Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Under the Redcoat 2010 (or, Frolicks in Williamsburg, volume the third)

One of the primary factors in deciding when to visit Williamsburg this year was Under the Redcoat. For those of you unfamiliar with this special event, hosted by CW each year, here is a brief overview: In 1781, Lord Cornwallis and his troops marched through Williamsburg on their way to Yorktown, occupying the city for ten days. For one weekend each summer, CW invites several independent British re-enactment troops to “occupy” the city. The troops and their followers (families and other civilians) re-enact their march into the city. They set up camp, establish barricades, search “suspicious” townspeople (arresting those who they deem a threat to the crown), and end the weekend with a drill and firing competition before marching out. All weekend the troops provide the ambiance of a city under enemy occupation. Camp followers meanwhile offer CW visitors a personal perspective on camp life, open fire cooking, 18th century military medicine, and so much more.

It has been quite a while since we’ve been able to plan a trip in the middle of the summer, so we were very excited to be attending UTR this year. The weekend began on Friday afternoon as we watched the troops march down Duke of Gloucester Street to Market Square, where they began setting up camp next to the Courthouse. There were a few “boos” and shouts of “Go home!” (to which one officer responded, “I wish I could”) As we were watching the troops settle into camp, a young boy turned to his father and said, “Dad, what kind of play is this?”

Saturday we walked into town by way of Nicholson Street and were immediately approached by a group of redcoats asking for our papers as they began rummaging through our baskets. After much debate (and some batting of eyelashes), we were urged to visit the Guardhouse to obtain our papers.

Being searched... the first time.

We began walking over straight away, but before we had even reached the Courthouse, we were stopped again. Once again, we were asked for our papers and searched. We were then personally escorted to the Guardhouse, where we waited patiently with our guard to stand before the clerk. In front of us, one woman was being asked to stay for an examination by the doctor for possible insanity (I will vouch here for his excellent judgment). We were asked to be searched one more time before being asked to pledge our oath to the crown. Rebecca was given a signed Loyalty Oath that proved her allegiance. I, on the other hand, was given a Parole. For the remainder of the weekend, our papers prevented us from being arrested again, but didn't stop the occasional search and constant accusations of being in alliance with the French.

Below are some pictures from the camp and the military hospital, which was set-up in the East Advance building at the Governor’s Palace.

Before they marched out of the city on Sunday, they held a drill and firing competition:

We were told by several people that the weekend was a smaller affair this year with fewer regiments participating than in years past. Even if the camp was smaller this year, the entire weekend remains an invaluable first-hand experience for re-enactors and visitors to experience 18th century military and civilian life.

1 comment:

lahbluebonnet said...

What great we had!