Fort Michilimackinac - stragically
located to provide protection of a
vital trade route. All areas of the
compound overlook the Straits
Mackinaw City, MI - This area was of significant importance to France and England from the very beginning of Colonial America. The natural treasures of the great forests, minimally husbanded by the Indian nations, were a source of vast wealth for French and English trading companies. In 1715 Fort Michilimackinac was established by French soldiers. Three centuries later it has become a fascinating glimpse into our colonial history.

The fort was enclosed by a wooden palisade with block houses for cannon using from 1/2 to 6 pound shot. The cannon range was only 1 mile and the opposite shoreline is over 5 miles away so a small sloop was assigned to the fort, extending its force across the narrow strait. It wasn't a very effective way to control the area, as the British found out when the Colonial Army kicked them out of Fort Mackinac during the War of The Revolution.

The craftsmen of the fort still provide
skills necessary to the colonial outpost
The buildings are very true to the original construction methods. Adzes and braces are common here. The entire compound is under continual excavation, a spoonful at a time. The work has recovered more than two MILLION artifacts and done much to explain the life of a frontier settlement. A large number of these artifacts are on display in an underground museum that is accessible from one of the reconstructed buildings of the village.

The French and English traders weren't stupid, just arrogant. They supplied cheap trade goods to the Indians and took furs and other valuable resources as payment. The local locksmith shop spent most of the time repairing the smooth bore flintlock rifles supplied to the Indians. Real metal artistry was not expected from this shop, but as a cash flow business it worked nicely.

Enlisted soldiers act as recruiters
and instructors
Click for MPEG
The British garrison here has been forced to send over half of it troopers to the east coast to fight the rebel insurrection. Several times each day fort visitors are called to assembly and recruit orientation is conducted. Two senior enlisted men introduce the recruits (visitors) to the basics of muzzle loading rifles and bayonets. Jim Evans tells us the gruesome details of a bayonet on his photo in the center you will see and hear him explain a bit about the flintlock rifles.

Click image for video
The second of our "Drill Instructors" is John Anderson. Click on his photo to see and hear the routine that recruits must learn as he steps to the line and fires at "those awful Blue Coats." The presentation is given with a great deal of humor and knowledge, it is pleasure to witness the demonstration.

After the musket drill, we recruits are marched to the Lake Michigan shoreline to watch Evans and Anderson prepare a salute to good King George III. Click on that photo, too, for a video clip.

Is this a stopover or destination? It's a destination and very worthwhile at that. The entire area; Mackinac City, Mackinac Island, and St Ignace all combine to offer a very full weekend of summer fun.
Musket demonstrations are followed
with a cannon shot to salute King George

-LW - 08/2005