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June 11, 2009

Hundreds of military re-enactors re-create the 1781 British army occupation of Williamsburg during “Under the Redcoat” weekend June 26-28

Guests in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area participate in a rare experience June 26 – 28 as hundreds of British Army re-enactors occupy the capital city and subject the citizens of 1781 to martial law. “Under the Redcoat,” an annual weekend-long program, re-creates the occupation of the city by British Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis near the end of the American Revolution.

Guests see firsthand the trials and tribulations, hardships and loss of liberties suffered by the city’s 18th-century citizens at the hands of the world’s dominant military power of the time. Programs include:

June 26

  • The Town is Taken, 12:20 p.m., Capitol, South side. The American turncoat , British Brigadier Gen. Benedict Arnold, seizes Williamsburg. Redcoats raise the British flag over the Capitol and announce the rules of occupation.
  • The Provost Guard Marches In, 3 p.m., Market Square. The provost guard marches in to set up camp. Weather permitting.
  • The Consequences of Occupation, 3:30-4:30 (every 15 minutes), Raleigh Tavern. Join townspeople and express your concerns of the British Army entering Williamsburg.

    June 27

  • Declaration of Martial Law, 11 a.m., Raleigh Tavern stage. The terms of occupation are read to the citizens of the town.
  • The Business of War, 11:45 a.m., Raleigh Tavern stage. Gen. Cornwallis meets with his officers to discuss the “business of war.”
  • His Lordship Reviews His Troops, 12:20 p.m., starts at the south side of the Capitol and proceeds to Market Square. Gen. Cornwallis reviews his troops as they are exercised in the manual of arms. He then encourages all to join in a patriotic parade to the Market Square in celebration of yet another victory for His Majesty.
  • To The Victor Go the Spoils, 1 p.m., DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Col. Banastre Tarlton, portrayed by character interpreter Mark Schneider, offers recollections of his Southern campaign, highlighting events surrounding the capture of a set of American flags found in the exhibition, “Captured Colors: Four Battleflags of the American Revolution.” Free reservation required.
  • Retreat, 5 p.m., Market Square. The duty drummer sounds “retreat” and the entire provost guard assembles on the parade for retreat and evening roll call. Orders of the day for Sunday are read. The troops are dismissed.
  • Tattoo, 8 p.m., march from Capitol to Market Square. The tattoo is beaten to warn tavern keepers to “turn their taps to” and the soldiers to return to camp.

    June 28

  • The Army Attends Divine Service, 11 a.m., Capitol, West side. The chaplain performs a drumhead church service with a reading of the Articles of War, followed by “God Save the King.”
  • Laying A Trap, 11:25 p.m., behind the Coffeehouse. Gen. Cornwallis meets with his staff to make plans to engage with Lafayette and the American forces.
  • In His Majesty’s Service, noon, starts at the Raleigh Tavern stage and parades to Market Square. Royal Governor Lord Dunmore extends an offer for you to join his forces and be on the side of the winning army. Volunteers are recruited in the manual of arms and march from the Raleigh Tavern to Market Square.
  • The Army Prepares to March, 5 p.m., Market Square. The battalion assembles on the parade in full marching order. The marching orders are read and Gen. Cornwallis addresses the troops.

    June 27-28

  • Military Field Hospital, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Governor’s Palace, East Advance. Surgeons care for wounded patients and smallpox victims.
  • Artillery Demonstrations, 1 p.m., June 27 and 3 p.m., June 28, Market Square. Guests can witness a demonstration of the “Ultimate Argument of Kings.”
  • Drill and Firing Competition, 4 p.m., June 27 and 4:30 p.m., June 28, Market Square. All regular troops were expected to fire 15 rounds in three minutes and three quarters. See how well these troops perform.
  • Following the Army, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. June 27 and 1:30 p.m. June 28. This program highlights roles of civilians who traveled with the army.

    If confronted by British soldiers, guests are given the opportunity to sign an oath of loyalty to King George that allows them unhampered passage through army checkpoints scattered throughout the town.

    “Under the Redcoat” is the first of two special re-enactment weekends in the Historic Area during 2009. Continental Army re-enactors flock to the Revolutionary capital to prepare for the siege of Yorktown, the final battle in the War for Independence, during “Prelude to Victory” Oct. 10 - 11.

    A Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket or Good Neighbor Card provides access to enjoy these programs. For more information, call 1-800-HISTORY.

    Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.

    Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

    Media Contact:
    Jim Bradley
    (757) 220-7281

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