Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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September 21, 2013

Hands-on history

Students learn about French and Indian War and life on the frontier during Koh-Koh-Mah

Brian Wilson sat Friday in his 18th century office holding an ink well and feather quill and planning a mock battle.

Wilson had assumed the role of Lt. Col. George Williamson, an officer in the Royal Artillery. And he was gathering his troops for the Battle of Fort Bull.

The real fight at Fort Bull took place more than 200 years ago during the French and Indian War.

Wilson’s, though, would play out in a field in Howard County in 2013 as part of the Koh-Koh-Mah living history encampment.

By 11 a.m. Friday, Wilson was in full battle mode. He was coordinating logistics and figuring out how many British troops he could take to battle with him.

Of course, it wasn’t Wilson planning the battle. It was his character, who went to college in Woolwich, England, and became an officer in the Royal Artillery — the artillery arm of the British Army.

He wasn’t a frontlines guy.

“I was more of an engineer,” Wilson said.

His work happened before the battle. During it, though, he stayed inside the fort while his comrades fought the French and Indians.

The fight started with a bang. Muskets fired and cannons went off while the 1,700 school children watching from afar screamed and stared in amazement.

The Indians were trying to prevent the British supply wagon from getting up the hill to the fort to deliver needed food, water and ammunition.

The natives used guerrilla warfare.

“They fight like they hunt,” he said. “They circle their prey.”

Those tactics forced the British to keep moving. If they stopped, the Indians would totally encircle them.

“Then they can wait us out,” he said. “Suddenly we have no food, no water, no ammunition.”

The Europeans fought in a more traditional way, with rank and file lines, Wilson said. But during the French and Indian War, they were forced to change the way they fought. It worked, though, Wilson said. They won the war.

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