Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

June 12, 2014

Battle for empire returns to Fort Niagara during July 4 weekend

Niagara Gazette — Old Fort Niagara will hold its 35th annual French and Indian War Encampment July 4-6. The event is the largest re-enactment of the year at the fort and features hundreds of authentically clad French, British and Native American participants.

Recreating the historic siege of Fort Niagara in 1759, the event features large-scale battle reenactments at 2 p.m. each day, expansive living history camps, period music, hands-on activities for children and dozens of 18th century artisans and merchants. New this year will be a woodland re-enactment of the crucial Battle of La Belle Famille and a recreation of the funeral of General John Prideaux, the British commander who was killed during the siege.

The event begins on the morning of Friday, July 4 when all of the troops and Native warriors assemble for a grand parade and trooping of the colors. This is followed by a French and Indian attack on a frontier settlement. Next, young people will have a chance to “enlist” in the New York Provincial forces to help the British capture Fort Niagara from the French. At noon the British Indian agent, Sir William Johnson, will council with leaders of the Six Nations to secure their support for an attack on Fort Niagara. At 2 p.m. both sides will mass their troops for a battle reenactment that recreates a British assault on Fort Niagara’s outer works. This will be followed at 3 p.m. by a French artillery bombardment.

The event’s second day will open with a Native American lacrosse game, followed by a dramatic recreation of a council between Native leaders and the Fort’s commander, in which the French persuade the Natives to withdraw from the British side. At noon, visitors will learn about the nuts and bolts of 18th century siege warfare as British engineers demonstrate how a besieging army dug their way toward the Fort’s outer walls. This will be followed by an artillery demonstration involving multiple guns, howitzers and mortars. At 2 p.m. the French will launch a counterattack hoping to drive the British Army away from the Fort. Following the battle, reenactors will present two programs; Kids Drill, a chance for young people to enlist in the Fort’s garrison and 18th Century Games. At 3:30 p.m. French artillery will once again open fire, portraying the increasingly desperate situation of the Fort’s defenders.

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