YORKTOWN, Va., October 2, 2012 – The 231st anniversary of America’s decisive Revolutionary War victory at Yorktown will be marked with a three-day celebration, beginning with a patriotic parade and commemorative ceremony on Friday, October 19 – Yorktown Day – in historic Yorktown and at Yorktown Battlefield. A variety of engaging hands-on military interpretive programs and tours continue on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, at Yorktown Battlefield and the Yorktown Victory Center.
Yorktown Day marks the anniversary of the American-French victory in 1781. In 1781, following a nine-day bombardment, British forces in Yorktown under General Lord 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 Day Commemorative Events – 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 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, 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.
At 12:30 p.m., The Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps and Commander-in-Chief’s Guard will perform on the Yorktown Battlefield near the National Park Service Visitor Center. A unit of the 3rd U. S. Infantry, The Old Guard is the oldest infantry unit in the active Army, predating the Constitution of the United States to 1784. As a unit of the Military District of Washington, the 3rd U.S. Infantry is charged with the unique mission of serving as the U.S. Army’s official ceremonial unit, performing tactical infantry missions and providing security for the nation’s capital.
At 2:15 p.m., a “Road to Victory” three-mile walking tour allows visitors to follow in the footsteps of the British Army to Surrender Field.
Revolutionary War Interpretive Programs at the Yorktown Victory Center – October 20-21, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Yorktown Victory Center, a museum of the American Revolution, will feature military re-enactors, musket and artillery demonstrations, and hands-on interpretive programs at re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and 1780s farm during its annual “Yorktown Victory Celebration.”
Revolutionary War re-enactors will demonstrate military life throughout the weekend event. Visitors to the Continental Army encampment will be 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. The program also explores methods of troop communication, espionage during the war and the importance of earthworks during a siege. “School” sessions will be offered at 10:35 a.m. and 12:35 p.m. on both days. Visitors can take part in artillery demonstrations at 11:05 a.m. and 3:05 and 4:15 p.m. each day.
Daily at the re-created 1780s farm, “The Price of Liberty” at 10:05 a.m. will examine the sacrifices of Americans who declared independence from Great Britain – from signers of the Declaration of Independence to farmers, merchants, women and slaves. Farm visitors can observe methods of open-hearth cooking at 12:05 p.m., see textile demonstrations at 1:35 and 3:35 p.m., and learn about the transition from farmer to soldier as they train as members of the citizen militia at 2:35 p.m.
Yorktown Victory Center gallery exhibits feature a rare July 1776 broadside printing of America’s Declaration of Independence, provide eyewitness accounts of the American Revolution, describe the convergence of forces on Yorktown in 1781 for the climactic military engagement of the Revolution, and examine the development of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and how people from many different cultures shaped a new society.
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. Residents of York County, James City County and the City of Williamsburg, including the College of William and Mary, receive complimentary admission with proof of residency. Various package and ticket options are available online with Yorktown and Williamsburg area attractions, including a History, Shopping and Fun! vacation package with coupon booklets for Williamsburg Premium Outlets and a Historic Yorktown Rewards Card.
The Yorktown Victory Center, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, is located on Route 1020 near the Colonial Parkway in Yorktown. The museum remains open while work is under way on transforming the site into the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll-free or (757) 253-4838, or visit hif.ciniva.net.
Anniversary Programs at Yorktown Battlefield – October 20-21, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The National Park Service at Yorktown Battlefield, site of the climactic 1781 siege, effectively ending the American Revolutionary War, will offer a variety of tours and talks highlighting the 1781 siege of Yorktown. On Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, Park Rangers will offer a variety of interpretive programs, including walking tours of Redoubts 9 & 10 at 10:15 a.m.; Yorktown Battlefield at 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 and 3:15 p.m. Saturday and 12:15, 1:15 and 3:45 p.m. Sunday and the village of Yorktown at 2:15 p.m. Non-firing artillery demonstrations will be presented at 12:15 p.m. Saturday and 11:15 p.m. Sunday. In addition, the Moore House, where surrender negotiations took place, will be open 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. The Nelson House and the Yorktown National Cemetery Lodge will be open 1 to 4:30 p.m. on both days.
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. On Friday, October 19, admission to Yorktown Battlefield and Historic Jamestowne will be free as part of the Yorktown Day celebration. Admission on Saturday, October 20, and Sunday, October 21, is $10.00 per adult, under age 16 admitted free, which also includes admission to Historic Jamestowne. Interagency Passes, including lifetime senior and access passes, are honored. For more information, call (757) 898-2410 or visit www.nps.gov/colo.
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, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Yorktown Day and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. In addition to weekend events, visitors can enjoy schooners Alliance and Serenity at the Riverwalk Landing piers, and the Watermen’s Museum York River Maritime Heritage Festival on October 20. For more information on historic Yorktown, call (757) 898-3500 or visit www.visityorktown.org.
YORKTOWN VICTORY WEEKEND SCHEDULE OF EVENTS