Events mark Second Battle of Sackets Harbor’s bicentennial

WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES

y GORDON BLOCK
TIMES STAFF WRITER

 

NORM JOHNSTON / WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
Sackets Harbor Central School students cross their hearts during the high school band’s playing of the national anthem at the close of ceremonies for the War of 1812 bicentennial celebration.

NORM JOHNSTON / WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
Sackets Harbor Central School students cross their hearts during the high school band’s playing of the national anthem at the close of ceremonies for the War of 1812 bicentennial celebration.

NORM JOHNSTON / WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
George S. Smith II and his sister Betsy H. Cuccinello, descendants of village co-founder Elisha Camp, took part in bicentennial ceremonies at the memorial on the battlefield in Sackets Harbor.

GORDON BLOCK n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMESJacque-Lynn Schulman, national fourth vice president of the United States Daughters of 1812, places a wreath at the Second Battle of Sackets Harbor memorial Wednesday. The organization had raised the money to dedicate the memorial in 1913.

GORDON BLOCK n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMESA collectible envelope and stamp combination created for the bicentennial day was sold at the battlefield site’s gift shop.

GORDON BLOCK n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMESA total of 4,000 placards were set at the battlefield site Wednesday morning, creating what organizers called a Field of Honor. The cards had space for a personal message on the back, which were passed out to and filled out by American and Canadian organizations.

NORM JOHNSTON n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES Daniel Rowland, Adams Center and friend look through the placards on the Field of Honor at the battlefiels site 5/29/13

NORM JOHNSTON n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES opening of the Archeology exhibit at the Hall House sackets Harbor

GORDON BLOCK n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMESSiblings George S. Smith II and Betsy H. Cuccinello help rededicate the Second Battle of Sackets Harbor memorial on Wednesday afternoon. The pair are descendents of Elisha Camp, one of the village’s co-founders.

GORDON BLOCK n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMESLorna S. Hainesworth made the seven and a half hour drive from her home in Randallstown, Md., in order to observe the village’s bicentennial celebration Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

SACKETS HARBOR — The village’s history during the War of 1812 was celebrated Wednesday as it marked the bicentennial of the Second Battle of Sackets Harbor with events throughout the day.

“It connects the past to the present,” said Constance B. Barone, state historic site manager for the Sackets Harbor battlefield. “It makes it real.”

Events started at dawn with the placement of ceremonial placards on the battlefield and ran until an archaeology lecture in the evening.

The main event in the afternoon was the rededication of a monument created for the centennial of the May 29, 1813, battle and to honor the soldiers who died.

Though the turnout of a few hundred to the event was a sizeable drop from the 3,000 that attended the monument’s unveiling in 1913, spectators at the afternoon ceremony witnessed an event that mirrored those of 100 years earlier.

Many of the same institutions represented in 1913 were also there Wednesday, including the United States Daughters of 1812, which raised the money a century ago to pay for the memorial. In addition to local chapter members, several state and national leaders attended.

“I think the whole bicentennial reminds us how fragile our nation was at that point, and how we could have ceased to be,” said Jacque-Lynn A. Schulman, fourth vice president of the national organization. Prior to the rededication, the organization held a brief wreath-laying ceremony at the monument.

Rededicating the statue Wednesday were siblings George S. Smith II and Betsy H. Cuccinello, descendents of Elisha Camp, one of the village’s co-founders.

“It’s a neat thing,” Mr. Smith said. “Not many people have an opportunity to do something like this.”

Though the battle between the American and the combined British and Canadian forces ended without a clear victor, it played a big role in how the sides operated on Lake Ontario for the rest of the conflict.

“It’s a very pivotal action,” said Maj. John R. Grodzinski, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston, who came down Wednesday for the celebration.

A pair of new exhibits opened Wednesday, one about American weapons used during the war and another about archaeology done at the battlefield site.

The archaeology exhibit, located at the site’s Hall House, featured several touch screens to help entrants learn about the display items.

“It’s digital, hands-on and it’s fun to interact with,” said Mark Peckham, acting director of the state Bureau of Historic Sites and Park Services, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Determining a use for the building and creating the exhibit was an approximately six-year process, Mrs. Barone said.

The bicentennial was also marked with the sale of a collectible stamp and envelope.

Matthew J. Kirk, who gave the evening lecture, said during the afternoon battlefield sites such as the village’s were a threatened resource that deserved protection.

“It’s more than an open field,” he said. “It’s a sacred space.”

Mr. Kirk, who works with Hartgen Archaeological Associates Inc., Rensselaer, said many people take for granted the number of battles fought on American soil, instead thinking of conflicts abroad.

“This happened right here,” he said.

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