Rich In History
On June 18, 1812, muskets and riffles were fired as 6,000 American troops rushed the U.S. shore of Lewiston, N.Y. to invade Queenston, Ontario, Canada and declare war on the British. Despite outnumbering the British 4-to-1 and killing revered British commander, Gen. Isaac Brock, the Americans lost after the militia refused to cross the border. An invasion was launched and the British captured Fort Niagara in December, 1813, only to see it returned to the U.S. after the war.
The events of the War of 1812 inspired one of the United States most famous national songs, the Star-Spangled Banner written by Francis Scott Key. Despite its complicated causes and inconclusive outcome, the conflict helped establish the credibility of a young United States, Canada and other nations.
Niagara USA recognizes the anniversary of the War of 1812 and the significance as America's second battle for independence. The legendary battle and prominent heroes are alive today in Niagara USA with stunning re-enactments, tours of historical sites, events and more to celebrate the War of 1812 Bicentennial and the important role it plays in American history.
The War of 1812 was a struggle that threatened the existence of Canada and then divided the United States so deeply that the nation almost broke apart. Britain was at the edge of an abyss, fighting a world war against Napoleon and could spare few forced to defend their North American possessions. The War of 1812 also fostered a strong sense of national pride among Americans, and those patriotic feelings are reflected and preserved in the song the country knows today as its national anthem.
For two year and half years, Americans fought against the British, Canadian colonists, and native nations, in a conflict that forged the destiny of a continent. From this first battle, the Battle of Queenston Heights to the events of December 9, 1812, when a band of Tuscarora men attempted to defend Lewiston, N.Y. against the British, but when the natives lost the battle, the British burned the charming village to the ground.
At Old Fort Niagara
Become better acquainted with the War of 1812 at Old Fort Niagara (2 Scott Ave., Youngstown, N.Y. 14174, 716.745.7611,oldfortniagara.org), a 300-year old fortress situated on Lake Ontario andhouses one of the oldest flags in the United States.
When British forces stormed Fort Niagara in December 1813, capturing the stronghold from American Forces, they also seized the 15-star, 15-stripe American Flag flying proudly over the battlefield. It was ceded to the U.S. a second time in 1815 at the end of the War of 1812. It is 15-star U.S. flag, because it was commissioned at a time when stripes and stars were being added with new state. Flags today have 13 stripes commemorating the 13 original colonies. Nationally significant as being one of 15 remaining U.S. flags remaining from before 1815, the flag which is 24-foot by 28-foot, was acquired from Scotland by the Old Fort Niagara Association at a cost of approximately $15,000. It is on display at the Fort in a climate controlled glass case, at an angle which prevents it from sagging or becoming further damaged.
This "trophy of the War of 1812" was captured by the British in 1813 and shipped to London where British officers presented it before Prince Regent, later King George IV, before it was displayed in the Scottish Castle of British General Gordon Drummond. The flag is said to have sat on display in the castle, where it survived a fire and trip through the washing machine, before it was discovered by officials at Fort Niagara 190 years later.
Large-scale reenactments of the Battle of Queenston heights and the War of 1812 will be held throughout the summer and fall. The fort is open daily from 9am to 5 pm.