Before the Siege: The British Army in Yorktown
Saturday and Sunday, September 29-30, 2018
9 am – 5 pm
On Saturday and Sunday, September 29-30, Colonial National Historical Park, Yorktown Battlefield, in partnership with York County, The American Revolutionary War Museum at Yorktown, Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Watermen’s Museum, will sponsor an event that allows visitors to experience the village of Yorktown as it might have appeared in 1781 under the occupation of British forces. Reenactors portraying British soldiers, local townspeople, loyalists, and British sailors will occupy Yorktown.
The Custom House, owned and operated by the De Grasse Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, will be open for visitation. It’s located at the corner of Main and Read Streets. Before the siege, this fine house served as barracks for many of Lord Cornwallis’ troops.
The grounds of the Dudley Digges House will be occupied by ‘troops in red,’ as will the grounds of the beautiful Hornsby House Inn. The front yard of the B&B will also be the site of Officer’s Marquis, which will also be the location of the Officer of the Day. He will interpret organizing and arranging military duties.
Just off Main Street sits the Nelson House, formerly the home of a Declaration of Independence signer and wartime Governor of Virginia. All morning, “Officer’s Servants” will work on preparing a Mess, to be served in the afternoon in a Marquis tent set up at the Nelson House. Meal preparation will begin Saturday morning with a shopping trip to the Yorktown Market Days (a modern farmers market) held at Riverwalk Landing from 8 a.m. to noon.
The Hospital, which will offer ongoing interpretation of life in a military field hospital, will be set up inside the Swan Tavern where surgeons will be busy caring for wounded patients and smallpox victims. If anyone has a minor injury or is feeling the effects of the heat – go to the Hospital!
The Watermen’s Museum will host a Royal Navy Unit on Water Street. Their staff will regale visitors with insights to His Majesty’s naval operations in support of the largest deep water port between Charleston in the south, and Philadelphia in the north.
About a block down at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, visitors will get first-rate exposure to 18th-century life, including an outdoor living history farm and encampment.
The Corps of Engineers will present and interpret military fortification using both scale models and practical work.
The Royal Artillery will conduct maintenance on their 3-pounder guns at the camp by the Swan Tavern. Using a portable hoist engine or “gin”, the RA will have the capability to hoist barrels off carriages and pull wheels for repair and to grease the axles. On Saturday, by the Visitor’s Center, the CNHP Royal Artillery will fire their six-pounder at 12:15 p.m., 1:15 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. On Sunday, the participant’s three-pounder cannon will fire on the same schedule over at the Visitor’s Center.
The crew of HMS CHARON will interpret the Royal Navy’s mission at Yorktown. The ship’s guns from CHARON had been dismounted and brought to land to use as artillery.
And finally, don’t miss a stop at the Moore House where the articles of surrender were negotiated, before taking a drive through the Yorktown Battlefield where the final battle for American independence unfolded in 1781.
Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center
1000 Colonial Parkway
Yorktown, VA 23690