Pirates Attack Fort Mifflin, Pa

This past weekend found me in Fort Mifflin, Pa for the pirate raid on the fort. I was coaxed to come out by Wayne of The Sea Dogs and very much enjoyed it.  This was my first time to Fort Mifflin, and she’s a good sized 18th-century site and was a lot of fun to stroll around. I always forget to take pictures until after I am finished with wandering around, but I did get a few looking shots looking around the fort.

One of the things that got my attention right off was the flag.

I hadn’t seen a flag like this before. Continental Navy flag before, so I had to look it up.

The Fort Mifflin Flag was originally the official flag of the Continental Navy Jack. As you can see it is very distinctive in its design, consisting of thirteen alternating stripes of red, white and blue, representing the thirteen colonies of the new nation at the time. The Fort Mifflin flag borrowed the design because the navy was operating in the vicinity of the Delaware River forts and it was the only flag the soldiers of the fort saw on the island. The present flag that flies over the fort is an exact replica of the flag that flew over the fort in the fall of 1777, but is only one quarter the size of the garrison flag that flew during the battle and could be seen as far away as Philadelphia, over 7 miles away.

By the way… a little history on this flag and the fort that I found…. a pretty impressive stand off in the Siege of the fort in 1777…

During the siege of Fort Mifflin from October 4th to the morning of November 16th 1777, the flag remained flying, despite the largest bombardment the North American continent has ever seen. Over 10,000 cannonballs were shot at the small garrison of men at the fort and at one point 1,000 cannonballs in one hour. Through the tremendous shelling by the batteries on land and the British fleet in the river, the Continental soldiers held fast and heroically stood against the onslaught. At one point the flag was shot from the pole and two soldiers rushed to raise it, but no sooner than they had done so a British mortar shell burst and killed both men. Eventually the Fort was unable to bear under the constant barrage, but the defenders did not surrender the Fort, the flag was still flying the morning they evacuated to New Jersey.

But that’s a different story and a different reenactment… this was a pirate invasion…so back to the event at hand…

I talked to the executive director of the Fort, Beth Beatty not long after arriving. It just so happened we had done a story on the fort (totally different topic) on the radio a couple days before, so I told her I would come say hi in person when I got there.  She introduced me around to some of the reenactors like Rose who does a lot of Loyalist reenactment (Hey Karen, I’ll be even better prepared for my Green Turtle events!!!)  and then I met Chris Vota.

She was doing finger weaving. Now I brought the inkle loom, but you know me…. shiny! I saw her doing something I wasn’t doing and I wanted to do it too.

She was very patient walking me through the steps…

and what do you know…. I got it!!

I think I will be investing in a book of weaving patterns now just so I can keep this up. It’s a nice easy weaving project to do without having to worry about having the loom, space, etc…..The ropes are great for trim and she had them attached to her chemise as the ties. great accent pieces!  Thanks Chris!!!

There were other displays as well…. a nautical display…usually with a gentleman giving explanations, but of course I snapped this shot when he wasn’t there…

And A guy who reminded me of Mission, detailing medical procedures of the time…. and once again having me think I am better off taking my chances with the ailment than the cure….

And what kind of pirate event would it be without Skirmishes???  As we sat on the walls of the fort for the first skirmish, the Loyalists looked as if they were well outnumbering the pirates…..

But pirates are sneaky….and sneak they did… right around the other side of the fort and come up behind the loyalists taking the fort in skirmish # 1.

They were not as lucky in skirmish #2 though….  The Loyalists had regrouped and started picking off the pirates one by one…. but there was one move I liked…. In Wayne’s (the one on the ground) final dying moments after being shot… he seems to have been able to reload a blunderbuss so Stu could snatch it and get one shot off….

But the math still didn’t work… one blunderbuss to 7 Loyalists on the bridge… and….

Down went Stu…….

The other pirates who were still alive ran for it but were eventually captured and clapped in irons…. and so ended the pirate siege….

So, what do you do after a battle? Play music, of course…. Here are a couple clips of the The Sea Dogs playing in the Bakehouse.

And finally a couple of random pics.

#1. I looked out over the side of the fort and though Monet! from purple flowers to water lilies it seemed like a Monet waiting to be painted….

And #2 an idea I thought was cute.  As the kids came in they got a scavenger hunt sheet and had to hunt for pirates that had certain things (and then learn about them) I was able to sign off on Pieces of Eight and a dagger I was wearing… and Wayne had a constant line of them for his bandana, sword, pistol, etc…..

It was cute and gave kids an ‘in’ to communicate with the pirates instead of standing off to the side. Great idea!

Overall, the event was a very small one, just a couple handfuls of reenactors and performers, but what they did they did well and kept people entertained throughout the day. And there were a lot of them. Between good press and perfect weather, the fort broke their past attendance records for the event! Huzzah!