If you've ever wished for some hands-on experience firing historic cannons and muskets, the staff at Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial may have a deal for you. The park is looking for "highly-dedicated volunteers to assist NPS staff in operating the park's carronade (cannon) and musket firing demonstrations."
This year marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812, and Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial tells the story of the Battle of Lake Erie—one of the most significant American victories in the War of 1812.
Home of Perry's Famous Quotation
The battle is perhaps best-known today for a quotation from the American naval commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, who composed his now famous message to William Henry Harrison on the back on an old envelope: "Dear General: We have met the enemy and they are ours…"
A popular activity for park visitors is the weekend living history demonstrations. At the conclusion of a talk about the battle, rangers and volunteers—dressed in War of 1812 military and civilian uniforms—conduct a firing demonstration of reproduction flintlock muskets. On scheduled weekends there are also firing demonstrations of a reproduction 32-pounder carronade (cannon).
Bicentennial Raises Public Interest in War of 1812
Interest in those demonstrations has grown as a result of The War of 1812 Bicentennial; a park spokesperson says the anniversary "is attracting a lot of attention in northern Ohio, so many civic and social groups are turning to the National Park Service for help at their events." As a result, there's a need for additional volunteers to help with those demonstrations.
"This is an excellent way for community members to get involved in a hands-on manner. Participants will have an opportunity to understand what it may have been like for Perry's gunners operating a carronade at the Battle of Lake Erie, or for General W.H. Harrison's soldiers fighting at the Battle of the Thames," said Perry's Victory & International Peace Memorial Superintendent Blanca Alvarez Stransky.
From a practical standpoint, participants need to live within a reasonable travel time from western Lake Erie—northern Ohio or southeastern Michigan. The park is located within the Village of Put-in-Bay, on South Bass Island in Lake Erie.
"Safety is a paramount concern for the NPS," Stransky said, "So a great amount of time is spent on drilling, and learning how to move safely and efficiently in a confined environment. It is not much different than what the soldiers and sailors experienced in 1813."
Training and Period Uniforms for Recruits
Perry's Victory staff will train the new recruits and issue a period uniform to those that complete the training and are ready, willing, and able to volunteer their services throughout the summer.
Carronade crew members can attend one of two sessions, on either May 19 and 20 or June 1 and 2. Training for the musket firing will be held in June; you'll find the schedule at this link.
If you'd like to sign-up for the training, call the park secretary, Eva Marie Morris, at 419-285-2184. For additional information about the training or other requirements, please contact Chief of Interpretation Sue Judis at 419-285-2184.