A British soldier, serving at Fort Niagara during the 18th century, got one holiday a year: the King’s Birthday. To celebrate, the fort’s garrison was turned out in new uniforms and powdered hair. At noon, the artillery fired a “Royal Salute,” followed by three volleys of musketry.
On June 4, Old Fort Niagara will recreate this celebration with a series of living history programs about the British Army during the 1770s. At that time, the British monarch was King George III, who was born on June 4, 1738, in London.
Visitors to the event will witness artillery and musket salutes and a new program titled “Busting Battlefield Myths.”
A press release stated, “American schoolchildren are often taught that the British Army during the American Revolution was slow, hidebound and vulnerable, dressing in bright red coats and standing in the open. In reality, the British army was tactically innovative, winning most of the battles in which it was engaged. Visitors will learn how the British modified their tactics to deal with the realities of North American warfare.”
What about those red coats? Another new program features dressing the soldier from shirt and breeches to full uniform and equipment. Visitors will learn about various components of the soldier’s uniform and why they were designed the way they were.
At 2 p.m., visitors can participate in a toast to King George drawn directly from 18th century records. The toast will be followed by a rendition of “God Save the King.”
Fort Niagara was also a strategic meeting place between British officials and Native American leaders. Programs throughout the day will demonstrate the interaction between soldiers and Native people who came to the fort to trade, negotiate and receive critical supplies.
OFN added, “King George III is often viewed as a villain who presided over the British war effort during the American Revolution. To soldiers at Fort Niagara, however, the King’s Birthday was something to look forward to.”
Visit www.oldfortniagara.org or call 716-745-7611 for more information and a full schedule of activities.