Fort Henry Days 2019

October 1, 2019 - No Comments

by Jim Barnes

The Fort Henry Days celebration is held at Oglebay Park near Wheeling, WV every Labor Day weekend. The original Fort Henry, built in June 1774, was not erected by any specific plan or design, but was one of a number of similar forts built to protect settlers on the frontier in the middle years of the 1770s. The outbreak of the Shawnee War or Lord Dunmore’s War, a conflict between American Indians of the Ohio Country and Virginia, was the immediate reason for its construction. *

Ebenezer Zane and John Caldwell began the fort, which was completed with the help of Captain William Crawford, Colonel Angus McDonald and 400 militia and regulars from Fort Pitt. A letter preserved in the Pennsylvania Archives shows that Dunmore’s agent in the area, John Connolly, told Crawford “to proceed to Wheeling and complete the fort.” *

The fort was subject to two major sieges, two notable feats (McColloch’s Leap in 1777 and Betty Zane‘s trek through the battle in 1782) and other skirmishes. *

The reenactment of the 1782 attack on the fort was the focus of this year’s event. The first year that we attended, I was a Tory assisting the Indians and got to take a pot shot at Betty Zane when she ran back to the fort from the blockhouse with the gunpowder. (I must have missed. She made it.) The last two years, I have helped defend the fort. This year the natives were assisted by British rangers in green uniforms which was a nice touch. I don’t know how they recruit their Bettys, but this one was as fast as the one two years ago. I imagine she is on a track team somewhere.

This is a nice, laid-back colonial-era event with a good selection of sutlers selling 18th century goods. There were also dancers, period musicians, historians discussing various subjects related to the fort, and numerous activities for the tourist set among the different living history camps. The Montgolfier brothers must have been around somewhere as there was a hot-air balloon on the grounds.

* From Wikipedia

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