WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Soldiers throughout history will descend upon the grounds of Jamestown Settlement history museum for its time-honored Military Through the Ages event on March 21 and 22.
In the course of one weekend – from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday – visitors will experience the past and present in a unique chronological display of military history as more than 300 re-enactors show how uniforms, weapons and military tactics evolved throughout the centuries, as well as aspects of field communication, medical treatment, and mapping and surveying. The event also showcases a variety of military vehicles and equipment. Visitors are encouraged to interact with re-enactors to learn how soldiers of different time periods dressed and armed themselves, as well as how they were fed and housed in times of war.
More than 30 units based in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and North Carolina will portray soldiers and military encounters from the Viking period, the Third Crusade, Hundred Years War, French and Indian War, American Revolution, War of 1812 and American Civil War. Re-enactors representing World Wars I and II, and Korean and Vietnam wars will take visitors through the 20th century.
The “U.S. Messenger Pigeon Handlers,” a World War I unit, will demonstrate the handling, care and deployment of pigeons in relaying important military messages to other troops. “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 Orkney Vikings, medieval knights, German mercenaries of the 1500s, and a World War I German unit command post.
A re-enactment unit will present the “British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk, 1940,” in which the English rescued more than 330,000 British and French troops from the German forces during World War II. Visitors to the camp will be guided by re-enactors through checkpoints to look out for German spies.
New military impressions of the American Civil War include the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry, “Duryée’s Zouaves,” a unit of the Federal Army known for its colorful Zouave uniform, will present bayonet drilling exercises and show visitors basic soldier techniques. “Wrigley’s Engineers” is a military topographical unit that will feature mapping and surveying skills and equipment and show visitors how field maps were developed and updated through sketches, interviews and reconnaissance patrols.
The “24th Regiment of Foot” will represent the British Infantry during the 1879 Zulu War. “Sea Rats Atlantic” maritime unit will portray 17th-century pirates and privateers, and visitors can take part in games to test strength and drill with wooden swords and muskets. Soldiers will be treated for mock wartime injuries at re-created Revolutionary-era field hospitals operated by the “British Detached Hospital.” Visitors also can learn about the “Donut Dollies,” a Salvation Army war service that aided World War I soldiers.
A cannon salute at the ships’ pier at noon Saturday, March 21, marks the beginning of a children’s parade. A military drummer will lead young troops through the re-created colonial fort and campsites to formally present ribbons to each of the participating military units. A posting of unit colors, followed by an awards ceremony, will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 22.
Sutlers, or period merchants, also will be on hand during the event to sell tools, cooking utensils, military clothing and other items from their respective historical eras. Sutlers frequently make their own wares, which strictly adhere to the realism of the period they represent in materials, methods and appearance.
Jamestown Settlement, a living-history museum of 17th-century colonial Virginia, chronicles the history of America’s first permanent English colony from its beginnings in the Old World through the first century of its existence and explores the Powhatan Indian, English and west central African cultures that converged there. The museum offers a film, expansive indoor gallery exhibits and outdoor re-creations of a Powhatan village, an English fort, and the three ships that brought the settlers to Virginia – Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery.
Admission to Jamestown Settlement is $14.00 for adults and $6.50 for youth ages 6-12. Museum hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily year-round. Jamestown Settlement is located on State Route 31 in James City County, just southwest of Williamsburg. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838.