Rochester’s Forgotten Conflict

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This month marks the 200th anniversary of an exciting episode in Rochester’s early history. In May of 1814, at the height of the War of 1812, British warships patrolling Lake Ontario threatened to attack the Port of Charlotte and invade the scattered settlements along the Genesee River.

If you’ve never heard of this before, don’t worry…you’re not alone. The War of 1812 is America’s “forgotten conflict.” According to historian Donald R. Hickey, Americans today may have learned that the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but most of us don’t know much more than that about the causes, the battles, and the consequences of this “Second War of American Independence.” (If you’re feeling challenged now to read up on the War of 1812,  check out Hickey’s books  available at the Rochester Public Library.)

The growing settlement along the Genesee known as Rochesterville also played a part in the war. With its proximity to the contested shipping lanes on Lake Ontario, the Rochester area not only saw naval battles near its harbor but was subjected to British raiding parties.

Want to learn more about Rochester’s history during the War of 1812? Well, look for more information that we will be sharing here in the coming days.

And consider attending “The True Story of the Valiant 33: 200th Anniversary,” a free public event taking place as part of the High Falls Lunch Hour Lecture Series on May 13th. In it, historian Jim Fischer captures the sense of danger and excitement faced by a tiny militia of local settlers (33 of them, in fact) who stared down the British Navy on the shores of Charlotte.  Although their skirmish marked only a minor campaign in the American war effort, the experience nonetheless registered as a major event in the lives of those involved and for the growing Genesee Valley region as a whole.

Mr. Fischer’s presentation brings the local chapter of this conflict back to life. A scholar of the War of 1812, Jim is also a seasoned sailor on the Great Lakes who has logged time as a crew member on the reconstructed War of 1812-era brig Niagara.

Mr. Fischer’s talk begins at 12:10 PM on May 13th in the High Falls Center and Interpretive Museum at 74 Browns Race, Rochester, NY 14614. For more information, please call 585-325-2030.

–Amie Alscheff & Jeff Ludwig, Local History Division

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Published in: on May 8, 2014 at 11:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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