Friday, July 31, 2009

Revolutionary War Encampment,
Tall Ships at Fort McClary

Step back in time to view the Tall Ships sail into Portsmouth Harbor from historic Fort McClary on Pepperrell Road (Rt. 103) in Kittery Point on Friday, Aug. 7. With a commanding view of the harbor and the mouth of the Piscataqua River, you can watch the Parade of Sails with local boats organize on the horizon at 9:30 a.m. to accompany the U.S. Eagle, the Kalmer Nyckel, the Spirit of South Carolina and the Spirit of Massachusetts as they sail into the harbor and make the turn up to go up the river to Portsmouth.
The Friends of Fort McClary will open the gates at Fort McClary State Historic Site and Park at 8:30 a.m. Additional parking is available on the picnic side of the park and the Block House will be open. The regular admission fee to the State Park is $2 for State residents and $3 for nonresidents age 12 to 64, $1 for children age 5 to 11. Under age 5 and 65+ are free.
A living history presentation of a Revolutionary War encampment with the Royal Irish Artillery Company, Drake’s Artillery and the Frigate Raleigh Gun Crew will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 8 and 9, at Fort McClary State Historical Site and Park, Pepperrell Road (Rt. 103) in Kittery Point, Maine. This event coincides with the arrival and departure of the visit of the Tall Ships to Portsmouth on Aug. 7 and 9.
Sponsored by the Friends of Fort McClary, Park gates will be open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. both days. Only regular State Park admission fees will be charged. For State residents age 12 to 64: $2 and non-State residents: $3. Children age 5-11: $1. Under age 5 and 65+ are free. Additional parking is available on the picnic side of the Park.
In 1715, the Colony of Massachusetts Bay approved the erection of a permanent breastwork of six guns for the defense of the Piscataqua River on the current site. Around 1720, a fort was built and named Fort William, in honor Sir William Pepperrell, a wealthy and prominent resident and landowner in Kittery Point who died in 1759. When the American Revolution broke out in 1775, the Pepperrell family remained loyal to the British Crown and all of their property, including the Fort, was confiscated by local citizens.
Because British war ships had destroyed or captured several towns along the Maine coast and were expected to attack Kittery and Portsmouth, there was intense excitement and great alarm and every effort was made to be ready for the coming enemy. The Fort was put in order and well garrisoned. Along with Fort Constitution (formerly Fort William and Mary) directly across the mouth of the river in Newcastle, the defense of the mouth of the Piscataqua River was so formidable that Kittery and Portsmouth were never attacked by the British.
Over the weekend encampment, the Royal Irish Artillery will have a full tent camp set up on the Upper Battery of the Fort next to the Block House. Participants will be in period uniforms and dress and will re-enact camp life, including a camp kitchen and cooking over a fire pit and period craft demonstrations. On the Lower Battery, a second tent camp will be occupied by Drake’s Artillery and the Frigate Raleigh Gun Crew. Artillery demonstrations will be conducted and cannons will be fired off, on the hour, throughout the day.
For more information, go to the Friends’ web site at or contact Steve Estes at 207-439-3479.