Fort William Historical Park was awash with redcoats, bluecoats, militia, muskets, wall guns, and cannons as British and American forces clashed during the “Battle” of Fort William July 26th and 27th.
Military re-enactors from the U.S. and Canada put on a colourful show with plenty of “smoke and fire” as they demonstrated battle tactics from the early 19th century, with Fort William serving as the battlefield.
The fictional conflict and attendant scenarios reflected action from the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812, providing visitors with a close-up look at what period warfare was like during the early 19th century.
The action also served to illustrate how the North West Company and their rivals were affected by the war and the role the fur traders played during the conflict. During the War of 1812, the NWC’s Chief Director, William McGillivray, was appointed Lieutenant Colonel, in charge of overseeing the Company’s Corps of Canadian Voyageurs, who saw some action assisting the British for roughly a six-month period.
A bit of drama was also evident as Fort inhabitants reacted to the engagements on the battlefield, witnessing the fallen. The captain on the British side was not immune to the gunfire, felled briefly by a stray musket ball, only to recover in time to witness the receipt of the sabre of the surrendering American commander.
A visiting teacher from London, Ontario commented on how impressed she was with how the event was staged, seeing history come alive in such dramatic fashion.
Over 40 re-enactors will be involved, coming from Manitoba, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Thunder Bay, their numbers complemented by Fort staff.
The “Battle” is a bi-annual event at Fort William Historical Park, alternating with The Fort under Siege.