Saturday, August 08, 2015

Oh, its been Sieged again - The Battle of Old Fort Erie

'Murica successfully captured and held Fort Erie during the War of 1812, twice, before blowing up the fort and returning home for the opening of Old Disneyland. The attack on the fort resulted in Canada's bloodiest battlefield and the 200th anniversary happened just last year.
Inside the fort
Weekend battles began at 11am Saturday in the south field where American forces, heavily outnumbering the British defenders, cause the surrender of Major Buck and his troopers. Another battle started at 2pm representing the heavy fighting at Chippawa and Lundy's Lane. Watching the fighting is free, even parking, but entrance to the fort costs about $13, plus tax - which is a great deal.
Our country's oldest British fort, originally built in 1764, later destroyed in 1814 and rebuilt in the 1930s, is a War of 1812 National Historic Site. Renamed Old Fort Erie the war re-enactments of the battle only began 30 years ago because it took awhile for the gun powder to dry out.
Muskets and cannon bring the boom to the party where red coats are the fashion of the day and the battle re-enactment ends with blowing up the fort - every year! The large south field offers Drummonds Night Assault which starts at 8pm and features the unexpected explosion of a gun powder magazine right under the American battery which the British had just taken over - everyone that survived beat a hasty retreat.
It wasn't until November 5, 1814 that the Americans burned and blew up the fort and returned back to the United States. Soon after peace broke out between the countries and much later (1937-1939) the fort was rebuilt and opened to the public. The new tourist centre has shops, a cafe, theatre and museum with displays and hands-on exhibits. The site is adjacent to the Lake Erie entrance of the Niagara River - right across from the American city of Buffalo. I also just found out that the QEW highway starts at the American crossing in Fort Erie.

Fort Erie Siege schedule
Saturday, August 8
10 a.m. Fort opens to the public
11 a.m. Skirmish: "Buck's Surrender"
12 p.m. Uniforms of the War of 1812
1 p.m. British Artillery Display
2 p.m. Tactical Battle! "Chippawa and Lundy's Lane"
3 p.m. Mini Militia on the Terre-Plein
4 p.m. U.S. Artillery Display
5 p.m. Fort closed to the public
8 p.m. Battle! "Drummond's Night Assault on the Fort"
9 p.m. Lantern tours through the fort under attack

Posted by Joe Hamilton and James Hamilton. The rest of the weekend schedule along with the story of the actual siege from Canadian Military Heritage after the jump.

Sunday, August 9
10 a.m. Fort opens to the public
10:30 a.m. Memorial service on the South Field
1 p.m. Tactical Battle! "The U.S. Sortie"
2 p.m. Mini Militia on the Terre Plein
2:30 p.m. Artillery Barrage in the Siege Lines
5 p.m. Fort closed to the public

"It was not long before the two armies faced one another again, because General Drummond surrounded Fort Erie and began a siege on August 13. After only two days of shelling, the British attempted to take the fort with approximately 1,300 soldiers, but they had not banked on the Americans' determination. They suffered heavy losses when an underground powder magazine exploded, killing hundreds of men. There was no choice but to withdraw. They had lost more than 900 men, killed, wounded or missing, against only 84 on the American side. Drummond nevertheless received reinforcements and continued the siege.

On September 17 a raid by some 1,600 Americans took the British by surprise, with their lines insufficiently protected. The American attack was eventually warded off after fierce fighting. The losses were heavier for the British, with 115 dead, than for the Americans, with only 79. The Americans had also succeeded in destroying six of the British heavy cannons.
After the carnage Drummond decided to lift the siege, and his troops withdrew to Chippewa on September 21. On November 5 the Americans blew up Fort Erie after evacuating their troops to Buffalo. Thus ended this third attempt to invade Canada via the Niagara Peninsula."

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