Bridge dedication to kick off 'Battle' festivities

McKENZIE DELISLE/STAFF PHOTOVolunteer Vince Puliafico readjusts a print by artist Lee Hunt depicting City of Plattsburgh in the early 1800s. The artwork now hangs on a wall in 30 City Hall Place, where a series of history talks will be held during this year's Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration. Acting as John Quincy Adams, Puliafico will be one of those speakers, detailing just how the local battle impacted Adams' peace negotiations over seas. 

PLATTSBURGH —  Staff your battle stations: the Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration kicks off today.

The annual City of Plattsburgh event, honoring a key battle of the War of 1812, will start out a little different this year, beginning with a dedication ceremony.

In July, the Common Council dedicated a downtown footbridge to the event's past, present and future volunteers. 

Now named Commemoration Bridge, that walkway crosses over the lower Saranac River to connect Cumberland Avenue and Green Street.

"This dedication honors a rich history of volunteerism in the community and appreciation of the annual 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh Commemorations organized by volunteers and led by Christopher “Kit” Booth and Gary VanCour," the city website says.

The bridge's official dedication ceremony will be held today at 4 p.m. at the Green Street end of the bridge and will mark the 2019 celebration's first event. 

All are invited to attend. 

HISTORY PROGRAM

Also new to the event's lineup is the 2019 Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration History Program. 

Event volunteer Linda Ward said that initiative's four sessions will reintroduce education to the mix. 

Battle volunteer and Beekmantown Town Historian Gary VanCour will pave the way with the first talk, "Maneuvering Begins in Beekmantown," on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 6:15 p.m. at 30 City Hall Place. 

That downtown storefront was rented to battle volunteers to house the history lessons and Ward said owner Ben Clark hopes the space will continue to benefit downtown groups and organizations. 

LOCAL HERO

Immediately following VanCour will be local physician and historian Paolo Fedi, scheduled to speak at 6:45 p.m. 

Dr. Fedi, who moved to the United States from Italy about 25 years ago, owns and operates Beaumont Gastroenterology Services at 14 Durkee St.

Fedi said his office was named after Battle of Plattsburgh surgeon mate and medical pioneer William Beaumont. 

"He's a hero of this town," Fedi said, "but I think many people don't know who he is.

"When locals hear the name, 'William Beaumont,' they should really know exactly who he is."

CUTTING EDGE

Fedi's 20-minute talk will be a glimpse into the life of Beaumont, who lived and practiced medicine in the City of Plattsburgh during the 1800s.

Though a local, Fedi said Beaumont's name was, and continues to be, well-known in the healthcare field worldwide.

During his time in the army, Fedi said, Beaumont tended to a man who had an open gunshot wound in his stomach. 

"He was able to make him live and see what happened inside the stomach when the man was eating," Fedi said. "He was the first to perform a human study on the stomach. 

"Beaumont was able to prove that the weather, being upset or angry, drinking too much alcohol, too much coffee, too much tea, was bad for the stomach," he continued. 

"This is the basis of what we constantly do now that's bad — somebody from Plattsburgh in 1833 already told us this."

FULL SCHEDULE

The history talks will pick up again on Friday, Sept. 13 starting at 5 p.m. back at 30 City Hall Place.

John Quincy Adams re-enactor Vince Puliafico will first discuss, "How the American Victory at Plattsburgh Changed Peace Negotiations," and be followed by local history writer Richard Frost's 5:30 p.m. presentation, "The War Ends: Does Plattsburgh Still Need A Military Base?"

The 2019 Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration's various activities will continue through Sunday, Sept. 15, ending with the U.S. Navy Band Northeast in concert at 7 p.m. that day. 

The full event's schedule can be found at tinyurl.com/yxdy3yzy

Email McKenzie Delisle: 

mdelisle@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @McKenzieDelisle

BATTLE SCHEDULE

See page A4 for schedule of events. 

 

BATTLE SCHEDULE

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 11

4 p.m.: Dedication Ceremony “Commemoration Bridge”

Location: At the end of Green Street in the small park on the bank of the Saranac River

The downtown Plattsburgh footbridge, connecting Cumberland Avenue and the small park at the end of Green Street by the Saranac River, has been officially named “Commemoration Bridge” by action of Mayor Colin Read and the City Council. This dedication honors a rich history of volunteerism in the community and appreciation of the annual 1814 Battle of Plattsburgh Commemorations organized by volunteers and led by Christopher “Kit” Booth and Gary VanCour. All present and past Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration volunteers and the public are invited to attend.

THURSDAY, SEPT. 12

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Clinton County Historical Association Museum Open House

Location: 98 Ohio Ave., Old Base Museum Campus

See the rare Aiken Rifle and dress swords presented to General Alexander Macomb and Major General Benjamin Mooers for their service during the War of 1812. The book The Military Career of Alexander Macomb by Allen Everest is free to Battle of Plattsburgh Commemoration button holders.

11 a.m.: Battle of Culver Hill Memorial Ceremony

Presented by the Town of Beekmantown

Location: Culver Hill Historical Park, State Route 22, two miles north of intersection of Route 374 in Beekmantown. On Sept. 6, 1814, a large British army numbering in the thousands marched through Beekmantown on their way to occupy the Village of Plattsburgh. In an attempt to hinder that advance, a small American force consisting of regular army and militia made a stand behind stonewalls on the rise of land known as Culver Hill. What ensued was a short but very intense skirmish that resulted in several dead and wounded, including American Corporal Stephen Partridge of the Essex County, New York State Militia and two British officers, Lt. Col. James Willington and Ensign John Chapman, of the Royal East Kent Regiment, Third Foot, also known as the Buffs. A memorial ceremony will take place to help to recognize and honor the sacrifices made by both sides of this bloody conflict.

1 p.m.: Halsey’s Corners Memorial Ceremony

Presented by the Town of Plattsburgh

Location: Corner of Halsey Court and Boynton Avenue

In the face of the steadily advancing British column, American forces retreated toward Plattsburgh to this location where they set up two six-pound field guns. The oncoming columns of Redcoats advanced straight into the maw of these guns, which were discharged repeatedly with deadly effect.

5 p.m.: Riverside Cemetery Memorial

Location: Riverside Cemetery, Steltzer Road

British fleet commander Capt. George Downie lost his life in the initial of the 1814 battle and was later buried in Riverside Cemetery, along with several other fallen combatants from both sides. Historian/Author Don Wickman conducts the ceremony honoring both British and American combatants killed in the war.

6 p.m.: History Program — “Perspectives on the Battle”

Location: 30 City Hall Place

Doors open at 5:30 p.m., Exhibits & Video

6 p.m.: Speaker — Gary VanCour, Beekmantown historian

“Maneuvering Begins in Beekmantown”

6:45 p.m.: Speaker — Paolo Fedi M.D., medical historian

“William Beaumont, a physician-researcher in Plattsburgh"

7:30 p.m.: John Lennon & Paul McCartney Tribute Band

Location: Strand Center for the Arts, 23 Brinkerhoff St.

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