London.

The rockets that glared over Stonington during the British attack on the town in August 1814 were the same kind of Congreve rockets that the British fired on Fort McHenry, outside of Baltimore, less than a month later. These were the rockets Francis Scott Key depicted in the poem that became “The Star Spangled Banner.”

The four presenters are authors and historians James Boylan, Meredith Mason Brown, James Tertius de Kay and Nancy Steenburg.

The first three are active members of the Stonington Historical Society, while Steenburg is a professor at the University of Connecticut at Avery Point.  She discovered and studied a number of interviews that New London historian Frances Manwaring Caulk ins conducted in 1828 with men and women who were at the Battle of Stonington.  In that battle, a major British naval squadron bombarded Stonington for four days and, despite vastly superior firepower, was forced to withdraw.

The Aug. 15 program will explore several key issues of the war, including the Battle of Stonington. The speakers will also discuss why America declared war on Britain, why Connecticut initially opposed the war, and what was at stake in the Battle of Long Island Sound, including the American use of privateers, torpedoes and submarines.

Other topics will include why the British blockaded Connecticut and why they attacked Stonington, who were the winners and losers, and the continuing celebration, almost 200 years later, of the victory of Stonington’s defenders at the Battle of Stonington.

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