This article was corrected on Dec. 31, 2013. An explanation follows the story.
While trying to construct a monument that would commemorate the War of 1812’s Battle of Bladensburg proved challenging, retreating was never an option, said John Giannetti, chairman of the Bladensburg-based Aman Memorial Trust.
“It’s been a very difficult process and I refer to it as the ‘second Battle of Bladensburg,’” Giannetti said with a laugh. “But we’re getting further along every day.”
The trust, a historical preservation nonprofit, cleared a major milestone Dec. 5 in the project’s construction after the memorial’s centerpiece was set into its concrete base.
Joanna Blake of Cottage City crafted the latest addition — a 8-by-10 foot bronze sculpture deemed “Undaunted in Battle.”
Blake’s effort features noteworthy figures from the battle including Commodore Joshua Barney, a naval officer who was wounded during the fight and Charles Ball, a former slave who served in Barney’s flotilla. An unnamed marine is also featured in the piece.
Giannetti said the trust wanted to build a suitable monument that paid tribute to those who lost their lives trying to defend the nation’s capital. The project officially broke ground on Sept. 13, 2013.
“[We wanted] to show that even though the battle was lost, some of the militia and the marines refused to retreat and tried to stop the British,” he said. “Many of them were killed and a lot of them were wounded. These guys deserved recognition.”
Giannetti, a Prince George’s County native, has worked in historic preservation for over 40 years and is a former president of the Prince George’s County Historical Society. He currently lives in Arnold, but his company, Giannetti Studios, an architectural sculpting and restoration firm, is in Brentwood.
The next phase in the monument’s construction is to install a $50,000 granite Battle of Bladensburg marker, which will contain information about the battle, battlefield and a narrative summary of the battle with quotations, maps and graphics.
But trying to acquire adequate funding during the country’s recent economic crisis has been a challenge, Giannetti said.
To date, the Aman Memorial Trust has raised $70,000 to fund the $300,000 project. Additional funds were raised by the Friends of the Battle of Bladensburg, the Anacostia Heritage Trails Area, the Port Towns Community Development Corp. and the Maryland-National Capital Park Planning and Commission. A state bond bill contributed $125,000 toward the project’s construction.
Organizers hope to complete the memorial in the spring as the official dedication is scheduled for Aug. 23 to coincide with this summer’s bicentennial celebration of the War of 1812.
Aaron Marcavitch of the Battle of Bladensburg Task Force said the celebration will include fireworks, reenactments and a host of other activities.
“This will be something that is on the battlefield,” he said. “It will be something that people can see every day [to remind] them that this was a significant moment in American history that happened right here in Bladensburg.”
Correction: The official groundbreaking was on Sept. 13, 2013.