Reliving the Niagara Campaign this weekend at Fort Erie

British reenactors engage the Americans at the Siege of Fort Erie War of 1812 reenactment weekend.

Action continues Sunday with demonstrations, tours and another battle

For the 32nd year in a row, British and American troops are battling on the grounds of Old Fort Erie, engaged in the Siege of Fort Erie, War of 1812 reenactment weekend.

Reenactors from all over North America are making history come alive this weekend as they reenact some of the battles from the Niagara Campaign of the War of 1812.

The Siege of Fort Erie was part of the Niagara Campaign of the War of 1812, from August 4/1814 to September 21/1814.

The Americans captured Fort Erie on July 3/1814. They engaged against British forces at the Battle of Chippawa on July 5, and again at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane on July 25. They withdrew to Fort Erie after the battle of Lundy’s Lane, both sides suffered heavy casualties in the engagement.

The British Troops under Drummond pressed towards the fort with the intent of driving the Americans back across the Niagara River.

American forces engage the British at the Siege of Fort Erie War of 1812 reenactment weekend.

The Siege was lifted Sept. 21, the British withdrew and set up defensive positions along Chippawa Creek, the Americans occupied the fort until November 5, 1814. After a few sorties with the British Forces along Chippawa Creek including a battle at Cook’s Mill, the Americans, short of supplies, destroyed the fort and retreated across the Niagara River.

In three separate presentations on Saturday August 12/2017, they reenacted the surrender of Fort Erie to the Americans by Major Buck, they held an afternoon battle representing the Battle of Chippawa and the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. And in the evening, the reenactment of Drummond’s Night Assault on Fort Erie recreated the explosion of the powder magazine which wiped out over half of Drummond’s attacking force.

“We host the event, but, it’s really the hard work and the dedication of these volunteer reenactors that has made this reenactment what it is today,” said Jim Hill, Superintendent of Heritage Operations Niagara Parks Commission.

“The event originated with reenactors organizing and presenting the story 32 years ago and it has grown ever since,” he said. “Some of the reenactors in the camps have been here every year since the beginning.”

The story they tell of the War of 1812 at the reenactment is the story of individual soldiers who fought there and in other battles throughout the war.

“What the reenactors have done as a community is dug into the lives of those individuals,” Hill said. “We’ve studied history and learned what Kings, Presidents and Generals are doing, but, they have really gotten down to the lives of the average people that participated in the war and what they sacrificed, what they went through.”

“It is a bit of a show and it is a bit of fun, but, on the other side of that, it’s really telling the story about the people who were here, the people who lived and died during that awful experience,” he said. “They weren’t that much different than us.”

“When you read their letters and hear their accounts, they had moms and dads, they had the same fears, the same loves,” he said. “So, we are not that far removed from people in 1814.”

For volunteer Daryl Learn the weekend is a passion of his. A former staff member at Old Fort Erie, he proclaimed “This is just a passion of mine, I grew up down the road, this was my backyard.”

Sunday’s Schedule of Events:

10:00 A.M.: Fort and camps open to the public
10:30 A.M.: Memorial Service
11:30 A.M.: Mortar Demonstration
12:45 P.M.: Performance: The Drums Crown Forces 1812
1:00 P.M.: Battle: “The Sortie”
2:00 P.M.: Mini Militia
2:30 P.M.: Artillery Barrage
3:00 P.M.: American Evacuation of the Fort
3:30 P.M.: Musket Demonstration
4:30 P.M.: Cannon Demonstration
5:00 P.M.: Fort and camps closed to the public

To him, remembering through the reenactment weekends is important.

“I think the big reason that doing this is important for us, Canadians more so than Americans, is that we live in an area that is blessed,” Learn said. “We live in an area that has been unscarred by warfare for over 100 years, almost 200 years. That is unheard of, anywhere else in the world.”

“Something like this not only connects us to the roots that built our country, and laid foundations for many of the people, but, also it serves to remind us that war can be devastating,” he said. “There’s guys that fought in this campaign in 1814 who died within 200 feet of their homes. This was devastation for the Niagara area.

The Siege of Fort Erie War of 1812 reenactment weekend continues Sunday with events at Old Fort Erie starting at 10 a.m. when the fort and camps open to the public.

The battles are free to watch. People are invited to tour the camps and talk with the reenactors about their passion, learn the stories of the soldiers who fought in the Niagara Campaign.

To tour the fort the cost is Adult $12.50, child $8.15.



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