Colonial National Historical Park Annual Commemorative Event
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.
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. On October 19, 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.
The Yorktown Day events are a prelude to weekend programs on Saturday and Sunday, October 20 and 21, with artillery demonstrations, military music and hands-on interpretive programs at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, open house tours at Yorktown Battlefield, and special events in Historic Yorktown.
Yorktown Day – October 19
10:30 am – Yorktown Day Parade: 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, fifes and drums corps – including The U.S. Army Old Guard Fifes & Drums Corps – JROTC and NJROTC units, and patriotic organizations.
11:15 a.m. – Parade of Flags: 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.
1:00 p.m. – The Old Guard Fifes & Drums Corps: Performance at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center.
1:45 p.m., 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. – Revolutionary War guided tours
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.
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown – Oct. 19, 20 & 21
3 p.m. Friday – Public lecture by historian and author Ray Raphael: “How to Listen and Win Wars,” Raphael will explore General George Washington’s willingness to consult colleagues on military decisions. A book signing will follow the lecture.
Saturday and Sunday: The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will present a variety of hands-on experiences, artillery firings and military music. 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 can interact with Revolutionary War re-enactors, take part in interpretive demonstrations, and experience the “Siege of Yorktown” immersive theater.
3:30 p.m. Sunday – William & Mary Symphony Orchestra: Will perform 12 musical compositions in salute to the military, culminating with Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” accompanied by the sounds of artillery.
The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, is located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. Special events are included with museum admission: $15.00 for adults, $7.50 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. “Yorktown Victory Celebration” activities are presented in part by the York County Arts Commission. For more information, call (888) 593-4682 toll free or (757) 253-4838, or visit www.historyisfun.org.
Yorktown Battlefield – Oct. 20 & 21
Open houses of historic Yorktown homes in commemoration of the defeat of Lord Cornwallis to the combined forces of Generals Washington and Rochambeau.
10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday: Tour the Moore House, where surrender negotiations took place.
1 – 4:30 p.m. Saturday: Tour the Nelson House, home of Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday: Tour the Nelson House, home of Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday: Tour the Moore House, where surrender negotiations took place.
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. For more information, including times for programs and demonstrations, call (757) 898-2410 or visit www.nps.gov/colo.