Sometimes called the Second War of Independence, the Battle of Plattsburgh occurred 200 years ago.
One of the heroes of the day was a young man from Detroit.
Born in 1782 in what was then British-held territory, he left his wealthy family in 1799 to join the US Army.
By the War of 1812, he held the position of brigadier general in the Army.
Shortly after the British burned Washington, they planned to attack the north from their stronghold in Canada.
In September with his forces outnumbered 10 to 1, the brigadier general squeezed the British soldiers into narrow areas and dead ends.
By utilizing the terrain to the US Army’s advantage, his smaller forces defeated the British on September 11, 1814.
After his success, the US Army promoted him to Major General.
Within a couple of months, the Congress of the United States approved and presented the Congressional Gold Medal to General Macomb.
“Resolved, That the thanks of Congress be, and they are hereby presented to Major General Macomb, and, through him, to the officers and men of the regular army under his command, and to the militia and volunteers of New York and Vermont, for their gallantry and good conduct, in defeating the enemy at Plattsburg on the eleventh of September; repelling, with one thousand five hundred men, aided by a body of militia and volunteers from New York and Vermont, a British veteran army, greatly superior in number, and that the President of the United States be requested to cause a gold medal to be struck, emblematical of this triumph, and presented to Major General Macomb. APPROVED, November 3, 1814.”
Years later, the people of Detroit recognized their brave son with a statue.
They commissioned a relatively young and relatively unknown artist by the name of Adolph Alexander Weinman to construct a statue honoring Macomb.
In 1906, Weinman sculpted the statue. When cast in bronze, the casting company supposedly used melted cannons from the War of 1812 for the figure.
In describing Weinman’s work, the book “Art in Detroit Places” claimed he “portrayed Macomb as a dashing officer whose vitality is suggested by the slightly off-center stance of the figure and furl of the wind-blown cape.”