YORKTOWN, Va., October 6, 2015 — The 234th anniversary of America’s decisive Revolutionary War victory at Yorktown will be marked with a variety of engaging hands-on military interpretive programs and tours on Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18, at Yorktown Battlefield and the Yorktown Victory Center. A patriotic parade and commemorative ceremony will be held on Monday, 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.
Yorktown Victory Center Revolutionary War Programs & Military Music – October 17 & 18
The Yorktown Victory Center, a state-operated museum of the American Revolution, will feature an assortment of military music, 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.”
An abundance of music will be on display on both days. The Cigar Box String Band will lead visitors in a “Great American Sing-Along,” featuring patriotic songs at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Saturday and, on Sunday, 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The Fifes and Drums of York Town will perform at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday and 3:15 p.m. Sunday, while Field Musick Virginia, presenting a mix of military music and instrumental history, will play at 1 and 4 p.m. Saturday and 12 noon and 3:45 p.m. Sunday.
A high point is Sunday’s performances by The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps at 1 and 2:45 p.m. A unit of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard” is the oldest infantry unit in the active Army, predating the Constitution of the United States.
Visitors to the Continental Army encampment can learn the steps leading up to firing an artillery piece, followed by its firing, during daily programs at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Programs on espionage will be held at 1:30 p.m. and military discipline at 4 p.m. “A School for the Soldier,” at 10 a.m. each day, will offer an opportunity for visitors to drill with wooden muskets and learn about soldiers’ provisions and sleeping quarters.
Farm visitors can take part in a stamp tax protest at 12:30 p.m. and learn about the price of liberty for Americans who declared independence from Great Britain at 2:30 p.m. Programs also will be held on textiles at 11 a.m., 18th-century meal preparation at 11:30 a.m. and, at 3:30 p.m., the citizen militia.
For a $10 fee in addition to general admission, visitors can register for “Enlist!,” a one-hour program offered at 2 p.m. each day. Participants can sign enlistment papers, march and drill with wooden muskets, 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.
A public lecture will be held at 2 p.m. each day. On Saturday, Tomas Ellis, president of The Lafayette-Hamilton Education & Historic Preservation Initiative, will present “Commanding the Attack on Redoubt 10: The Leadership of Lafayette, Hamilton, Gimat, and Laurens.” On Sunday, John R. Maass, author and historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History, will discuss his book “The Road to Yorktown,” followed by a book signing.
The event is presented in part by Dominion Resources, Inc., with additional support by the York County Arts Commission.
The Yorktown Victory Center, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. General admission is $9.75 for adults, $5.50 for ages 6-12, and free for children under 6. Residents of York County, James City County and the City of Williamsburg, including College of William and Mary students, receive complimentary admission with proof of residency. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll free or (757) 253-4838, or visit hif.ciniva.net.
Anniversary Programs at Yorktown Battlefield – October 17 & 18
The National Park Service at Yorktown Battlefield, site of the climactic 1781 siege, will offer a variety of tours and talks on Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18, highlighting the 1781 siege of Yorktown.
On Saturday, October 17, the British Royal Artillery will demonstrate the firing of a replica British cannon on the Yorktown Battlefield near the National Park Service Visitor Center at 12:15, 1:15, 2:15 and 3:15 p.m. On Sunday, October 18, Lamb’s Artillery, a volunteer unit depicts the 2nd Continental Artillery Regiment commanded by Colonel John Lamb, will present firing demonstrations of an 18-pounder siege cannon at 12:15, 1:15, 2:15 and 3:15 p.m.
Park Rangers will offer walking tours of Yorktown Battlefield at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m., as well as 3:45 p.m. 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.
These 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 Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 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, Yorktown Day commemorative events are co-sponsored by the Yorktown Day Association, comprised of 13 civic, patriotic and government organizations, and the National Park Service, Colonial National Historical Park.
In addition to morning wreath-laying ceremonies, the official Yorktown Day parade steps off at 10:30 a.m. The route will follow Yorktown’s Main Street and pass in front of the Yorktown Victory Monument, erected in 1881 to commemorate the military victory a century before. Included in the 35 parade units are representatives of all branches of the U.S. military, fife and drum corps – including The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps, JROTC and NJROTC units, and patriotic organizations.
Patriotic exercises will commence at the Yorktown Victory Monument at 11:15 a.m. with the annual pageant of flags, a colorful display that includes the American and French national colors, the flags of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and the flags of the 13 Yorktown Day Association members. At the conclusion of the patriotic exercises, a wreath will be placed on the Yorktown Victory Monument in memory of those who fought and died during the siege of Yorktown in 1781. At 11:30 a.m., the annual Yorktown Women’s Club Brunswick stew lunch will be held at Grace Episcopal Church.
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 can enjoy schooners Alliance and Serenity at the Riverwalk Landing piers, the Watermen’s Museum “York River Maritime Heritage Festival” October 17 and 18, a Gallery at York Hall “Yorktown Art” exhibit featuring watercolor artist Linda Miller and print-signing event on October 19, and Water Street Grille live entertainment October 16 and 17. For more information on historic Yorktown, call (757) 898-3500 or visit www.visityorktown.org.