HISTORY Yorktown re-enactors forced to relocate battle
Rules changes at the park service have canceled the Revolutionary War battle.
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- If the Battle of Yorktown were held today, it would have to be moved. The National Park Service doesn't permit even mock battles on its land, so an organizer of a re-enactment for the 225th anniversary says the group has to look for another site.
Jeff Lambert, of the First Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line, said his group had been working with the park service for two years on a program involving 3,000 re-enactors for October 2006. The group wanted to stage something similar to its 1981 bicentennial celebration on the battlefield, which included three battle re-enactments as well as an encampment and living history interpretations.
However, park service rules changed in 1986, spokesman Mike Litterst said.
Encampments are allowed, along with weapons-firing demonstrations. However, mock battles involving exchange of fire, hand-to-hand combat and casualties being carried off the field are not permitted, he said.
The policy changed for a couple of reasons, Litterst said.
"There's a safety issue," he said, but also a philosophical question.
"We're preserving battlefields to honor the memory of men who died there," Litterst said. "Is it disrespectful to have somebody pretend to die, then get up and go home at the end of the day?"
Lambert said the First Virginia Regiment now was negotiating to hold its re-enactment on private land in Gloucester County.
Litterst said two to three groups of re-enactors hold encampments at Yorktown every year, and he praised their contributions.
"What they do is of tremendous educational value to visitors," he said.