YORKTOWN, Va., October 4, 2017 — The 236th anniversary of America’s decisive Revolutionary War victory at Yorktown will be marked on Saturday and Sunday, October 14 and 15, with artillery demonstrations and hands-on interpretive programs at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, open house tours at Yorktown Battlefield, and special events in Historic Yorktown.
The weekend events are a prelude to Yorktown Day, on Thursday, October 19, at Yorktown Battlefield, administered by Colonial National Historical Park, an annual event that will feature a patriotic Yorktown Day Parade and Commemorative Ceremony at the Monument to Victory and Alliance, also known as the Yorktown Victory Monument.
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.
Revolutionary War Programs, Military Music & Artillery Demonstrations
at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
October 14 & 15
The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will present a variety of hands-on experiences, artillery firings and military music as part of its annual “Yorktown Victory Celebration” event. Stories of citizens and soldiers of the American Revolution unfold at the expansive history museum through an introductory film, exhibition galleries and outdoor re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm.
Visitors to the Continental Army encampment will discover aspects of military life, from enlistment to troop supplies and flintlock muskets to 18th-century medical care, take part in daily artillery demonstrations at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and interact with re-enactors from the 7th Virginia Regiment of the Continental Line. Military music will be performed on both days at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., with the Fifes and Drums of York Town on Saturday and Field Musick Virginia on Sunday. At the Revolution-era farm, visitors can lend a hand with period cooking and take part in processing plant fibers for cloth and dying fabric.
Indoors, visitors can take in the “Liberty Fever” introductory film, tour immersive exhibition galleries, including “The Siege of Yorktown” experiential theater with special effects. “Leaders of the American Revolution,” a 30-minute overview of the leaders, battles and key events, will be held each hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The “AfterWARd: The Revolutionary Veterans Who Built America” special exhibition chronicles the post-war lives of Siege of Yorktown veterans, including Henry Knox, Alexander Hamilton, James Lafayette and the Marquis de Lafayette. In addition, several weekday programs leading to Yorktown Day events will honor the Marquis de Lafayette, including excerpts of the “La Fayette” ballet at 4 p.m. October 17; and three lectures on October 18 – “Lafayette’s Grand Tour of 1824” by Alan Hoffman, president of the American Friends of Lafayette, at 1:30 p.m.; “The Lafayette Trail” by French historian and geographer Julien Icher at 2:15 p.m.; and “Lafayette and Human Rights” by Diane Shaw, director of special collections at Lafayette College, at 4 p.m. Programs are included with museum admission.
The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. Admission is $12.00 for adults, $7.00 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. “Yorktown Victory Celebration” activities are made possible in part by the York County Arts Commission. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll free or (757) 253-4838, or visit jyfmuseums.org.
Anniversary Weekend Programs at Yorktown Battlefield
Feature Tours and Open Houses to Historic Sites
The Colonial National Historical Park at Yorktown Battlefield, site of the climactic 1781 siege, will offer open houses of historic Yorktown homes on Saturday and Sunday, October 14 and 15, in commemoration of the defeat of Lord Cornwallis to the combined forces of Generals Washington and Rochambeau.
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 14-15 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.
Yorktown Day – October 19
Colonial National Historical Park Annual Commemorative Event
The modern-day observance of Yorktown Day 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 begins at 10:30 a.m. The route will follow Yorktown’s Main Street and pass in front of the Monument to Alliance and Victory, 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 Monument to Alliance and Victory at 11:15 a.m. with the annual parade of flags that includes the 3rd Infantry Color Guard and flags of the 13 Yorktown Day Association members. At the conclusion of the patriotic exercises, a wreath will be placed on the monument in memory of those who fought and died during the siege of Yorktown in 1781.
The Old Guard Fife & Drum Corps will perform at 12:30 p.m. at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center, and Revolutionary War guided tours by Living History Associates will be offered at 1:45, 2:45 and 3:45 p.m.
On October 19, admission to Yorktown Battlefield will be free as part of the Yorktown Day celebration. For more information, call (757) 898-2410 or visit www.nps.gov/colo.
Visiting Historic Yorktown
Visitors can take the free Yorktown Trolley to attractions throughout Yorktown, including Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily through October 30.
Throughout the weekend, Yorktown visitors can enjoy schooners Alliance and Serenity at the Riverwalk Landing piers, “Yorktown Market Days and Fall Festival” on October 14 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the Watermen’s Museum “York River Maritime Heritage Festival” October 14 and 15. On October 14, enjoy Gallery at York Hall exhibits on the Marquis de Lafayette and “Yorktown Art,” an On the Hill Gallery exhibit with artist Lew Thatcher, and Water Street Grille live evening entertainment. On October 15, a play re-enacting the 1774 York Town Tea Party will take place at 12:45 p.m. at Riverwalk Landing, followed by a performance of the Fifes and Drums of York Town from 1:15 to 1:45 p.m.
For more information on Historic Yorktown, call (757) 898-3500 or visit www.visityorktown.org.