FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- In just over one year the nation will commemorate the War of 1812 Bicentennial. On Nov. 20 from 1-4 p.m. the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex will host “Discovering the War of 1812.” This special event showcases re-enactors displaying the uniforms and weapons of the U.S. military of that time.
The afternoon living history program is a part of the North Carolina War of 1812 Bicentennial Committee’s effort to raise awareness about this often forgotten, but pivotal, war in our nation’s history. Both American and British units will be on site explaining the roles of soldiers and sailors.
Sandwiched between the American Revolution and the Civil War, the War of 1812 is habitually regarded as a war of little consequence. The fact is this second war against Great Britain was pivotal in the growth and prestige of the fledging United States. It was less than 30 years after the Revolution and in many ways the British still looked upon America as a wayward child. American seamen were frequently impressed into British naval service against their will. British agents in the northwest encouraged discontent between American Indian tribes and American settlers. Both British and French warships routinely captured American merchant ships and their cargo without fear of retaliation. Most of Europe and the world considered the young American government as a backwoods collection of states that was destined to fail.
Despite being unprepared for war, President James Madison decided to take a stand against the might of the British army and navy. The ability of the nation to maintain its sovereign right to control its own destiny was at stake. Outnumbered on both land and sea, the young republic faced two and half years of warfare that tested the endurance of the government and its citizens. The war stretched from the Canadian border to Louisiana.
Against all odds and numerous defeats, the soldiers and sailors of the United States bent but did not break. Despite ending in a draw, the war ensured the growth of American international trade, thereby improving the nation's economy. Americans also discovered a spirit of nationalism that would seal the ideals of the American Revolution.
Before the 1 p.m. program, the re-enactors will hold a living history planning session in the museum’s multi-purpose room at 10 a.m. Some of the state’s historic sites and museums are making preparations to commemorate the war’s bicentennial. The goal of this planning session is to create a networking link between organizations planning War of 1812 events and the living historians who are looking for places where their resources are needed. Current War of 1812 re-enactors and anyone interested in the War of 1812 is invited to attend the morning meeting.
For more information on the living history program or the planning meeting, call Jim Greathouse at (910) 644-4395 or the Museum of the Cape Fear at (910) 486-1330.
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