French and Indian War Encampment this weekend
More than 500 re-enactors will collaborate to recreate the 1759 British siege of Fort Niagara in an historic setting this weekend, during Old Fort Niagara's French and Indian War Encampment.
Large-scale battle re-enactments will occur at 2 p.m. daily. French camps, games and merchants will be within the fort walls, and British camps, games and merchants will be in sections of the state park just outside the fort.
Event organizers point out the French and Indian War (1754-60) was very costly to the triumphant British and led to new taxes on the king's American subjects. This, in turn, spawned political unrest in the 13 colonies, with prominent figures such as Gen. George Washington gaining military experience during this war. It would go to serve him well during the subsequent war for American independence.
Events at the fort include:
Saturday, July 4
•10 a.m. - Lacrosse. Watch Native and European players in a traditional game of lacrosse, known as "the little brother of war."
•11 a.m. - French Native Council. Frontier diplomacy continues as Kaendae brokers a Native American withdrawal from the siege.
•11 a.m. to 1 p.m. - Book signing with David L. Preston, author of "Braddock's Defeat."
•Noon - Siege tour, engineering and artillery demonstration. Learn how the British intended to approach the fort by trenching toward its walls. Discover their plans for bombarding the fort and see guns, howitzers and mortars fired at the fort.
•1:15 p.m. - Concert of military music. Enjoy popular tunes of the 1750s and find out how musicians played a vital role in the life of the 18th century military.
•1:45 p.m. - Military engineering demonstration. Find out how an 18th century siege was laid and the role of military engineers in reducing a well-defended fort.
•2 p.m. - Battle re-enactment. French soldiers launch a spontaneous counterattack against the British positions.
•3 p.m. - Kids drill (youth program). Enlist in the French Army and be trained to defend the fort.
•3 to 5 p.m. - Book signing with Preston.
•3:30 p.m. - French artillery bombardment. See the French fire their big guns from the Dauphin Battery.
•4 p.m. - 18th century games.
•4:30 p.m. - Cricket match in the British camp
•5 and 6 p.m. - Musket demonstrations.
Sunday, July 5
•10:30 a.m. - Board shuttles to La Belle Famille
•11 a.m. - Re-enactment of the Battle of La Belle Famille
•Noon - French artillery demonstration.
•1:15 p.m. - Concert of military music.
•2 p.m. - Battle re-enactment. Watch as an increasingly desperate French garrison tries to withstand a British attack. British forces have moved closer to the fort and now bring devastating fire to bear on the fort's walls.
•2:45 p.m. - Surrender ceremonies. With a breach blown in the fort's wall and the French relief force defeated at La Belle Famille, the fort's commandant, Capt. Pierre Pouchot, surrenders the post.
•3 p.m. - British military funeral. Now in possession of the fort, the British must bury their dead, including their leader, Gen. John Prideaux.
The weekend includes 18th century merchants and artisans, including several from Colonial Williamsburg demonstrating their crafts, plus living history camps, food practices, military medicine, fur trading, guard mount, special displays and more.
For more information, visit www.oldfortniagara.org.