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June 17, 2011

Redcoat Re-enactors Seize the City of Williamsburg 230 Years Later

The British Army seizes the city of Williamsburg during Under the Redcoat weekend Friday—Sunday, June 24-26. Hundreds of re-enactors invade Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area to re-create the occupation of the city 230 years after British Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis imposed martial law here near the end of the American Revolution.

Colonial Williamsburg’s guests experience 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 mightiest military power of the time. 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.

The three-day experience begins at noon Friday as citizens run along Duke of Gloucester Street shouting warnings of the approaching British force. Within minutes, Lt. Col. Banistre Tarleton and his legion of dragoons approach the Capitol on horseback, accompanied by an infantry patrol that removes the American flag from the Capitol and replaces it with the British flag. While quartermasters and camp colourmen lay out a camp on Market Square, the main British force marches into the city with their baggage wagons at 3 p.m.

Under the Redcoat is a busy weekend of programs and demonstrations to entertain, inform and delight guests in the Historic Area. Military activities include demonstrations of artillery firing, musket and drill procedures, and the special skills of the light dragoons—the cavalry. A military field hospital at the Governor’s Palace illustrates how surgeons cared for wounded soldiers and smallpox victims. Citizens discuss the consequences of the military occupation. Gen. Cornwallis meets with a select group of citizens, reviews his troops and plans a trap for Gen. Lafayette and the American army.

Guests may opt to respond to British Army efforts to recruit them to His Majesty’s service as the enslaved weigh the British promise of freedom for serving the British forces. Re-enactors portraying camp followers demonstrate the roles of civilians in service to the military. Evening activities for guests include a candlelit evening of 18th-century chamber music in the Governor’s Palace.

As the weekend draws to a close, the British occupation force prepares to leave at 5 p.m. Sunday. The battalion assembles on the parade ground, the marching orders are read, and Gen. Cornwallis addresses his army.

For more information, telephone toll-free 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg on the Web at

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

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. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281