Old Fort re-enactors recall siege of 1812
Jun. 12, 2018
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — For Ruth Swearingen and her husband, Gerret, re-enacting battles and life in the military isn't just about American history. It's also about their personal history.
Ruth, 34, and Gerret, 36, of Ossian, met at a Mississinewa re-enactment in Marion. He later proposed at a War of 1812 re-enactment in Canada.
They were together Sunday for the Siege of Fort Wayne, the annual re-enactment of the fall 1812 battle in which U.S. forces held the local garrison from attacking American Indians.
Held at the Old Fort, the event typically includes military drills and strategy demonstrations over two days. Rainy weather washed out some of those activities Sunday, and some participants were packing up to leave by 2 p.m. - about two hours before the event was scheduled to close.
Ruth remained, barefoot and wearing a blue dress and a white bonnet - clothes reminiscent of what a woman in camp would have worn more than 200 years ago.
She said she has been taking part in re-enactments for nearly 20 years. She was home-schooled and said her mother fostered her interest in history by taking her and her siblings to similar events.
"She taught us history through living it," Ruth said. "It makes more of an impression if you can see and feel it and live it."
The real siege unfolded from Sept. 5 through 12, 1812, after the British captured Fort Dearborn in Illinois and Fort Detroit in Michigan. As many as 1,000 fighters from the Potawatomi and Miami tribes attacked the fort, which held around 100 soldiers.
Territorial Governor William Henry Harrison led about 2,000 troops to Fort Wayne to help stave off the attack.
Jim Schubert, 51, of Cincinnati, was dressed in a green uniform as a member of the U.S. Regiment of Riflemen. He said he became interested in the War of 1812 period after attending a re-enactment of the Battle of Lake Erie in 2001.
"I just really got hooked," Schubert said.
Ryan Ziegler, 37, of Fort Myers, Florida, laughed when he said he was at the fort "to kill an hour before I get on a plane."
He was in town to visit his girlfriend, Gracie Creek, 23, of Fort Wayne, and was soon headed back home.
"I enjoy history, but I don't know much about it," Ziegler said.
Cindy and Jeff Rader also said they wanted to learn more about history. They drove from their home in Goshen to check out the fort and the re-enactment.
"We love history," Cindy said, adding that she appreciates the simplicity with which people lived in the 19th century.
"If people would spend one day - one day - living the way they did, they would come out feeling blessed," she said. "Today, it's just really chaotic."
Source: The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette, https://bit.ly/2t0quG6
Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net