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May 15

A Well Regulated Militia

Posted to Spotsylvania Museum by Terry Dougherty

Broadside. Spotsylvania Militia 1805

Virginia militia  was established in 1607 as part of the English militia system. Militia service in Virginia  was compulsory for all free males. The main purpose of the Crown's militia was to repel invasions and insurrections and to enforce the laws of the colony. 

During the French and Indian War (1754–1763), a formal act came into effect.

WHEREAS it is necessary, in this time of danger, that the militia of this colony should be well regulated and disciplined...And be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That every person so as aforesaid inlisted (except free mulattoes, negroes, and Indians) shall be armed in the manner following, that is to say: Every soldier shall he furnished with a firelock well fixed, a bayonet fitted to the same, a double cartouch-box, and three charges of powder, and constantly appear with the same at the time and place appointed for muster and exercise, and shall also keep at his place of abode one pound of powder and four pounds of ball, and bring the same with him into the field when he shall be required...And for the better training and exercising the militia, and rendering them more serviceable, Be it further enacted, by the authority aforesaid, That every captain shall, once in three months, and oftner if thereto required by the lieutenant or chief commanding officer in the county, muster, train, and exercise his company, and the lieutenant or other chief commanding officer in the county shall cause a general muster and exercise of all the companies within his county, to be made in the months of March or April, and September or October, yearly; and if any soldier shall, at any general or private muster, refuse to perform the command of his officer, or behave himself refractorily or mutinously, or misbehave himself at the courts martial to be held in pursuance of this act, as is herein after directed, it shall and may be lawful to and for the chief commanding officer, then present, to cause such offender to be tied neck and heels, for any time not exceeding five minutes, or inflict such corporal punishment as he shall think fit, not exceeding twenty lashes...

— An Act for the better regulating and disciplining the Militia, April 1757

In 1771, the Virginia Bill of Rights under Article I, Section 13, was changed to the following by popular vote:

That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

After the Revolutionary war, the militia system continued and the Virginia militia system, as a compulsory service composed of the body of the people trained to arms, remained intact until the end of the American Civil War .

Spotsylvania by 1800 was numerically designated as the 2nd Regiment, 2nd Division.  Prior  to the Civil war, it was re-designated the 16th Virginia Regiment.  The broadside above courtesy of the Virginia Museum of History and Culture indicates that not only were they “well regulated”, but well dressed as well!

Sep 19

Experience Spotsylvania from All Vantage Points This Fall

Posted to Tourism by Lindsay Leach

Do you love lacing up your sneakers for a day of walkabout adventures? Is taking it all in from high in the sky more your style? Or do you find you are happiest while near the water? No matter if you like to explore by air, land, or sea, Spotsylvania, Virginia has an adventure with your name on it.

If you prefer to adventure on the ground, check out Spotsylvania Courthouse Battlefield Trails Loop. A 4.9-mile loop mixed with trails and roads, complete with interpretive signs along the route, is easy to follow for a run, walk, or bike ride. The trail is open year-round and leashed dogs are welcome. To continue to delve into the area’s rich past, embark on a Spotsylvania Historic Courthouse District Walking Tour. Designated a Virginia Historic Landmark and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the District is home to the Court House, where one of the most tragic meetings of the Civil War took place. Other landmarks include the Spotswood Inn, Confederate Cemetery, and Spotsylvania Jail. The Jail has even been renovated in the early 2000s to present the most intricate details of the prison in its native form from the 1850s, including the sign stating, “No talking to prisoners!”

To add a little bit of roll to your ventures, climb aboard the Little Yellow Train at the Rappahannock Railroad Museum. The Little Yellow Train has been restored from aspects of original “Maintenance of Way” equipment to depict what conditions were like 50 to 60 years ago on the tracks. Children and adults alike will marvel at the 2-mile round trip traveling at 10 miles per hour while taking in the woods, wildlife, and an occasional passing freight or passenger train.

If soaring above sea level is your jam, head to Rapp Rocks Climbing Gym, Spotsylvania’s premier indoor rock-climbing facility. Over 3,000 square feet of climbing surfaces, including walls for bouldering, top rope, and lead climbing walls, are your backdrop for achieving new heights. Instructional climbing classes, as well as yoga classes, are offered. To take your ascent outside, Wilderness Adventure Park is the place to go. A ropes course, climbing wall, and Goliath ladder provide an element of challenge while getting you a little closer to the treetops and clouds. Different packages are available to suit your skill and adventure level.

If learning more about the history of air travel while keeping your feet on the ground is more your speed, the Shannon Air Museum is a must to see what the pioneering American spirit is all about. The entire collection of planes from the Shannon Airport of the 1950s has returned from the Virginia Aviation Museum in Richmond, Virginia, to this local interactive museum with a special focus on youth. Continue the ‘50s theme with a classic lunch of a burger or chili cheese dog with a milkshake at Robin’s Nest Café on the property.

Spotsylvania County by water is just as striking. Lake Anna Outfitters, otherwise known as Central Virginia’s paddling headquarters, is your connection point for water gear. Rent a sit-on-top single kayak, tandem kayak, canoe, or pedal boat and launch into the lake with Lake Anna Outfitter’s kayak slide at the start of the Lake Anna Water Trail. While the entirety of the trail is a manageable 3.5 miles long, paddle for just around one-half mile to discover undeveloped sections of Lake Anna State Park at the peak of fall for the ultimate foliage experience. Continue along the trail as your stamina allows to attractions like Kayaker’s Beach, Skinny Dipper’s Cove, Bohemian Bay, and the Tap House. When you return your equipment, be sure to purchase a piece of LKA™ wear apparel to commemorate your trip. Reservations can be easily made online at  

If you want to catch a fish but you’re not sure where to find them, look no further than McCotter’s Lake Anna Guide Service. Let C.C. McCotter’s team tailor a guided outing to your group’s specific interests so all you have to do is drop a line for bass, striper, wiper, and crappie!

Spotsylvania County is waiting for you to embark on an adventure this fall. Whether you experience the season by air, land, or sea, your chosen route will leave you seeing Spotsylvania County in a crisp, refreshing way – just like the air outside that’s so blissfully ushering in shorter days and longer nights. For comfortable accommodations and other awesome activities to get up to while you’re here, be sure to click here to plan your Spotsy escape today!