Skip to comments.Ft. Massac Encampment this weekend in Metropolis
Posted on 10/17/2007 9:08:20 PM PDT by Pharmboy
FT. MASSAC This weekend one of the highlights of Southern Illinois will spotlight a portion of history as the Ft. Massac Encampment is held this weekend, Oct. 20 and 21. The festival begins at 10 a.m. Saturday with the ceremonial posting of the colors and runs through 5 p.m. with various activities. Sunday hours are from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Parking is free and is available at the old fairgrounds adjacent to the park. Tram service is provided and is wheelchair accessible.
This re-creation of the lifestyles and atmosphere of the late 1700s attracts more than 80,000 people.
The historic site is a replica of the 1802 American fort that was on site. The historic fort area contains 2 barracks, 3 block houses, officer quarters, well, stockade along with a fraise fence. The site also has the archaeological outline of the 1757 French Fort.
Actual re-creations of pioneer life of the 1700s during the annual Fort Massac Encampment each year bring the past to life, letting you experience it yourself.
This is good, wholesome entertainment for the whole family, Greg Eastman of Marion said. Its a chance to learn about history and have fun at the same time.
Eastman has been going to Ft. Massac for nearly 30 years and participated in the reenacting for about eight years. He says he looks forward to October each year.
I first went down to Ft. Massac during the Bicentennial Celebration just to see what was going on, Eastman said. I have always been interested in history and I was hooked.
Eastman said that he has hopes that his granddaughter Kaitlin will follow in his footsteps as she really enjoyed a day she spent at the Purdy one room school.
Visitors can take a step back in time to Colonial and early American times and enjoy a lively history lesson, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Acting Director Sam Flood said. It is a fun-filled weekend for families from all over the midwest and military re-enactors, craft demonstrations, period food and music.
The rich history of this site begins before recorded history, when native Americans undoubtedly took advantage of its strategic location overlooking the Ohio River. Legend has it that Europeans took this same advantage as early as 1540, when the Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto and his soldiers constructed a primitive fortification here to defend themselves from hostile native attack.
The French built Fort De LAscension on the site in 1757, during the French and Indian War, when France and Great Britain were fighting for ultimate control of central North America. Rebuilt in 1759-60, the structure was renamed Massac in honor of the then French Minister of Colonial Affairs, and came under fire only once, when unsuccessfully attacked by a group of Cherokee.
Following the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, the French abandoned the fort and a band of Chickasaws burned it to the ground. When Captain Thomas Stirling, commander of the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment, arrived to take possession, all he found was a charred ruin.
The British anglicized the name to Massac but, despite the counsel of their military advisers, they neither rebuilt nor regarrisoned the fort. This oversight left them vulnerable and in 1778, during the Revolutionary War, Colonel George Rogers Clark led his Long Knives regiment into Illinois at Massac Creek and was able to capture Kaskaskia, 100 miles to the north, without firing a shot-thus taking the entire Illinois Territory for the State of Virginia and the fledgling United States.
In 1794, President George Washington ordered the fort rebuilt, and for the next 20 years it protected U.S. military and commercial interests in the Ohio Valley.
U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr and Gen. James Wilkinson, who allegedly drew up plans to personally conquer Mexico and the American southwest, met at Fort Massac during the summer of 1805. Edward Everett Hale later used the setting of Fort Massac and the Burr-Wilkinson plot as basis for his classic historical novel, The Man Without a Country.
Although ravaged by the New Madrid earthquake in 1811-12, the fort was again rebuilt in time to play a minor role in the War of 1812, only to be abandoned again in 1814. Local citizens dismantled the fort for timber, and by 1828 little remained of the original construction. In 1839 the city of Metropolis was platted about a mile west of the fort.
The site served briefly as a training camp during the early years of the Civil War, marking the last time U.S. troops were stationed at the site. The fort was abandoned after a measles epidemic in 1861-62 claimed the lives of a substantial number of soldiers of the Third Illinois Cavalry and the 131st Illinois Infantry, who were using the fort as an encampment.
Archeological and historical excavations were conducted on the site from 1939-42 and attempted again in 1966, 1970, and during 2002. In the early 1970s a replica of an American fort at Fort Massac was reconstructed off the original site of the forts. The replica was based on the 1794 American Fort. This reconstruction was brought down in the fall of 2002, to rebuild another replica of a 1802 American fort. The original site, where all the forts were built has the archeological outline of the 1757 French Fort.
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Oh, neat! A bit of knowledge from the founding of the nation!
I’m always interested in stuff involving the Illinois territories....
Thanks for the links...excellent pics.