WILLIAMSBURG, Va., February 25, 2011 — Vikings. Knights. Privateers. Sailors. Soldiers. Hundreds of re-enactors depicting armed forces from the eighth century to modern times will come together on March 19 and 20 for Jamestown Settlement’s annual “Military Through the Ages.”
Thirty-five groups based in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and North Carolina will portray soldiers and military encounters from the medieval period, Hundred Years’ War, 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, Vietnam War and the Soviet War in Afghanistan will take visitors through the 20th century, with the Virginia Army National Guard, which traces its origins to the early 17th century, representing the present.
Visitors will experience the past and present in a unique chronological display of military history in the course of one weekend as re-enactors show how uniforms, weapons and military tactics evolved throughout the centuries, as well as aspects of field communication and medical treatment. The event also showcases a variety of military vehicles and equipment, including the demonstration of a howitzer by the Virginia Army National Guard. Visitors are encouraged to interact with re-enactors to learn how soldiers attired and armed themselves, as well as how they were fed and housed in times of war.
Among the units participating in 2011, the beginning of the American Civil War’s 150th anniversary, are two Union units – the “3rd U.S. Regular Infantry” in 1861 and maritime group “U.S.S. Aroostook” in 1862 – and two Confederate units – “Brooklyn Grays” at Camp Lee, Va., in May 1861 and “Nancy Hart Militia,” a band of female soldiers from Georgia in 1862. Ground troops will demonstrate military drills, uniforms and period cooking. The 3rd U.S. Regular Infantry will invite visitors to take part in hands-on company and bayonet drills, as well as present interpretation of Civil War medical treatment and civilian life on the homefront.
Visitors can explore medieval campsites of “Charlemagne’s Army,” “Orkneyingar Vikings,” “House DuChasse,” “La Belle Compagnie,” “Lord Grey’s Retinue,” and 1500s German mercenaries “The Devil’s Nightmare Regiment.”
The American Revolution will be portrayed by “7th Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line,” and soldiers will be treated for mock wartime injuries at re-created American and British field hospitals. The “24th Regiment of Foot” will represent the British Infantry during the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War, including a portrayal of Zulu warriors.
The “11th Siberian Rifles” will depict the Imperial Russian Army in 1915 and will feature a Maxim machine gun team in a Moscow depot. Visitors can learn about the “Donut Dollies,” a Salvation Army war service that aided World War I soldiers, experience an American Expeditionary Forces’ 1918 battalion aid station, and see the training and drilling of the “West Cork Flying Column” during the Irish War of Independence.
Aspects of World War II include the “British Army and the Navy Army Air Force Institute Canteen” in 1941; a foxhole emplacement by the “504th Parachute Infantry Regiment” during Operation Shingle; paratrooper displays by the “Stray Devils” and “1st Canadian Parachute Battalion”; and the role of the Italian Army by the “4th Alpini Reggimento.” The German Army in December 1944 will be portrayed by “Grenadier-Regiment 226,” featuring a vintage Volkswagen Kublewagon scout car, motorcycle with sidecar and a light anti-tank gun.
A noon artillery salute at the Jamestown Settlement ships on Saturday, March 19, marks the beginning of a children’s parade on the ships’ pier. Young troops will be lead through the re-created colonial fort and campsites to formally present ribbons to each of the participating military units. A posting of unit colors will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 20. The Sunday military parade will conclude with an awards ceremony, in which re-enactor units will receive awards on campsite, clothing and cooking presentations, and field demonstrations.
Arms, armor and military accouterments of 17th-century Virginia can be seen inside Jamestown Settlement’s extensive galleries, featuring films and interactive exhibits that tell the story of America’s first permanent English colony and of the Powhatan Indian, European and African cultures in 1600s Virginia. Families can experience hands-on activities, such as trying on reproductions of English helmets and breastplates, in outdoor re-creations of a Powhatan village, 1610-14 English fort, and the three ships that brought the settlers to Virginia – Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery. A seasonal riverfront discovery area explores European, Powhatan and African economic activities associated with water.
Jamestown Settlement features a café and gift shop, both open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The gift shop offers a comprehensive selection of books, artifact reproductions, and educational toys and games.
Jamestown Settlement is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily year-round. Admission is $15.50 for adults and $7.25 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 are free. A value-priced combination ticket with the Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution, is $20.00 for adults and $10.00 for ages 6-12. The special event is funded in part by a grant from James City County.
Museum hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily year-round. Jamestown Settlement is located on State Route 31 near the Colonial Parkway in James City County, just southwest of Williamsburg. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838, or visit hif.ciniva.net/military-through-the-ages.htm.