Regiment drawing attention to Newfoundland’s contribution during War of 1812
A Newfoundland soldier who died almost 200 years ago and is interred on a remote Ohio island has been remembered.
In late October, Lt.-Col. Alex Brennan, commander of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, laid a wreath at the monument where Lt. James Garden rests with other officers who died during the Battle of Lake Erie.
“There was a great sense of pride knowing that a generation of soldiers lost 200 years ago has not been forgotten,” Brennan said of the experience.
Garden was a member of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, which fought for the British during the War of 1812.
The Battle of Lake Erie took place Sept. 10, 1813 as part of the conflict between the Brits and the Americans.
According to Brennan, the British fleet included a large contingent — about 25 per cent of it — from the Newfoundland unit.
Garden was responsible for canons on a ship and was one of six officers (three on each side) who died during the campaign.
The Americans would win what would be considered one of the 20 greatest naval battles of all time, and the U.S. commander decided to bury all the deceased officers together.
One hundred years later, the U.S. Congress recognized the importance of Lake Erie, and the War of 1812. It earmarked $1 million to build Perry’s Victory and International Peace Monument in Put-In Bay, Ohio.
The bodies of the six officers were exhumed and interred under the monument.
Almost 200 years after the campaign, Brennan learned of Garden while researching Newfoundland’s role in the War of 1812.
He was heading to Virginia for a conference and got permission to stop over at the 352-foot high monument and lay a wreath during a small ceremony that also involved two U.S. parks officials.
Brennan also used the opportunity to find out more about what the park was doing to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
He said he’d like to tie in some of those commemorations with events being planned in this province.
The goal, he said, is to let Newfoundlanders and Labradorians know the regiment played a “pivotal role” in the War of 1812.
“Newfoundlanders paid the price in blood and sweat and tears in ensuring that British North America could exist as it was.”
That helped foster the conditions that led to the birth of Canada, he explained.
It’s good to know, he added, that the last province to join this country played a critical role in defending Canada’s interests before it was born.
That fact just added to the significance of the recent wreath laying, Brennan said.
“It seemed like an appropriate thing to do, to lay a wreath for those who gave everything so that we could have a chance to succeed as a nation.”