Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The Siege of Fort Erie 2013

I haven't written much in a while... mostly because I was saving up stuff for a "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" issue. However, there is too much to say about the reenactment of the Siege of Fort Erie this year.
In a word, it was tremendous!
My family and I and Tyler arrived on Friday afternoon and set up our "cook's tent" and our one wedge tent in the American camp. More folks trickled in - Jared and Brandi, Kevin, Tina, and Kevin's kids. Andy day-tripped with his son on Saturday, staying with relatives in Hamilton, ON. Our camp had plenty of visitors and that was always enjoyable. (A big salute to Captain Ollie of the 22nd US, who served as camp quartermaster. He set us up just fine.) The weather was wonderful and we experienced the true signs of a great reenactment - an empty cartridge box, dry canvas, and epically bad jokes. Even the attempted infiltration of our tent by a local vole did not dampen our spirits.
Saturday morning - Major Buck's surrender and the surrender of the fort to the US forces. This is a small action with all the US forces and maybe half of the Crown forces. It ends with the Crown forces marching out with armed reversed and the US forces taking the fort and mounting guards at the gates. Units took turns on a half-hour (more or less) rotation. Jared and I had attended the NCO's meeting on Friday night and we both served as corporal for the combined 17th US Infantry, which included the guys from Pennsylvania and from Ontario, as well as other "orphans" of units without officers or NCO's. I was corporal in the morning.

The US line heads to the fort on the South field. I'm dead centre in the line, in white.

Another view of the same. I was told the turn-out was less than other years, but it still looked good to me.
The Saturday afternoon, Jared was corporal while Andy and I (the "invalid company") guarded the fort to let the more spry folks run the field. All we did was mess with the civilian who wanted to enter the fort. ("Password... fill in the blank: 'God save....'") The battle is meant to fill in for both Chippewa and Lundy's Lane. Andy and I watched from the best seat in the house: the large artillery revetment on the north side of the fort.

As Andy and I were relieved from guard duty, Beth took our photo.
Andy was pleased to have a blue coatee for the reenactment.

Almost a classic pose at the rampart of Fort Erie.

Another classic.
Sergeant Ed (in sash and white epaulets), Captain Ford (with carpet material haversack), and Brigade Adjutant Phil stand with the combined 17th in the afternoon battle. Tyler (in flat cap) can be seen just beyond Phil and Jared is facing the camera beyond Tyler. I appreciate the work these officers and NCOs put in for these reenactments. They help make the drill look good.
The US line advances.
First Sergeant Ed: "Make ready! Aim! FIRE!"  The line: "BANG!!"
Note the fellow in the rear in the blue coatee with yellow/gold trim and the top hat. He reenacts the Corps of Bombadiers, Sappers, and Miners, the unit that handled the mortars at the siege. He and I "spiked" the Crown guns during the sally on Sunday.
The evening's battle takes place just about dusk. Again Jared was corporal on the field while Andy and I provided the infantry guard for the 6 pound gun in the fort. We were joined by some of the artillerists of the 2nd US Artillery (the Fort Meigs troops), Sergeant Major, and a few others. On more humid days, the smoke from the muskets and cannon hugs the ground and make for a very eerie look on the field. It was less humid on Saturday but there still was smoke.

The US skirmish line retires to the fort in the evening battle. Black powder smoke makes things quite murky and eerie.
Up the ladder and into the fort, lads! This year, there was a "crash pad" under the ladder, and nobody I know of fell off! Better safe than sorry when dealing with black powder and bayonets!
The Light Dragoons serve as light infantry... since the presence of horses invalidates all insurance...
and horse apples are messy.
Before the night assault, the US Artillery make it a hot time for the Crown forces.  Present were 3 3-pounders, a 4-pounder, and a 6-pounder. They make serious noise.

Captain Shawn of the Kentucky Rifles celebrates taking down a Crown officer.

The British Indian Department and a few First Nations warriors move up to the ditch.

The combined 17th+ is dismissed after the night battle by First Sergeant.
Jared is on the far right, Tyler next over, and Kevin next from him.
Sunday saw a rather moving memorial service for those who died in the siege. Later, the US forces sallied out to break the siege and spike the Crown guns. We moved a long way to the far end of the battle field, chasing the pickets, the units on watch and the guns. Then WE had to retreat to escape the reinforcements. Kevin 'died' a heroic death while Rob performed a feat of bravery worthy of a medal - recovering Phil's dropped Chapeau Bras and sword under fire. (We didn't want anyone to step on the sword - which is quite nice and probably expensive and could be broken.) Also the 17th had to lay down so the cannon could fire over us! Well, I don't drop easily and the command, "Spring up!", is a joke at best. The rest of the army puts up with me pretty well.

No fool he! The nights were quite cool and our mascot, Pooka, was quite exhausted from meeting people, wearing the uniform, begging for beef jerky, and not getting his usual 18 hours of sleep a day. Here he as occupied Beth's sleeping bag on Sunday morning.

The forces of the Republic leave the field after the memorial service.

Acting corporal for Sunday again, I stood on the left of the line. I would normally be in the front rank, but Kevin is a bit shorter than I, so I dropped back to make volley firing easier.

"Lie down to let the artillery fire over us? Are you kiddin' me?" Lie down I did AND got up I did, too!
Note my friend Aaron/White Turtle watching from the bush in the background.

I 'spiked' the guns myself and shortly after we exchanged shots with the advancing Crown reinforcements.

If you advance, you have to fall back eventually. So...

This is as far back as we went. From here, Rob ran to retreive Phil's sword and hat.

Before Kevin bought the fake farm, We went to the "front rank, kneel" drill 'way at the far end of the field. We had actualy charged the guns behind us at the run. I lagged behind, but took it upon myself to spike the cannon along with the Bombadier.
I throughly enjoyed the weekend and I've been resting since, while painting some figs for a game at the end of the week. Hats off, Huzzah, and a salute (which is "shoulder arms" before the officer for a private soldier. See, Rob Trumbull, I can be taught!) to the fort staff, the planners and organizers: to my wife and daughter and Tina who cooked great meals; to First Sergeant Ed, for the drill, the patience, and the proper "soldierly attitude"; and to the officers of the US Forces who make us look good.

Now more photos:
Command staff.

Not the command staff.

Rob on guard duty at the front gate ---- "None shall pass!"

Tina, Brandi, and Katie in camp... with the watermelon. (I wish I could eat it; it looks SO refreshing. However, I am allergic to it and I'd rather not have my gums itch.) The green bottles are for lemonade - don't assume anything else!

Kentucky Rifles vs. British regulars. No betting please.

Should someone mention the "fog of war", believe it.

Crown troops, First Nations warriors, and the BID gather at the ditch. On Sunday, the BID became Tennessee Rangers and serve on the US side. Welcome, boys! Snickers bars all around!

Here's an arial view of Fort Erie. The artillery redoubt is obscured by the tree in the centre of the photo. Our camp was just beyond the fort closer to the water (the Niagara River) among the trees at the top of the photo.

Lastly, thank you to all the people who's photos I've borrowed. If you are troubled by this, please contact me and I'll remove the photos. And a view of the big blast from Laughing Devil Photography...


  1. Love the fist pic! And the stormin' up the ladder pic too!

    1. Thanks, Ray. It's a good event and I met or got re-aquainted with some fine people.

  2. Nice Photos, I was with the Kentucky Rifles in your Long Shot Photo on the left side