As New London gets ready to celebrate OpSail 2012, the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812, the U.S. Custom House Maritime Museum in New London will be marking the occasion with an exhibit commemorating a collection of Robert Bachman.
Bachman, a former history teacher at Waterford High School in the late 1960s, began researching a book that would discuss the War of 1812’s impact to Long Island Sound and our regional towns of New London, Mystic, Stonington, Niantic, and Essex.
While the book was never written, Ruth Reluga, Bachman’s niece, has given Bachman’s archive to the Frank L. McGuire Maritime Library inside the U.S. Custom House.
According to Librarian Brian Rogers, the collection includes “photocopies of naval manuscripts and images from the national archives of Great Britain and the United States, copies of pages from New London’s Connecticut Gazette reporting war news, published articles, and pages copied from books obtained on interlibrary loan through the Waterford Public Library.”
Bachman’s interest in the War of 1812 led him to England in 1970 where he obtained documents from the Public Records Office and other depositories.
“There are not too many who have written on the war in this area,” Linda Deredita, volunteer cataloguer of the library, said.
Susan Tamulvich, Director of the U.S. Custom House, said that some of the papers will be on display as part of the center’s War of 1812 exhibit which will be open during OpSail and throughout the month of July.
The exhibit also showcases information from “Perilous Fight: America’s Intrepid War With Britain on the High Sears, 1812-1815” by Stpehen Budiansky and “The Battle of Stonington: Torpedoes, Submarines, and Rockets in the War of 1812” by James Tertius De Kay.
While the papers and books will only be part of a changeable exhibit area which was just recently put on display, they will always be housed in the library for researchers to access.
The War of 1812 exhibit will also feature an experimental racing sailboat by Kevin Ferrar along with two Buffalo artifacts with one of those being an American officer’s hat with feathers and a hat box.
The name of the former officer has not been released but he was a local resident.
Tamulvich said the owner of the hat did not want to loan it out for a several month long exhibit at the Lyman Art Museum and instead chose to loan it for a few weeks to the Custom House.
Those parts of the exhibit should be up by the end of June.
The Lyman Art Museum is also doing an exhibit entitled “The Rockets’ Red Glare: Connecticut and the War of 1812” from July 6 to December 31.
The museum is hosting an opening reception July 6 from 6pm to 8 pm which is being sponsored by Connecticut Explored magazine. A tour will be conducted by Fred Calabretta, Curator of Collections of the Mystic Seaport Museum and a guest curator for the exhibit.
This year, OpSail will run concurrently with Sail Fest, dubbed on their website as “southeastern Connecticut’s premiere summertime event”.