By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford, Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Before the Twin Towers came down, the Pentagon was damaged and the passengers took control of United Airline Flight 93, Sept. 11 was a day for American celebration and pride dating back nearly two centuries to a battle from the War of 1812 - the Battle of Lake Champlain.
The National Museum of the United States Navy celebrated the battle with music performed by living history musicians and experts in early American music, a lecture on the War of 1812 with the Navy Historian Michael Crawford, Ph.D., a lecture and book signing by the author of "In Their Own Words," a documentary history of the War of 1812 by George Emery, and a wreath laying in the museum, Sept. 11.
"It's the 200th anniversary of when that battle happened," said Jennifer Marland, museum curator, on the timing of the event.
On Sept. 11, 1814, the U.S. Navy squadron on Lake Champlain won the most decisive naval engagement of the War of 1812. The U.S. squadron completely defeated its British opponent and denied the Royal Navy mastery of Lake Champlain.
"Lake Champlain, being such an overt victory, helped us solidify the border to our north," Marland said. "Britain controlled Canada at that point, they were a colony just as we used to be. Before then, we were fighting over that northern boundary, sometimes going further north into what is now Canada and sometimes the British would come south. But, with victory on the lakes, the United States was able to prevent any land acquisition by the British on that northern border. If you couldn't control the lakes you couldn't supply the troops that were on the ground. So the British forces had to retreat North."
Without naval mastery of Lake Champlain a British victory on land would not have any permanence. The British general was unwilling to sacrifice men for the glory of a meaningless victory. During the night of Sept. 11-12, therefore, the invaders' army withdrew and started back to Canada.
"The victory of America on the 11th followed by the successful defense of Baltimore on the 13 and 14th, helped erode British support for the war, and, as we all know, the flag flying over Fort McHenry in Baltimore inspired our National Anthem," Marland said.
The museum recently opened its new exhibit, "From Defeat to Victory" which showcases battle defeats and victories, events, artifacts and men that ultimately led the U.S. to victory over the British during 1814.
The Naval History and Heritage Command, located at the Washington Navy Yard, is responsible for the preservation, analysis, and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage. It provides the knowledge foundation for the Navy by maintaining historically relevant resources and products that reflect the Navy's unique and enduring contributions through our nation's history, and supports the Fleet by assisting with and delivering professional research, analysis, and interpretive services. NHHC is composed of many activities including the Navy Department Library, the Navy Operational Archives, the Navy art and artifact collections, underwater archeology, Navy histories, nine museums, USS Constitution repair facility and the historic ship Nautilus.