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Organizers announce schedule for 25th annual Battle of Plattsburgh commemoration

Reenactment of Culver  Hill and artillery assault on Halsey's Corners during Battle of Plattsburgh commemoration
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Reenactment of Culver Hill and artillery assault on Halsey's Corners during a Battle of Plattsburgh commemoration

The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration remembers the battles on Plattsburgh Bay and along the shores of Lake Champlain in September 1814. The organizers of the annual event announced this year’s schedule today at City Hall.

This year will be the 25th anniversary of continuous commemorations of the September 11, 1814 naval battle on Lake Champlain that Winston Churchill called the most decisive battle of the War of 1812. It was a key factor in drafting of the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the war.

“We have to remember what happened here in Plattsburgh," said 1814 Commemoration Inc. President Tom Donahue. "There’s been some very important things that happened in the Adirondacks. Everyone remembers the Miracle on Ice. But the Miracle on Ice wouldn’t be possible unless we had the miracle on the water back in 1814.”

As for the schedule, Donahue notes that there’s a combination of traditional, new and renewed events.

“We’ve got a lot going on this year," Donahue said. "Thursday through Sunday all the museums in the city are open. The big news this year is on Thursday night we’re going to have a concert at the Strand with the United States Navy Military Band. Haven’t been here in over ten years. It should be a great, great start to the commemoration. The Battle of Plattsburgh parade this year should be bigger than ever. We’ve got a full schedule.”

Donahue says more reenactors are expected to attend now that cross-border COVID pandemic restrictions have been lifted.

“It’s been three or four years now since they’ve been able to come across the border," he said. "We had the big gun debacle last year, but that’s all been straightened out. So we have a lot of reenactors coming. They’ll have the encampment at the Kent DeLord House.”

A poster contest has been held since 1998 to help educate area young people about the historic battle. Education Committee chair Linda Ward says school curriculum changes motivated reissuance of a locally produced coloring book depicting the Battle of Plattsburgh.

“In 1998 when the children were asked to interpret history through posters they were actually able to do that and do it sometimes on their own because they understood the history," Ward said. "But as the years went on and the children weren’t learning the history, it became apparent through their artwork that they were a little bit at a loss for knowing other than people shot at one another and one side won and the other side lost. So we have tried to start a program through the years filling that gap.”

Ward hopes a well-known philanthropist will be able to serve as grand marshal of the parade.

“The General Society of the War of 1812 members are descendent of people who actually fought during the War of 1812," Ward said. "They’re coming up here. They’re going to be participating in some of our events. But one of their members is a gentleman by the name of William G. Pomeroy. And he decided that he was going to put his money towards history and health. It’s the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. They’ve given us $10,000 every year and we learned that Mr. Pomeroy was going to be in Plattsburgh, health permitting, with the society, the General Society of the War of 1812 and we’ve invited him to be grand marshal of our parade.”