Thursday, November 8, 2012 ....Yorktown.....yeah, that's it!

Today we went to visit Yorktown, the site of the deciding battle of the American Revolutionary War.

The Declaration of Independence had been made in 1776, but the British still held New York, and continued shipping and trading from there. In contrast the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay was under blockade by the French, who had come to the aid of the fledgling republic.

Here then, is another sign at the opposite end of town from the first. The real story is what takes place in between in October of 1781. Are you ready for a tale of bravery, carnage and heroic victory?

Right, then let's get at it.

Upon arrival at the battlefield site, many embankments and trenches are visible. Though as yet unexplained,  these will all make sense in a little bit so please bear with me.

It seems that every vista from the visitor center is crowded with these mounds and gullies. One wonders upon arrival what their significance is.

More mounds, more gullies. This is beginning to look a little like an alien landscape. Who put these here, what are they for. All will be revealed.

Here is a long view of 2 cannon. Apparently the topography has something to do with a battle. Inside the Visitor Center, more information quickly fills us in on the meaning of all this.

Once inside the museum there is found a scale model of the whole battlefield together with an audiovisual presentation of the events of those fateful days in October of 1781.

The French blockade off the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, was tested by the British Forces fleet and a fearsome battle was joined. After a long engagement, which didn't go well for the British, they limped off to lick their wounds and repair what remained of their fleet.

This is a  representation of a captain's cabin on  a French vessel. Note the bunk suspended by ropes so it could gymbal regardless of sea conditions.

This was the captain's mess. Mahogany furniture and a felt table top were the order of the day. Just because one were on a warship was no reason to be uncivilized, n'est ce pas?

This was one of the gun decks. It doubled as a bunk space for ordinary seamen when battle was not joined. One hammock for every three men as they slept by turns when not on duty.

The ship also contained supplies in earthenware jugs similar to the amphorae used by seafaring ancient Greeks. The grinding wheel for sharpening swords, pikes and bayonets was probably put to good use by the sailors of the day. One wanted a sharp weapon if one needed to let the blood of an English pig!

Here is a view down the side of the vessel looking aft. It must be a cloudy day at sea, as some of these pictures didn't come out too well.

Meanwhile ashore preparations were being made. General Washington sensing weakness in the British position, and that their resupply would not be soon ordered an attack.

It was not as simple as ordering a "charge". Scouts showed the British to be well dug in, with trenches and earthworks, lines of communication and two severe redoubts #9 &10. Preparations were crucial.

Combined British and French forces numbering about 17,00 marched from Williamsburg to Yorktown and set about preparing for battle. The first order of business was fortifications.

Bundles of sticks tied together with vines, were laid lengthwise upon the earth, course on course and covered with earth and rock. Open ended baskets called galbions were stood on end and filled with earth and rubble. Thus wide trenches were dug behind the bulwarks and earthworks erected before.

Keep in mind that all the fortifications were done by the American and French combined forces by hand with pick and shovel working straight through for two days!!!

This is a diorama of the American forces arrayed in battle readiness on the left hand side of the field of combat. Thought the French were accorded the honor of the first salvo, George Washington himself touched off the the first shot for the American side.

After 24 hours of continuous bombardment, the British troops had been softened up a bit. The cannon were moved up to 400 yds. distance where they began to pound the British forces unmercifully.
 From this range they were firing almost point blank into the British forces.

The French then attacked one redoubt while American forces attacked the other with bayonets. This effectively put the British to rout.

General Lord Cornwallis, commander of the British forces having been informed that a retreat across the York River was out of the question, and being unwilling to risk annihilation of his forces, realized that his proper British butt had been handed to him the American forces and sued for terms of surrender.

After arranging a proper surrender, Cornwallis ended up feigning illness to avoid embarrassment and had his subordinate, General O' Hara surrender his sword. The British marched in column rank between the Americans on one side and the French on the other to the field of surrender, laid down their arms and thus effectively the American Revolutionary war was won!!

Leaving the battlefield we drove down to the town proper, on the banks of the York River. In one stretch of sandstone cliff, at Cornwallis Cove there was excavated a room with a gate for secure storage.

We stopped at Riverfront Landing and got out and walked around a bit. The skies were fair, the sun shining but the wind was brisk off the York River.

Here we have a statue of General George Washington conversing with his French ally General le Comte de Grasse. They are no doubt reliving their great victory. They have no idea they are being photo bombed by the irrepressible Scooterchick......

Here is a cannon from the period. It is showing it's age, and the carriage has no doubt been rebuilt. I should hate to try to fire it today.

There is a fountain in the courtyard of the landing. There is a small museum here with interesting exhibits from the British occupation of Yorktown.

Here is a jewelers shop. I didn't venture inside but did admire the Stella scooter parked outside. Apparently the jeweler or his shopkeeper has class and distinction as well as jewelry.

Behind the shop was a small courtyard with benches on which I relaxed in the sun while Scooterchick looked in the shops. One rented Segway scooters and led Segway tours.

Just before getting back to the car, I took this picture. While the architecture was period correct, but then I took a closer look at the roof slates. They look like slate.....wait a minute, they're fiberglass
shaped to look like slate. Tricky tricky!

On the drive out of town, we took a few detours down streets and laneways. Looking into one area I saw a stable for carriage and horse that looked original to 1781.

Having departed Yorktown, we went to a place called Williamsburg pottery. It was started by a fellow named Maloney in 1937, but as grown into a huge mall that is like Hobby Lobby combined with Pier 57 World Imports and the garden section of home depot. They seem to have everything for the home. This is one end,

and this is the view towards the other other end.

From statuary to fountains, art to home decor, bedding to kitchen wares and wine and cheese and floral and candles and.............. I could go on but won't.

They seem to have some of everything, even if your taste runs to the metal flake, grandly gaudy and overly ostentatious. These sorts of thing always catch my eye, if only to marvel "wow!"

Looking to the right, about 200yds. away is a door which leads to the next building. About 100yds. to the left another door which leads to a third building........seriously......the mind boggles!

And so we return to our accommodations for the final night. We have planned a visit to Berkeley Plantation tomorrow and late in the day we fly back to Texas. So, stuffed with meat loaf, broccoli, carrots mac & cheese not to mention pie and ice cream ( I won't mention it if you don't) I sign off for the night.  Toodles!


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