"Transforming Old Fort Erie - The Jacobites In Edinburgh: 1745"
by Chris Timm
Originally published in Smoke & Fire Magazine
After a number of false starts the main May event for the 1745 Jacobite Rising time period ended up being held the weekend of May 21 to May 22 at Old Fort Erie, Fort Erie Ontario. This was a return to a popular site for the re-enactors for a weekend focused on the events surrounding the Jacobite occupation of Edinburgh in the fall of 1745.
Once more the superbly recreated 18th century stone fort was transformed into Edinburgh, complete with town's people and activities those living there during this period of history would have done.
Saturday morning the Jacobites captured the town forcing the government garrison to retreat back to the "castle" (outer redoubts of the fort). Skirmishes were held throughout the morning but the townspeople carried on their trade.
Once the town was secured, King James was declared sovereign at the Market Cross, the Saltire (the flag of Scotland) was raised over the "town" to show it was now being held by the Jacobites. Saturday afternoon's battle was based on the numerous forays recorded during the period of occupation by the government garrison in the castle. Led by the grenadiers of the 1st Regiment of foot, forces comprising the 15th Regiment of foot and Scots loyal to King George sallied out of the castle. Easily pushing the picquets a more substantial party was called from the Jacobite camp as the Crown Forces threatened to retake the town. In the end, the numerical superiority of Prince Charles' troops carried the day and the red coats were compelled to fall back in good order from where they came back into the "castle". In the end it was a good display of fire and movement for the public in attendance.
While 18th century combat is always a feature at these events, so too are activities for civilian interpreters of this era. Period dancing was held each day as was "town life" which is a set time period of first person interpretation of town's people. A wide variety of people ranging from gentlemen, citrus mongers, wool spinners and more animated "Edinburgh" throughout the weekend. Saturday afternoon a ladies tea was held in honor of Prince Charles at the "Palace of Holyrood" organized by the ladies of Clan MacLachlan and the men were able to try their hand at ancient highland games once more provided by Clan Cameron.
Saturday evening a period concert was held by Quartet Allemande. Featuring four members of the Erie Junior Philharmonic Orchestra from Erie PA, they not only entertained the appreciative crowd but also impressed them with their skill and wide repertoire. Thanks to Karen Smock for organizing this welcome new addition to the program.
Sunday a proper church service for the era was researched and led by Bill Jeffery of Clan Cameron to prepare those in attendance for the day. The battle for the day was a tactical where disciplined musket fire was pitted against the ferocious highland charge. Spirited hand to hand combat was held that thrilled the spectators lining the field.
Finally, to end the weekend, an honor guard was dispatched, the Saltire was lowered and Edinburgh became once more Old Fort Erie.
Thanks again to Jim Hill, manager of this terrific site and his whole staff for stepping up and allowing us to again use this fantastic location. Once more they showed not only their professionalism but why this is such a great place to hold an event.
Next years 1745 Jacobite Rising May Grand Encampment event will be held at Fort Loudon Pennsylvania. It will take place the weekend of May 19 to May 21, 2006. Being the 260th anniversary of the Battle of Culloden, special emphasis on this watershed battle will be given. Those considering joining this exciting time period or groups wanting to join the Order of Battle for either King James or King George are encouraged to visit our website at www.1745rising.org for more details or contact information.