Trailheads presents information and details about the exhibits, events and programs hosted by the historic sites and museums on PHMC's Pennsylvania Trails of History.

Two historic battles being commemorated late this summer bookend a fifty-year period that started with American colonists fighting to defend British interests and ended with the new United States defending its own interests and sovereignty against British attacks.

Battle of Bushy Run 250th Anniversary

In July 1763 during Pontiac’s War, British forces commanded by Col. Henry Bouquet marched west from Carlisle along the Forbes Road toward Pittsburgh. Native Americans had laid siege to Fort Pitt in a move to break British control and prevent further settlement of lands west of the Alleghenies. On August 5, just east of Bushy Run Station, Bouquet’s troops were met by Native American forces and engaged in a battle that lasted until the following day. It was a significant and hard-fought victory for the British and Bouquet’s troops reached Fort Pitt on August 10. Visit the Bushy Run Battlefield to learn more about Pontiac’s War.

The Bushy Run Battlefield Heritage Society has coordinated an expanded program for this year’s 250th anniversary commemoration. Selected offerings include:

  • Saturday, June 15 [2013] – Jeff Day, curator at the Lincoln Park (Michigan) Historical Museum, will present a program on Chief Pontiac’s War Council of April 27, 1763.
  • Sunday, July 14 [2013] – The Bushy Run 5K Trail Run/Walk, co-sponsored with Penn Township Area Recreation Commission, will introduce participants to the terrain where the battle was fought. Half of the proceeds will support other anniversary activities.
  • Friday, August 2 [2013] – The weekend will begin with a lecture by former site administrator Jack Giblin and a performance by the Seton Hill University Pipe Band. At dusk guests will be invited to stroll trails marked by luminaries as a way to honor all the combatants and to visit the encampments of various reenactment groups.
  • Saturday and Sunday, August 3–4 [2013] – Throughout both days visitors will find sutlers and food vendors, historical talks and programs, and British, Native, and Ranger encampments. A reenactment of the Battle of Bushy Run will take place at 2 p.m. each day. At 11 a.m. on Saturday a new monument to all who lost their lives during the battle will be unveiled and dedicated. On Sunday at 4 p.m. the winning tickets for the “Tools of the Trade” commemorative raffle will be drawn. Prizes have been custom-made for the 250th anniversary and are valued at $13,000. Parking both days will be off-site; the last shuttle will leave Bushy Run Battlefield at 5:15 p.m. each day.

On a related note Fort Pitt Museum will present a living history program on August 10 [2013] marking the 250th anniversary of the siege and the arrival of Bouquet’s troops.

Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial

After nearly a decade of increasing hostilities the United States declared war on Great Britain in June 1812. Much of the fighting took place in and around the Great Lakes. In March 1813 Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry arrived in Erie to take command of the fleet then under construction in the harbor. On September 10 nine American ships engaged and defeated a British squadron of six vessels on Lake Erie near Put-in-Bay, Ohio. It was an important victory for the young nation.

For the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie in which the Niagara played such a pivotal role two major events are on the horizon.

  • August 29–September 2 [2013]Niagara and her crew will visit Put-in-Bay, Ohio, to participate in a commemoration of the American victory on Lake Erie. The event will culminate with a re-creation of the battle, and Pennsylvania’s official flagship will be (with all due respect to the other ships) the star of the show. Visit the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial website for details about the Ohio event.
  • September 5–8 [2013]Niagara will again return victorious to her homeport for Tall Ships® Erie 2013. Eight other ships will join our flagship to commemorate the bicentennial and focus attention on the tradition and craft of tall ship sailing. Scheduled to attend and participate in the evening Parade of Sail on September 5 are Sorlandet (Norway), Lynx (New Hampshire), Peacemaker (Georgia), Appledore IV and Friends Good Will (Michigan), Unicorn (Connecticut), Pride of Baltimore II (Maryland), and St. Lawrence II (Canada). The ships will then dock at three locations along the Erie Bayfront where they will host school and public tours, and private receptions. The grand finale on Sunday evening will include fireworks, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, and a cannonade salute by Niagara and other tall ships.

 

Amy Killpatrick Fox is a museum educator based in PHMC’s Bureau of Historic Sites and Museums, supporting education, interpretation, and communications efforts bureau-wide and at individual historic sites and museums along the Trails of History. She writes an informative weekly blog entitled Trailheads.

The author thanks Kelly Ruoff and Linda Bolla for their contributions to this article.