New England’s Largest Revolutionary War-era Military Reenactment Celebrates 10 Years!

Old Sturbridge Village ‘Redcoats & Rebels’
New England’s largest military reenactment in New England celebrates 10 years!
August 3rd & 4th, 2013

Forget history books with boring dates and dry facts. One of the best ways to learn about the Revolutionary War is to talk to a military reenactor. Most of the soldiers participating in the Redcoats & Rebels have meticulously researched the Revolutionary War history of the actual units they portray.  These amateur historians can tell you what it feels like to fire a musket or cannon, what the food tasted like, what it sounds like in battle, and how hot the uniforms were. And they know lots of interesting, little-known facts about military life when our country was young.

The Redcoats are coming, the Redcoats are coming! Old Sturbridge Village (OSV) will be transformed into a Revolutionary War-era military encampment on August 3rd and 4th, offering families a chance to learn about the soldiering life in the 18th century – up close and personal! Redcoats and Rebels is an annual event at OSV, and features reenactment groups representing both the British and American armies.

As the largest reenactment event in New England, Redcoats and Rebels offers a myriad of demonstrations, performances, and other educational events, all designed to completely immerse visitors in the culture, sights, and sounds of war-era early New England…

History buffs with a particular interest in military history will particularly appreciate the event, as it includes choreographed mock battles between the opposing armies, in addition to demonstrations of musket shooting and canon firing. Soldiers will demonstrate drills and marching formations, play traditional fife and drum music, and show off their camp sites to curious families. The village will even stay open later than usual (until 8pm) in order to allow families to see what downtime in a Revolutionary War camp looked like. After completing a day of marching, fighting, cleaning weapons, and preparing for future battles, the soldiers engage in much more typical social activities – they write letters home to their loved ones, cook dinner, and play music together. This unique evening experience brings light to the people the soldiers are outside of their military life, and encourages visitors to examine the effect that the war must have had on families and communities.

Tours will be offered of the American and British camps throughout the weekend, and other activities include and 18th-century fashion show, interactive 18th-century dances and “base ball” games.  Military physicians will talk about battlefield medicine, “Ladies of Refined Taste” will present a look at period fashions, including “A Sneak Peek at 18th-century Foundations,” and Battlegroup Boston will present interactive miniature war gaming

Families can supplement a visit to Redcoats and Rebels by learning about the Revolutionary War together. Doing some light reading or informal research can help to provide context before visiting, and can help kids to deepen their understanding of the time period after they’ve seen the reenactment. Useful picture books include:

Older students interested in reading more dense texts can try:

There are numerous educational films and episodes of children’s television series that teach about life during the Revolutionary War. PBS’ Liberty’s Kids is set during the war, and is appropriate for most elementary-aged kids. In addition, there are countless documentaries available that focus on everything from wartime politics to the lives of women in early America. Search your local library to see what’s available – such resources are a great way to fill a rainy day, or to stay out of the sun on a particularly hot one!

Old Sturbridge Village is located at 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Visitors are welcome from 9:30am-8pm on Saturday, August 3rd and from 9:30am-5pm on Sunday, August 4th. Admission is free for kids throughout the month of August, and adult admission is $24 (but is good for a second visit to the village within ten days!). For more information about the event, visit OSV’s website or call the village at 800-733-1830.

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