By Beth David
This weekend, the Fairhaven Village Militia and the Fairhaven Office of Tourism were joined by the Wareham Minutemen and Militia Company at the annual spring encampment at Fort Phoenix, making it the largest group to participate since the spring ecampments started in 2010.
The groups also hold an encampment in September of each year.
The group of men, women and children dressed in period clothing and reenacted life in 1778, during the American Revolution.
Hundreds of people visited the camp on Saturday and Sunday to find out about life in the late 1700s, play the games of the times, see demonstrations of firing flintlock muskets and rifles, tin-smithing, starting fires eith flint and steel, open-fire cooking and all manner of other things that have mostly disappeared in modern life.
The highlight of the weekend was, and always is, the firing of the fort’s five cannons.
This year, Fairhaven Tourism Director Christopher Richard fired his swivel gun, which looks like a mini-cannon.
He explained each step of the cannon firing process, from “worming the hole” (cleaning out the old debris), to loading the charge, to firing the cannon.
The loud boom delighted the hundreds of visitors lined up on the rocks and lawn to watch. But it was about one-tenth of the charge that would have been used in a war situation.
The militia uses about 1 pound of gunpowder, the revolutionaries used 10 pounds.
Mr. Richard told the crowd that a cannonball would be able to reach the Butler Flats Lighthouse.
All five cannons were fired, with cannon #5 lit by Keegan Fike, a Fairhaven High School senior who recently won the 2016 US Coast Guard Military Child of the Year by Operation Homefront. His father, Lt. Brent Fike of the USCG, fired cannon #3.
New this year, was the placement of 86 flags representing 86 people from Old Dartmouth who are known to have served during the American Revolution, both as Union and Continential soldiers or militia.
Lori Richard, dressed in period gear at her tent, said it was the largest encampment they ever had.
“It’s amazing how much it’s grown,” she said. “And how many people have joined.”
For more information on the militia and other events at the Fort, contact the Office of Tourism at 508-979-4085 or email Fairhaventours@aol.com, or visit www.FairhavenTours.com
Click to download the 6/2/16 issue in its entirety: 06-02-16 MemDay