Re-enactors show "graphic" side of 18th-century war

May 27, 2000|By LAURA ERNDE

BIG POOL - Some Native American stereotypes were reinforced and others were shattered Saturday as French and Indian War re-enactors simulated a homestead ambush at Fort Frederick State Park.

Yes, the Indians did scalp people.

But no, they were not the ringleaders in the raids on Colonial settlers in mid-18th century America, showed the re-enactment, which will be repeated this afternoon at the park.

Seven settlers were going about their daily chores of washing clothes and splitting wood when a group of two dozen more French soldiers, aided by a band of Indians, mustered around them.

The intruders overwhelmed the small homestead with musket fire, killing all four men in camp. They took two women as prisoners and threw a baby against a wall before setting their log cabin home on fire.


A young boy who hid in the woods was the only one spared.

"That's what the French and Indian War is about," said Dave Moore, park historian. "It's not about mass armies. It's about people like you and me trying to survive.

"We wanted to bring something very real and very graphic."

Saturday's re-enactment was a first for Fort Frederick, and probably the country, Moore said.

It's part of the park's 2000 Grand Encampment, which features living historians from across the country wearing elaborate uniforms costing as much $3,000 each.

Moore hopes the event will raise awareness of the importance of the war, as well as of Fort Frederick.

Colonial settlers took refuge behind the stone walls of the fort, built in 1756 by the colony of Maryland.

A crowd of hundreds stood in the rain to watch the ambush, followed by a demonstration of more traditional French and Indian War battle.

"It's pretty exciting," said Sean Kross, 9, of Hagerstown, who observed that the mock battle was not nearly as large as another he saw - the 135th anniversary re-enactment of the Civil War Battle of Antietam in 1997.

Some Civil War buffs came to watch Saturday's re-enactment, noting the different styles of uniform and battle tactics.

"I just wanted to see what it was like a hundred years earlier," said Bob Schuller of Littlestown, Pa.

The Herald-Mail Articles