• American Camp parade ground looking west

    San Juan Island

    National Historical Park Washington

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Encampment 2013 Set for English Camp

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Battery D Foundation has run the 19th century field kitchen at Encampment since 1999. Encampment 2013 is scheduled July 27-28.
Mike Vouri

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Date: July 24, 2013
Contact: Doug Halsey, 360-378-2240, ext. 2228
Contact: Mike Vouri, 360-378-2240, ext. 2227

Re-enactors from throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada will once again celebrate peace as they gather for the 15th Annual Encampment scheduled Saturday and Sunday, July 27-28 on the English Camp parade ground.

Encampment 2013 is free. Disabled persons should call the park at (360) 378-2240, ext. 2233, or 378-4409 for special access information.

The weekend includes recreations of mid-19th century Royal Marine Light Infantry and U.S. Army camp life, demonstrations of music, blacksmithing, spinning and weaving, sewing, cooperage and carpentry, along with the pageantry of period uniforms in scarlet and blue. Black powder rifled musket demonstrations and the firing of howitzer also are planned both days.

Saturday (July 27) activities will culminate in the Candlelight Ball, scheduled at 8 p.m., in the English Camp barracks. The public is invited to join in the dancing and refreshments that will include the traditional cake and punch. Music for contra dancing will be provided by the Pig War Band. 

As it has since its inception in 1998, Encampment commemorates the peaceful joint occupation of San Juan Island by British and American forces from 1859 to 1872, and final settlement of the Northwest Boundary dispute. 

This seemingly innocuous event nearly escalated into hostilities between elements of the U.S. Army and the Royal Navy on San Juan Island between July and October 1859. The crisis was quelled thanks to the restraint of Royal Navy officers on scene and the negotiating skills of Lt. Gen. Winfield Scott, commander of the U.S. Army, who made the six-week trip from New York City to the West Coast from Washington, DC.

Shortly after Scott re-embarked for the East, the two nations agreed to a joint military occupation of the island. The Americans elected to remain at their camp on the island's Cattle Point Peninsula while Royal Marines established their camp 13 miles north on Garrison Bay.

Throughout the joint occupation the garrisons exchanged visits to celebrate holidays that included Christmas, the Fourth of July and Queen Victoria's birthday. Typically the men would participate in athletic contests, imbibe in spirits and other refreshments and usually host a dance to which the community was invited.

The Encampment tradition was renewed in 1998 on the occasion of the dedication of English Camp's 80-foot flagpole, a gift to the park by the people of the United Kingdom. The event drew nearly 600 people to the parade ground, including distinguished guests and officials from both nations. The 2009 Pig War Sesquicentennial Encampment drew more 5,000 visitors over the two-day period.

For more information about or participating in Encampment 2013, call Doug Halsey at (360) 378-2240, extension 2228 or e-mail him at e-mail us. All black powder demonstrations are done with blank cartridges on a controlled range under strict NPS safety standards.

Did You Know?

West Valley Road on San Juan Island

Many of San Juan Island's roads trace sheep runs cut by Hudson's Bay Company workers. They were led, in part, by Fort Victoria Chief Factor and colonial Gov. James Douglas, from 1853 to 1859. Many of the workers were Cowichan Indians from Vancouver Island.