Saturday, August 22, 2015

Revisiting History Part II Yorktown Historic Site April 27

(Apologies in advance for the way the photos are displaying.  I messed up the coding.  There are wide empty spaces between the photos and text so please just keep scrolling.  Moore House is the last photo.)

Infused as we were with the thrill of learning history we got up early the next day to go to Yorktown. It would be a longer drive and we knew we wanted to see both the NPS site (the battlefield) as well as the new learning center so off we went, Phoenix ensconced in the back of the car.

Note: we travel most places with Phoenix in the car because we cannot leave her for longer than 4 hours.  At this point in our travels she was not at all comfortable being left alone in the RV and would bark and go a bit crazy.  In the car she lies down on the back seat and goes to sleep. The other half of the seat is folded down so she has an area where she can stretch her legs and a huge water bowl.  We have shades on the windows which we leave way down and park in the shade.  We also take breaks and take her for walks if we are not allowed to have her with us.  However, she is allowed in most parks and is often with us, lying quietly at our feet and enjoying the attention she gets.  She is a very sweet and calm dog and has several times been the first dog a child has ever petted.

Our first stop was at the NPS site, the site of what was the deciding battle for the American revolutionaries in their battle for independence from Britain, Yorktown Battlefield, part of the Colonial National Historical Park. Since we are over 62, we have what is called a Senior Pass which is a $10 lifetime pass to all federal recreation sites. It also gives us a 50% discount on many places within the federal recreation system for camping. To be honest, most of the Visitors' Centers at National Parks are so well done that I feel as though I am cheating when I get in for free. This one, once again, was excellent. It is located behind what were the British defensive earthworks, or redoubts. The Lafayette Gun (a 12 ft gun Gen. Lafayette personally took from British troops after storming their redoubt,) and Gen. Washington's campaign tent from the war are both on display.
The Lafayette Gun with the "dent" from a shot he fired at the British
There is also an excellent film, The Siege of Yorktown, which is worth taking the approximately 15 min to watch.(While the Yorktown Victory Center -see below-was not open when we were there we saw that they will show 3 different films on a rotating basis. We have found that these films give a very good overview of the site and the events so we watch them when we can.)

There is a ranger led tour of the area immediately outside and the ranger we had was as excellent as everything else. She was enthusiastic and knew what I believe must be every minute fact about the battle, armaments and site. There is a map of the battle site here for those who are interested. From there you can take a 7 mile self-guided tour around the site, reading about and visiting the redoubts, troop encampment sites, and the Moore house (site of the surrender negotiations.)

The British redoubts
American redoubts and the field where the British surrendered

Looking out to the York River where the French arrived in ships

Our Ranger

After a few more sites on the ranger led tour we got in our car to do the 7 mile self guided tour. Once again the signage is very good, which is helpful close to 240 years later and with all but a few landmarks and all the evidence of the suffering that war brings, gone.

The Deposit

18th century siege warfare took weeks of preparation and engineers and sappers needed a ready supply of the gabion (wickerwork like baskets); fascines and saucissons (bundles of stout wood sticks) and fraises (heavy pointed poles).  They used this ravine to store them until the American troops were ready for them.

Wormley Pond where the troops...

would march along this dam to get to the battlefield...

but where only turtles reside now.

Moore House
the site of the surrender negotiations

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