It was 235 years ago this July that American soldiers began building one of the largest Revolutionary War fortifications in the country—on what would become known as Mount Independence in Orwell, Vermont. An event commemorating this anniversary and experience the Revolutionary War and the road to American independence will be held on Saturday and Sunday, July 23 and 24, as the Mount Independence State Historic Site in Orwell, Vermont, presents the annual “Soldiers Atop the Mount” living history weekend. Dedicated reenactors recreate this exciting period in American history in an event that is fun for the whole family. Admission is $6.00 for adults and free for children under 15, and includes the museum and all activities.
The public is invited to visit the American and British tent camps, talking with reenactors whose units portray some of the actual units that garrisoned Mount Independence.
On Saturday, the camps open at 10:30 with ongoing demonstrations of camp life, a history scavenger hunt, and special children’s activities. During the day children and the young at heart can learn how to drill, visit the camps, attend Mistress Davenport’s School, and enjoy music from the Seth Warner Mount Independence Fife & Drum Corps. At 1:00 p.m. experience the artillery demonstration and at 2:00 p.m. witness the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence. In the afternoon see how the soldiers would have made fascines, bundles of wood used in military construction. At 3:00 p.m. is the narrated military tactical demonstration with military action encircling the audience.
On Sunday the camps open to the public at 10:00 and the history scavenger hunt is on.
At 11:30 or attend Mistress Davenport’s School, and experience the narrated military tactical demonstration at 1:30. The camp closes at 2:00 pm. At 2:30 site interpreter Paul Andriscin will give a short talk in the auditorium on the construction of Mount Independence. Call for details.
American forces built Mount Independence in 1776 and 1777 to defend New England and Lake Champlain from the British enemy in Canada. On the night of July 5 and 6, 1777, the Northern Department of the American Army withdrew from Mount Independence in Orwell and Fort Ticonderoga, as British Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne sailed down the lake pursuing his plan to split New England off from the rest of the United States. Following the Battle of Hubbardton on July 7, the British and Germans occupied Mount Independence until November of that year.
Mount Independence, a National Historic Landmark, is near the end of Mount Independence Road six miles west of the intersection of Vermont Routes 22A and 73 in Orwell. It includes an air conditioned visitor center and museum and nearly six miles of hiking trails. It is open daily through October 10, 9:30 to 5:00. Call (802) 948-2000 for more information or visit www.HistoricVermont.org/sites.
Photo: American Revolutionary War Soldiers firing at Mount Independence. Courtesy Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.