Yorktown Battlefield

The American Revolution

Yorktown Victory MonumentThis monument was authorized by Continental Congress, October 29, 1781, just after the news of surrender reached Philadelphia.  Actual construction began 100 years later and was completed in 1884.  The original figure of Liberty atop the Victory shaft was severely damaged by lightning.  A new work replaced it in 1956.  The shaft of Maine granite is 84 feet in height to which Liberty adds another 14 feet.


At York on October 19, 1781, after a siege of nineteen days by 5500 Americans and 7000 French troops of the line, 3500 Virginia Militia under command of General Thomas Nelson, and 36 French Ships of War, Earl Cornwallis, Commander of the British Forces at York and Gloucester, surrendered his Army: 7251 Officers and  840 seamen, 244 cannon and 24 standards, to his excellency George Washington, Commander in Chief of the combined forces of America and France, to his Excellency the Come de Rochambeau, commanding the auxiliary troops of his most Christian majesty in America, and to his Excellency the Comte de Grasse, Commanding in Chief the Naval Army of France in Chesapeake.


On September 18, 1781 the battle began which would prove to be the last major conflict in the Revolutionary War.  General George Washington and his French allies surrounded Lord Cornwallis' forces, which consisted of British Regulars, Tories, and German Mercenaries.  After 9 days of bombardment Lord Cornwallis requested a cease fire and on October 19, 1781 surrendered his troops as prisoners of war.

October 19th remains a day of festivities for Yorktown, VA.  The celebration of the surrender of the British at Yorktown is entitled Yorktown Days and includes our French Allies, who send representatives each year.  One is taken back in time standing on an ancient street corner watching a parade in which the Yorktown Crier leads celebrants which include Fife & Drum Corps and Sons of the American Revolution members marching in Revolutionary garb.   A wreath laying at the grave of Revolutionary hero Thomas Nelson, coffee at the DAR owned Custom House, and dinner on the grounds served by the ladies of Grace Church precede a formal ceremony at the memorial. 

Patriotic music accompanies the parade of flags which begins the program.  As the ceremony unfolds, the boom of a cannon fired by re-enactors on the battlefield causes one to believe that he has been transported back in time.  General George Washington is once again firing on the British with his French allies in support.  The fife and drum corps are present to encourage our troops to victory.  The ceremony ends, and we are again in the 21st century.  But for a moment we were there.   


Pictured Left:  Cannons sit in silent vigil over the now deserted battlefield.  The majestic York River continues its run to the Chesapeake Bay, manned no longer by British warships.  Instead the mighty force of the United States Navy navigates its waters.

Pictured Below:  British and American flags fly over the battlefield in honor of the long departed warriors.  Redoubts and fortifications remain, having stood the test of time.





What footsteps walked the caves under the hill?  Do ancient soldiers still trod their dark paths hoping to avoid the wrath of the gunfire outside?

04/26/2007 09:41:59 PM