The story

Christmas walks into Colonial Williamsburg on boots, battle-dress soft soles padding across cobblestones in the dusk of December's first Sunday.

Tens of thousands of "guests," as the city calls its tourists, fall to a hush when they hear a rhythmic click. More than 100 fife-and-drum artists are moving coolly, silently in 18th-century uniforms along lanes and pathways, striding in ghostly precision to the clicks of their drummers. They are eerily stone-faced youths, sturdily ignoring the modern masses pressing to glimpse them.

In the late 1700s, these teens might have been the first killed on fields of American Revolutionary battle. The noncombatant fifers and drummers were the communications units of their armies, ordering attacks, retreats and other maneuvers with their melodies and cadences. Read full article »

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