Colonial Williamsburg®

History.org: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's Official History and Citizenship Website

CW Foundation navigation

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Page content
Reset text sizeResize text larger

June 25, 2008

Gen. Lord Cornwallis orders martial law as nearly 500 British army re-enactors occupy Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area June 27-29

Guests in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area witness a rare occurrence June 27–29 as hundreds of British Army re-enactors seize 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. During this re-enactment, the British are here to remind Williamsburg’s residents to remain loyal British subjects.

The following engaging programs will be offered through the “Under the Redcoat” weekend:

Friday, June 27

  • The Town is Taken. Witness the arrival of the British Army as they seize Williamsburg, raise the British flag over the Capitol and commence occupation of the town. Noon at the Capitol.
  • The Provost Guard Marches In. The Provost Guard marches in to set up camp near Market Square. Weather permitting. Drop in between 3-5 p.m. at Market Square near the Courthouse.
  • The Consequences of the Occupation. Join townspeople and express your concerns of the British Army entering Williamsburg. The program runs every 15 minutes from 3:30-4:30 p.m. at the Raleigh Tavern. Space is limited.
  • Declaration of Martial Law. The terms of the occupation are read to the citizens of the town from the steps of the Courthouse. The 20-minute interpretation begins at 5 p.m.

    Saturday, June 28

  • Roll Call. Guests are immersed in the Roll Call and safety inspection in the British camp at Market Square. A 20-minute program in the camp at Market Square begins at 9 a.m.
  • A Dragoon’s Story. The Light Dragoons discuss life in the British cavalry. This 20-minute program begins at 10 a.m. at Market Square.
  • Military Field Hospital. Surgeons care for wounded patients and smallpox victims in the Palace East Advance from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Following the Army. Continuous demonstrations at Market Square highlight the roles of civilians who travelled with the army. Through demonstrations and explanations, guests explore how women supported the troops by nursing, teaching, mending, sewing and cooking for the officers. The morning program begins at 10 a.m., with the last guests entering at 11:45 a.m. The afternoon program begins at 2 p.m., with the last guests entering at 3:45 p.m.
  • To the Victors Go the Spoils. Col. Banastre Tarlton offers recollections of his Southern campaign, highlighting the events surrounding the capture of a set of incredibly rare American regimental flags. This character portrayal is offered in conjunction with the special exhibition “Captured Colors: Four Battleflags of the American Revolution.” The hour-long program begins at 1 p.m. in the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.
  • Artillery Demonstration. A demonstration of the firing of artillery, the “Ultimate Argument of Kings.” 1 p.m. Market Square.
  • An Interview with His Lordship. This 20-minute program introduces guests to General Cornwallis as he grants an audience. 3 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Courthouse.
  • Drill and Firing Competition. All regular troops were expected to fire 15 rounds in three and three quarters minutes. Come and see how well these troops perform. Drop in between 4-4:20 p.m., Market Square.
  • Retreat. 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 and the duty day is over. The 20-minute program begins at Market Square at 5 p.m.
  • Tatoo. The Tatoo was instituted to warn tavern keepers to “turn their taps to” or stop the flow of beer and ale to the soldiers who needed to return to camp. You can join in the 30-minute march as Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums step off from the Capitol and stop before each tavern to beat the tatoo on their way to Market Square. March from the Capitol to Market Square at 8 p.m.

    Sunday, June 29

  • Military Field Hospital. Surgeons care for wounded patients and smallpox victims in the Palace East Advance from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Divine Service. The chaplain performs a drumhead church service with a reading of the Articles of War. It is followed by “God Save the King.” This is a 20-minute program beginning at 10 a.m. Market Square at the Courthouse.
  • Following the Army. Continuous demonstrations at Market Square highlight the roles of civilians who travelled with the army. Through demonstrations and explanations, guests explore how women supported the troops by nursing, teaching, mending, sewing and cooking for the officers. The program begins at 1:30 p.m., with the last guests entering at 2:45 p.m.
  • Laying a Trap. Gen. Cornwallis meets with his staff to make plans to engage with Lafayette and the American Forces. The 20-minute program is presented at 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. at the Courthouse.
  • Artillery Demonstration. A demonstration of the firing of artillery, the “Ultimate Argument of Kings.” 3 p.m. Market Square.
  • Drill and Firing Competition. All regular troops were expected to fire 15 rounds in 3 and three quarters minutes. Come and see how well these troops perform. Drop in between 4:30-4:50 p.m. Market Square.
  • The Army Prepares to March. The Battalion assembles in full marching order and Gen. Cornwallis addresses the troops. The Marching Orders are read—the troops are to be lead out of the city to meet Lafayette’s Continental Army forces. 5 p.m. Market Square.

    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 for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®,” a dramatic live street theater presentation, is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. 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 www.history.org.

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121



  • Footer