Exactly 240 years later, the British are coming. Again.
When the redcoat reenactors arrive this weekend in Virginia Beach, they’ll set up camp at the Thoroughgood House before meeting reenactors dressed as patriot forces to battle four times, all for free entertainment.
The reenactments, sponsored by the city, come on the 240th anniversary of The Battle of Kemp’s Landing, a skirmish that ended in victory for British forces and Virginia Gov. Lord Dunmore, who will have his own reenactor, said Kim Schmidtmann, a city museum educator.
At 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, British forces will reenact the historical water landing and raid on the Thoroughgood House that preceded the battle, Schmidtmann said. Then they’ll prepare for a full skirmish with patriot reenactors at 3 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
When reenacotrs are not fighting, visitors can interact with them at their encampments and buy period wares from vendors.
Beyond the skirmishes, the event includes a colonial ball from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and an 18th Century church service at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Thoroughgood House. All events are free, except the ball, which costs $10. Tickets will be sold at the site.
Free parking will be available at Thoroughgood Elementary School, where visitors will be shuttled back and forth both days, according to a media release.
Schmidtmann said the city has never before recreated the battle but has been planning to do so for a year because many don’t know about the region’s Revolutionary War history. The battle was one of the first in the war’s southern theater, she said.
“When people think about things that happened the Revolution they think about Boston, Yorktown, Lexington, Concord,” Schmidtmann said. “But there were similar things happening here that affected a lot of people.”
For example, Dunmore razed Norfolk to the ground about two months after the Battle of Kemp’s Landing.
Schmidtmann said that destruction and the Battle of Kemp’s Landing are known as “Lord Dunmore’s Revenge,” because the British governor attacked Kempsville militia after being embarrassed by patriots in Hampton.
Emmanuel Episcopal Church will also host a full reenactment at 2 p.m. Saturday because it was built on the historical battlefield, Schmidtmann said.