Well, here we are with the biggest birthday event to be seen in the North Country right on our doorstep through September 14.
Why all the hullabaloo here for something that happened so long ago?
For one thing, the Battle of Plattsburgh is nationally significant. The war had been going badly for the U.S. from the beginning. President Theodore Roosevelt, an accomplished historian, recognized it as the most decisive battle of the war. The British defeat at Plattsburgh and Baltimore was altered the complexion of the war. It was the key to change the whole tone of peace talks which had been leaning toward a huge concession of U.S. Territory to the British. Had the U.S. continued its pre-Plattsburgh trajectory of losses by the British taking Plattsburgh and control Lake Champlain, our nation could well number as few as nineteen – yes 19 – states in the Union.
There are some basic things most residents of our region know. Most know that local people were killed in an outgunned defense of our then small town. Many locals know the basic story line of how 8,000 British Army came swooping down from Canada to lay siege to what was a relatively tiny village defended by 1,500 men, most of them physically unfit for duty. They were remnants of General Izzard’s Army after Washington sent his main force to defend Sackett’s Harbor near Watertown. Most know that a big naval battle took place in our Cumberland Bay where Cmdr. Thomas Macdonough’s fleet defeated a stronger British fleet that effectively ended the siege of Plattsburgh. And most important, our region recognizes the enduring peace and friendship that eventually came out of all that strife.
But it’s the details of all that that remain fascinating. A good way to refresh oneself of those details can be had attending the various reenactments, demonstrations, and venues of the Commemoration from the Town of Champlain on the Canadian border down to Plattsburgh. Battle maps depicting the route of the invasion are available from local museums and the Chamber of Commerce and Town Halls. The maps provide a graphic picture of the daily progress of British troops engaged in the siege of Plattsburgh. A full schedule of activities can be found daily in the local paper and on the website http://www.Champlain1812.com.
On this 200th anniversary, the commemoration is special in its scope of activities and opportunity to learn and share. This is a part of our local heritage for which we can be justly proud and share with our out-of-state friends and family.
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