By Late dispatch:
War of 1812 Grand Tactical
Old Fort Niagara
We arrived Friday afternoon to the Fort with excellent weather… a nice cool breeze blowing in off Lake Ontario. The Fort was filled with soldiers setting up tents, unpacking their muskets or rifles and unloading gear at the many mess tents. Many states were represented by their various regiments of infantry, rifles, marines and militia who answered the call.
After camp was set, we ventured into town and had an excellent dinner at a pub where we followed our tradition of the offering of toasts. The remainder of the evening was spent visiting with our friends from the Ohio Militia and the 1st KY Vols (Canadian unit) who were camped on either side of our location within the Militia camp area.
Saturday’s weather was a mix of periods of complete sunny skies and periods of large dark clouds blowing by to the Southeast. It never rained, and temps were comfortable in the upper 70’s. Our military schedule was full, it began with an officer’s call followed by morning formation and battalion drill.
Just before noon was the first opposed side tactical which was on the beach. The 1st & 2nd KY were posted with the US Rifles in advance of the main US Army and engaged the British at the North tree line. We were forced to give ground regularly by a much larger opposing force of heavy infantry and we maneuvered back toward the main US line. On our left flank there were long boats landing on the beach and off-loading platoons of Redcoats. Now we had two fronts to deal with.
After a heated battle the US Army was forced to give up the fight and we fell back to the Fort. With in the Fort there were many activities thru out the day. The second opposed side tactical began mid-afternoon, which was a frontal attack on the Fort. The 1st & 2nd KY took part in this battle outside the Fort with other Lt Infantry/Rifle companies and we fought and held the ground. Major Fitzgerald was in command of the Light Infantry units for the weekend and it was a pleasure to once again serve as part of her command.
We dined in town Saturday evening at a different Pub and enjoyed a great meal while we laughed and told the stories of our days activities… and the toasts were once again offered. That evening at the Fort we enjoyed the participant Tavern that was set up outside and run by a licensed vendor. Prices and beverages were both quite good! It was a great time to visit with our British and US friends we don’t often see unless we travel far to the Northern events.
Sunday lived true to its name and was completely sunny all day! However, the temps I do not believe exceeded 80 degrees or so. No one could sit long in front of their tent before a spectator would ask to have their picture taken with you. The day consisted of the usual military duties and the final opposed force tactical which was the second part of the Frontal Assault on Old Fort Niagara… during this battle the Brits were to breach the Fort thru two door ways.
The 1st and 2nd KY were once again deployed to the outer earth works to make our stand. It being necessary for the Brits to gain access to the Fort in this battle. It was obvious to us that the only way that could occur would be if the Kentucky Militia was no longer standing in their way! So, like good soldiers, we fought to the last man and every one of us finally was cut down and the enemy was able to breach the Fort. But we did take a lot of them with us! Recognition must be given to the honorable fight those boys from Ohio gave in this particular battle, as I suspect they were moved by the site of our “valiant last stand!”
The American forces were commanded by Lt. Col Rob Trumbull, who did an excellent job. Capt. Pat Milton did an excellent job as the Adjutant.
This event was well run by the Fort Niagara staff and breakfast was provided both days. Lunch could be purchased on site and dinner in town was close by. We decided not to do a company mess, so we could travel lighter and tear down quicker.
As is our custom, not one of us departed before every 2nd KY camp was struck, and gear staged near vehicles for easy loading.
Our members who attended were; Dave Schumick and family, Pat Milton and his lady Rhonda, Jacob Henson, Mark Hartman, Dave Alfano, Jim Nelson and Thad Stern. Our brother John Payne of the White River Guard honored us by falling in as one of us. Over 600 total participants were present. Next Grand Tactical will be in Canada.
2nd KY Vols