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June 4, 2004

British Redcoats invade 18th-century Williamsburg

The 18th-century troop occupation of Williamsburg under the command of Gen. Lord Cornwallis created hardship and loss of liberties for the town’s residents during the summer of 1781. That difficult time in our nation’s history will be re-enacted June 25-27 as British forces invade Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area and impose martial law during “Under the Red Coat.”

The special weekend re-enactment begins at noon Friday as the 17th Light Dragoons, accompanied by a patrol of light infantry,enter the Historic Area near the Capitol. After removing the American flag from the Capitol and replacing it with the British Flag, the patrol proceeds to Market Square and secures the area for an encampment of the occupation troops.

More British army units converge on the town throughout the afternoon. Martial law is declared at 5 p.m. and the terms of occupation are read to the citizens as the townspeople congregate and deal with the implications of the occupation including the loss of personal freedom. Dragoons patrol the streets for patriot sympathizers.

Guests are encouraged to experience the occupation by visiting the British encampment and observing the soldiers and their commanding officers as Cornwallis plans a trap near Williamsburg for the advancing Continental Army units led by the Marquis de Lafayette. While Cornwallis prepares his battle plan, his troops drill and pursue various activities in camp throughout the weekend.>p>When they are not patrolling the streets of Colonial Williamsburg and keeping the patriot citizenry in line, the redcoats perform military drills and other duties. Gun crews practice with an assortment of artillery batteries, while surgeons care for the wounded in a military field hospital.

From 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, June 26 the role of the women who traveled with the army is highlighted in “Women on Campaign” in or near Market Square in the Historic Area. Through demonstrations and explanations guests will learn of the support supplied by the women such as nursing, teaching, mending, sewing and yes, even cooking for the officers.

The re-enactment draws to a close late Sunday afternoon as Cornwallis marches his troops out of the city to meet Continental Army forces on the field of battle.

Media Contact:
Lorraine C. Brooks
(757) 220-7280