Douglas Struder of Kentucky was eating a picnic with his wife on the shores of Lake George when they were both struck by a ramrod shot from a cannon at nearby Fort William Henry. Struder’s leg was broken below the knee. His wife’s back was bruised. Live firing demonstrations are a feature of the privately-owned fort’s daily tours.
Fort Director Dawn Littrell told the Glen Falls Post-Star that the wind blew the ramrod in front of the cannon just as it was fired, but West Point arms expert Paul Ackermann says that’s seriously improbable. “You can never say never because stranger things have happened in life, but that sounds very, very unlikely.” Re-enactors interviewed by the Post-Star also said that they thought it was more likely that the ramrod was accidentally left in the cannon. One of them said “The odds of that ramrod falling in front of the gun at the exact second of the gun going off, there are probably less stars in the sky.”
Litrell’s not surprised. “That’s exactly what I expected. Every re-enactor ever is going to say that couldn’t have happened.” Neither Litrell nor the re-enactors witnessed the accident.
The State Department of Labor (?) is investigating the incident. Struder says his lawyers have been in touch about his medical bills.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 17, 2009