Rev War Day

Members of the Horsfall Company practice drills at the Dickson House near downtown Hillsborough.

Redcoats will once again march the streets of Hillsborough. The Alliance for Historic Hillsborough (AHH) is proud to host the 21st annual Revolutionary War Living History Day on May 8th. 

Located in the historic district, “Rev War Day” is a long-standing tradition for the Hillsborough community. “Hillsborough’s identity is closely tied to its deep history, and [this event] does a good job of recognizing that,” said Sarah Parris, executive director for the AHH. “It is always a surprise for the community to drive past the Alexander Dickson House and see the redcoats on the lawn!” 

The recreated 23rd Regiment of Foot, Royal Welch Fusiliers in America will set up camp on the lawn of the Hillsborough Visitors Center (the Dickson House), reenacting military drills and dressed in full regimental uniform. The regiment, which dates back to 1689, deployed to the American colonies in 1773, taking part in numerous fights, including Charleston, Guilford Courthouse, Monmouth, and Yorktown. Reenactors pay tribute to the regiment’s history by donning traditional items such as the wool redcoat, neck stocks, and Fusilier’s cap while carrying the standard musket and bayonet. 

“It’s not a cheap hobby,” explained Alex Ivanchishin, captain of the Horsfall Company. The soldiers met for a dress rehearsal at the Dickson House in mid-April, practicing their march and cooking lunch over a fire. “We really enjoy coming down [to Hillsborough],” said Ivanchishin. “This is especially nice because we’ve been trying to get together to do a drill day.” 

Typically held in February to commemorate Cornwallis’s encampment in Hillsborough, the event was rescheduled for May due to COVID restrictions. While some limitations remain, Parris and Program Coordinator for the AHH, Annie Newton, have tailored this year’s event to fit the needs. “For those who have never attended Rev War Day, this year’s event will be slightly different than those of the past,” explained Parris. “Typically, we have interactive living history demonstrations where reenactors interact directly with the public and talk about their uniforms, tools, weapons, medicine, or other topics of interest. This year, visitors will have to keep a safe distance from the reenactors. We will also have virtual content on our website, so that’s a new thing.” The online exhibit will include interactive educational resources from organizations such as Historical Interpretations, the Colonial Dames, and Daughters of the Revolution. Additionally, award-winning author, Suzanne Adair, will welcome fans for a socially distanced meet-and-greet at the Dickson House, and the Orange County Historical Museum will provide Revolutionary War-inspired grab-and-go art kits for all ages. 

In previous years the event has attracted hundreds of visitors to downtown Hillsborough. While a lighter crowd is expected, the team at AHH is buzzing with excitement as they prepare for a COVID-friendly event. Attendance will be monitored and limited to 50 persons at a time. Information and merchandise tables will be set up on the front lawn, spaced out to avoid creating congested areas. The reenactors will be placed on the back lawn where spectators can keep an appropriate distance between themselves and the soldiers while taking in the demonstrations. Face masks are required for those five years of age and older. Revolutionary War Living History Day is a free event and open to the public.