Wet weather short­ens De­fend­ers Day cel­e­bra­tion

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By MIA MCCASLIN mm­c­caslin@ches­pub.com

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 nrod­man@ches­pub.com.

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.

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