Walk in footsteps of history and relive Battle of La Belle Famille
Old Fort Niagara Press Releases
Old Fort Niagara and the Town of Porter Historical Society are joining forces to commemorate the Battle of La belle Famille with a free walking tour at 7 p.m. Monday, July 24.
The battle was fought on July 24, 1759, in the final days of the siege of Fort Niagara during the French and Indian War. About 800 French soldiers attempted to break through to relieve the siege of Fort Niagara, but were defeated by British troops who blocked the road from Niagara Falls to the fort. The battle took place where the Village of Youngstown stands today.
Historical interpreters, dressed as soldiers who took part in the epic battle, will describe how the action unfolded early on the morning of July 24, 1759.
British soldiers, along with New York provincial troops and Native American allies, besieged French-held Fort Niagara from July 6-25, 1759. Early in the siege, the fort’s commander, Capt. Pierre Pouchot, dispatched messengers to summon French and Native American reinforcements from Venango (modern-day Franklin, Pennsylvania). About 1,300 men responded to the call and beached their boats above Niagara Falls on the night of July 23.
On the morning of July 24, they marched north on the Portage Road (modern-day Route 18F) headed for Fort Niagara. The British commander, Sir William Johnson, warned of the attack by Native allies, dispatched a small force to block the road just north of the junction of modern Lockport and Main streets. At 8 a.m., the French column ran directly into the British force, which numbered 464 soldiers. In the brief but decisive battle that followed, some 250 French soldiers were killed or wounded and the survivors fled for their lives. The next day, Fort Niagara surrendered to the British.
The free walking tour will meet at 7 p.m. in Falkner Park, adjacent to the original battle site. Participants are asked to dress for the weather and wear comfortable walking shoes. For more information, call the fort at 716-745-7611 or visit www.oldfortniagara.org.
‘Reverberations of Revolution’
Old Fort Niagara will host a special event titled “Reverberations of Revolution” on July 22-23. The two-day event will focus on the War for Independence on the New York Frontier. Visitors will learn about weapons and tactics of the American Revolution, and Fort Niagara’s role in the conflict.
Although far from the theaters of combat, Fort Niagara played a significant role in the war. The fort was held by the British and served as a base for raids against the New York and Pennsylvania frontiers. British frontier diplomats concluded important treaties with Native American allies at the fort, and the area around the fort became a destination for thousands of loyalist refugees.
Programs begin at 10 a.m. each day with the raising of colors of the United States and Great Britain. At 11 a.m., reenactors portraying British redcoats will demonstrate military tactics of the era, dispelling myths that British soldiers lacked the skills to fight in North America.
Raids on frontier settlements often brought back prisoners – and visitors will witness the narratives of these captives at 11:30 a.m. This will be followed by an artillery demonstration at noon and infantry tactical demonstration at 1 p.m.
Due to ongoing violence on the New York frontier, many refugees who were loyal to King George III fled to Fort Niagara. Visitors will have the opportunity to learn about these displaced persons in an interactive program at 1:30 p.m. An artillery firing demonstration will take place at 2 p.m., and a concert of military music will be presented at 2:30 p.m.
At 3 p.m., reenactors will demonstrate the difference between muskets and rifles and explain why most soldiers in the conflict were armed with the former. This will be followed by a presentation at 3:30 p.m. on the Native American experience during the Revolution.
A musket demonstration will end the day, with an explanation of how a flintlock musket works and how it determined the tactics used on the battlefield.
Ongoing programs throughout the day include 18th century games, soldier life, defending the New York frontier and the fur trade. More information is available by calling 716-745-7611 or visiting www.oldfortniagara.org.