July 28, 2006
Visitors Can Witness French and Indian War Battle at Fort Ontario Aug. 10 - 13
Oswego -- The largest gathering of French and Indian War re-enactors to ever assemble in Central New York will meet at Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego to recreate the 250th anniversary of the 1756 French capture and destruction of the three forts of Oswego. The re-enactors will recreate the historical events from August 10 to August 13.
Visitors will be able to experience the sights and sounds of camp and garrison life of a fort under siege in the 18th century as part of the commemoration of Major-General Louis-Joseph, Marquis de Montcalm's first great victory over the British.
The event will feature over 1,000 British, French, Provincial, and French Canadian militia, sailors, and Native American re-enactors along with oar and sail powered bateaux; a tall ship; war canoes; cannons; merchants; fur traders; craftsmen; fife and drum music; storytelling; children's games; lectures and displays.
Fort Ontario's event is the second signature event selected by the 250th Anniversary of the French and Indian War Commemoration Commission and the I Love New York state tourism office.
"Oswego was once the scene of an intense rivalry between the French and British, as it was the site of the most important trading posts in America. Over 300 traders operated out of Oswego with their own village of 70 log huts, located near today's Water Street," said Paul Lear, site manager of Fort Ontario.
The first Fort Ontario was built in 1755 and was a simple eight-pointed wooden stockade. Along with Fort Oswego (b.1727) and Fort George (b.1755), these lonely outposts of the British lost about 300 men, or half of their garrison, to disease, starvation, and exposure during the terrible winter of 1755-56.
Reinforced in the spring, British and colonial troops were constantly harassed by scalping parties of Canadians and Indians. Most of these attacks originated from a secret advance French base established at "Cabin Cove," now called Sunset Bay.
In 1756, Fort Ontario was attacked by the French and Indians in May and June but was able to withstand the attack.
A convoy of bateaux, or flat-bottomed supply boats, was ambushed on the Oswego River near the modern Fulton-Minetto area on July 3, 1756. Their resourceful commander, John Bradstreet, led the American colonials to defeat them near Battle Island, now a state golf course.
On Friday afternoon, August 11, nearly 400 re-enactors with bateaux and canoes will recreate the French and Native American attack on Bradstreet's bateaux column at the original site.
In August, 1756, the Marquis de Montcalm led 4,000 troops and Indians ashore at Baldwin's Bay without detection along with more than 25 pieces of heavy artillery. The French troops and natives staged a massive attack on the fort, and Fort Ontario fell on August 13.
Highlights of the weekend include:
Food and refreshments will be available for sale at the fort.
Over 40 historical merchants will be selling eighteenth century reproduction clothing, uniforms, woolen and linen materials, hats, furniture, wood carvings, musical instruments, muskets, swords, black powder gun cleaning supplies, pottery, glass, ironwork, canoes, Native American basketry and musical recordings. "Re-enactors invest time and effort in their historical interpretation and are more than happy to share their wealth of accumulated knowledge at their camp area," said Lear.
A $6 vehicle fee will be charged for the event; no admission fee to the fort will be charged. The fort is located at the north end of East Fourth Street in the City of Oswego.
For additional information on the fort or the event, call (315) 343-4711, or go to www.fortontario.com. Fort Ontario State Historic Site is one of six historic sites and 16 parks in the Central Region administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
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