Event to highlight valley’s colonial history

Shenandoah Valley history and the Civil War are pretty much synonymous.

However, Middletown Mayor Charles Harbaugh IV and the 4th Company Brigade of Guards are looking to shift the conversation toward to the American Revolution this weekend.

On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Harbaugh and the Brigade will be holding a American Revolution living history event in Middletown, across from Timeless Wine on Route 11.

“I thought it would be cool if I could bring the event to Middletown, to give people another perspective of history,” Harbaugh said.

The 4th Brigade has and continues to hold living history events throughout the Eastern United States, including Virginia, that depict what life was like for colonial British soldiers.

Brigade Sgt. Ben Pheis said, “We recreate the Brigade of Guards … it’s the same outfit that you see standing in front of Buckingham Palace today.”

Saturday’s event will be on a smaller scale than most of the brigade’s living history events, with around 10 people expected to participate.

Pheis explained, “What we’re going to be doing is having an encampment set up here for Middletown to show what the daily life of a British soldier would be during the course of the Revolution.”

“The goal … as a small-scale event, is just to give people an alternative view of the Revolution,” Harbaugh said.

Both Harbaugh and Pheis noted that, between the involvement of Woodstock native Peter Muhlenberg and Lord Fairfax, the Valley has good bit of colonial history.

Pheis noted, “There were no actual battles fought in the western part of Virginia, nothing happened in the Valley during the conflict.”

As both Harbaugh indicated, the Valley has a lot of colonial history between Woodstock native Peter Muhlenberg as well as prisoner of war (POW) camps of Winchester and Middletown.

“Unfortunately, over the presiding years, the colonial history of the Shenandoah Valley has been utterly and completely overshadowed by the events of the Civil War,” Pheis added.

Pheis said that he and Harbaugh had been discussing bringing a living history event like this since early February.

“I think he agreed that the valley was a missing Revolutionary War market,” Harbaugh said. “There’s nothing like it around.”

Most of the Valley’s Revolutionary War history actually happened after the war-ending events and battle of Yorktown, Pheis noted.

“The British and German prisoners were marched to prisoner internment camps through the Shenandoah Valley,” Pheis explained. “The German Hessians stayed for quite a while [in Winchester].”

Compared to Civil War reenactments, Harbaugh noted that this living history event will feature the more primitive technology of the time.

Harbaugh explained that residents will get to see “more primitive equipment” and the different tools and weaponry used during the war years.

“They had flintlocks in the American Revolution, and then by the time the Civil War came around, they had percussion weapons,” Harbaugh said.

A resident of Front Royal, Pheis said, “I know too well that the history of the Valley is centered around the Civil War.”

In fact, bringing a more colonial-focused event to the area has been an area “of personal interest” for Pheis over the course of “the last few years.”

“Running into Mayer [Charles] Harbaugh IV was another piece in that puzzle to help start to re-emphasize the colonial role and roots of the Valley,” Pheis said. “There’s more to us than just Yankees and Rebels.”

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com