WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – More than 300 re-enactors depicting soldiers from the eleventh century through modern times converge at Jamestown Settlement for the 25th annual “Military Through the Ages,” Saturday and Sunday, March 15 and 16, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In the course of one weekend, visitors will experience the past and present in a unique chronological display of military history. More than 30 Virginia and Maryland units will portray soldiers from the War of the Roses, French and Indian War, American Revolution, War of 1812 and American Civil War. Re-enactors representing World Wars I and II and the Vietnam War will take visitors through the 20th century and, with the Virginia Army National Guard, into the present.
On both days of the event, military re-enactors will engage in mock skirmishes and present tactical demonstrations. At encampments set up by the re-enactors, visitors will learn how soldiers throughout time dressed and armed themselves, as well as how they were fed and sheltered in times of war. The event also features a variety of military vehicles and equipment. The 80th Division American Expeditionary Force, a World War I Charlottesville-based unit, will demonstrate the handling, care and deployment of pigeons in relaying important military messages to other troops. The art of “trench warfare” during the 1918 Battle of Flanders in Belgium will be explored by Chesapeake-based 8 Kompagnie, Infantrie Regiment 459.
The Brigade Napoleon unit will portray military skills of infantry and cavalry units in the Napoleonic Wars. Fort Norfolk Garrison will depict American troops during the War of 1812, including the 20th U.S. Infantry and 2nd Virginia Militia.
A group depicting the Department of the Geographer and Corps of Sappers & Miners will interpret the importance of mapmaking and surveying in the American Revolution and geographers’ role in the mapping of General George Washington’s route to Yorktown in 1781. Throughout the day, the Lynchburg-based unit will engage visitors in mapmaking and surveying demonstrations and view the process of drawing and hand-coloring maps.
Alexandria-based Rogers’ Rangers, representing specialized British Army forces during the French and Indian War, will exhibit cooking, forging, bullet casting, leatherworking and mapmaking skills. Visitors also can explore campsites of Anglo Saxons and Orkney Vikings, German mercenaries of the 1500s, and a World War I German unit command post.
A cannon salute at the ships’ pier at noon Saturday, March 15, marks the beginning of a children’s parade. There, costumed historical interpreters will lead young troops through the re-created colonial fort and campsites to present ribbons to each of the participating military units.
Historians, military veterans and volunteer re-enactors will judge military units on field demonstrations, campsites and cooking. A posting of unit colors, followed by an awards ceremony, will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 16.
Jamestown Settlement, a living-history museum of 17th-century Virginia, offers an introductory film and gallery exhibits and outdoor re-creations of a Powhatan Indian village, a palisaded English fort, and the three ships that brought America’s first permanent English colonists to Virginia – Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery. A riverfront discovery area explores European, Powhatan and African economic activities associated with waterways. “The World of 1607” special exhibition focuses on worldwide intellectual and cultural developments during the late 16th and early 17th centuries and portrays Jamestown, Virginia, as part of a larger world of discovery, strife, expansion, innovation, artistic expression and cultural exchange.
Jamestown Settlement is located on Route 31 South at the Colonial Parkway, just southwest of Williamsburg and adjacent to Historic Jamestowne. Admission is $13.50 for adults and $6.25 for youth (6-12). A combination ticket and annual pass are available with the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution. For more information, call (757) 253-4838 or toll-free (888) 593-4682.