The War of 1812 in Cape Vincent, NY


During my recent vacation to the Thousand Islands, I happened to be driving through the village of Cape Vincent while on my way to see the Tibbets Point lighthouse (which you can learn all about here), and noticed that something was happening in the village square that was drawing quite a lot of excitement. And just my luck, on that particular afternoon, Cape Vincent was having its annual War of 1812 reenactment!

“The first record of the white man’s visit to this immediate vicinity was in 1615, five years prior to the memorable landing of the Pilgrims. Samuel de Champlain and his compatriots on their expedition to the Iroquois country reached Lake Ontario near Kingston, Ontario, Canada, thus bringing the expedition within the water limit of our town.

9897_10153159103870023_1060008136_nEarly in 1655, French Missionary priests, Father Chaumonoit and Father Dablon were here as missionaries among the Onondaga Indians. History shows that both England and France were endeavoring to monopolize the Indian trade and to extend their influence with the native tribes. The French established a fort at Niagara and the English established a fort at Oswego. Both the French and English built trading posts, established missions and built homes in this area… During the War of 1812, declaration of war made it necessary to have armed forces at Cape Vincent, and there was no army post on the frontier in as much danger as Cape Vincent, since the enemy had a large force in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. At this time many inhabitants left for back settlements, but when the danger was over, many returned and the number of settlers steadily increased.” (source)

View Cape Vincent from above!
The reenactment was a lot of fun, and provided local people (and wayward travelers) the change to interact with the village’s vibrant military history. There were early 19th century militia-style tents erected, accompanied by men and women in period dress. Some milled around the tent area, cooking over small fires, mending clothing, or playing historic instruments.
One man in a doctors tent discussed medical procedures that would be used on the battlefield and displayed a variety of historic medical tools. In the marina, several historic ships were docked after having taken a ride around the river. They were staffed by more period actors, and outfitted with all of the appropriate regalia of 19th century military vessels. Apparently there was also a display and shooting of antique rifles, but unfortunately we arrived in Cape Vincent just a little late for that. Below is a Vine video of the reenactment in the village square, unmute it to hear the traditional sounds of bagpipes!
I love stopping by Cape Vincent when I am in the Thousand Islands – my family had a house there we used to stay in occasionally when I was a child, and I have always loved this riverfront village. So definitely stop through if you are in the area, especially if it is the weekend of the War of 1812 reenactment!
Further Reading:

One response to “The War of 1812 in Cape Vincent, NY

  1. I am going to have to stop back by and save some of your pictures of Cape Vincent. I visited there long ago, but didn’t have time to do any research of take many pictures as I had a colleague along with me and he was anxious to get to Canada to say he had been there.
    I want to go back someday and explore where some of my ancestors lived not too long after the War of 1812.

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