Niagara Gazette

War of 1812

December 16, 2012

Event brings nearly 200-year-old burning of Lewiston to life

Event brings nearly 200-year-old burning of Lewiston to life

Niagara Gazette — Blood-curdling screams pierced the night air. Flames rose to the sky on Center Street. Musket fire and horns signaled the start and end of a battle the likes no one had ever witnessed.

Any onlooker Saturday night unfamiliar with the Flames Through Lewiston event might have thought the village was in serious jeopardy.

But it wasn’t. Instead, the rich history of the Dec. 19, 1813 burning came to life before about 150 curious and, ultimately, thankful viewers, despite the chill in the air and the sprinkles of rain drops falling from the heavens.

“It was very informative,” Lewiston resident Gary Tebo said. “And the music played added a lot to it. Without it, it probably would have been less interesting.”

Tebo, there with his wife, Nancy, said he watched last year as reenactors created a vivid picture of life in the war era.

He said the world they experienced, as their world came to a screeching halt thanks to invading British soldiers who burned Lewiston to the ground and, eventually, did the same to the City of Buffalo days later, was a little different than even the reenactors could portray.

“We’re dressed for this (the weather),” he said. “They weren’t. They weren’t prepared. They had to leave their houses immediately.”

Several moments in the show brought reactions from the crowd, including gasps as Mohawk tribesmen, siding with the English during the war, “slaughtered” residents trying to flee the British attackers. But the gasps were short lived as the audience quickly started to cheer as the Tuscarora Nation quickly came to the aid of the villagers and escorted them to safety, just like the events 199 years ago.

The cheers and even “thank you’s” from the onlookers caught the attention of at least one of the natives in attendance Saturday.

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