Virginia’s capital marks pivotal 1781 attack with multi-day program

Virginia’s capital marks pivotal 1781 attack with multi-day program
Jan 4 – 7

Mike Frontiero

RICHMOND, VA (January 3, 2023) – The Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission (VA250), in partnership with the National Park Service, St. John’s Church Foundation, Henrico County Public Library, and Henrico County Recreation and Parks, will host a four-day program commemorating Benedict Arnold’s raid on Richmond in 1781. The free program, which takes place January 4 – 7, will offer a journey through a pivotal chapter of Virginia’s history with speakers, reenactments, exhibits, and more.

Richmond became the state capital in 1780, amidst the Revolutionary War, with the election of Thomas Jefferson as governor. Arnold and his British loyalist soldiers marched into the new capital the following year and established a headquarters. After Jefferson refused to let the man who betrayed the Revolution plunder the city, Arnold ordered it burned and robbed of all it owned.

“This program is more than just a historical reenactment,” said Cheryl Wilson, Executive Director of VA250. “It’s an opportunity to delve into the complexities of the Revolution, understanding not only the strategies and battles, but also the human stories of courage, betrayal, and ultimately, community rebuilding. By exploring this dark chapter in Virginia’s history, we gain valuable insights into our own present, fostering dialogue about resilience, leadership, and the enduring spirit of unity.”

The story of Arnold’s daring raid will be brought to life through presentations by renowned historians, musket demonstrations, immersive living history activities, and a walking tour on the same cobblestone streets where colonial soldiers marched. Members of The Virginia Line will describe the battle and showcase clothing, gear, and muskets used.

Program Highlights

Day 1: Thursday, January 4

  • 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM: Lecture by Randy Flood at Libbie Mill Library. Explore the causes of the American Revolution and understand the events leading to the war.
    Day 2: Friday, January 5

  • 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM: Living History Encampment at Clarke Palmore House Museum. Meet the Virginia Line soldiers, learn about their weapons and training, and discover their role in the Battle of Richmond.
    Day 3: Saturday, January 6

  • 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM: Immerse yourself in the Revolution at Chimborazo Medical Museum/Richmond National Battlefield Park.
    • 11:00 AM: Witness a British musket demonstration.
    • 12:00 PM: Join a children’s militia drill for interactive fun.
    • 1:00 PM: See an American musket demonstration.
    • 2:00 PM: Another British musket demonstration.
    • 3:00 PM: Witness another American musket demonstration.
    • Throughout the day: Enjoy period games, foodways, spinning, music, weapons displays, and living history interpreters portraying key figures like Benedict Arnold, Elizabeth Egge, and Thomas Jefferson.

    Day 4: Sunday, January 7

  • 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM:
    • 10:00 AM: Join a Revolutionary Richmond Walking Tour with National Park Service Ranger Bert Dunkerly, starting at Farm Fresh Market.
    • 12:30 PM: St. John’s Church Visitor Center opens.
    • 1:00 PM: Speaker: Chris Semtner, Curator of the Poe Museum, presents “Patriotic Poe: Edgar Allan Poe, Lafayette, and Benedict Arnold.”
    • 2:00 PM: Speakers: Amy Swartz and Stephen Wilson from the St. John’s Church Foundation discuss the preservation of Revolutionary War Lt. Col. Edward Carrington’s grave.
    • 3:00 PM: Mark Maloy’s lecture: “Actuated by Zeal in the Cause: Lesser Known Continental Soldiers from Virginia.”

    For details, visit the National Park Service and St. John’s Church & Visitor Center.

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    About the Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission
    The Virginia American Revolution 250 Commission was established by the General Assembly in 2020 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution. Virginia, one of the former colonies and future states, played a central role in the nation’s founding. VA250’s primary goal is to convene and facilitate a Commonwealth-wide commemoration that is inclusive of hundreds of partners and representatives of the wide array of histories, sites, stories, and communities that define Virginia.

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