Flashback to 1812

1812 Kids

Child Actors in Sackets Harbor for the Battle of 1812

Last Saturday, I woke up and decided that we must have some kind of delicious pastry product for breakfast from our local bakery, Chrissy Beanz. We took the long way around the block because it was such a nice morning. As we reached the battlefield we came upon an encampment, rife with white tents and uniformed soldiers puttering around in the morning sun. Ahoy there! It must be 1812 weekend! As I jumped out of the car with my camera, I couldn’t help but notice the place was teeming with wool pants. The temperature had already reached a sweltering 80°F with about 100% humidity by 9 o’clock in the morning…wool pants plus excessive heat equals nothing but a bunch of sweaty, smelly bodies by noon. I had up to this point, never seen the 1812 reenactment before and I wondered what it was all about, so we began to wander through the battlefield…

I am neither a history buff nor an aficionado, I’m actually kind of dumb. You may have picked up on that in my earlier blog posts. I believe at one point I asked Scott (who coincidentally is a social studies teacher) how the British ended up on Lake Ontario, considering it would have been quite a haul to get their ships from England, across the pond and then up into the lake where nothing but Northern New York awaited them…he smirked at my stupidity and explained:

“Outraged by British impressment of American sailors, and hoping to drive the British out of North America, the United States declared war on Great Britain in June of the year 1812. Sackets Harbor became the headquarters of the U.S. Army and Navy on Lake Ontario. On May 29th, 1813, while most of the U.S. forces from Sackets Harbor were away attacking Fort George in Canada, British forces launched an early morning surprise attack on Sackets Harbor. The U.S. forces burned their own supplies to prevent them from falling into enemy hands. But the British forces retreated, leaving the Americans in control of Sackets Harbor. Thus, both sides ultimately claimed victory”. I don’t know how you could call that a victory. That must be the same kind of victory we had in Desert Storm. Even if America doesn’t win, we have no problem celebrating a failure like it’s a victory. We have really good PR people here in the States…

Scott decided to interview some of the children who were scampering about. One kid, who looked to be about 12 with a face full of freckles told us that he had gotten his parents into the whole reenactment game. Freckles told Scottie that this was his second year as an actor and he and his family go to about 5 different “battles” a year, including one in Plattsburg and another in Upper Canada Village.  These are the types of sacrifices that I would never even consider making for a child, which is one good reason that I don’t have one. “You want me to what? I’m not doing that, if you were smart you wouldn’t want to either, and if you bring it up again I will tell all of the kids at school what you want to do on your summer vacation”…

At any rate, these very nice people dress up every year and camp on the Battlefield where they reenact the battle at the fort, blow off some canons, sleep in tents and cook stuff over a campfire. I don’t think they actually burn anything down, but I was too bored to stay and watch the battle so for all I know the place was a blazing inferno. The 1812 Reenactment in Sackets has been running for 9 years and has had anywhere from around 100 to over 400 actors participate in the battle. It is considered to be Sackets Harbor’s second busiest weekend, falling just short of the Fourth of July. Which probably explains why Chrissy Beanz was so damn busy when we finally made it there for breakfast.

For more accurate information and decidedly less attractive photographs please visit http://www.sacketsharborbattlefield.org/

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About I Love Upstate NY

Exploring Upstate New York, one adventure at a time... View all posts by I Love Upstate NY

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