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Fort Frederick State Park hosts French and Indian War Muster

The weekend included a camp and other living-history demonstrations

August 26, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Soldiers fire their muskets Sunday during a re-enactment of a battle of the French and Indian War at Fort Frederick State Park.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

BIG POOL — Before a Sunday afternoon thunderstorm caused Fort Frederick State Park to cancel the remainder of its French and Indian War Muster weekend, visitors got to witness one battle re-enactment outside the stone fort.

Musket fire volleyed back and forth between the French and British sides of the re-enacted battle.

Some French could be heard among the re-enactors portraying French Marines and Milice, or French militia.

That French came in handy Sunday, as the state park had visitors from France among its tourists, said Park Ranger Bob Study with the Maryland Park Service.

Approximately 100 people visited the park on the rainy, muggy Sunday, compared to about 450 people at the muster event Saturday, Study said. The weekend included a camp and other living-history demonstrations.

The muster was a commemoration of the fort during the French and Indian War. The fort was built in 1756 to defend the frontier against French and Indian raiding parties coming east from the French Fort Duquesne, in what is now Pittsburgh, Study said.

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The French and Indian War set the stage for young men, like George Washington, who became leaders in the Revolutionary War, Study said.

“England nearly goes bankrupt fighting this war and when they expect the colonists to help pay for their own protection,” it leads to the argument about taxation without representation, Study said. That became a series of what the Americans called injustices and laid the groundwork for the American Revolution and, eventually, independence, Study said.

Dan Ratcliffe, 38, of Martinsburg, W.Va., was fighting on the British side on Sunday.

“It was OK,” Ratcliffe said. “We had more misfires than usual because of the wet. The black powder doesn’t do well in that.”

“About, I guess five years ago, I said ‘I wanna stop reading about history. I want to start doing it, living it, see how they actually lived,’” said Ratcliffe, explaining why he became a re-enactor.

Andrew and Cynthia Newman of Chambersburg, Pa., brought their daughter, Agatha, 2, to Sunday’s muster event. Agatha was dressed for the occasion, including what her mom called a white flop hat.

“We think it was great,” said Andrew Newman. “Be nice if there were more of these events and more people to come out here to learn about local history and what Fort Frederick has to offer.”

The couple usually participates in such living-history demonstrations as civilian re-enactors in the camp, he said.

Also at Sunday’s muster events were visitors from outside the Tri-State area.

Tim Ryan Jr., of Warrenton, Va., said his parents, Kathleen and Tim Ryan Sr., surprised the family by bringing them up to Fort Frederick on Sunday. Along on the trip were Ryan’s three sons, Timothy, 12; Hunter, 10; and Logan, 8.

Ryan and Erian Andrews, 11, of Salisbury, Md., said they thought the re-enacted battle was “pretty cool.”

Erian was with a group of relatives visiting various state parks.

“I’ve never seen a re-enactment,” said Erian’s grandmother, Judi Andrews, 62.

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