Yorktown Victory Celebration & Preview of New Museum

October 15 & 16, 2016
Weekend Previews American Revolution Museum at Yorktown with Debut of New Exhibition Galleries and Films

Main entranceThe 235th anniversary of America’s momentous 1781 Revolutionary War victory at Yorktown will be celebrated October 15 and 16 with hands-on military experiences, artillery firings, military music, and a preview of the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown with the debut of the new exhibition galleries and films.

The introductory film “Liberty Fever” and 22,000-square-foot exhibition galleries – and the “American Revolution Museum at Yorktown” name – will debut during the weekend. The Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm will be completed in early 2017, and a grand opening celebration from March 23 to April 4 will officially launch the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

Liberty Fever stageExhibition Galleries & Films to Debut

“Liberty Fever,” shown in the museum theater, will draw visitors into the world of Revolutionary America, setting the stage for indoor gallery and outdoor living-history experiences. The introductory film will be narrated by an early 19th-century storyteller who has traveled the country gathering stories about the American Revolution and shares his accounts using a moving panorama presentation of the time period.


An experiential theater in the galleries will transport visitors to the Battle of the Capes and Siege of Yorktown in 1781.

Exhibition galleries will engage visitors in the tumult, drama and promise of the Revolution through period artifacts and immersive environments, dioramas, interactive exhibits and short films. Among the short films is “The Siege of Yorktown,” shown an experiential theater on a 180-degree surround screen with rumbling seats, wind, smoke and the smells of gunpowder, seawater and coffee. The action focuses on the Battle of Capes, that resulted in a French blockade of the Chesapeake Bay, preventing access by sea to Yorktown, attacks on British redoubts in Yorktown, and the British surrender on October 19, 1781.

Yorktown museum gallery exhibit settings

Among the close to 500 artifacts on exhibit in the permanent galleries will be a Declaration of Independence broadside dating to July 1776; a June 1776 Philadelphia printing of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, one of the inspirations for the U.S. Declaration of Independence; a coronation portrait of King George III from the studio of Allan Ramsay; one of the two earliest known portraits done from life of an African who had been enslaved in the 13 original colonies; and an extremely rare early southern American long rifle.

‘Yorktown Victory Celebration’ Revolutionary War Programs & Military Music

Artillery firing at the The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

Military music will be on display both days with Field Musick Virginia performing at 10:30 a.m., 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturday and 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sunday. The Fifes & Drums of York Town will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday. Visitors to the Continental Army encampment can learn the steps leading to the firing of an artillery piece, followed by its firing, during daily programs at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day. At 2 p.m. each day, visitors can learn about the terms of surrender of the garrisons of York and Gloucester on October 19, 1781, during a reading of the Articles of Capitulation.

Farm visitors can learn about typical life of a Revolutionary-era farming family, including how families produced homespun clothing during the war and assist in turning plant fibers for cloth at 11:30 a.m. each day. At 12:30 p.m., a daily program allows visitors to lend a hand with 18th-century meal preparation.

Special event activities are presented in part by the York County Arts Commission.

The event is included with museum admission: $9.75 for adults, and $5.50 for ages 6-12. Children under 6 receive complimentary admission.

Anniversary Weekend Programs at Yorktown Battlefield to Feature Lectures,
First-Person Interpretation, Artillery, Tours and Open Houses
Friday to Sunday, October 14-16

The Colonial National Historical Park at Yorktown Battlefield, site of the climactic 1781 siege, will offer a variety of special events in commemoration of the defeat of Lord Cornwallis to the combined forces of Generals Washington and Rochambeau.

A special presentation at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Friday, October 14 — the 235th anniversary of the epic storming of Redoubt #10 — will recall the historical account and feature speaker Rand Scholet of the Alexander Hamilton Awareness Society (www.theAHAsociety.org). The 1781 evening attack on the British, led by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton, so stunned Lord Cornwallis that it resulted in an immediate communiqué to the British Supreme Commander in New York pleading for help. The help, of course, never came, and the British surrendered five days later.  Upon hearing of Lord Cornwallis’ surrender, Lord North, the British First Minister, lamented “all is lost!”  Mr. Scholet will detail how Hamilton ended up leading the charge that day (a fascinatingly unexpected journey with twists and turns); and how his experience there helped define his future with Washington, right up to the last two days of Washington’s life (his last letter from Mount Vernon was to Hamilton).

At 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 15, Park Ranger Jerome Bridges will deliver a first-person account of Windsor Fry, an African American in the Rhode Island Regiment, offering insight to his heroic acts during the October 14, 1781, attack on Redoubt #10, an event which catapulted the surrender of the British garrison at Yorktown on October 19, 1781, and ultimately the end to British rule of the thirteen colonies.


The weekend also features demonstrations by the British Royal Artillery on Saturday at 12:15 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m., and musket demonstrations and Ranger tours highlighting the surrender on Saturday and Sunday.  The Nelson House, home of Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence, will be 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, will be open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Programs begin 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 October 14-16 is $7.00 per adult and under age 16 admitted free.  Interagency Passes, including lifetime senior and access passes, are honored.  For more information, including times for programs and demonstrations, call (757) 898-2410 or visit www.nps.gov/colo.