War of 1812

Lake Erie and northwest Ohio were hot spots during the War of 1812, as the young United States battled Great Britain for the second time.

Although the war started in 1812, most of the historical battles in this area took place in the war’s second year. Control of northwest Ohio and Lake Erie was vital to both sides because Ohio was the portal to controlling westward expansion.

American forces faced British forces with Canadian allies. In this war, the American Indians were divided, some tribes supporting the Americans and some supporting the British.

Sometimes known as the “forgotten war,” it hasn’t been forgotten by local historians, who are planning several commemorations.

The first event this spring is First Siege 1813-2013, to take place May 3-5 at Fort Meigs, Perrysburg.

Reenactors from throughout North America plan to recreate life at Fort Meigs during spring 1813, including camp life activities, weapon demonstrations and battle recreations.

“May 5, 1813, marked the bloodiest day of fighting during the First Siege of Fort Meigs,” according to the Fort Meigs website. “The actions at Fort Meigs on May 5, 1813, reverberated throughout Ohio and, indeed, throughout the United States, Canada and Great Britain, and the echoes of that conflict can still be heard today.”

The 10-acre fort is the largest reconstructed wooden-walled fort in the United States. It was rebuilt on its original location along the Maumee River, and features seven blockhouses and five artillery batteries. The earthworks inside are much the same as they were during the two sieges the fort withstood in 1813.

For details, visit www.fortmeigs.org.

Ongoing through Oct. 7 is an exhibit called “The War of 1812 on the Ohio Frontier” at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, Fremont.

The exhibit, funded by a grant from Sandusky’s Sidney Frohman Foundation, depicts the series of battles on the Ohio frontier.

One of those battles was at Fort Stephenson in Fremont, where Birchard Public Library now stands.

The library and the Sandusky County Convention and Visitors Bureau are planning a commemoration Aug. 2-4.

In that battle, Americans defended against the British under the command of Col. George Croghan, who is buried on the library grounds. The annual Croghan Day festivities usually take place on one day, but the event is being expanded this year to include British and American soldier reenactors and Native American warriors.

Event planners are arranging period music and entertainment, a parade, fireworks and walking tours.

For more information, visit www.fortstephensonbicentennial.com.

Also in August, Fort Jennings is planning a three-day celebration Aug. 17-19 to remember the town’s history as a fort in the War of 1812, and as a tribute to military through the ages.

The festival includes community events, an interactive history/craft presentations for children and adults that Saturday, as well as live presentations from War of 1812 reenactors, historic craft village, military vehicle show with a Huey helicopter and tank, Soldiers Of History demonstration and the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

That Sunday also will feature a parade and an outdoor 1812 drama.

The climax of the year is to be a commemoration of the Battle of Lake Erie on Put-in-Bay, running Aug. 30 through Sept. 10.

A fleet of tall ships are to reenact the Battle of Lake Erie, which is the best-known battle in Ohio. The American Navy under the command of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the British Navy Sept. 10, 1813. It was after that battle Perry said, “We have met the enemy and they are ours.”

People planning the event are expecting hundreds of thousands of Americans, Canadians and people from other countries to attend.

Scheduled events include concerts, reenactments, fireworks, parades and an International Freedom Celebration. A lecture series is in the works on such topics as “Battle of Lake Erie From All Perspectives,” “The Untold Stories & Myths About the War of 1812,” “Tecumseh and the Native Americans in the War of 1812,” and “Patriots in Petticoats and Civilians in the War of 1812.”

Ceremonies are planned to honor the fallen, and national speakers are expected to take part representing U.S., British and Canadian governments as well as American Indian groups.

For information, visit www.battleoflakeerie-bicentennial.com..