Often referred to as the crown jewel of Michigan vacation destinations, Mackinac Island also holds a notable place in history.
Two hundred years ago British forces, aided by hundreds of Native Americans, recaptured Fort Mackinac in one of the first military actions of the War of 1812 in US Territory. Two years later on August 4, 1814, a historic battle took place – the Battle of Mackinac Island – a month-long American expedition to recapture Mackinac Island from British control.
As Fort Mackinac opens to the public for the 2014 season, we are reminded of a different time. Step back to 1812 and relieve the past inside the stately stone walls of Fort Mackinac where cannon blasts, rifles fire and soldiers march…where history comes alive.
This year marks the continuation of the bicentennial of the War of 1812. Special 1812 demonstrations and tours will take place every day at Fort Mackinac. New exhibits in the East Blockhouse will tell the story of the American attempts to capture the fort in 1814. In addition, a series of special events between August 2 and August 4 will mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Mackinac Island.
Mackinac State Historic Parks has partnered with several historic organizations, including Canadian and American reenactment groups, to present the Battle of Mackinac Island to modern visitors. Guests will begin this memorable experience inside historic Fort Mackinac before witnessing a narrated battle reenactment featuring artillery, military music, naval gunfire, and participants representing forces from the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and the Native American tribes of the Great Lakes.
These three days of special events and activities will culminate with a commemorative reenactment of the Battle of Mackinac Island which will take place on the original battlefield (now the Wawashkamo Golf Course).
Also anticipated for this summer is the beginning of the reconstruction of Fort Holmes. A blockhouse and stockade built in 1814 by the British, Fort Holmes (originally named Fort George during the War of 1812) sits atop the highest point on the island adjacent to Fort Mackinac. Today Fort Holmes is badly deteriorated and in need of restoration. Using the original plans of the fort, the restoration of Fort Holmes is anticipated to break ground this summer, take approximately 12-16 weeks, with completion scheduled for the 2015 season. Upon completion, visitors to the site will be able to further understand the island’s historic significance.
These special programs, for both kids and adults, and events commemorating the bicentennial of the War of 1812 continue to make Mackinac Island’s Fort Mackinac a must-see attraction.