History invades Old Fort Erie

NiagaraThisWeek

Thousands flock to see re-enactors stage the Siege of Fort Erie

 

The bicentennial of the War of 1812 helped catapult the Old Fort to one of the largest Siege Weekend events on record.

Over 700 re-enactors took part in the mock invasion while thousands more flocked to watch the spectacle.

“We sold close to 2,000 admission tickets to the fort this weekend, and that doesn’t even include all the people who came just to watch the battle,” said Old Fort manager Heather Gorman.

“The bicentennial has been bringing a lot of traffic through our website, it’s been a really strong season thanks to that, and also with promotion from all the local groups and events, a lot more people seemed to be aware of Siege Weekend,” she added.

The two-day battle between British, Canadian, Native, and American troops re-creates one of the bloodiest battles in Canadian history.

And while no blood was shed during the re-enactment, it’s no pillow fight either and one soldier did leave the battle with some minor injuries.

When a re-enactor from the American side fired his musket at the British troops, the rifle kicked back violently and knocked him to the ground, resulting in a fractured collar bone and a fractured arm.

The man later told Niagara Regional Police he believed more than one charge of gunpowder had accidentally been loaded into the musket.

Jon Sek, a veteran of dozens of re-enacted battles as a gunner with the 2nd Lincoln Artillery Unit, said he’s seen this kind of thing happen in the field before, but not often.

“What happens sometimes is you get what’s called a ‘flash in the pan’ where it looks like the rifle went off, but didn’t actually ignite the charge in the barrel,” said Sek.

He said it’s important for re-enactors to pay close attention to the feel of the rifle when it fires and to keep their eyes open while squeezing the trigger to make sure they see the charge go off.

“When you’re there on the line, shoulder to shoulder with the other soldiers, it’s very loud, there’s a lot of smoke, a lot of excitement, but the last thing we want to see is someone forgetting proper safety techniques. I hope this gentlemen is okay and it doesn’t turn him off re-enactments because it really is a lot of fun.”

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