Fort Erie - The Forgotten Fort and a New Opportunity
Built in 1764 as part of the Niagara river’s defence system, Fort Erie has served both the British Empire and Canada for centuries. Often ignored in the context of the American Revolution, Fort Erie has played a key role as both a fortification and a depot for British Regulars and Provincials.
Within his first assignment as an Ensign of the 8th Regiment of Foot, the King’s Regiment, Walter Butler, son of John Butler (of the Indian Department and later Lt. Colonel of the Butler’s Rangers), would find himself in command of Fort Erie prior to the American Revolution. This same fort, would serve as a staging point for many raids and campaigns consisting of the combined forces of the 8th Regiment of Foot and Butler’s Rangers, often under the command of then Captain Walter Butler of the Rangers and Lt. Colonel John Butler.
It is with great pleasure that the Light Company of the King’s Regiment notes that we have been granted authorisation by Parks Canada and the staff of Old Fort Erie to host a living history event at the site of the Regiment’s old home, on May 25th-26th, 2019. This event will be open to all insured members of the BVMA, BAR and BB, with the BVMA voting yesterday to make this their first official event of 2019. Given the number of parties already noting interest and the scale of the planned event, this will be the largest and most interactive Canadian living history event in quite some time and most definitely the largest of 2019.
The centrepiece of this event will be the living history experience, wherein the men of the Continental Army, as well as the British Regulars and Provincials (as well as militia), camp followers and refugees will be portraying their lives both in an encampment setting and that of a siege (similar to that which would have taken place at Fort Stanwix). Camp followers will be portraying petty sutler providing laundry services, the sale of in season fruit and vegetables, nursing services under the supervision of a surgeon and the sale of grog to the men, as licensed by the Crown and Congress. The men, will portray the daily lives of soldiers, with drill, period games and gambling, tending to clothing and equipment, as well as jollifications in line with the nature of their setting.
Further, there will be a battle demonstration in the form of a complex attempt at breaking the siege, with both the American Forces and British Forces taking their respective turns on the Saturday and Sunday at doing so and breaking through the fort’s defences and defenders. Making use of the trench system at the Eastern end of the Fort and the open field on the Western end, the forces will combine artillery, scaling ladders and both line and light infantry movements to physically climb through the fort and take control of its garrison.
These demonstrations are intended to portray what might have happened, should Sullivan Expedition have forced its way North to the Niagara Peninsula, most likely taking the smaller and less defended Fort Erie, prior to the larger and more heavily fortified Fort Niagara. All tenting is to meet period standards in a tight garrison situation, with all British forces restricted to British wedge tents (no marquees, flies, wall tents) and Continental forces free to make use of appropriate shelter as may have been available at the time and under the context of the Sullivan Expedition of 1779. Lean-to and brush shelters are permitted and encouraged, with the barracks being available to British/Provincial units that would have been garrisoned at the fort, at this time. All clothing and accoutrement is to meet the 1779 period.
Parks Canada has kindly offered to provide breakfast on the Saturday and Sunday in the form of pancakes, sausages and (American) bacon, along with coffee and tea, while also providing powder to the artillery units in attendance (with a potential financial stipend to assist with fuel, as well), the standard water and wood for fires, as well as sufficient facilities to meet our requirements and showers for those who require them.
The evening will consist of a series of musical performances and period dramas (opera shorts) performed at the designated performance area of Fort Erie, along with a series of period appropriate evening “gaming vices” and such matters provided in the evening by the Light Coy. of the 8th, with details to be provided to unit commanders, as available. Speaking sessions and demonstrations, inclusive of period swordsmanship, will be available, as confirmed.
Registration details, merchant and sutler information and other such details are to be provided shortly. Interested units are to contact Captain da Cunha at email@example.com.