War of 1812 Symposium returns to the Port City

The Oswego War of 1812 Symposium returns to the Port City for its third year.

It runs from Friday, April 5 to Sunday, April 7 at the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, 26 E. First St., Oswego.

The event continues the bicentennial commemoration of the historic war that firmly established America’s independence from Great Britain and confirmed its national identity.

Fort Ontario State Historic Site Superintendent Paul Lear is the chairman of the Oswego War of 1812 Symposium Bicentennial Steering Committee and will emcee the event.

“The symposium has grown significantly in size and scope over the last two years, leading us to relocate and expand the program to better accommodate participants,” said Lear. “Once again, we will offer a distinguished panel of speakers to discuss a variety of themes about the war and its effects along the New York-Canadian border.”

The weekend kicks off with a meet-and-greet social with cash bar, a presentation of the painting of the U.S. Brig Oneida by Oswego artist Tim Ames, and early registration from 6 to 9 p.m.

Saturday, the day begins at 9 a.m. with a welcome from emcee Paul Lear and a presentation by nationally-acclaimed historical marine artist Dr. Peter Rindlisbacher, “In the Wake of the Few: Portraying 1812 Marine History on Canvas.”

Dr. Timothy Abel, historian and adjunct professor of anthropology at Jefferson Community College and SUNY Canton, presents “The Days are Cold and the Nights Much Colder: the Archaeology of Colonel Zebulon Pike’s 1812-1813 Winter Encampment at Plattsburgh.”

Dr. Gary Gibson, noted historian and author, makes his third appearance at the symposium. This year, he discusses “Target of Opportunity: The Two Battles of Sackets Harbor.”

There will be an hour break for lunch, followed by a presentation about War of 1812 shipwrecks such as the Hamilton and the Scourge from Jonathan Moore, senior underwater archaeologist with Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Service. Col. Clayton Nans returns to the symposium with a new talk about the U.S. Brig Oneida and the establishment of the U.S. Navy on Lake Ontario.

Award-winning author and noted historian Sandy Antal offers his perspective, “For Want of a Strategic Horseshoe: How Isaac Chauncey Won the War in the West,” as Dennis Connors, author and curator of history at the Onondaga Historical Association, closes out the day with his presentation, “You Never Know Where a Cargo of Salt Will Lead You: Daniel Dobbins, Salt Trader and the War of 1812 on Lake Erie.”

Sunday, Lt. Col. Michael McGurty, superintendent of New Windsor Cantonment and Knox’s Headquarters New York State Historic Sites, begins the day at 9 a.m. with, “Lambs Prepared for Slaughter: General Winfield Scott’s Training Camp at Buffalo, Spring 1814.”

Matthew MacVittie, assistant curator of history for the Onondaga Historical Association, also returns to the symposium with a new presentation, “Spy vs. Spy: Cross Border Espionage on Lake Ontario During the War of 1812.”

Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site Manager Constance Barone presents a talk about daily life during the War of 1812 in the North Country, followed by a speaker’s roundtable discussion, “Winning and Losing the War of 1812,” before the event closes at noon.

“The Great Lakes and northern U.S. border were major theatres of action during the War of 1812,” said Lear. “This year, the seminar was expanded to give an overview of the important role that these areas and their people played during the war.”

There is a registration fee to attend. The registration fee includes Saturday’s lunch and workshop materials. One day registration is also available.

Advance registration is required and may be paid by check or credit card through the Friends of Fort Ontario at 343-4711.

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