US Army, NYS Militia Featured in War of 1812 Symposium

OSWEGO – Audiences will hear from leading historians during the sixth annual Oswego International War of 1812 Symposium scheduled for April 1 through 3 at the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, 26 E. First St.

“This area has been strategically important throughout American history, making it a major theatre of action during the War of 1812,” said Paul Lear, director of Fort Ontario. “We’ve talked about this in relation to U.S. and British naval forces fighting for control of Lake Ontario. Now, we’ll look at the role of ground troops and their leaders with historical perspectives about the U.S. Army Regulars and New York State Militia from two top military experts.”

Military historian Donald E. Graves will discuss the U.S. Regular Army and its wartime record of recruitment, organization, policy and leadership in his lecture, “Bootstrap Soldiers: The Regular U.S. Army and the War of 1812.”

The scale and importance of the Regular’s offensive in the north during the war is often underestimated; however, it involved three of the army’s four artillery regiments, both cavalry regiments, three of its four rifle regiments, and 27 out of 44 infantry regiments.

During the war, 34 men earned the rank of general officer and 24 of them served in the northern theatre as well as over two-thirds of the junior officers and enlisted personnel.

Graves will break down the myths surrounding the U.S. Army Regulars and highlight their story, long overdue in its telling.

Graves, long considered Canada’s foremost expert on the War of 1812, is a member of the Minister of Canadian Heritage’s Advisory Committee on the Bi-Centennial of the War of 1812.

He is the only non-American member of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Scholarly Advisory Committee on Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields and the only non-British member of the Heritage Advisory Board of the Royal Armouries of Britain.

He has authored or co-authored at least a dozen books and articles, and has worked as a historian for Parks Canada, Canada’s National Historic Sites Service, the National Library and Archives of Canada, and the National Defence Directorate of History.

Graves was the lead heritage advisor on the preservation of the Chippawa battlefield of the War of 1812 and served as a historical consultant for a number of documentaries on the war, including a production by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) in 2011.

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Dr. Richard Barbuto, author, professor and former deputy director of the Department of Military History at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, returns to the podium to present his discussion, “Daniel D. Tompkins: War Governor, 1812 to 1815.”

This talk examines the politics behind war, which was a shared activity between federal and state governments in the early days of this country.

New York State Governor Tompkins was a political ally of President James Madison and an enthusiastic supporter of the war effort.

He was commander-in-chief of the state’s militia, which was quite possibly larger than that of the federal government, and charged with defending its borders on multiple fronts.

Here, the audience will learn how he rose to the challenge.

Dr. Barbuto served in the U.S. Army for 23 years, completing tours in Germany, Korea, and Canada; where he also operated as an exchange instructor at the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College in Toronto, Ontario.

He specializes in the U.S. Army in the early republic and the War of 1812 and has written several books and articles on the subject as it happened along the Canadian border.

Currently, he is working on a study of New York State in the War of 1812.

The symposium runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 2 and from 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday, April 3.

Students will present research papers in the third annual student competition to open the symposium at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 1.

Registration for both days is $50 per person or $35 for students with a valid ID.

The registration fee includes Saturday’s lunch, refreshment breaks on Saturday and Sunday and workshop materials.

One-day registration is also available: $35 for Saturday, including lunch or $25 for Sunday.

For students with a valid ID, one day rates are $20 for Saturday, including lunch or $15 for Sunday.

Advance registration is required and may be paid by check or credit card through the Friends of Fort Ontario. Contact Lear at 315-343-4711 for credit card payments Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Checks should be made payable to “Friends of Fort Ontario – 1812” and mailed to the Fort Ontario State Historic Site, 1 E. Fourth St., Oswego, NY 13126.

Special room rates for symposium attendees are available at the Best Western Plus Captain’s Quarters Hotel, 26 E. First St., Oswego.

Please call the hotel at 315-342-4040 and mention the Oswego War of 1812 Symposium.

This year’s symposium is sponsored by the Friends of Fort Ontario, Sackets Harbor Battlefield Alliance, Oswego County Tourism Advisory Council, The Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center, New York State Archives Partnership Trust, Ensign Heritage Group, SUNY Oswego, the Palladium-Times, Man in the Moon Candies, Oswego County Today, Oswego Elks Lodge #271, City of Oswego, and the Oswego County Department of Community Development, Tourism and Planning.

For a complete schedule or to register online, go to

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