Category: Williamsburg

Day on Duke of Gloucester Street

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By , April 30, 2013 10:55 pm

One last day in Williamsburg brings us to the bring of revolution. It’s 1774. The Royal Governor Lord Dunmore has secretly removed all the gunpowder out of the magazine. The townspeople are in a panic. They have no way to protect themselves from attack and fear the Royal Governor will unleash the might of the British Army against them. Prominent citizens such as Peyton Randolph try to calm the people until word comes the British Regulars attacked citizens in Boston. The shots heard round the world began in Lexington and Concord. The young men want to fight for independence, but older more seasoned generals from the French Indian War know we colonists are ill-prepared for war.

We begin our day in the colonial city visiting the Blacksmith Shop. It lies near the Capitol in what was Christiana Campbell’s Tavern. Mr. Anderson purchased it just before the war and received a commission from the Colonial Government to found an armory. He used this site to house his collection of slaves and war prisoners who spent their days hammering out musket balls and swords. Their nights were spent inside the old inn where they were fed with a bowl of stew, loaf of bread and ale a day. A pretty good life compared to what their comrades faced in the field.

After the war, Mr. Anderson turned the place into a blacksmith shop to service the city. People came here to place their custom orders. Today, the Colonial Williamsburg blacksmiths use 300 year old methods to make all sorts of parts for the city.

This young lady is a blacksmith. She showed us the work of the shop including locks, ladles, axe blades and swords.

This young lady is a blacksmith. She showed us the work of the shop including locks, ladles, axe blades nails and swords. The guys behind her are making parts for wagon wheels.

 

This is an example of the bread oven they used to feed the workers. Due to all the recent rain, today it is just being burned to dry out the bricks inside,

This is an example of the bread oven they used to feed the workers. Due to all the recent rain, today it is just being burned to dry out the bricks inside.

One of the recent additions to Colonial Williamsburg is a collection of re-enacted street plays that show us what life was like at the birth of our nation. It is called Revolutionary City and takes place every day on Duke of Gloucester Street near the Capitol. To demonstrate the breadth of colonial struggles, each day represents a different period in history. 1774, on the eve of War. 1778, when the war was going very badly. 1781, on the eve of American triumph at Yorktown.

Our day begins in 1774 when hotheaded colonists called for war against highhanded English overlords. In many ways, the conflict was akin to a civil war. Just as many colonists considered themselves English loyalists as American patriots. And like every conflict, the young were eager to rush into trouble while their elders knew the difficulties that lie ahead.

A brash young patriot seeks a lesson from a seasoned general and learns more than he expected.

A brash young patriot seeks a lesson from a seasoned general and learns more than he expected. The general has refused to side with the angry Williamsburg citizens calling for freedom from the Royal Governor because he knows how ill-equipped the young patriot soldiers are.

But then word comes from a rider alarming all the citizens (who are discreetly placed throughout the crowd of tourists). British and German soldiers have fired on American citizens in Boston. The British plain to settle the Patriot Insurrection with violence. The Patriots call to arms to save themselves before the British can wipe them out.

 

A rider from Boston warns of British violence against patriots. Peyton Randolph must calm the citizens of Williamsburg.

A rider from Boston warns of British violence against patriots. Peyton Randolph must calm the citizens of Williamsburg.

These are just some of the stories told throughout the city. Every time I visit I learn something new which makes me appreciate things today. The Patriots’ anger over losing all their gunpowder reminds me of the gun debate today. The one difference of course is that the Colonial government removed gunpowder to protect itself rather than the citizens of Williamsburg.

We’ll be back in the summer when the weather is warmer and more activities are ongoing.

 

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