Military Through the Ages – 2009

April 5, 2009 - 2 Comments

by Jim Barnes

Rus Trader 11th Century

Rus Trader 11th Century

On the weekend of March 21-22, I journeyed  down to Jamestown, VA for the annual Military Through the Ages event. In a year of firsts, this was a first-time event for me. For anyone who isn’t familiar with MTA, it is an annual  timeline event held at the Jamestown Visitor’s Center. Participants have to be invited and compete with one another on the basis of authenticity. The event is hosted by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and the National Park Service. Participants must sign up as an NPS volunteer.

This has to be one of the most interesting Living History events I have ever attended. You not only get to see a spectrum of living historians from a wide variety of periods, but they are all top-notch. No Farbs Here! Additionally, this all takes place in the midst of the recreated Jamestown Settlement which is already peopled with park staff portraying the colonists and Powhatan natives in immaculate detail. There is even a dock behind the stockade where two full-scale 17th Century sailing ships are tied up.  This is truly a feast for the history buff’s eyes and ears.

This year, while walking through the camps, one could see everything from Vikings (accompanied by a Rus trader) through the 100 years war, the golden age of piracy, the American Revolution and Civil war and the Anglo-Zulu battle at Roark’s Drift, to name just a few. As for the 20th century, the list included the American Punitive Expedition into Mexico after Pancho Villa, WWI (a German POW camp for British prisoners) and Doughboys and Salvation Army ‘Doughnut Dollies’,  WWII – British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk and German and Red Army forces who fought each other at Stalingrad.  The Korean War was represented as well as Vietnam (these guys were all Vietnam Vets and got a loud and well-deserved applause and they marched pass the crowd in the Sunday Parade). The most recent group was a 1979 Canadian Airborne unit.

The competitions are determined by teams of judges who pass through the camps with clipboards, checking off the good and the bad which they observe. This is done on Saturday and they show up when they want, so units have to be on the top of their game all the time.  The competion was very tough this year and, while we didn’t win, it was just a lot of fun to get the opportunity to participate. It is also important to note that the folks who did win were very good.

All in all, despite being a long drive from home, the trip was well worth it for me. (I was fortunate to have the help of my son to assist with the driving and equipment for this trip) If you have a good living history organization and would like to try your hand against the best, this would be it. If you just want to go have a look, it’s a great experience for a tourist as well. The camps are open to the public and we had many appreciative visitors throughout the weekend. I’m already looking forward to next year.

See more photos from the event Gallery: Military Through the Ages 2009

For a complete rundown of the competition winners, here is the Foundation’s website:

Comments (2)


April 6th, 2009 at 1:31 pm    

Sorry I had to miss this one Jim. Sounded like a great event. Well written!
Well, if we didn’t win it’s not the end of the world so long as we took something away from this that we can use to better our impression for the next event. You never know which way the judges will swing from one year to the next. We have been the receipient of many awards at MTA in the past and I’m sure will be again in the future.

As I am a relative newcomer to reenacting I find each event helps me to better my impression. Secondly, you have all been a great resource and inspiration to me in developing my impression and more importantly, with your comraderie, I gain confidence and push the envelope with my character each time just a little bit more.

I’m looking forward to getting back to MTA next year, and look for me at Reading and Rowlesburg this year with Alina. We’re getting her started off on the right foot here. She’ll be further ahead of the game than I was when I got started. Can’t wait!

Tovarisch Soldat Misha

Jim Barnes

April 6th, 2009 at 5:22 pm    


Yes, MTA was great. I think I’m hooked. I hope to go again next year. Also, thanks for the kind words. I like to think I can contribute to the hobby some and help the folks in it. Most of my best friends are reenactors. So, let’s look forward to a good summer of reenacting and living history!

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