Fort Ontario has a rather exciting and complicated history. It saw action in three wars: French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, and War of 1812. Held by the British from 1755 to 1796, it passed to the Americans in the Jay Treaty, which resolved disputes stemming from the Revolutionary War. The fort was one of three guarding the mouth of the Oswego River at Lake Ontario. Today, it is a State Historic Site and museum.
In 1755, the British built a wooden stockade at that location called the Fort of the Six Nations. French General Marquis de Montcalm destroyed it and other surrounding forts in August 1756 during the French and Indian War. Three years later, the British rebuilt the fort and named it Fort Ontario. During the Revolutionary War, in July 1778, Colonial soldiers found it abandoned and burned it.
At the Battle of Oswego, May 6, 1814, during the War of 1812, British Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fischer and a force of 550 soldiers and 400 marines attacked Fort Ontario and its garrison of 242 regulars and 200 militia. The British suffered 80-87 casualties to the Americans’ 69-119. They succeeded in destroying the fort after its capture.
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Compared to modern warships and aircraft carriers, the USS Constitution might not look like much, but it was once the most storied ship in the U.S. Navy. It was launched on October 21, 1797, and is still considered to be in active service.
The USS Constitution was originally a 44-gun frigate with a crew of 450 sailors, including 55 Marines. She earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” during the War of 1812. Today, she is still crewed by 60 active duty U.S. Navy personnel, though she has been in dry dock at the former Charleston Navy Yard in Boston under restoration for the past three years.
The USS Constitution Museum is a private, nonprofit museum located in a restored shipyard building nearby. It is a first class effort at telling the USS Constitution’s history through art, models and dioramas, hands on displays, and volunteers.
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The Battle of Ogdensburg was a unique chapter in the War of 1812. At the mouth of the Oswegatchie River on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River, Ogdensburg was originally a French trading settlement and home to more than 3,000 Iroquois Indians. By 1812, American settlers had built a small village and established trade with British Canadians across the seaway.
The St. Lawrence River, as the border between the United States and Canada, was a vital waterway that saw dozens of small naval battles as each side sought to control it. Both sides attacked vulnerable supply shipments being ferried up and down the river.
With the outbreak of hostilities, Brig. General Jacob Brown used Ogdensburg as a jumping-off point for raids on British shipping. The Americans began building Fort Oswegatchie between what is now Franklin and Elizabeth Streets on Riverside Drive to defend the village.
On the chilly morning of February 22, 1813, the fort was still unfinished. The St. Lawrence River had completely frozen over, and a contingent of 520 British troops hauling several cannon on sleighs, led by Lieutenant Colonel “Red George” MacDonell, advanced across the ice.
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On August 5 and 6, Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site in Jefferson County, New York held its annual War of 1812 weekend, complete with military encampment, an English Country Dance, Sea Chanteys, and of course reenactments of the Second Battle of Sackets Harbor.
The Second Battle of Sackets Harbor was fought on May 29, 1813 between British forces under the command of Colonel Edward Baynes and American forces under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Electus Backus of the Regular Army and Brigadier General Jacob Brown of the New York State Militia.
Sackets Harbor was a principal port and shipbuilding yard for the upper St. Lawrence River Valley and Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. The British wanted to take advantage of the American fleet’s absence to seize and destroy the shipyard and supplies at Sackets Harbor.
American forces put up a tenacious defense on land and eventually drove the British away. Thirty British soldiers were killed, 200 wounded, and 35 taken prisoner in the attack. The Americans sustained 157 casualties, including 26 missing or captured.
The battle reenactment took place on a portion of the actual battlefield and attracted a variety of reenactors from across the United States and Canada.
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The Second Battle of Sacket’s Harbor was fought on May 29, 1813, during the War of 1812. Americans repulsed a British attack on the naval yard. To commemorate the battle, Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site held a reenactment August 5 & 6, 2017. This footage is from Saturday, August 5th. Music is “Assembly: Spumoni: the Red Joke, the White Joke March, Green Joke” by Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes and Drums. I apologize for the poor audio quality, but it was incredibly windy and I tried to minimize it as best I could. Watch in HD for full effect.
War of 1812 skirmish at Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, New York, August 6, 2017. Forsyth’s Company, U.S. 1st Regiment of Riflemen led by Major Benjamin Forsyth fought a delaying action against the British at the Second Battle of Sacket’s Harbor, May 29, 1813. Skirmishers fought in open ranks using the Harpers Ferry Model 1803 rifle and deliberately picked targets rather than rely on massed fire. Music by Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes and Drums. Watch in HD for full effect.
War of 1812 artillery demonstration at Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, New York, August 5 and 6, 2017. Gun is a small naval cannon mounted on a wooden carriage. Sunday’s weather was much better and less windy – you can probably tell which shot was filmed on Saturday! Watch in HD for full effect.