I never had a great deal of interest in the War of 1812 growing up as all I really remember learning about it as a student was the sad tale of General Hull's humiliating surrender of Fort Detroit to the British, but I'm finding the increased interest and activity surrounding the approach of the war's bicentennial this year pretty fascinating.
We recently visited Fort Meigs near Perrysburg, Ohio where costumed re-enactors and the impressively re-created fort helped us learn a little more about this conflict, the issues behind it and our region's prominent role in it.
General William Henry Harrison (and future U.S. President) oversaw the construction of the original Fort Meigs in early 1813. Hull's surrender happened in the summer of 1812, and establishing Fort Meigs in a strategic location along the Maumee River put troops in a good spot to attempt retaking Detroit from the British and for protecting the region from further incursions on American soil.
Troops at Fort Meigs withstood two difficult British and Indian sieges during the spring and summer of 1813, events seen as turning points for Americans in eventually regaining control over Lake Erie.
The sieges over, the British retreated into Canada, and General Harrison dismantled Fort Meigs.
Today's Fort Meigs is a full-sized reconstruction of the original fort appearing largely as it did in 1813. There is also a 14,000-square-foot Visitors Center and Museum where you can learn more about the conflict and, as we did when we visited, duck in to avoid a quick thunderstorm!
Exhibits in the museum and blockhouses throughout the fort display most of Ohio's War of 1812 artifacts, many of which archeologists uncovered at Fort Meigs.
We spent a leisurely couple of hours touring the fort on our own, talking with the costumed interpreters and occasionally tagging along with a school tour group.
Check out my story, Living History at Fort Meigs at the Ohio Tourism Division's Discovering Ohio blog for more info about the fort, our visit there and a few more of my photos of the fort.
Interested in learning about the War of 1812 from a Canadian perspective? Read The Baby House spotlights Canadian history and identity in Windsor, Ontario at Midwest Guest.
Want a quick primer on the War of 1812? Check out The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict, Bicentennial Edition by Donald R. Hickey.
Thanks to Rick Finch, director at Fort Meigs, for his assistance and arranging for comped media passes to the fort.
© Dominique King 2012 All rights reserved