Old Fort Niagara reports that two special events scheduled for Thanksgiving week will take visitors back in time 200 years to November 1812 when forts Niagara and George faced each other across a hostile border.
On Nov. 21, 1812, a truce that followed the Battle of Queenston ended and the forts engaged in a vicious, all-day artillery duel that U.S. Army Col. George McFeely described as "the most tremendous cannonading I have ever seen." It was during this bombardment that military wife Betsy Doyle stepped into history by carrying hot shot to a cannon on the roof of the French Castle.
Old Fort Niagara will commemorate the bicentennial of the fight with a special illustrated lecture on Doyle on Wednesday, Nov. 21, at 10 a.m., in the historic site's Visitor Center. Speaker for the program will be Catherine Emerson, Niagara County historian, who recently discovered and documented Mrs. Doyle's fate.
Later in the week, visitors will have the opportunity to join a nocturnal tour of the fort focused on the site's role in the War of 1812. The tour takes place Saturday, Nov. 24, beginning at 7 p.m.
"Visitors will learn about the 1812 battles that took place right in our own backyard," said Robert Emerson, executive director of Old Fort Niagara. "The Niagara region featured very prominently during the War of 1812. So many troops fought in this area that it is estimated that approximately 50 percent of all wartime casualties occurred in this region. Fort Niagara has a very rich history during this period, including five major engagements with Fort George.
"This walking tour will explain in vivid detail Fort Niagara's role during the war from 1812 to 1815. The program will conclude with an explanation of uniforms, gear, and equipment used by the military during this conflict."
To participate in the tour, call 716-745-7611 and reserve your spot. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Price is $20 per person.