Monday, April 18, 2016

French and Indian War - Fort Halifax

Somewhere in Maine there is a Top Secret training facility where the Supreme Commander of all My Men and I are sending the first of the Teenage Spies for in-depth training in Conservation Law. This training will consume the next four years of the tough, no-nonsense raven-haired lass. This is the spy who at times I have been able to convert as a double-agent. I have not been able to crack the spy's devotion to General ze Wife completely though. The General has tasked me with the very important mission of transporting the eldest spy, all the spies really and the General in a motorcade to this facility located deep in the woods. Hum, I believe this training is going to impact the military budget even further. If I'm lucky, maybe the Teenage Spy will get me a t-shirt or something. We shall see.

This quick trip is so the Teenage Spy can meet others like her. Some sort of spy orientation, a mini Teenage Spy convention if you will. I think I'll have to be very careful with my own secret plan. What plan you ask? Could this involve wargames in anyway? Haha, of course it does. This is why I have to use extreme caution so none of it get's back to the General. I had to implement my plan like it just serendipitously happened. This was accomplished with a small bribe to the youngest of the Teenage Spies. Maybe I should apply to spy school myself.

The location of my secret recon mission is not far...not days, not hours, but within minutes, as in 30 minutes, which is a very close distance if you have ever driven in the state of Maine. In this time frame there happen to be the remains of not one, but two...two, French and Indian War forts.  The locations are within striking distance of the hotel I am using for my temporary barracks and not even far from the advanced training facility full of Teenage Spies. I only have time to get to one of them this trip though so have chosen the closest, Fort Halifax.

Fort Halifax sits in a strategic location at the intersection of the Kennebeck and Sebasticook Rivers and was an important communication and trade route. I would encourage you to listen to this interview from Colby College professor Daniel Tortora who wrote the book 'Fort Halifax, Winslow's Historic Outpost'. The interview is fantastic and loaded with historical information about the fort. He can do a much better job explaining it than I ever could. You can listen to the interview here.

Fort Halifax, located in Winslow, Maine, is the oldest Block House in the United States.It began as a French and Indian War garrison and trading post. The fort hosted many historical figures such as Benedict Arnold, Aaron Burr, Paul Revere and Chief Joseph Orono. Only a single block house remains on the southeastern most part of the fort closets to the Sebasticook River. My goal was to try and get there and walk the grounds to get a sense of the scale of the fort and also to take a few photos for my own research. The original fort included two main blockhouses, a barracks, a main building as well as two additional block houses overlooking the area from atop a nearby hill.
A sketch drawn by one of the original builders of the fort as it appeared in 1755.
Major General John Winslow arrived at the site after a five day journey from Fort Western to establish the fort with a force of 600 on July 25, 1754. Winslow described the activities that followed his arrival:
...On the next day, laid out the ground, began to clear it, seated our guns and mortars, hoisted the Kings colors with the beat of drum and sound of trumpet and discharge of our whole artillery and small arms, drank to his Majesty and called this place Fort this place we continued employing our people... in cutting timber and pickets,...sawing boards and plank, building storehouses, getting clapboards and shingles, procuring stones out of the river, making bricks, burning coals, etc. and by the seventh of August got in a good posture of defense.
It is now part of a public park in the town of Winslow, Maine.
Again, I encourage you to listen to the interview above or purchase the book to get a more in-depth look into this remarkable place. Here are some photos I took of the site this past weekend. Visiting sites like this is a great way to connect to the history of the period you plan on modeling or gaming.
The west side of the block house.

The west and south side of the block house with the Sebasticook River beyond.

The youngest Teenage Spy actually enjoyed the adventure of locating and visiting the fort.

The upper door and gun ports of the block house.

The spy is about 5'3" tall in case you needed some scale reference.

Where the rivers meet in the southwestern most part of the fort complex.

Looking back toward the east of the fort area from the rivers.

A rock outcropping. I put this here so you have an idea on color. I make most of my rocks like this out of pine bark.
Until next time. carry on men.

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