Since we had covered a good distance the evening before, we decided to drive to Yorktown in one straight shot (about three hours.) We even stopped at a fast food restaurant for lunch (unusual for us, but reflective of our frustration with the weather.) We got to Yorktown mid-afternoon- it was pouring rain-but this didn’t deter us from exploring the famous battlefield where the American Revolution was won.
Our visit began with the obligatory stop at the visitor center. We saw a reconstructed Revolution-era battleship and George Washington’s original camp tents. Then we watched a video that retraced the history leading up to the battle and during the battle. By then it was time to venture out into the rain and see key battlefield sites. It’s important to note that the French had a key role in the American victory of this battle. First, the French Navy defeated the British Navy at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, cutting off Cornwallis’s (the British commander) relief. Fabien told me that this was the only naval victory for the French over the British. Second, the French sent almost twice as many ground troops to aid Washington’s troops. The weather (big surprise) also played an important factor- a tropical storm cut off Cornwallis’s escape route to the neighboring port of Gloucester. Cornwallis was humiliated as the American and French troops moved across his lines and took his redoubts (little stone forts.) We slogged through the rain and mud to see the sites of Washington’s encampment and the Victory Field. By the time we finished, the rain had let up and we drove in to historic Yorktown where we some 18th century buildings.
After a long afternoon of military history, we did our grocery shopping and checked into our motel for the next two nights. I even managed to catch up on a few blog posts.