Symposium Presents the ‘Art of War’ and the Life of a ‘Salty Sailor’

OSWEGO – Come to the Lake Ontario Conference and Event Center on East First Street in Oswego for a compelling series of lectures about the War of 1812 along the New York-Canadian border.

The symposium runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 6 and from 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday, April 7. There will be a meet-and-greet social with cash bar, a presentation of the painting of the U.S. Brig Oneida by Oswego artist Tim Ames, and early registration from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, April 5.

Ten speakers will talk about a variety of War of 1812 topics, including military training and battle analysis; maritime and military archeology; naval history; wartime society and commerce; espionage; and the art of war.

Dr. Peter Rindlisbacher opens the Oswego War of 1812 Symposium on Saturday, April 6. His discussion, “In the Wake of the Few,” portrays the lost art of early 19th century marine history on canvas.

“Very few contemporary marine paintings from the 1812 time period on the Great Lakes have survived to this day,” said Dr. Rindlisbacher, whose presentation provides a brief survey of these few pieces along with a summary and critique of a variety of later works that appear so often in secondary texts.

Dr. Rindlisbacher will also discuss the exciting challenges of re-creating historical maritime subjects 200 years later through the use of modern planning, research strategies, and various construction methods; citing a few of his own case studies as examples.

“That is where the real excitement lies, in the research,” said Dr. Rindlisbacher. “I enjoy working with historians using maps, models and primary source documents to create these paintings.”

Dr. Rindlisbacher currently works as a full-time historical marine artist. Many of his works feature War of 1812 subjects. Throughout the U.S. and Canada, museums, historic sites and the military have purchased many of his oil paintings, while limited print editions of his work are currently sold at fundraisers for a variety of heritage groups. His images have appeared on various book and magazine covers, as well as in a number of video productions for The History Channel and National Geographic, to name a few.

A self-taught artist, Dr. Rindlisbacher is also a model-maker, racing sailor, and replica longboat owner. He earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1992 and currently lives in Texas with his family.

Dennis Connors, curator of history at the Onondaga Historical Association in Syracuse, closes the program on Saturday, April 6 with his presentation, “You Never Know Where a Cargo of Salt Will Lead You: Daniel Dobbins, Salt Trader and the War of 1812 on Lake Erie.”

“The salt trade was a major driver of Great Lakes commerce in the early 19th century and Daniel Dobbins, a mariner from Erie, Pennsylvania, was one of the most active shippers in those years,” said Connors. “We’ll examine the nature of the salt trade and how it led Dobbins into a series of adventures during the War of 1812.”

Connors has worked in various historical agencies for more than 40 years. He served as the executive director of the Onondaga Historical Association; supervisor of historic resources for Onondaga County Parks; and executive director for the Landmarks Association of Central New York.

He has also been a contributing editor for the New York State Encyclopedia Project, and authored and edited five books on local history in the Syracuse, N.Y. area. Connors received his history degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a concentration in museum studies.

Registration for both days is $75 per person or $35 for students with a valid ID. The registration fee includes Saturday’s lunch and workshop materials. One day registration is also available: $50 for Saturday, including lunch or $25 for Sunday. For students with a valid ID, one day rates are $23 for Saturday, including lunch or $12 for Sunday.

Advance registration is required and may be paid by check or credit card through the Friends of Fort Ontario. Contact Franshisca Cedillo at 315-343-4711 for credit card payments Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Checks should be made payable to “Friends of Fort Ontario – 1812” and mailed to the Fort Ontario State Historic Site, 1 East Fourth Street, Oswego, N.Y. 13126.

Special room rates for symposium attendees are available at the Best Western Plus Captain’s Quarters Hotel, 26 East First Street, Oswego. Please call the hotel at 315-342-4040 and mention the Oswego War of 1812 Symposium.

For symposium details, visit For visitor information, go to or contact the Oswego County Tourism Office at 315-349-8322.

To follow other War of 1812 commemoration activities or to learn more about the history of Oswego County, go to