Fort Ontario Hosts 150th Civil War Commemorative Event Sept. 29 & 30

Civil War Artillery, Infantry, Engineer, Signal Corps, and Medical Department impressions will be featured at Fort Ontario during the September 29 and 30 living history event. A highlight of the event will be a night-time artillery firing demonstration at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29.


OSWEGO, NY – A living history event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (1861 – 1865) will take place Saturday and Sunday, Sept, 29 and 30, on the historic grounds of Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego.

Infantry and artillery demonstrations will take place throughout the day.  Union and Confederate Army camps will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.  Simulated battles or tactical weapons demonstrations are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. each day, and interpreters portraying the US Army Signal Corps and Corps of Engineers will explain their respective roles in the Civil War.

A highlight of the Civil War commemorative event will be a Saturday 7 p.m. nighttime artillery firing demonstration with aerial shell bursts (fireworks) provided by Young Explosives of Rochester.  All spectators will be kept behind a line south of the fort for this unique experience.  There will be no public evening admission or parking at the fort for safety purposes after 5 p.m., however, there is plenty of parking on streets around the fort.

Regular admission will be charged to the old fort which will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days.

“During the American Civil War, 1861 – 1865, Fort Ontario protected the northern frontier from potential invasion from British-held Canada,” said Paul Lear, Historic Site Manager.  “Fear of British intervention on behalf of the Confederacy caused new construction at Fort Ontario which lasted from 1863 to 1872.”

The 81st New York Infantry Regiment, the first Union Army infantry regiment to enter Richmond after the city’s surrender, was organized and trained at the Fort Ontario early in the war; from December 1861 the fort was garrisoned by regular U.S. Army troops.

“Fort Ontario served primarily as a recruiting depot and induction center for the Union Army from 1862 to 1865, and following anti-draft riots in New York City draft records were removed to the fort for safekeeping,” Lear said.

This Civil War living history event is sponsored by Cushing’s Battery A 4th U.S. Artillery, Young Explosives, local businesses, Friends of Fort Ontario, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.  Fort Ontario State Historic Site is located at the north end of East 4th Street in the City of Oswego.  For more information contact Lear at (315) 343-4711.

For Oswego County lodging, restaurants and visitor information, go to