Old Fort Niagara announces its largest re-enactment of the year, the French and Indian War Encampment, July 2-4, when the National Historic Landmark will portray the 1759 Siege of Fort Niagara in new and interactive ways for the public.
Hundreds of French, British and Native re-enactors will gather at Old Fort Niagara to realistically depict the events of July 1759, when British and provincial forces, alongside their Native allies, laid siege to Fort Niagara for 19 days. The event also features a large camp of 18th century merchants and artisans.
New to this annual event will be:
•Construction and exhibition of the British sap, or trench, outside the visitors center, to portray the offensive strategy used by the British to approach and attack Fort Niagara during the 19-day siege.
•Battles, tours, programs and activities will be different every day as re-enactors present a timeline of actual occurrences from the conflict over the event's three days.
•New interpretive tours and vignettes that share historical background information and explain the circumstances that led to specific actions being portrayed.
•$30 three-day pass (available July 2 only) offers visitors a discount on multiple day admission.
"This year's re-enactment has been designed with visitor interest and engagement in mind," said Robert Emerson, executive director of Old Fort Niagara. "Our staff invested time over the winter to dissect the siege and then translate it into an interactive and engaging three-day timeline of events for the public, who can look forward to exciting battles plus new tours and new features that will teach them about - and involve them in - the circumstances that led to the British victory and French defeat at Fort Niagara in 1759."
Special features during the event include: engineering and exhibition of 18th century trench defenses; French women sewing sandbags and powder bags, and treating the wounded; kids learning manual exercises with wooden muskets and playing period games; British artillery firing on the French and French firing on the British; Natives and French trading furs for European goods; British and French preparing food and feeding the troops; Natives playing lacrosse; and French and British sutlers (period merchants) demonstrating and selling handmade products, such as pottery, ironworks, clothing, soap and food.
French and Indian War and Fort Niagara's Role
In the 18th century, New France's Fort Niagara occupied a strategic gateway to the inner continent of North America via the Niagara River's connection to the Great Lakes region and subsequent waterways. From 1754-60, France and Britain battled for control of these areas while also fighting the Seven Years War on European soil. Following a 19-day British siege on the fort in July 1759, France finally lost its hold on Fort Niagara and thereby lost the western gateway to the heart of the continent.
Under the terms of the treaty that ended the war, Britain took control of Canada and the Great Lakes region. The war's cost led to new taxes on the king's American subjects, which spawned political unrest in the 13 colonies. Colonists like George Washington gained their first military experience during the conflict. This experience would serve them well during the subsequent War of American Independence.
Admission to the French and Indian War Encampment is $13 per person per day, or $30 for a three-day pass (available July 2 only). For more information, visit www.oldfortniagara.org.