Public Programs

Fall Symposium: Colonial Conflicts

The origins of the United States Army go back decades before its official creation in 1775. Many of the Army’s traditions stem from its British colonial roots. The National Army Museum will host its first annual Fall Symposium from October 18-22, 2021. This year’s theme focuses on the Army’s roots with “Colonial Conflicts.”
Explore the history of early American warfare with leading historians and museum educators.


Explore our Book Talk lead-up event

Learn about Colonial Conflicts Educator & Student programs


Monday, October 18, 2021
“America’s Colonial Wars: An Overview”
7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (EDT)

Join the National Museum of the United States Army for the first History Talk of our Fall symposium, “Colonial Conflicts.” Museum educator John Maass will present “America’s Colonial Wars: An Overview,” a virtual presentation on the long history of the country’s earliest conflicts. From warfare between settlers and American Indians as far back as the early 17th century in Virginia and New England, to colonial involvement in the European dynastic struggles of the 1700s in eastern North America, Dr. Maass outlines 150 years of warfare in America prior to the Revolutionary War.

John Maass received a Ph.D. in early American history at The Ohio State University. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on early U.S. military history, including North Carolina and the French and Indian War: The Spreading Flames of War (2013); Defending a New Nation, 1783-1811 (2013); The Road to Yorktown: Jefferson, Lafayette and the British Invasion of Virginia (2015); and George Washington’s Virginia (2017).

Register for “America’s Colonial Wars”


Tuesday, October 19, 2021
“Lord Dunmore’s War, 1774”
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (EDT)

The National Army Museum welcomes Dr. Glenn Williams to discuss one of America’s last colonial conflicts: Lord Dunmore’s War. This 1774 campaign against a Shawnee-led Indian confederacy in the Ohio Country marked the final time an American colonial militia took to the field in the king’s service and under royal command. Led by John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore and royal governor of Virginia, a force of colonials successfully enforced the western border established by treaties in parts of present-day West Virginia and Kentucky. The campaign is often neglected in histories, despite its major influence on the conduct of the Revolutionary War that followed. Award-winning historian Glenn Williams will discuss the course and importance of this campaign, supported by extensive primary source research to correct much of the folklore concerning the war and frontier fighting in general. He demonstrates that the Americans did not adopt Indian tactics for wilderness fighting as is often supposed, but rather used British methods developed for fighting irregulars in the woods of Europe, while incorporating certain techniques learned from the Indians and experience gained from earlier colonial wars.

Glenn F. Williams is a historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History, Fort McNair, Washington, D.C. He has served as the historian of the National Museum of the U.S. Army Project, the Army Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration, and the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program. He is the author of a number of books and articles, including the award-winning Year of the Hangman: George Washington’s Campaign against the Iroquois. He holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Maryland.

Register for “Lord Dunmore’s War”

“The Native American Way of War: The ‘Massacres’ at Oswego (1756) and Fort William Henry (1757)”
7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (EDT)

Learn about the Native American Way of War during the 1750s frontier conflict known as the French and Indian War with Dr. Timothy Shannon of Gettysburg College. In this virtual presentation, Dr. Shannon will use two infamous episodes of intercultural violence from the what was also called the Seven Years’ War to explore Native American motives and methods for participating in the imperial wars of colonial America. The “massacres” at Oswego in 1756, and Fort William Henry—both in New York—the following year will be used as focal points to explore this topic.

Professor Shannon teaches Early American, Native American, and British history. His most recent book is Indian Captive, Indian King: Peter Williamson in America and Britain (Harvard University Press, 2018), which was awarded the 2019 Frank Watson Book Prize for best book in Scottish History. He is also the author of Iroquois Diplomacy on the Early American Frontier (Penguin, 2008) and Indians and Colonists at the Crossroads of Empire: The Albany Congress of 1754 (Cornell, 2000), the latter of which won the Dixon Ryan Fox Prize from the New York State Historical Association and the Distinguished Book Award from the Society of Colonial Wars.

Register for “The Native American Way of War”


Wednesday, October 20, 2021
“The Disjointed Empire: Coalition Warfare and the Forbes Campaign”
7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (EDT)

Historian Michael McConnell discusses the French and Indian War in western Pennsylvania in his virtual presentation “The Disjointed Empire: Coalition Warfare and the Forbes Campaign.” In 1758, British General John Forbes’s campaign attempted to capture the French Fort Duquesne, and make peace with the Delaware Indians who accounted for the majority of local natives in the Ohio Valley at the time. His army consisted of hundreds of American provincial soldiers and British regulars as well. Forbes’s situation raised interesting issues—not least of which was his run-in with a young George Washington. Geography also played a role: the army was moving through territory that colonists, especially Virginians and Pennsylvanians, coveted. McConnell also points to the huge logistical challenge of fighting a war on the distant frontier.

Michael McConnell is a native of western Pennsylvania and earned his Ph.D. in Early American history in 1983 from the College of William & Mary. He retired in 2008 as associate professor after 24 years with the Department of History, University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Register for “The Disjointed Empire”


Thursday, October 21, 2021
“Breaking Loose Together: North Carolina’s War of the Regulation, 1766-71”
7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (EDT)

Several years before the start of the American Revolution, backcountry settlers in the North Carolina Piedmont launched their own defiant bid for economic independence and political liberty. The Regulator Rebellion of 1766-71 pitted thousands of farmers, many of them religious radicals inspired by the Great Awakening, against political and economic elites who opposed the Regulators’ proposed reforms. The conflict culminated on May 16, 1771, when a colonial militia defeated more than 2,000 armed farmers in a pitched battle near Hillsborough. At least 6,000 Regulators and sympathizers were forced to swear their allegiance to the government as the victorious troops undertook a punitive march through Regulator settlements. Seven farmers were hanged.

Dr. Marjoleine Kars delves deeply into the world and ideology of free rural colonists. She examines the rebellion’s economic, religious, and political roots and explores its legacy in North Carolina and beyond. The compelling story of the Regulator Rebellion reveals just how sharply elite and popular notions of independence differed on the eve of the Revolution.

Marjoleine Kars is associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is a senior editor for International Labor and Working Class History, and has received fellowships from The National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Historical Association, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the John Carter Brown Library, the European University Institute, the Huntington Library, and UMBC.

Register for “Breaking Loose Together”


Friday, October 22, 2021
Gallery Talk – “Founding The Nation”
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (EDT)

Chief Curator Paul Morando shares select artifacts on display in the Museum’s “Founding the Nation Gallery” which includes colonial and Revolutionary War artifacts and exhibits. This gallery talk highlights interesting artifacts from the Museum’s collection as well as individual Soldier stories from the colonial era—revealing themes of personal courage from throughout the Army’s early history. This live-stream event includes opportunities for audience questions.

Register for “Founding The Nation” Gallery Talk

Educator & Student Programs


Virtual Field Trip – “The Road to Revolution: The French and Indian War”
10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. (EDT)

Before the American Revolution, an earlier conflict engulfed the colonies and set the stage for tension between America and Great Britain. Originally a land struggle between European powers, the French and Indian War provoked resentment toward Great Britain. In this virtual field trip, visitors will investigate the long-reaching effects of the aftermath of the French and Indian War in order to better understand its powerful relationship to the Revolutionary War.

Register for Virtual Field Trip


Teacher Workshop – “Teaching the French and Indian War in Your Classroom”
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (EDT)

The French and Indian War changed the relationship between the British and its colonies in North America. The conflict set in motion a series of events that ultimately led to the American Revolution and beginnings of what would become the U.S. Army. Explore the Museum’s digital resources that can support teaching the French and Indian War in your classroom. Join a Museum Educator to learn how primary sources and artifacts can be incorporated into your curriculum.

Register for Teacher Workshop