In 1776 the Committee of Safety of the Delaware River ordered a “Smith Shop and Forge” to be built on Mud Island. That building was likely demolished during the siege of 1777 but we have the rebuild (new and improved) blacksmith shop from 1798 The only thing missing is a blacksmith is on duty managing the bellows blast to create a fire hot enough to heat steel and the anvil rings from the sound of the smith’s hammer. On January 31st, however, the blacksmith returns to Fort Mifflin.
Blacksmiths in forts like ours were needed to build and repair all metalwork associated with artillery, gun carriages, buildings, and utensils. We don’t have calvary at Fort Mifflin so shoeing horses was less frequent but buildings needed nails, spikes, latches, hinges and often metal straps – all products of the blacksmith’s trade. The was also a constant demand for tools, and repairs to small arms.
While it is likely that Fort Mifflin employed a civilian blacksmith, muster rolls from 1812 show that some soldiers were trained as blacksmiths. During our Winter Encampment on December 31st, we plan to have two such soldiers (including the Regimental Brewmeister) take on such duties. Our hope is that this will be the first of many days when you can see the shop in action.
I am told that the ship is haunted by a former blacksmith named Jacob. The story is that he wanted the doors to the shop kept open, but the Commandant wanted them kept closed. We have all seen the open when we know it was firmly closed and latched but nobody has witnessed the door actually opening. Others have witnessed the tools that hang on the wall start swinging by themselves. Hopefully, Jacob will welcome our presence.
For details see: http://www.fortmifflin.us/event/winter-encampment/
For tickets see: https://fortmifflin.ticketleap.com/winter-encampment-22/