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Revolution revisited at Fort Frederick

July 26, 1997

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

INDIAN SPRINGS, Md. - The prospect of seeing a Revolutionary War re-enactment Saturday brought Neila Harrigan to Fort Frederick from her home in Charles Town, W.Va.

"We've been to Civil War battles before but never any from the Revolutionary War,'' Harrigan said.

Harrigan and her family were among the several hundred spectators who braved the heat Saturday for the first day of Revolution and Remembrance '97.

Today, the British and American troop camps will again be open at 10 a.m. to the public. At 1:15 p.m., there will be another full-scale tactical battle between the two armies.

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Jeff Lambert of Derwood, Md., one of the organizers of the weekend event, said while there is less interest in this period than there is in the Civil War, there is a lot of history going on.

"There weren't that many Maryland battles in the Revolutionary War, but we did supply a lot of troops and suffer losses,'' said Lambert, a member of the First Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line.

Fort Frederick, built by the British in 1754, was the cornerstone of Maryland's frontier defense during the French and Indian War

During the Revolutionary War, it served as a prison for Hessian (German) and British soldiers, according to Cedric Poole, another of the event's organizers.

"It's ironic that the fort was actually built by the British and then used against them during the Revolution,'' Poole said.

Although the weekend battle re-enactments take license with actual history, according to Fort Frederick Superintendent Ralph Young, the uniforms, weapons and battle tactics are correct for the period.

"We have a lot of re-enactors here this weekend,'' Lambert said.

The 23rd Welsh Fusileers from Florida were there, as were units from Philadelphia and points in New Jersey.

The highlight of this year's re-enactment was the addition of scaffolding inside the walls of the fort so defenders could actually fight from the walls for the first time, Lambert said.

That scaffolding was donated by Callas Contractors of Hagerstown, according to Poole.

By 2006, Young said it is hoped that construction replacing the original catwalks and gun decks inside the walls will be completed.

The fort was sold in 1791 and was farmed for the next 131 years. From 1857 to 1911, Nathan Williams and his family owned the property.

Williams' descendants, some of whom live in Hagerstown, had a reunion at the fort the weekend of July 19, according to Carolyn Williams Brooks.

The state bought it back in 1922 and it became a park.

Michael and Pauline O'Connor came Saturday from Hedgesville, W.Va., for the re-enactment. They brought their grandson, Michael O'Connor IV, who was just beside himself with excitement.

"This is really special for us since we are from Connecticut, where re-enactments are harder to find,'' Pauline O'Connor said.

All the events are free.

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