The War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden, located near the Leotta-Seaway Trail Park at 158 E. First St., Oswego, will be officially dedicated at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 16.
The garden was originally developed in 2003 by City Engineer Anthony A. Leotta, the Jay Saternow family, and several volunteers from the community. It was named a “Peace Garden” by the late Frank Clavelli Sr., former member of the Oswego Common Council.
Leotta, the City Department of Public Works, and a group of volunteers have cared for and maintained the garden for the past several years.
The oval-shaped garden was recently expanded and planted with a colorful assortment of marigolds, zinnias, cannis and geraniums. A 15-star and 15-stripe, 1812 flag has been ordered to fly over the garden.
New signage will be installed to identify the garden as an official site of the War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail.
The garden route covers more than 600 miles in the U.S. and Canada and includes 17 peace gardens in communities where events took place during the War of 1812.
“The Oswego peace garden commemorates peace between the United States and all of the friendly nations that are allied with the United States,” said Leotta. “Orange and yellow marigolds and zinnias represent peace and freedom. The gold and green colors represent the colors of the 3rd U.S. Artillery Regiment which defended Fort Ontario during the British attack in 1814. The red geraniums commemorate sacrifices made by Oswego citizens and patriots. The weeping cherry tree overlooking the garden represents the sorrow of war.”
The nearby Leotta-Seaway Trail Park features interpretive panels about the local community and history of Oswego, with benches for visitors to enjoy the scenic vista.
Paul Lear, superintendent of Fort Ontario State Historic Site, said Oswego was an important military site during the War of 1812.
“On May 5 -7, 1814, British land and naval forces conducted an amphibious assault on Fort Ontario and the Village of Oswego,” said Lear. “Lt. Col. George Mitchell, commanding 290 men of the 3rd U.S. Artillery Regiment and a Light Artillery company, 20 sailors from the USS Growler and local militia, fought off one landing attempt and stubbornly resisted a second and final successful British attack before retreating to Oswego Falls.
“Although Fort Ontario was ultimately destroyed and Oswego captured, the British soon left; Mitchell’s delaying tactics had provided time to remove vital naval stores and supplies upriver to Oswego Falls, now Fulton,” he added. “Within a few weeks, ropes, rigging, sails, cannon, powder, and other supplies began flowing again through Oswego to Sackets Harbor. The U.S. Navy was able to maintain pace with British shipbuilders in Kingston, Ontario, in the struggle for naval control of Lake Ontario because of Mitchell’s defense of Oswego.”