Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer but in the town of my alma mater, Plattsburgh, NY, it’s the historic ‘beginning of the end’ of the War of 1812.
The “Second War of Independence” is said to be the war that nobody remembers, not the burning of the White House and Capitol or that Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star Spangled Banner” while watching the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships.
But, this weekend and for several days after, several northern New York towns near or along Lake Champlain, will give people a reason not to forget the War of 1812 with re-enactments, demonstrations and Americana activities.
Redcoat re-enactors will start marching Saturday morning from the village of Champlain south along State route 9 into the town of Chazy. Depending on rank, the dress of a soldier will include gray pantaloons or white colonial knickers, royal red plain coats with gold accessories, possibly official scarlet sashes and black boots. Many will be sporting heavy muskets. Others might be playing wooden fifes and snare drums. All will be exhausted if the temperatures soar during the three and half hour march.
Once in Chazy, the parade will convene on the lawn of the Alexander Scott House where a gathering of military activities will take place. The soldiers will pitch wedge tents, prep fires for cooking and strategize over maps on how to invade Plattsburgh.
All are invited to immerse yourself in the encampment and help the soldiers prepare a proper military camp. Yes, technically, the redcoats were our enemy but this weekend, they are our teachers.
Living history continues the next day with a march into West Chazy followed by activities like wagon rides and boot camp. On Labor Day, Monday morning, the advance takes the British through Beekmantown ending at the American Legion Post in Plattsburgh, NY.
For more information on this historic 200-year commemoration, visit the Plattsburgh 1812 Website: http://champlain1812.com/index.html