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Muskets fire in Ogdensburg during re-enactment of the War of 1812

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OGDENSBURG — Police had several streets blocked off downtown Saturday afternoon as the sound of musket and artillery fire signaled the 1813 invasion of British troops.

About 100 re-enactors from across the state and Canada came to Ogdensburg for a weekend of re-enacting the famous battle that took place more than 200 years ago.

“It’s nice to see that many people coming from so far away to help celebrate Ogdensburg’s history,” said James E. Reagen, Ogdensburg, who announced what was happening during the battle. “British soldiers marched across the ice, captured Ogdensburg, marched down Ford Street and bayonetted people. That was a portion of Ogdensburg history that people never were aware of.”

It began at Riverside Avenue and Caroline Street, but the battle continued up Caroline Street and onto Ford Street, where it ended at State Street.

Although the re-enactment has been going on for 30 years, this was only the second year it had the battle in front of City Hall, according to Timothy W. Cryderman, event coordinator and president of the Ogdensburg re-enactment group Forsyth’s Rifles.

“We have a map of that time period that marks where the battle actually was and we’ve been able to do it around the same spot these events took place,” he said.

Mr. Cryderman said that one major reason the group was able to hold the battle in the streets is because of the presence of the Army National Guard, which helped out with security for the battle and also will provide an honor guard during today’s battle at Lighthouse Point.

Michael P. Whittaker, from Bishop’s Mills, Ontario, who is on the marketing committee for the Fort de La Presentation Association, said that back then, Ogdensburg was a village, and the battle was fought right in the middle of the residential area.

“They shot right in the streets,” he said. “Windows were being broken in some of the houses by the concussion from artillery firing,” he said.

Mr. Whittaker said people in the north country in 1813 had little interest in the war.

“If you’re a farmer here, the only way you’re going to get anything to market is on the river, and you don’t want the people across the river to be your enemies,” he said. “So there was not a lot of support for the war here.”

Melissane P. Schrems, a board member of the fort association and associate professor of history at St. Lawrence University, Canton, watched the battle with three of her students.

“It’s a great opportunity and something that St. Lawrence County really makes available to students,” she said.

Mrs. Schrems said that she teaches some courses on the War of 1812.

“I told my students that I knew how this battle was going to end because it’s history, but I’m still really into it and we still wanted to see what happened even though we already knew the final outcome,” she said.




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