1814 Battle of Stonington commemoration this weekend
Stonington — The three-day Battle of Stonington bicentennial celebration, which began Friday, features exhibitions and events and will culminate with a large parade through the borough on Sunday afternoon.
“We may have more people marching in the parade than watching it,” said Stonington Historic Society President Rob Palmer.
Marching will be numerous musical groups including many with historic and military themes, contingents from the town’s founding families, The Newport Artillery Company with 18th century cannon, a replica of the flag that flew over the borough during the battle, floats and a representative from the British Navy.
The grand marshal is 106-year-old Anna Coit of North Stonington, who attended the battle’s centennial celebration as a little girl. One of the parade leaders will be Rita Babcock Palmer Park, whose grandmother, Rita Babcock Palmer, led the 1914 parade. Park will be wearing an outfit similar to the one her grandmother wore then.
Also expected to be on hand for the 1:30 p.m. parade and ceremony afterward are Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District.
During the battle, which took place during a four-day period in early August 1814, five British Royal Navy ships commanded by Commodore Thomas Masterman Hardy attacked the village after residents refused to surrender. Using three cannons, two of which are on display today in Cannon Square, the residents repelled the attack, which damaged many borough homes and left cannonballs in their walls. It was not only one of the region’s most significant military events but was an important victory at a time when the war was not going well for the United States.
In addition to the parade and a ceremony afterward, there are exhibits, concerts, battled-themed walking tours, a military encampment at the Old Lighthouse Museum, Stonington Harbor cruises aboard the Mystic Whaler, narrated by historians Glenn Gordinier and Andy German, and a rare public display of the tattered battle flag. Most events are free and open to the public.
More information about the events is at www.stoningtonhistory.org.
If you go
Events are in Stonington borough.
■ 9 a.m. to noon today: At Dime Bank, 4 Cannon Square: U.S. Post Office cancellation session with commemorative cachets designed by philatelist Alan Bentz.
■ Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: At the Captain Palmer House, 40 Palmer St., the original Stonington battle flag will be on display at the Woolworth Library & Research Center along with a “pop-up” exhibit of War of 1812 artifacts from Mystic Seaport. Seaport curator Fred Calabretta will be on hand to discuss these treasures. Capt. Nathaniel Brown Palmer House, a National Historic Landmark, located adjacent to the library, will be open for tours. Admission is free.
■ Starting at 10 a.m. today: the Mystic Whaler, an 83-foot reproduction of a 19th century coastal schooner, will offer one-hour narrated cruises, departing from the dock at New England Science & Sailing, 70 Water St. Adults $30; children 12 and under $15. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before sail times, which are at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Passengers are welcome to bring picnics.
■ 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and Sunday: Battle-themed walking tours depart from the Old Lighthouse Museum.
■ Noon to 4 p.m. today and Sunday: “Sixteen Stars, Sixteen Stripes: A Celebration of the Battle of 1814” exhibit at the La Grua Center.
■ 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today: The battle flag and War of 1812 artifacts will be exhibited at the Woolworth Library & Research Center.
■ 2 to 3 p.m. today at the Stonington Cemetery on North Main Street: Commemoration of British midshipman Thomas Barratt Powers, who was killed in action days before the battle.
■ 3:30 p.m. today: Concert at Wadawanuck Square.
■ 10 a.m. Sunday: 1812 Military Encampment opens on the grounds of the Old Lighthouse, 7 Water St. Free Men of the Sea, a living history group of pirates and privateers, will be joined by a contingent from the 1812 Marine Guards, who are part of the U.S. Constitution Marine Guard. Tea tent and bake sale. Reduced admission to the Lighthouse.
■ 1:30 p.m. Sunday: Parade through the borough
■ 4:30 p.m. Sunday: Concert at LaGrua Center.
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