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Local re-enactors battle way back to French and Indian War

May 21, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

BIG POOL - Soldiers in bright coats and leather boots joined warriors in moccasins and loincloths in battles to control the continent, as a cluster of people lounged on a grassy knoll above the gunsmoke.

A sparse crowd watched a re-enament of a skirmish Sunday, the last day of the two-day French and Indian War Muster at Fort Frederick State Park.

John "Bear" Kirkpatrick, 53, of Thurmont, Md., said frontier icons like Davey Crocket and Daniel Boone helped spark an interest in America's early history.

"I've just always been a history person. There's only two grades I got decently at school early-American history and construction," said Kirkpatrick, a park service employee based at Cunningham Falls State Park.

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Kirkpatrick wore an unruly beard over the rugged attire of a scout. He said he was portraying a man who would have worked with British forces at the fort to spy on the movements of the French and Indians and hunt game. After being "shot" during a re-enactment earlier in the day, Kirkpatrick sat at the fort as blasts rang out during a staged skirmish outside the walls.

Abe Bricker, 48, of Hancock, said he was impressed by the troops' movements when blue-coated and red-coated soldiers squared off.

"Just the tactics that they were using and the actual shooting," Bricker said. "I guess I was always under the impression that the British just stood in a line and fired. That's the way it was always portrayed."

French, British and Indian forces fought for control of North America during the French and Indian War in the 1750s and 1760s. To helped pay for the war and land gains, Britain set taxes that angered the American colonists, helping set up the Revolutionary War.

Kirkpatrick said the first war's impact on the second is his reason the time period is his favorite. He said he also is drawn to it because frontiersmen were forced to live every day to the fullest. Amid war, Indian attacks and wild animals, life was precarious.

"It was a time when you could, you could be yourself," Kirkpatrick said.

Jullian Davis, 10, of Hagerstown, wore a blue Union cap, U.S. Army T-shirt and camouflage pants and held a red-plastic-capped long gun.

He said he is most interested in the Civil War.

"It's the way they fought," Jullian said.

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