Jon Soule from Vermont is seen portraying a French officer pausing among French allies, Queen Anne’s Lace blossoms, and flowering Red Clover, as he takes part in a August tactical weapons demonstration on the grounds of Crown Point State Historic Site.
Battles will once again be fought on the grounds of the Crown Point State Historic Site during a British, French and Indian War encampment Aug. 13 and 14.
Between 250 and 450 re-enactors are expected to converge on the site where the French and English once occupied a fortress on a picturesque plateau jutting into Lake Champlain.
Site Manager Tom Hughes said two tactical weapons demonstrations are scheduled for the public to view during the encampment weekend. These “battles” will take place between 1:30 and 2 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. The re-enactors plan to break camp at 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
Hughes said the reenactment, which has taken place on the historic site grounds for more than 15 years, is unique in that the re-enactors are not limited to one particular battle, since no large scale battles were fought at Crown Point in the 1700s.
“It allows us to change it up every year, so neither the audience or the combatants know what to expect,” Hughes said. “Troops actually take orders right on the field, so no one knows who’s going to win.”
Hughes said “several hundred” spectators turn out to watch the battles, with re-enactors in period dress firing muskets of the era. The use of artillery and amphibious invasion (attack by water) is also encouraged, Hughes said.
“We’ve got great terrain here. re-enactors love the location which is surrounded on three sides by water. This weekend is a huge hit with the public,” Hughes said.
Hughes said guests to the encampment will be able to see, hear, walk among, and interact with the many volunteers who will spend the weekend portraying the various people of Crown Point’s past.
“Visitors will definitely want to bring a camera,” he noted.
Sutlers (vendors) will show and sell their replica 18th century wares all weekend, rain or shine. Frenchman’s Restaurant staff will cook on-site, selling sandwich lunches to guests, such as hot dogs, chicken breast, and their new specialty: “Crown Point Barbecue” pulled pork. Crown Point Bread Company will sell locally-baked gourmet goods inside a festive tent beside a replica bake oven.
Admission to the grounds to view the reenactment is free, though Hughes strongly encouraged visiting the site’s air conditioned museum to learn about the full history of the site.
The museum, with its high-definition audio-visual show and fresh, interactive exhibits, is open from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., Thursdays through Mondays.
Crown Point offers a unique backdrop for this interactive event, both geographically and historically. Before the 1730s, Woodland Indians camped on the peninsula. In 1734, the French military built an impressive stronghold here, Fort St. Frédéric, with its tall limestone tower and even a fortified and wind-powered grist mill. A quarter-century later, when the British arrived, they added an even larger fortress at Crown Point. The limestone ruins of both the French-built fort and of the earthen walls and stone barracks of the British fort, located on a point of land that juts into Lake Champlain, still offer an inspiring location that has remained largely unchanged since a devastating fire burned the British fort in 1773, only two years before the start of the War for American Independence.
The ruins are among the very few remaining examples of pre-Revolutionary military construction in the United States and both fort ruins have been individually designated as “National Historic Landmarks” by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
For more information about the site or about “Friends of Crown Point State Historic Site, Inc.,” the public can contact the site manager at 597-4666 or may schedule a visit to the museum on Grandview Drive, Crown Point. For more information about N.Y. State Parks and Historic Sites, visit the agency’s web site at www.nysparks.com.