British soldiers “raid” Ogdensburg home, take three hostages in battle re-enactment

pOGDENSBURG — It’s not every day that British soldiers raid an American home, take three people hostage and loot the place./ppThat’s what happened Saturday afternoon while Kathryn A. Rhinehold was hosting a party for about 25 family members and friends at her 401 Washington St. home./pp“They beat on the back door and said, ‘open in the name of the king,’” Mrs. Rhinehold said. “They took food, they took silver. They were in and out in seconds.”/ppAlthough Mrs. Rhinehold had planned the mock raid as part of the Battle of Ogdensburg re-enactment, she managed to keep it a secret from the guests she invited to watch the battle from her living room window. /ppIn the middle of her gathering, three men in attendance were taken hostage by the group of British soldiers who crashed the party./pp“It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever been through,” joked Cheryl Sayer, Morristown. “Thank God they didn’t take my husband. I was praying.”/ppEdward Walker, Lisbon, said his short time as a kidnapped American involved marching with his British captors toward City Hall on Ford Street./pp“I thought about being uncooperative, but they had bayonets so I thought I’d better keep moving,” he said./ppOn Saturday, several streets in Ogdensburg were filled with the sound of muskets firing and commanders barking orders as re-enactors from both sides of the St. Lawrence River marked the 203rd anniversary of the Battle of Ogdensburg. /ppClutching umbrellas and cameras, several people walked along the sidewalk following along as soldiers fired against each other in the streets./ppA light rain fell and the 40-degree weather was warmer than usual for the annual re-enactment celebration./ppJames E. Reagen, a local history buff, explained the battle to observers as he stood along Ford and Caroline streets. /ppThe original battle, Feb. 22, 1813, took place during the War of 1812 when a young American nation found itself once again battling against Britain. A large contingent of British troops were stationed in Canada, which at that time was under British rule. /ppThat day, under the command of George MacDonnell, a large contingent of soldiers from Canada crossed the iced-over St. Lawrence River, pulling cannons that became stuck in the snow. The British greatly outnumbered the American troops who were fighting under Commander Benjamin Forsyth./ppThe battle involved intense fighting through city streets and at historic Lighthouse Point. It ended in a victory for British soldiers who were successful in driving the Americans out of Ogdensburg, then a village. /ppOn the American side, 20 soldiers were killed, six wounded and 70 captured. The British had six soldiers killed and 44 wounded./ppDawn Butler and her son, Jesse, 15, of Canton, were among those who came out on a rainy day to watch the battle./pp“St. Lawrence County played a big role in the early part of American history and a lot of people don’t know how much happened here,” Ms. Butler said. “A lot of people don’t know much about the War of 1812.”/ppUnder President James Madison, the United States declared war against Britain on June 18, 1812 for interfering with American international shipping in the Atlantic and impressing U.S. seamen into the British Navy. The British justified impressment by claiming that because American sailors were once British, they were always British./ppMr. Reagen said Britain wanted to maintain control of the St. Lawrence River because the shipping route was needed to supply food, supplies and ammunition to British troops along the Great Lakes. /pp“At that time, the river was like our roads,” Mr. Reagen said./ppThe failure of the U.S. government to provide an adequate number of troops in Ogdensburg played a large role in losing the Ogdensburg battle to Britain, Mr. Reagen said./pp“They never understood the strategic value of holding this place,” he said./ppThroughout the day, military displays and artifacts were on display in the Army National Guard armory building. Army National Guard soldiers were also on hand to meet with visitors./ppGary D. Kanitz and his wife, of DeKalb, brought their two daughters, Lydia, 7, and Amalia, 11, to see the displays and watch the battle re-enactment./pp“I take them to a lot of historical events,” Mr. Kanitz said. “There’s a lot of important history here. People don’t always get exposed to it in ways that make them interested.”/ppEvents continue today with a wreath-laying ceremony at 10:30 a.m. at the Ogdensburg Cemetery. The ceremony will honor Joseph York, who was the St. Lawrence County sheriff in 1813 and part of the American militia that defended Ogdensburg during the attack. Another battle re-enactment will take place at 1:30 p.m. at Lighthouse Point./p
Source: Watertown Daily Times Latest News

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