Occupation of Petersburg: 238th Anniversary

On May 19, the 4th Company took part in commemorations of the 238th anniversary of the British occupation of Petersburg, VA. The event, held at Battersea Plantation, featured a skirmish with re-created Rebel forces as well as living history demonstrations of "on campaign" camp life. And while it functioned as yet another re-enacting opportunity for the unit, its roots were firmly tied to the history of the British 1781 campaign in the southern colonies - as helpfully outlined by Linnea Bass and William Burke and available on the 4th Company's website.

Historic Battersea, site of Major-General Phillip's last days and the re-enacted "Occupation of Petersburg".

Historically, the Guards arrived in Petersburg on May 20, 1781 as part of General Cornwallis' forces marching northward from Halifax, North Carolina. They had previously left Wilmington on April 25, with 355 fit for duty and 26 sick.

4th Company rests prior to a skirmish with rebel forces on the Battersea estate.

Coldstream Guards being lectured by General the Earl Cornwallis for not standing before an officer...

A Third Guard enjoys a brief respite prior to the day's march.

The town itself had hosted British forces since May 10, when Major-General William Phillips withdrew south of Richmond to await Cornwallis before engaging the troops of the Marquis de Lafayette, who had moved south to Virginia to engage Phillips. The British general died three days later at Battersea from either typhus or malaria, and command devolved to his subordinate Benedict Arnold until the arrival of Cornwallis a week later.

Major-General William Phillips (1731-1781), who died shortly after occupying Petersburg in May 1781.

Cornwallis (and the Guards) would stay in Petersburg until May 24, by which time he had received reinforcements and moved northward to attempt to bring Lafayette to battle.