From the City of Havre de Grace Office of Tourism:
The City of Havre de Grace will officially kick off the Maryland’s Chesapeake Campaign first weekend in May with a three-day festival marking 200 years of prosperity since they were ransacked and burned by the British.
The War of 1812 Bicentennial will be kicking into high gear over the next several months. The Maryland celebration is occurring to commemorate the state’s involvement in the conflict from June 1812 until January 1815, when the war ended after the Battle of New Orleans. Ironically, the Treaty of Ghent, the peace treaty that ended the war, was signed on December 24, 1814 in Ghent (modern day Belgium). However, it took several weeks for the news of peace to reach the States, and the Battle of New Orleans was fought to a decisive American victory on January 8, 1815.
The state Bicentennial Celebration began June 13-19, 2012 with Star Spangled Sailabration, with tall ships, navy hulls, and the Blue Angels invading the Inner Harbor for a week-long celebration.
What some people don’t realize is that the War of 1812 extended until 1815. Therefore, there are other Bicentennial events coming up over the next three years to mark the key events of the War.
In 1813 Havre de Grace was a small fishing village, and with Post Road passing through town, it was an integral part of the new nation’s travel network. The taverns and ferry made Havre de Grace, originally called Susquehanna Lower Ferry, a vibrant town in the early 19th century.
On May 3rd, 1813 400 British Marines, led by Admiral Cockburn, arrived at dawn, waking the residents of Havre de Grace with terrifying sounds of rockets hissing. The marines went from house to house, burning and confiscating belongings along the way. Beds were ripped apart, and furniture and clothing were ruined. John O’Neill led a defense as the British raiders attacked and briefly manned cannons as other defenders fled.
Over the last two years, three first-person accounts of the attack on Havre de Grace were combined into exhibits in six town museums. A remarkable partnership, along with funding from the National Park Service and the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, has allowed the City to tell the story of their involvement in the War of 1812. An interactive model shows how Havre de Grace appeared in 1813 and highlights the homes that survived the burning.
Illustrations created by local artist Bill Watson depict the savage attack and burning of Havre de Grace. Signage lines a walking trail along the parks and attractions throughout the City and discusses the British attacks on towns near the Bay.
Havre de Grace is going to be under attack during the first weekend in May 2013 as angry enemy soldiers storm ashore, occupying this tourist hotspot at the top of the Chesapeake Bay. Musket fire, roaring cannons, shouts of military orders, and martial music will reverberate through old streets in a fine historic district.
This is part of Maryland’s War of 1812 Bicentennial observance as Havre de Grace remembers one of the most dramatic moments in Maryland history and recalls an epic moment in its past. It was 200 years ago that the devastating attack occurred here during the nation’s second war with Britain.
The “Attack on Havre de Grace” reenactment gets underway on Saturday, May 4th, but the downtown will be humming with special activities Friday evening as the big celebration kicks off. On the First Friday in May, a normally popular time in the town, the community welcomes visitors, re-enactors, and history buffs as period attired soldiers and civilians enjoy this Maryland Main Street. The shops, taverns, and dining spots are all geared up to greet visitors with a pub crawl and lots of other entertainment.
Saturday the Ft. McHenry Fire and Drum Corps and Park Service Ranger Vince Vaise will be on hand at 10:30 to warm up the crowd, as the city prepares to raise the Star Spangled Banner on the lighthouse flag pole. It was the sighting of the colors flapping in the breeze there on the shoreline that is mentioned as one of the reasons the British savagely attacked the city of about 60 homes. Soon after the public sees the flag on the shoreline, the British barges loaded with marines will blast their way ashore as the troops attack the village. During these exciting military maneuvers, the world’s best trained soldiers from that era will go up against a few hastily assembled citizen defenders, chasing them back through town. Before long, the enemy will signal success as the Union Jack flaps in the wind from the old flag pole. The evening events include a performance by the Columbia Orchestra, fireworks concluding with cannon fire and the 1812 Overture.
Events continue into Sunday with a 5K race aptly titled the Red Coat Run, period church services, and a Kayak Poker Run. Tall ships including the Pride of Baltimore II and the Sultana will be in port for tours Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
During the entire weekend, there will be plenty to see and do while you enjoy a brief visit to the past in this beautiful spot on the Chesapeake Bay. To get the full schedule visit the city of Havre de Grace Tourism website at http://www.hdgtourism.com .