YOUNGSTOWN – Old Fort Niagara’s annual War of 1812 Encampment, featuring a dramatic Saturday night battle re-enactment, is slated for Saturday and next Sunday.
The fort’s final event of the summer recreates the British capture of Fort Niagara in December 1813.
This particular re-enactment offers visitors a bird’s-eye view of the British attack that captured the fort, but to view the battle, visitors must be inside the Fort by 7 p.m. Saturday. The re-enactment covers the same ground as the original attack in 1813 and will demonstrate how the British were able to capture the fort in just 30 minutes. The re-enactment will be preceded by a concert presented by the Mackenzie Highlanders Pipe and Drum Band.
In addition to the night battle, historical vignettes throughout the day will recreate the sights and sounds of the War of 1812. On both days, activities begin with a colors ceremony, followed by an 1812 infantry exercise with musket firings.
Other activities include: Regency country dancing, artillery demonstrations, fife and drum music and a recruiting demonstration for kids. At 3 p.m. a battle demonstration based on events of the summer of 1814 will showcase military tactics of the 1812 era.
“These activities will focus on what was going on during that time,” said Robert Emerson, the fort’s executive director. “The British had captured the fort in December 1813, but there was still a lot of activity here. The Americans had plans to recapture the fort, but that didn’t come to fruition. The focus shifted across the river to the Battles of Chippawa and Lundy’s Lane, and (siege of) Fort Erie, but there were still skirmishes here outside the fort.”
At 1 p.m. Saturday, Neil Yetwin, author of a new book, “To My Son: The Life and Remembrances of Major Mordecai Myers, 13th United States Infantry, 1812-1815,” will present a lecture and sign copies of his book in the Visitor Center.
Old Fort Niagara published Yetwin’s biography of Myers and editing of the major’s papers in 2013, and copies will be available for purchase at the center.
Yetwin has been a teacher for 36 years and has published nearly 100 articles for a variety of journals and newspapers. He is the recipient of the Louis B. Yavner Award of the New York State Regents for Excellence in Teaching the Holocaust and Civil Rights, and in 2005 he was named Outstanding Citizen of Schenectady.
“Mordecai Myers was a real interesting man, and these remembrances haven’t been published before,” Emerson said. “This is the first time this has been made available to the general public.”
For more information on the Old Fort Niagara event, visit www.oldfortniagara.org or call 745-7611.
While this event concludes the fort’s summer programs, the fort is open year-round.
Emerson reported that attendance from this January through June was up 21 percent over last year. He also added that attendance figures doubled from 72,000 in 2011 to 152,000 in 2013.
Figures have not yet been tabulated for July and August of this year, historically the two busiest months at the fort, Emerson added.