Annual Festival Commemorates Turning Point in War of 1812

Sep 12, 2013

Battle of Plattsburgh
Credit WAMC/Pat Bradley

The largest annual festival in Plattsburgh is occurring this week. The 10 day Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration peaks this weekend with parades and re-enactments of a naval battle that some say was a critical turning point in the War of 1812.

On September 11, 1814, a battle was fought on Lake Champlain that many historians say led to the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration Committee Co-Chair Kit Booth says the Battle of Plattsburgh is the most forgotten, and yet the most important, battle of the War of 1812.

Historian and author Keith Herkalo explains there were actually two battles that occurred on September 11th 1814 - one on land and another on the lake.

The Battle of Plattsburgh has been overshadowed by the Battle of New Orleans and the battle at Baltimore where Francis Scott Key penned the national anthem. Keith Herkalo believes that’s partly because of the region’s rural population.

The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration will mark the 200th anniversary of the battle next year, and Keith Herkalo says the past 15 years of the festival have been building towards that highlight in historical tourism.
The Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration activities run through the weekend. Weekend highlights include parades, fireworks and land and lake battle re-enactments.