WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES
y GORDON BLOCK
TIMES STAFF WRITER
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.