You are invited to attend a very brief ceremony and presentation as the Lewiston community commemorates the 204th Anniversary of the Tuscarora Heroes actions which saved dozens of lives from the British Attack in 1813.
The gathering will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 8am at the Tuscarora Heroes Monument, Portage and Center St., followed by a celebratory breakfast at Syros, Cayuga Street and Portage Road. The sculpture is recognized as the largest War of 1812 bicentennial monument project in the United States.
In the early morning of December 19, 1813, the citizens of Lewiston, New York, awoke to unimaginable horrors. The small frontier village, situated on the Niagara River on the border between the United States and Canada, suddenly found itself on the front line of a vicious international war.
Hours earlier, in the middle of the night, British-Canadian troops had invaded the United States and captured Fort Niagara without firing a shot. The British-Canadians, along with their unrestrained “Western Indian” allies, ran down River Road toward Lewiston, armed with torches, guns and tomahawks, intent on retribution and turning Lewiston into a pile of ashes. Poorly defended, Lewiston citizens were on their own. They could only run for their lives through the snow and mud in hopes of escaping the atrocities. Civilians were murdered in the rampage and tormented parents found themselves helpless in trying to save their children — one 7-year-old was shot and scalped in front of his mother’s eyes.
At the moment when Lewiston citizens had lost hope and thought they would all become victims of a bloody and merciless massacre, the local Tuscarora men ran down from their village atop the Escarpment and offered the first resistance the enemy had seen. Their ingenious and diversionary tactics gave the impression that “their numbers were legion.” Fearing a trap, the enemy stopped in its tracks.
Despite being outnumbered 30 to 1, the Tuscaroras were able to buy the escaping residents enough time to get out of harm’s way.
Lewiston’s 1812 Bicentennial volunteer director, Lee Simonson, advanced the idea of a tribute to the Tuscaroras in 2009 as one of two major bicentennial projects for the group to undertake, the other being the reenactment of the Battle of Queenston Heights.
Because the significance of the Tuscarora intervention in the attack was relatively unknown, Simonson wrote the book, “Tuscarora Heroes”, detailing the history and circumstances of the British attack and subsequent Tuscarora action. The book was published in March, 2010 by the Historical Association of Lewiston and introduced at an April, 2010 press conference, along with a model of the proposed monument by artist Susan Geissler.
It will be cold so dress warm! We’ll be congregating at the Monument in the early morning at 8am – very close to the time of the actual attack by the British. No doubt you’ll be thinking about what it must have been like when Lewistonians were running for their lives through the snow and mud, many freezing in their bare feet and nightclothes.
After the brief ceremony, you’re welcome to warm up at a dutch-treat breakfast at Syros Restaurant down the street (Portage Road and Cayuga Street) for some fellowship and conversation. We hope to see you there.