Yorktown Victory Celebration
October 18-19, 2014
Commemorative Weekend Events at Yorktown Victory Center, Yorktown Battlefield & Historic Yorktown
The 233rd anniversary of America’s decisive Revolutionary War victory at Yorktown was marked with a variety of engaging hands-on military interpretive programs and tours on Saturday and Sunday, October 18 and 19, at the Yorktown Victory Center and Yorktown Battlefield. A patriotic parade and commemorative ceremony was held on Sunday, October 19 – Yorktown Day – in historic Yorktown and at Yorktown Battlefield.
Yorktown Day marks the anniversary of the American-French victory in 1781 over the British. In 1781, following a nine-day bombardment, British forces in Yorktown under General Charles Cornwallis requested a cease-fire and then surrendered more than 8,000 soldiers and sailors to the combined American and French armies commanded by General George Washington. This was the last major military action of the American Revolution, effectively securing independence for the American colonies following a six-and-a-half-year military struggle.
In 2015, Yorktown Victory Weekend festivities will be held October 17-18 with commemorative events in Yorktown on Monday, October 19.
Yorktown Victory Center Revolutionary War Programs – October 18-19, 2014
The Yorktown Victory Center, a state-operated museum of the American Revolution, featured military re-enactors, musket and artillery demonstrations, and hands-on interpretive programs at re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm during its annual “Yorktown Victory Celebration.”
The 7th Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line, a Revolutionary War re-enactment group, was on hand throughout the weekend event and featured a two-pound cannon on a “galloper” carriage. The gun is a light field piece used by faster moving infantry, rifle and cavalry units. Visitors to the Continental Army encampment were invited to experience Revolutionary War military life firsthand by enrolling in “A School for the Soldier,” offering opportunities to drill with wooden muskets and learn about soldiers’ provisions and sleeping quarters. “School” Sessions were offered at 1:05 p.m. on both days. Visitors learned the steps leading up to firing an artillery piece during daily demonstrations at 10:35 a.m. and 12:05 and 3:05 p.m., followed by its firing. Daily programs on espionage will be held at 11:05 a.m. and military discipline at 4:05 p.m.
At the re-created farm, “The Price of Liberty” at 2:35 p.m. examined the sacrifices of Americans who declared independence from Great Britain – from signers of the Declaration of Independence to farmers, women and enslaved people. Farm visitors observed methods of open-hearth cooking at 11:35 p.m. and saw textile and spinning demonstrations at 10:05 a.m. At 3:35 p.m., visitors learned about the transition from farmer to soldier as they trained as members of the citizen militia.
For a $10 fee in addition to general admission, visitors could register for “Enlist,” a one-hour program at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. both days that allowed participants to sign enlistment papers, march and drill with wooden muskets, identify uniforms of allies and enemies, build living quarters and defensive earthworks, learn about espionage, roll and keep a musket cartridge, see artillery firing and receive advance “pay” and orders from General George Washington.
Admission is $9.75 for adults and $5.50 for ages 6 through 12. Children under six are admitted free. Save 20 percent with a combination ticket to Jamestown Settlement, a museum of 17th-century Virginia.
The Yorktown Victory Center, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, located on Route 1020 (GPS address: 200 Water Street), five miles from Interstate 64, Exit 247. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838.
Anniversary Programs at Yorktown Battlefield – October 18-19, 2014
The National Park Service at Yorktown Battlefield, site of the climactic 1781 siege, offered a variety of tours and talks on Saturday and Sunday, October 18 and 19, highlighting the 1781 siege of Yorktown.
The British Royal Artillery performed on the Yorktown Battlefield near the National Park Service Visitor Center at 12:15, 1:15, 2:15 and 3:15 p.m. Saturday and at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. Sunday. Park Rangers offered walking tours of Yorktown Battlefield at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. Saturday. The Nelson House, home of Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was open 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The Moore House, where surrender negotiations took place, was open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
These programs began at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center, located at 1000 Colonial Parkway at the eastern end of the Colonial Parkway, 12 miles from Williamsburg. Admission on Saturday, October 18, is $7.00 per adult and under age 16 admitted free. On October 19, admission to Yorktown Battlefield will be free as part of the Yorktown Day celebration. Interagency Passes, including lifetime senior and access passes, are honored. For more information, call (757) 898-2410 or visit www.nps.gov/colo.
Yorktown Day – October 19
The modern day observance traces its roots to 1922, when the Daughters of the American Revolution began an annual wreath-laying ceremony, which set the tradition upon which the current Yorktown Day is based. Today, the Yorktown Day Association, comprised of 13 civic, patriotic and government organizations, coordinates the traditional commemorative events.
In addition to Sunday morning wreath-laying ceremonies, the Custom House was open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the annual Yorktown Women’s Club Brunswick stew lunch was held at 11:30 a.m. at Grace Episcopal Church. At 12 noon the U.S. Army Commander-in-Chief’s Guard performed on the Yorktown Battlefield next to the Visitor Center. The Yorktown Day parade at 1:30 p.m. followed Yorktown’s Main Street and passed in front of the Yorktown Victory Monument, erected in 1881 to commemorate the military victory a century before.
Patriotic exercises commenced at 2:15 p.m. at the Yorktown Victory Monument with a colorful backdrop of flags including the American and French national colors, the flags of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, five United States territories, and the flags of the 13 Yorktown Day Association members. At the conclusion of the Patriotic Exercises, a wreath was placed on the Yorktown Victory Monument in memory of those who fought and died during the siege of Yorktown in 1781.
Visiting Historic Yorktown
Yorktown visitors can take the free Yorktown Trolley to attractions throughout Yorktown, including Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center and the Yorktown Victory Center, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. In addition to weekend commemorative events, Yorktown visitors enjoyed schooners Alliance and Serenity at the Riverwalk Landing piers, the Watermen’s Museum “Family Pirate Palooza” October 17, a Gallery at York Hall “Yorktown Art” exhibit, book-signing event and artist reception October 19, and Water Street Grille live entertainment October 17-18 and oyster roast October 19. For more information on historic Yorktown, call (757) 898-3500 or visit www.visityorktown.org.