Monticello, the home of President Thomas Jefferson, commemorated the 236th anniversary of Jack Jouett’s famous ride during the Revolutionary War by holding a “British Invasion” event full of history, re-enactments, and fun.
On June 4th, 1781, local farmer Jack Jouett overheard British soldiers as they rested their horses overnight during a long ride. Jouett discovered that the soldiers were on their way to Monticello to capture then-Governor Jefferson and the Virginia legislature, whom were gathering in nearby Charlottesville. Jouett rode through the night over 40 miles on country paths to arrive at Monticello and alert Jefferson to the plan. Due to Jouett’s bravery and fast riding, Jefferson and the legislature escaped in time.
Coined the “Paul Revere of Virginia”, Jouett’s exploits were celebrated by the Monticello foundation during their 2nd annual British Invasion event from June 3rd to 4th. The event included exceptionally-produced historical re-enactments of Jouett’s ride and the arrival of the British soldiers. Throughout the day there were examples of military life for guests to explore, including encampments, cavalry demonstrations, and opportunities for children to join the Colonial militia.
Monticello also hosted several “Historical Interpreters” who described life during the Revolutionary War. This included actors portraying both Thomas Jefferson and his wife Martha, Jack Jouett, Captain McLeod of the British Legion, and Martin Hemmings, Jefferson’s enslaved butler. Guests could ask questions directly to these historical figures and learn more about life and events of 1781.
For many civilians, it is difficult to fully understand military life. Since most military bases restrict tours or unauthorized civilians from entering the base, re-enactments are an excellent way to learn more about military culture. While the uniforms and equipment may have changed over the past 250 years, the actions and purpose of the armed forces has not. Through experiences like British Invasion, civilians are better able to understand how veterans think, and can better help them come home well from war.