Echoes of battle ring again at Fort Frederick

May 29, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

BIG POOL - In temperatures above 80 degrees, about 150 re-enactors dressed in wool coats and leggings reminiscent of the 1750s marched around Fort Frederick and re-created typical woodland skirmishes outside the stone walls of the fort Saturday afternoon.

For Jim Rogers, dressed as a drummer for the Maryland forces, the 25th annual French and Indian War Muster at Fort Frederick is a great way for him and his family to learn and live history.

Thanks to his father, Rogers said he has been involved in re-enactments since he was 5 years old. Now, at 28, he brings his wife and children along.

"It's a great way to learn history because you're not just reading a book. It's a good way to learn and absorb history," said Rogers, who grew up in Hancock and now lives in Savage, Md.


For example, re-enacting helps you understand why things were done they way they were - even things that seem "pretty stupid," such as wearing heavy wool clothing, or having soldiers stand in solid lines for fighting.

Although a little warm, Rogers said the wool jackets didn't make them uncomfortable.

They were regularly worn in colonial times because the people were afraid of catching a cold, which Rogers pointed out could be deadly back then.

And soldiers typically stood in solid lines when firing at an enemy because their rifles were not very accurate, so the best way to hit a target was to send a wall of ammunition toward an enemy, he said.

Gail Welty, 43, of Sykesville, Md., said the re-enactors were interesting because they showed what it was like to live at the fort in the 1750s and 1760s.

An estimated 200 people attended the event's first parade Saturday.

Park officials were expecting hundreds more for the skirmish re-enactment and Sunday's continuation of events at Fort Frederick State Park in Big Pool.

In addition to the parade and battle re-enactment, some of the colonial-era re-enactors gave presentations on topics including 18th-century medical care, weapons, road building and the role of women at Fort Frederick in colonial times.

Fort Frederick was built in 1756 to protect the western frontier of the expanding English settlements from French and Indian invaders.

The re-enactors at the fort this weekend re-created the years between 1756 and 1763, said Dave Moore, park ranger historian.

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