Fort Wellington National Historic Site, Prescott, Ontario (Location)
I arrived at Fort Wellington today after being a spectator at the re-enactment of the French and Indian War at the former site of Fort de la Presentation on the opposite shore of the St. Lawrence River. It was late in the day, so I decided to just take some shots of the perimeter of Fort Wellington and save a visit inside the fort for a later date.
Fort Wellington was constructed during the latter months of the War of 1812, a war which is also referred to as the 2nd American Revolution. The current version of the fort replicates the second iteration of the fort as it was reconstructed in 1838. The fort’s earthen ramparts with horizontal freize pickets protected an internal blockade and an internal open space where British troops and militia could be marshaled to defend the port of Prescott on the north banks of the St. Lawrence River.
Looking out across the St. Lawrence River, it might be a bit difficult to visualize why Prescott was so important but before the development of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the stretch of the St. Lawrence River from Kingston through the Thousand Islands and then continuing downstream all the way to Montreal was a relatively fast flowing rapid-filled stretch of water. Freight would need to be brought upstream from Montreal by smaller boats filled with cargo unloaded from the larger ocean-going vessels and, in a similar fashion cargo coming downstream from Lake Ontario would need to be off-loaded from Great Lakes freighters to smaller boats capable of navigating the rapids above Prescott. Freight going in either direction would need to pass by Prescott on the north side of the river and Ogdensburg a mile away on the south side of the river. Both centers benefited from this commercial trade on the river and competed for the business in a non-military manner.
Side note: Interestingly, I had been in Ogdensburg earlier today as a spectator in their re-enactment of the French and Indian Wars on the former location of the Fort de la Presentation.
Although Fort Wellington was constructed late in the period of the War of 1812, It was considered to be a strong symbolic gesture on the part of the British that they were prepared to protect the town of Prescott and secure passage of British materials along this stretch of the St. Lawrence River. Almost 10 months earlier, Lieutent-colonel MacDonald had led troops across the ice from Prescott to attack and partially plunder Ogdensburg so although there was no formal fort at Prescott during most of the period of the War of 1812 and Fort Wellington, itself, was never attacked, Prescott was certainly not a dull, uninvolved location on a military level!
The fort began a second life 25 years later when rebellious forces came ashore further downstream at the Battle of the Windmill.