Wet weather shortens Defenders Day celebration
Food vendors and other groups cancelled their appearances in Fort Howard due to the abysmal weather on Saturday, Sept. 2, but drizzles couldn’t put a damper on the spirit of the passionate reenactors who travelled to Fort Howard Park.
“We tried, but we can’t control the weather,” said Rose Benton, coordinator of the event and member of the DundalkPatapsco Neck Historical Society.
“If we would have thought we needed it, we would have scheduled Sunday as a rain day,” Benton added, noting that the event has never needed a rain caveat before.
Of nine reenactment troops who were scheduled to storm the beaches on the Defenders Day celebration, only three were present.
The 16th Regiment Maryland Militia from Frederick, Md., the Aisquith Sharpshooters from Dundalk, Md., and the Chesapeake Flotilla Artillery of Hispanics In History from Baltimore, Md., were all in attendance.
Although two battle reenactments were scheduled for the Defenders Day celebration, the periodic rain and ever-changing forecast made it difficult for the reenactors to find a time that would be dry enough for their flintlock guns to perform.
As a response to the weather and depleted numbers, the reenactors consolidated their two performances into one reenactment which began at 12:30 p.m. The reenactment was narrated by Christopher T. George, renowned author of two books examining the war of 1812: “Terror on the Chesapeake: The War of 1812 on the Bay,” and “The Man Who Captured Washington: Major General Robert Ross and the War of 1812.”
Before the reenactment, Balt. Co. Exec. Kevin Kamenetz visited the camps around the park.
“Obviously we are disappointed with the weather, but clearly the spirit is still very much alive here,” said Kamenetz. “This is a really wonderful group of people who participate in and promote this event.”
State Sen. Johnny Ray Salling (R-6) was also in attendance at the celebration, and gave the keynote address at the 10 a.m. dedication of two restored WWI Cannons, replaced at their spot in front of Battery Harris after nearly two years restoration work.
Despite gray skies and cold rain last Saturday morning, crowds gathered to mark a milestone in local, national and world history during the annual Defenders Day festivities at Fort Howard Park.
The event included many of the usual elements that have made it a local favorite for many years — games, informational displays, music and, of course, a top-notch reenactment of the pivotal Battle of North Point during the War of 1812.
This year’s festivities also included a new element — the re-dedication of two World War I-era guns that were restored and replaced in front of Fort Howard’s Battery Harris.
In November 2015, the two 4.7in Field Gun M1906 field artillery guns were removed via flatbed truck and relocated to the National Guard Armory in Havre de Grace for restoration.
The effort to restore the 111-year-old guns, each weighing in at more than four tons, was coordinated by the Fort Howard Community Association, notably Kathy Labuda and Scott Pappas, with National Guard officials and other community leaders and local officials.
Designed in 1906, the guns were used in France during World War I. They arrived in Fort Howard Park in May 1975 and remained in their spot in front of Battery Harris for four decades when, moved by the site of the time-worn artillery, community members spearheaded efforts to have the guns restored.
Now, after a lengthy process that included refurbishing both the metal and wooden elements, the newly-restored guns were rededicated at a ceremony during Defenders Day on Sept. 2.
Dubbed “Keeping the Promise for Another 100 Years,” the dedication was archived by the U.S. World War I Centennial Commis- sion and preserved for posterity.
The event was held in cooperation with the Fort Howard Community Association, the Maryland Army National Guar and sponsors Chesapeake Woodworking, Sherwin-Williams Paints, Staples and Midway Lumber.
The ceremony included remarks by Retired SFC Les Ernest of the Maruland National Guard, Fort Howard Community Association President Scott Pappas and keynote speaker state Sen. Johnny Ray Salling (R-6).
The event also included a performance of the National Anthem courtesy of Katrina Jones, a 21-gun salute and presentation of the colors by Wells-McComas VFW Post 2678, prayers by Penwood Christian Church Pastor Donald Warner.
The dedication ceremony marked the culmination of years of hard work by many, especially Kathy Labuda and Scott Pappas, and serves as a reminder of what community members can do together with hard work and determination. Congratulations to all!
*** I would also like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who had a hand in restoring the guns at Fort Howard. I was on hand to cover their removal nearly two years ago and it is grati- fying to see the story come full circle.
I would also like to thank reporters Mia McCaslin and Bill Gates for braving the elements on Saturday to cover Defenders Day and the myriad sports events across the area this weekend.
For more coverage of Defenders Day, see the front of this week’s issue and see Bill’s extensive sports coverage toward the back.
And don’t forget — we want to hear from you!
Send us your photos, announcements and news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading!
Opinions expressed are those of the writer and do not represent the opinion of The Dundalk Eagle or Adams Publishing Group.
The Chesapeake Flotilla Artillery of Hispanics in History brought their Revolutionary War cannons.
Families braved the rain to learn about history from the present reenacting troops.
The Chesapeake Flotilla Artillery prepared their cannons without ammunition when not in the approved battle zone.
The reenactors line up in time to begin their rainy battle.
The Aisquith Sharpshooters and the 16th Regiment Maryland Militia demonstrated the heroic battle that took place in Fort Howard more than two hundred years ago.
Defenders Day is a show of patriotism for Dundalk’s part in the War of 1812.
The Chesapeake Flotilla Artillery brought along a second cannon to demonstrate the live fire.
PHOTOS BY MIA MCCASLIN Andy Mychatus (left) and Carl Olson (right) are part of the 16th Regiment Maryland Militia which is based in Fredrick, Md.
The reenactors enjoyed an authentic period meal including venison soup.
Members of the National Guard unit restoring the gun posed for a photo once the guns were safely secured for transport.
Using a crane, National Guard members carefully loaded the two guns onto a flatbed truck in November 2015.
The National Guard brought two 4.7in Field Gun M1906 field artillery guns to Fort Howard in 1975.