Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Old Mulkey

Dudeboy and I have been so busy lately that I have fallen behind on our postings.  Soon we will return with entries pertaining to our War of 1812/Canada trip, but first we need to post a couple more recent entries that relate to the Civil War.

This past weekend, we fell-in with the 9th Kentucky at our annual "homecoming" Old Mulkey encampment. Above is the unveiling of our new colors, replacing the much worn one that has been in use for 20 years. As the website for the 9th states, "We have chosen to recreate the flag as it appeared the day it was first unfurled from its case in the camp of Col. Grider there near Corinth, MS and not as it likely later appeared with numerous battles' names painted up and down its far right side."
Stacking arms . . .

After a 3-volley salute at the Old Soldiers Cemetery in Tompkinsville, we posed with our old flag for the last time before the new historical marker noting what at one time was a national cemetery. Due to the small size of the plot most of the soldiers were moved to Nashville in 1867, and this became a public cemetery. At one time there were over 100 soldiers buried here. Of the few that remain, most are from the 9th Ky.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dudeboy on local TV

This video link will probably only be available for a week, so take a gander while you can. We are being interviewed about an upcoming living history encampment the 9th Ky will be doing at the Old Mulkey Meeting House in Tompkinsville, Ky.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The War of 1812 . . . Year Two, Part 5 . . . Lundy's Lane

The Battle of Lundy's Lane . . . July 25, 1814
A good part of this day was spent at Niagara Falls, so we will come back to that with our non-War of 1812 entries from the trip . . .

On the heels of the decisive American victory at the Battle of Chippawa (July 5, 1814), the Battle of Lundy's Lane was tactically indecisive. However, it is seen as a British strategic victory, for the Americans never attempted another major offensive in the Niagara peninsula area. Also, the US left the field of battle (not forcibly, but voluntarily I should add). The British did not pursue, for both sides sustained costly, but comparable casualties (both over 800). Oft cited as the bloodiest battle of the war, the Wikipedia article on the battle notes:
Veteran British officers, who had fought against French armies in the Peninsular War, were horrified at the carnage they had witnessed at Lundy's Lane. Drummond reported, "Of so determined a Character were [the American] attacks directed against our guns that our Artillery Men were bayonetted by the enemy in the Act of loading, and the muzzles of the Enemy's Guns were advanced within a few Yards of ours"

A memorial "erected to commemorate the celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Lundy's Lane." It is located within the Drummond Hill Cemetery. It was at this location where the most intense action was centered.  The concentration of fighting was due to the location of British artillery, which was positioned on the small elevation in the cemetery. After several brutal attempts, the US took the position. The British counter-attacked several times to retake it, but never took control of the area until the Americans left the field of battle.  

Lundy's Lane Monument (1895)
Coupled with the Battle of Chippawa, Lundy's Lane made it apparent to the British that they could no longer dismiss the American regular forces as inept. In the short span of the war, commanders such as Scott had transformed the regulars into a highly professional army. This, of course, was one of lasting influences the war had upon US policy.

Monument/grave marker for Laura Secord . . . more about her when we visit her home in the next entry.

Monument for US Captain Abraham Hull, son of General William Hull (one of Dudeboy's favorites . . . well, not really). Behind this monument are the mass graves of several unidentified American soldiers. There is an often related story of an encounter between the mortally wounded Hull and a young British officer named John Le Couteur (from Le Couteur's War of 1812 journal):
The miserable badly wounded were groaning and imploring us for water, the Indians prowling about them and scalping or plundering. Close by me lay a fine young man, the son of the American general Hull. He was mortally wounded, and I gave him some brandy and water, and wished Him to give me his watch, rings and anything He wished to send to his family. He told me much about Himself and to come to Him in the morning when He would give them to me in charge. When I got to Him, He was a beautiful Corpse, stripped stark naked, amidst a host of friends and foes.

Battle Ground Hotel (Fralick Tavern) . . . was originally built in 1836 to accommodate the tourism needs of the area, not only that of Niagara Falls, but the Battle of Lundy's Lane itself. Odd as it may seem, the battlefield was a major tourist destination for much of the 19th century. Through the years, five observation towers (not at once) had been built overlooking the area.  The Battleground Hotel is located directly across the street from the Drummond Hill Cemetery where the main portion of the fighting transpired. 

Niagara Falls History Museum . . . Dudeboy participating in some War of 1812 drilling at an event celebrating an anniversary of the museum.  While there, we were interviewed by the local newspaper. This bit was the only thing that made the press:
Todd Fife, who attended with his wife, Jane, and their son, Malcolm, were visiting from Kentucky and were on a War of 1812 tour.
“It’s nice to see that things can be saved and that history is not just swept aside for progress,” said Todd Fife. “In the long run people really appreciate what happens when something is saved, not only for tourism but for education. Not many people know about the War of 1812 and that’s depressing. It was so important not only for helping to shape the identity of Canada, but also the United States.” 

The museum is located near the battlefield and a great place to start.  The main exhibit deals with the Battle of Lundy's Lane, as well as other exhibits that pertain to the general history of the Niagara Falls area.  One of the more interesting displays dealt with Niagara Falls daredevils of the past.

We talked with several people while at the museum, but the views of one reenactor were notable. Throughout the trip we were very interested in talking with the locals about the Canadian perspective of the War of 1812. This man was adamant that the US won, and that the First Nations lost. And the British and Canadians basically achieved nothing. He stated that it was the Americans who gained a national identity, and poo-pooed any thought of the same for Canada.  I must say Canadian views on the subject are as complicated as the war itself.      

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The War of 1812 . . . Year Two, Part 4 . . . Toronto, Hamilton, etc.

Once again we are skipping a day, and we will come back to it after we have finished with the War of 1812 tour.  That later entry will include our visit to Casa Loma and ROM (Royal Ontario Museum).

Fort York, Toronto . . . we had read somewhere that this is Canada's largest collection of War of 1812 structures.  During the construction of a nearby expressway, the fort was almost lost.  I find it amazing this place has survived amidst the sprawl of the fourth largest city of North America

Rising like a phoenix, modern Toronto surrounds old Fort York.  I say like a phoenix, because US troops burned and looted York . . . which was, at the time, the capitol of Upper Canada.  It was this action that helped to escalate a more destructive type of war.  And it was the Burning of York that British and Canadians cite as the impetus for the retaliatory destruction of Buffalo and Washington, DC.  

Some 1700 US troops under the command of Chauncey, Pike and Dearborn took the fort with little resistance, but at a high cost.  When the fort's magazine exploded, several dozen soldiers were killed, including Pike, and many more wounded.

Apart from pissing off the British and the escalation of a more destructive war, the loss of valuable naval stores at York did have a negative effect for British designs on Lake Erie.  As to the looting, I stumbled on this interesting tidbit, according to the webpage for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, a mace (originally used used to represent the authority of the Crown, but in Canada symbolizing the speaker officiating over the House) "was captured by the Americans during the War of 1812, not to return home until 1934, under special good-will orders of President F.D. Roosevelt and the United States Congress."

Dudeboy posing with an interpreter representing a Canadian Sharpshooter of the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles.

"Monument to the War of 1812" by artist Douglas Coupland . . . apparently the statue is somewhat controversial.  I suppose the reasoning has to do with the US toy soldier being tipped over (dead).  I guess some Canadians don't want to associate themselves with the more American stance of aggression.  Of course, they would have to go a long way to emulate us.

We then hightailed it out of Toronto, for we still had much to cover this day in nearby Hamilton and elsewhere.  As you might have noticed, we love restful and relaxing vacations!

The Battle of Stoney Creek near Hamilton, Ontario.  Above, the impressive 100 foot tall Stoney Creek Battlefield Monument (you can only access the lower level, but even the views from that are exceptional).       

I must relate a couple of remarks about this monument.  In choosing land for a monument to commemorate the battle, men from the Wentworth Historical Society opted for the cheaper parcel of land at Smith's Knoll (see below).

However, not satisfied with this endeavor, the Women's Wentworth Historical Society (and most notably Sara Calder) raised funds to build this most impressive monument. June 6, 1913, on the centennial of the battle, Queen Mary pushed a button in London connected to a wire, by way of the transatlantic cable, burned a fuse which parted the folds of the drapery over the monument!  I think the good ladies of Women's Wentworth Historical Society have bragging rights on this one.

Much of the short, chaotic night battle (flints were removed from the British muskets to prevent premature firing, but their bayonets were fixed) took place in this area in front of the Gage House.  A substantial part of this house dates to 1798.  It was used as the headquarters by US forces during the battle.

And, of course, it was the Women's Wentworth Historical Society who restored the Gage House and opened it as a museum.

 Winder and Chandler, two American generals, were captured in the vicinity of the house.

Stone Lion Monument on Smith's Knoll which marked the burial place for soldiers who died at the battle.  It was also the location of American cannon during the battle.  The British captured two guns and spiked two others.

I should add, this is another in a long line of embarrassments for the US forces during the War of 1812. It was a night attack upon an unsuspecting larger force (the numbers engaged were about 700 for the British, compared to over 1300 for the US, and the US had more troops available) that had far-reaching ramifications.  With the capture of the two generals, US forces were in a disarray and forced back to the Niagara region, halting anymore advancements into the Niagara Peninsula.  As our tour guide noted, "I would be an American now if not for this battle."

Battle at Forty Mile Creek, near the town of Grimsby. The plaque reads, "Here at the Forty Mile Creek, on 8th June, 1813, American forces, retreating after the battle of Stoney Creek, were bombarded by a British flotilla under Sir James Lucas Yeo. Indians and groups of the 4th and 5th Regiments Lincoln Militia joined in the attack and created such confusion in the enemy ranks that they abandoned this position and retreated to Fort George."

The Decew House . . . the remains of the headquarters for James Fitzgibbon prior to the Battle of Beaver Dams.  It was here that Laura Secord made her way from Queenston to warn the British of the impending American attack.  And, of course, the rest is history. Fitzgibbon is an interesting figure, for he was one of the few examples of a person raising through the ranks without the aid of social standing. Apparently, Brock took a shine to him and helped with the officer's commissions.  His guerrilla style tactics coupled with victories over the US forces have gained him a following in Canada.
The monument for the Battle of Beaver Dams . . . which is not located at the actual battle-site! Years ago, when the town of Thorold was building a municipal park, they decided we need to cash in on the huge tourist possibilities of the Battle of Beaver Dams.  So, they had the monument, which had been built in 1923 on the actual site of the battle, moved to the Battle of Beaver Dams Park in 1976. It is interesting to note that years ago there was a push to make the Battle of Beaver Dams a national park. Had it gone through when it was purposed, it would have been the first national battlefield park in Canada or the United States.  So, all the more pathetic that this monument was moved.  
Thankfully, a new monument has been placed at the original location in time for the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.  Just think of what this place would be like if it had become a national battlefield park. It is odd to me how some things so important in the past are now largely forgotten.

The text from the new plaque: 
On the morning of June 24. 1813, an invading American force of some 685 men, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Boerstler, marched along Mountain Road (parts of which are no longer visible today) that ran through this intersection. They intended to capture the British outpost commanded by Lieutenant James Fitzgibbon, located two miles to the west at the Decew House.  As the Americans approached the nearby beechwoods, they were ambushed by about 400 native warriors and soundly defeated in a battle that raged for nearly three hours.
Virtually all the fighting on the British side was led by native warriors, while Fitzgibbon and his superior, Major Peter De Haren, arrived only in time to accept the surrender and claim the victory.  The terms of the surrender were signed at the Miller House, located south of this site near Beaverdams Creek. Laura Secord's timely information of an impending American attack, delivered to Fitzgibbon two days earlier, contributed to the victory.
With the addendum . . . "Native warriors suffered casualties in the Battle of Beaverdams, and they assured British victories in other battles of the War of 1812-1814.  They are here recognized with lasting gratitude."

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Camp Quest and the Smokies

Interrupting the entries for our War of 1812/Canada trip, we are posting a few photos from this weekend when we picked Dudeboy up from Camp Quest. Dudeboy had been at summer camp all this past week at Camp Quest Smoky Mountains located at Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. Of course, he had a great time (geez, his whole summer has been insanely amazing!). After stuffing his piles of smelly detritus into the car, we went on a short hike up the Middle Prong Trial on the Little River.

Lynn Camp Falls