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Annual 'Cabin Fever' lectures will focus on history of Old Fort Niagara Military discussions begin Saturday

The quarters at Old Fort Niagara can be comfortable -- and educational -- even in winter.

That's the idea behind the "Cabin Fever" lecture series, which starts Saturday and continues on Feb. 24 and March 31.

Robert L. Emerson, executive director at Fort Niagara, said the indoor program has been a way to keep people interested in local military history and increase fort attendance during the off-season.

The series, which has run for nine years, usually attracts about 80 people for each session, Emerson said.

At 2 p.m. Saturday in the fort Officers' Club, James Hill, superintendent of heritage for the Niagara Parks Commission in Niagara Falls, Ont., will discuss "Give the Yankees No Quarter."

"He'll talk about the [1814] siege of Fort Erie, why it happened, how it happened and what the outcome was," Emerson said.

At 2 p.m. Feb. 24, Michael Blenk, a member of the fort's board of directors, will discuss "Rally 'Round the Flag," a first-hand account of a trip to Megginch Castle in Scotland to bring back a War of 1812 flag.

The original garrison flag that flew over Fort Niagara during the War of 1812 came back home in 1994. It is mounted at a 35-degree angle behind glass in its own special room, and bears burn marks sustained during a 1969 fire in the Scottish castle, where it had remained hidden for more than 170 years.

Old Fort Niagara unveiled it on Flag Day last year. Emerson said at the time that it is the predecessor of the Star Spangled Banner and is "a national treasure."

At 2 p.m. March 31 in the Officers' Club, Glenn Williams, historical operations support officer for the U.S. Army Center of Military History, will present "Year of the Hangman."

Williams will discuss the American Revolution on the frontier and events that led up to a 1779 effort to decimate the American Indians.

Williams, author of "Year of the Hangman: George Washington's Campaign Against the Iroquois," will explain how Gen. John Sullivan was commissioned during the Revolutionary War to destroy the power of the Iroquois, who had sided with the British.

Sullivan at one time calculated that his army destroyed 160,000 bushels of corn in the campaign.

All programs cost $10 for adults, $9 for senior citizens, or $6 for children under 6, and include admission to the fort.

"It's a great way to come out and experience some history and be comfortable while doing it," Emerson said.

e-mail: pkowalik@buffnews.com

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