November 30, 2012

Campout to mark Pike's Cantonment


---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Battle of Plattsburgh Association is planning to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pike’s Cantonment with family events for everyone.

In the summer of 1812, a large army of American soldiers were sent to Northern New York to conduct operations against Canada. After a half-hearted campaign in the fall that barely made it over the border, the American army settled in for winter quarters.

General Dearborn left for Greenbush near Albany, and the 9th, 11th, 21st and 25th U.S. Infantry Regiments headed for Burlington.

That left the 6th, 15th and 16th Regiments in Plattsburgh, under the command of Col. Zebulon Pike.


The troops had to build their own shelters, sleeping on the frozen ground until their huts were completed after Christmas. The army had shortages of supplies, and Pike complained about the poor quality of what was available.

Due to disease and exposure, about 200 of the 2,000 men who initially inhabited the cantonment died. To this day, the exact location where these soldiers were buried is unknown.

During this period, the army was responsible for keeping the North Country secure, which included attempting to interrupt the rampant smuggling that was occurring along the Canadian border. The problem had become so bad that Pike was obligated to print the Articles of War in the local paper and patrols were dispatched to deal with the situation.


In memory of the men who served during this troubled time, the Battle of Plattsburgh Association is inviting the public to a special Pike’s Cantonment Campout, to be held Saturday, Dec. 15, and Sunday, Dec. 16, on the grounds of the Battle of Plattsburgh Association, located on Washington Road on the former Air Force Base.

Re-enactors are being encouraged to join the campout.

Children’s activities will be provided inside the Battle of Plattsburgh Museum throughout the day, including making a soldier’s journal, coloring a period flag, trying on period clothing and a scavenger hunt.

Here’s the schedule of events:


10 a.m.: Re-enactment camp opens.

10:45 a.m.: First formation.

11 to 11:30 a.m.: Skirmish.

Noon: Wreath laying at Old Post Cemetery (the resting place of 1812 unknown soldiers).

12:30 to 12:55 p.m.: Reception for visitors and participants of the wreath laying.

1 to 3 p.m.: Dr. Timothy Abel and Keith Herkalo will speak on the history of Pike’s Cantonment and the current archaeological dig.

4 p.m.: Camp closes, evening gun, museum closes.


10 a.m.: Re-enactment camp opens.

11:45 a.m.: First formation.

Noon: Skirmish.

3 p.m.: Camp closes and afternoon gun.

4 p.m.: Museum closes.