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New this summer: War of 1812 Grand Encampment features hundreds of re-enactors & more demonstrations

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Thu, Jul 19th 2018 10:50 am
Battle demonstrations will happen twice daily at Old Fort Niagara during the War of 1812 Grand Encampment on July 28 and 29, and some of them will involve naval boats on Lake Ontario. This weekend-long event will attract hundreds of re-enactors from the U.S. and Canada and will be active with living-history demonstrations both days. (Photo by Wayne Peters)
Battle demonstrations will happen twice daily at Old Fort Niagara during the War of 1812 Grand Encampment on July 28 and 29, and some of them will involve naval boats on Lake Ontario. This weekend-long event will attract hundreds of re-enactors from the U.S. and Canada and will be active with living-history demonstrations both days. (Photo by Wayne Peters)
Old Fort Niagara will host the largest War of 1812 event in its history on July 28-29. The fort was selected by the War of 1812 Grand Tactical Committee to host its biggest annual event, the War of 1812 Grand Encampment, which attracts hundreds of re-enactors from the U.S. and Canada and will feature U.S. and British land forces, naval vessels, personnel and artillery, Native allies, tactical demonstrations and living-history programming. The event is July 28-29.
The grand encampment brings to life the conflict between the U.S. and Britain that resulted in battles of artillery and muskets, as well as destructive fires, along a then-contentious border between the U.S. and Canada. Fort Niagara was under American control when the war began until the British made a surprise attack in December 1813, which resulted in the fort being surrendered to the British.
"We're anticipating a large turnout of re-enactors for this grand encampment and are excited to welcome them and visitors for an exciting weekend of living history," said Robert Emerson, executive director of the Old Fort Niagara Association. "The naval aspect of this event, with boats sailing on Lake Ontario, will make this a fresh experience for visitors. The event will be similar in size to the annual French and Indian War Encampment, but will feature history from 1812 and 1813."
Visitors will have a chance to learn about soldiers' and sailors' uniforms, weaponry, drills and life in service; watch large-scale battle demonstrations; participate in regency country dancing with instruction provided; attend an history lecture; and kids can join a wooden-musket army and play games. A detailed schedule follows.
Program Schedule
Note: Visitors should arrive an hour before battles to allow time to get through admissions and to the viewing areas.
Saturday, July 28
  • 9 a.m. Fort opens
  • 9:30 a.m. morning formations: British and American soldiers assemble in their camps wearing period military clothing and presenting their colors (flags)
  • 9:45 a.m. battalion drill: Demonstrations of manual exercises by soldiers
  • 11 a.m. first action by combined naval and land forces: The Americans defend their territory from a British naval attack on Lake Ontario
  • Noon concert of military music: Old Fort Niagara's field musicians perform on fifes and drums
  • 1 p.m. uniforms of the War of 1812: Learn about the different military uniforms worn by soldiers and sailors
  • 2 p.m. regency country dancing (public participation, no prior experience needed): Instruction provided for learning period-style country dances
  • 2 p.m. lecture presentation: "December 1813: The Fall of Fort Niagara and the Burning of Buffalo" presented by author Dr. Richard Barbuto
  • 3 p.m. artillery demo: Cannon-firing demonstration
  • 4 p.m. British assault on the fort, part 1: The British attack the American-held fort
  • 5 p.m. recruiting party (kids' program): Children are invited to choose sides and perform a mock battle using wooden muskets
  • 6 p.m. concert of military music: Old Fort Niagara's field musicians perform on fifes and drums
  • 6:30 p.m. Last public entry (fort closes at 7 p.m.)
At 2 p.m. July 28 and 10 a.m. July 29, visitors can partake in regency country dancing at the War of 1812 Grand Encampment. Instruction is provided and no previous dance experience or special clothing is required. (Photo by Wayne Peters)
Sunday, July 29
  • 9 a.m. Fort opens
  • 9:30 a.m. morning formations: British and American soldiers assemble in their camps wearing period military clothing and presenting their colors (flags)
  • 9:45 a.m. battalion drill: Demonstrations of manual exercises by soldiers
  • 10 a.m. regency country dancing (public participation, no prior experience needed): Instruction provided for learning period-style country dances
  • 11 a.m. British naval threat repulsed by massed U.S. artillery: American forces bombard approaching British boats with cannon fire
  • 11:45 a.m. uniforms of the War of 1812: Learn about the different military uniforms worn by soldiers and sailors
  • 12:30 p.m. soldiers' drill competition: Soldiers will show off their skills
  • 1 p.m. concert of military music: Old Fort Niagara's field musicians perform on fifes and drums
  • 2 p.m. British assault on the fort, part 2: The British attack the American-held fort. Who will prevail?
  • 3:15 p.m. kids' games (Kids' Program): Children are invited to learn period games that occupied soldiers in the 19th century
  • 4 p.m. musket demo: A fort soldier will share the history of the musket and demonstrate how it was fired
  • 5 p.m. musket demo: A fort soldier will share the history of the musket and demonstrate how it was fired
  • 6 p.m. musket demo: A fort soldier will share the history of the musket and demonstrate how it was fired
  • 6:30 p.m. Last public entry (fort closes at 7 p.m.)
Ongoing activities, both days: surgical display - castle, 1st floor: 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily; soldiers'/sailors' Life: U.S., British and naval camps
The fort's Bachelor Officers' Quarters and its New Fort Niagara displays (post-Civil War through 1963) will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Food, snacks, drinks and ice cream will be available for sale from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the log cabin.
Everything is included with admission: $13 for adults, $9 for children ages 6-12, and free for kids ages 5 and under. Admission is also free for Old Fort Niagara Association members.
Other Summer Events at Fort Niagara
•Ongoing: "Flintlocks and Council Fires" (daily summer program)
Daily programs explore the history of Native American, French, British and U.S. soldiers and camp followers who lived here between 1726 and 1815. Regular musket and cannon firings, field music, cooking and other history interpretation ongoing daily.
•July 7-Oct. 8: Lighthouse open the public (noon-3 p.m. daily)
Free admission for visitors; must be at least 4 feet tall and sign a waiver.
•Aug. 18-19: Soldiers of the Revolution (re-enactment)
Life on the New York Frontier during the American Revolution. Period camps, musket and artillery demonstrations, military battles and activities for kids.
Old Fort Niagara (www.oldfortniagara.org) is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in July and August. Admissions end 30 minutes before closing.

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