The colonial sites in The Historical Triangle - No 2 Yorktown & Jamestown 12-17th Nov 2011
Following our fun day out at Williamsburg, it was time to get into some American history – all 200+ years of it! The following day we made an early start to complete the remaining towns in Virginia’s Historic Triangle; namely Yorktown and Jamestown. We took the 23 mile scenic byway, known as the Colonial Parkway providing spectacular views of the James and York Rivers, but provided endless corridors of autumnal colour, as we travelled along the tree lined Parkway.
What a range of colours!
Historic Yorktown is most remembered as the site where George Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington in 1781, bringing an end to the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War, securing independence for the United States and significantly changed the course of world history. Yorktown also played a prominent role in the American Civil war and was the site of the major siege operations during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862
We arrived at the Yorktown visitor centre expecting to pay the usual entrance fees, but to our surprise we didn’t have to pay anything, as we happen to arrive on Veterans Day when entrance fees are waived. After a quick tour around the centre, where events of the siege and the story of the Town of York are exhibited, we followed a ‘lady’ official guide outside to watch the ‘re-enactment ’ firing of the cannons (British and US). The ‘lady’ ranger and guide did an excellent job and I was quite amazed how she managed to convey her voice in the very blustery conditions to give a very comprehensive historic commentary to the 30 or so visitors present.
Quiet inside, but oh boy this lady ranger had quite a voice as she conveyed what was happening during this re-enactment
The British soldiers had small portable cannons, which were very good for manoeuvrability, but were limited in range and so could not reach
the surrounding American armies.
The American/French had siege cannons which meant they could hit the English Army and one of the major factors to the English surrender
Although quite chilly, we had a good walk around Yorktown, which has a unique blend of past and present, with historic homes turned into quaint shops.
The French were very much evident in assisting the Americans to gain independence!
Yorktown Victory Monument - At York on 19 October 1781, after a siege of 19 days by nearly 17,000 combined American and French troops; Earl Cornwallis commander of the British Forces at York and Gloucester surrendered his 8,300 garrison to George Washington commander in chief to the combined forces of America and France.
Overlooking the York River and a typical house in Yorktown
Nelson House, home of Thomas Nelson Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence
The usual 3 suspects walking down Main St. and we stopped at the Carrot Tree Restaurant in the picture for lunch
Moore House – site of the surrender negotiations ending the siege
By following designated tour routes, we were able to take a self guided drive tour around 7 miles of battlefields along American and French siege lines and a further 9 mile drive took us through the American and French encampment areas.
We drove back along the colonial highway to Jamestown, arriving near closing time, but nevertheless managed to take a quick walk to the ‘Old Towne’. Then back to the visitor centre theatre, where we watched a very interesting 15 minute film recounting the story of the English settlement in Jamestown. The colony of Jamestown was established in 1607 when vessels carrying 104 colonists anchored in the James River. Overcoming disease, starvation and attacks by the indigenous Powhatan tribes, the colony grew and Jamestown developed from a small commercial outpost to a large colonial port and administrative centre and was an early step in the greatest migration in modern history. Over the next 300 years, tens of millions of European, African and Asian peoples arrived on American shores to begin new lives.
A statue of Capt. John Smith, leader of the Virginia Colony based at Jamestown. He was the first English explorer to map the Chesapeake Bay area and New England.
After a long, but very interesting day, we dropped off the hire car and Enterprise kindly took us all back to ‘the girls’ (Nimue and Scott Free).