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Old Sturbridge Village, Muster Day

May 18 @ 9:30 am - 5:00 pm EDT

Join us for our spring Muster Day to learn about militia history and see demonstrations of marching, musket and cannon firing, martial music, and target practice.

To supplement the meager armed forces, most early 19th-century farmers and craftsmen were required by law to serve in local militia units – the forerunner of today’s National Guard. Twice a year, these citizen-soldiers were “called to muster” for a day of training in their town. Old Sturbridge Village re-creates a typical Muster Day and celebrates our local military history. Demonstrations will include marching, musket and cannon firing, and target practice.

Muster Day highlights:

  • Watch as the Militia musters on the common and practices target shooting
  • Listen to fife and drum music, including a performance by the Old Sturbridge Academy Fife and Drum Corps
  • Watch a cannon demonstration
  • Learn about the role of powder houses in New England towns and the bugle as a signal instrument for artillery companies
  • Make a paper militia hat
  • Join in the festivities with the Old Sturbridge Village Dancers

Gingerbread, a popular Muster Day treat in the 1830s, will also be for sale outside of Miner Grant—while supplies last!


Men in militia uniform lined up by a fence

Did you know?

  • The 1792 Militia Act stated required nearly all white men from 18-45 to serve in the militia as part of their civic obligation to their communities. Indigenous Peoples and people of color were explicitly barred from serving in the militia, ensuring the primacy of white manhood as an important element of citizenship.
  • All men liable for service in early 19th-century New England had to provide their own equipment: a musket and bayonet, a cartridge box containing 24 rounds of ammunition and two flints, and a knapsack.
  • While commonly associated with Christmas today, gingerbread was a favorite treat enjoyed during early 19th century muster days.


May 18
9:30 am - 5:00 pm EDT


Old Sturbridge Village
1 Old Sturbridge Village Road
Sturbridge, MA 01566
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(800) 733-1830
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