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Muskets in Maryland brings history to life

September 30, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

mailto:andrear@herald-mail.com

More than 200 years of history were represented at Fort Frederick State Park near Big Pool on Saturday.

The park's Muskets in Maryland event featured living history re-enactments, tours and demonstrations staged to educate the public about the strenuous daily lives of Maryland settlers and the stone fort's use during the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War and Civil War, Park Manager Ralph Young said.

He expected between 800 and 1,000 visitors to the two-day event.

Three-year-old Bobby Butara of Waynesboro, Pa., got into the spirit of the day with a coonskin cap and toy musket. The event was a way for the would-be Daniel Boone to "get a feel of what our history was actually like," said his mother, Michelle Butara.

Roger Roop was among a group of living history re-enactors whose portrayal of the innovative Swedes who settled in the northern part of Maryland in the 1650s involved camping just outside the fort.

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A fort was the first permanent structure early settlers would build because they needed to protect themselves - mostly against other Europeans, said Roop, of Damascas, Md.

"It's a misnomer that Indian attacks were a big concern," he said. "For the most part, early settlers tried to maintain good relationships with Native Americans because they needed them for help with food."

Swedish settlers are credited with the concept for log cabins and grist mills, Roop said. He said the Swedes came to the New World for "pure profit," not to escape religious persecution.

Boy Scout Joey Barrick, who attended the event with other scouts from Troop 456 of Catonsville, Md., said he was most surprised to learn that disease claimed the lives of many early settlers.

Through Muskets in Maryland's numerous artillery demonstrations, Joey, 11, also learned "that it took a really long time to load a gun," he said.

Joyce Barrett of Chambersburg, Pa., said she enjoyed learning about the privateers Queen Anne authorized to steal goods from Spanish ships in the early 16th century.

"I just didn't know much about that part of history," Barrett said.

"Merrick's Privateers" re-enactors Vicki and Joseph Marek of Olney, Md., Joe Sanjour of College Park, Md., and Terry Aquino of Greenbelt, Md., portrayed the British privateers who used letters of marque from the queen to attack Spanish ships. A letter of marque is a contract between the government and a private citizen that allows the citizen to attack enemy ships during wartime.

At Fort Frederick, the privateers camped outside the fort pretended their Barbados-based ship was docked offshore while they sold their stolen booty to the locals.

Inside the fort's walls, French and Indian War period re-enactors demonstrated how the fort was used prior to its use as a prisoner-of-war camp during the Revolutionary War. Re-enactors Dustan Black and Larry Riggleman of Clear Spring and Jim Kelly of Berryville, Va., threw hatchets at a wooden target just as fort frontiersman might have done during their leisure time, Riggleman said.

Re-enactor Steve Wood showed visitors the enlisted men's quarters, where two to three men shared one bunk. Re-enactor Pam Downin portrayed one of the women paid to tackle the fort's laundry - an all-day chore involving copper kettles, wooden barrels and washboards.

"This is the unknown part of Washington County's history," said re-enactor Andy Ogle, 16, who manned the fort's artisan shop. "This area is so much into the Civil War."

A small group of Union and Confederate re-enactors set up encampments outside the fort, which saw little more than "a couple of potshots" during the Civil War, Black said.

Friends of Fort Frederick hosted a gala Saturday evening to raise awareness and support for the fort, which will celebrate its 250th anniversary in 2006.

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