News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 28, 2014
Labor Day marks 200th anniversary of British landing in Castine
Historical society exhibit tells the story

The French general of the Castine landing

This pastel portrait of General Gosselin as a boy of approximately 14 serving in the British marines—long before he arrived in Castine on September 1, 1814— is on exhibit at the Castine Historical Society. (Loaned to CHS for exhibit by Ken Martin)

Photo courtesy of Castine Historical Society

Monday, September 1—Labor Day—marks the 200th anniversary of the landing of British troops at Castine under the command of Generals John Sherbrooke and Gerard Gosselin. In 1814, the British quickly fortified the Castine peninsula, intending to control Downeast Maine, from Castine to the St. Croix River. They had hoped to establish the Penobscot River as the new Canadian border at the close of the War of 1812, according to a news release.

Castine Historical Society’s 2014 seasonal exhibit, titled “Mr. Madison’s War”—Castine and the War of 1812, tells the story of the war and Castine’s occupation.

September 1 also marks the final day of the society’s summer exhibit schedule. After Labor Day, the society’s exhibits will be open to the public Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except for Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m., and available only by advance appointment on other weekdays. School classes and other groups are encouraged to make appointments to view the exhibits. All CHS exhibits will close for the season on Monday, October 13, and the “Mr. Madison’s War” exhibit will be taken down at that time.

The Castine Historical Society’s War of 1812 exhibit features many artifacts and materials on loan from other institutions and private collections. The exhibit includes volume one of the Castine Town Records open to May 26, 1813, and the resolution protesting the “unjust and unnecessary war.” Like the populations of many New England coastal towns, Castine residents were hit hard economically by war with a major naval power. Visitors to the exhibit will see in the town records the complaint that the war “sealed the destruction of Commerce and exposed our extensive and unprotected coast to the invasions and depredations of a powerful enemy.”

In addition to the seasonal exhibit on the War of 1812 in Castine, the Society offers a permanent exhibit on the Penobscot Expedition of 1779, the Castine Community Bicentennial Quilt, and a gift shop. For more information on exhibits and events, including the recently announced plans for the replica French frigate Hermione to visit Castine in July 2015—or to make an appointment to see the exhibit outside the posted exhibit hours—visit CHS online at, email or call 326-4118.