Friday, July 25, 2014

Lundy's Lane Battlefield

Location: Niagara Falls, Canada

Features: Drummond Hill Cemetery with monuments and markers.

History:  The Niagara River was the front line of the War of 1812.  The major campaigns centered on the strategic control of the forts guarding the waterways and lakes of this river boarder between New York and Ontario.  The summer of 1814 was the critical year for the United States' efforts to invade the Niagara peninsula and wrest control of the region from the British.  The US Army crossed over the Niagara River in early July 1814 and fought a series of engagements with the British defenders. The campaign climaxed on July 25, 1814, 200 years from the date of this post, when the US Army attacked the British at Niagara Falls along a road through the city called Lundy's Lane.  It was a hard fought battle featuring severe attacks and counter-attacks that lasted well into the night. Though they performed admirably, the high casualties among the Americans forced them to abandon the campaign.  They would not mount another major effort in the region again for the balance of the war, giving the Canadian defenders a strategic victory.

After the war Niagara Falls boomed as a tourist town much as it is today.  19th Century travelers journeyed not just to see the renowned waterfalls, but to tour the famous battlefield.  The tourist experience at Lundy's Lane 150 years ago was surprisingly similar to our modern visit to a park such as Gettysburg.  There were observation towers, "ranger" guides and a host of tourist amenities.   And just as the tension exists today between preserving historic lands and encroaching economic development, Lundy's Lane suffered from the same urban expansion crisis with the battlefield largely losing to new growth.  After the American Civil War, interest in the Ludy's Lane battle waned as the American park system offered larger venues for events that happened much closer to home.

What does remain of the battlefield is primarily centered on the Drummond Hill Cemetery. This hill was the focal point of the battle and its dominating geographical presence today can still be seen even though surrounded by urban development.  The cemetery is the final resting place for many people associated with the battle and the era.  The most famous of these is probably Laura Secord, a name instantly recognized by Canadians as their heroine of the War of 1812, but still obscure to most Americans.  The 200th anniversary of the war has seen some new interest in the battle with the Canadian government and local organizations promoting events to commemorate the Lundy's Lane battle.

Traveler's Notes:  Lundy's Lane holds a special place for me as it shares my birthday, July 25.  Given its proximity to my homestate of Michigan and my personal connection to the War of 1812, combined with several trips to the Falls as a kid, it remains one of those battlefields that turned me into a history nut!

Resources: http://niagarafallsmuseums.ca/visit/lundyslane.aspxhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Lundy's_Lanehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Secordhttps://www.niagarafalls.ca/pdf/heritage/lundys-lane-walking tour.pdf



Lundy's Lane -  200 years later

Laura Secord

Lundy's Lane Anniversary Update:  I had hoped to make it the 200th Anniversary events this year but could not manage to get away to Canada at this time.  However, Matthias Koster at the Niagara Falls Marriott was kind enough to send along a photo of the new 200th Anniversary Commemorate Archway that was unveiled today by the city of Niagara Falls.


Photos provided by: Marriott Niagara Falls Hotel Fallsview & Spa

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

24th Michigan Monument - Gettysburg

Location: Gettysburg National Military Park

Features: Granite monument.

History: Today's postdate marks the 151st anniversary of the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. The 24th Michigan Infantry Regiment saw heavy action in McPherson's Woods on July 1, 1863. This Michigan regiment was a unit of the "Iron Brigade" of the Union I Corps, with a reputation for discipline under fire. As a mark of distinction, they were allowed to wear the black army dress hat as can be seen on the monument's soldier. Their valor at Gettysburg would cost them dearly, taking more than 70% casualties, the highest losses suffered by any Union regiment at the battle.

Traveler's Notes: This is sacred ground for all native Michiganders.  Many Michigan units served with distinction during the war, but none capture the imagery of the 24th Michigan on that hot July morning.  I keep a small replica of the 24th Michigan monument on my desk to honor those men of my home state.

Resources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/24th_Michigan_Volunteer_Infantry_Regiment, http://www.civilwarintheeast.com/USA/MI/24MI.php