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Williamsburg, day three…

December 17, 2008

was actually at Yorktown Battlefield Visitors Center.

Yorktown is the site of the last major battle in the War for Independence. The grounds around the Visitor Center are marked with signs detailing the main points of the Yorktown siege. For $5 you can purchase a driving CD tour that takes you through the main points of the battle. We didn’t get to finish this tour for trying to get back for the walking tour.

The walking tour was truly a highlight of the trip. Conducted by Ranger Linda, she not only gave the background history that had placed Cornwallis at Yorktown but also talked about pivotal battles for the Continental Army that determined Washington’s decisions as well. I wish that I had a CD of her presentation. She was beyond excellent. The walking tour was only walking to three different points and lasted about 50 minutes. Small children would not be sufficiently entertained, but any student of history couldn’t help but be drawn in by her vivid accounts of both the land and naval battles.

I had no previous idea that the French had played such a pivotal role in the war. Linda talked about the battle that occurred in the Chesapeake Bay between Admiral Graves and the French fleet that some historians believe actually clinched the victory because it left Cornwallis completely hemmed in without escape. There were providential circumstances of the weather & in the hearts of men that all total led to a tremendous victory for the Americans.

The boys had an amazing time running around the battleground, storming the redoubts, climbing on the cannons and re-enacting the battles. Walking over that ground and imagining the intense fighting, the lives of men slain for freedom, and the amazing heroics that occurred gave the entire area a hallowed feel. Standing where Cornwallis surrendered to Washington, a large part of me wanted to shout, “Woo Hoo!”

After we left the battlefield, we drove over to the Yorktown Victory Center which contains a recreated Continental Army Camp. There, various costumed interpreters demonstrated how to fire a musket, a mortar, how rations of hard tack and salt pork were prepared, and how medical procedures were performed. Connected to the Camp is a museum featuring all sorts of information from the war and colonial period. Time and again we were impressed with the quality of the exhibits. I knew the boys weren’t possibly reading everything, but I sure hope that they soaked in as much as possible.

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