The World Turned Upside Down (Yorktown,
I spent a couple hours at Jamestown, then hit the Colonial Parkway bound for Yorktown,
nervously glancing at my watch the whole way. I left Jamestown at 5:25 p.m. and the
Yorktown Visitor Center closed at 6:00 p.m., so I had to hustle. I zipped
past the turnoff to Williamsburg without a regret and made it to Yorktown five
minutes before it closed, just enough time to stamp my National Park passport
book and run through the life-size, 18th century warship there.
of course, was the site of the last battle in the American Revolutionary
war. By 1781, the Redcoat army had been battling Washington's Continental
Army for six years, first in the north and then the south, but without much
success. In the fall of 1781, the pompous English commander, Lord
Cornwallis, was being chased across Virginia by the pesky French and American army and moved his
Redcoats down the York Peninsula, expecting to get rescued by the British
fleet. The fleet, though, was having its own problems and was turned back
by the French off Cape Henry.
After a brief siege in the village of
Yorktown, Cornwallis surrendered to General Washington and during the surrender
ceremony, his band play the song "The World Turned Upside Down."
Everyone, including King George, realized that the war was over, although the official treaty between England and the newly-formed United States wasn't signed
for another two years.
though I got kicked out of the Yorktown Visitor Center (much as the British had
gotten kicked out of Yorktown two centuries earlier), I had a good time there and
spent about an hour walking around the entrenchments. At 7 p.m., though,
it was time once again to hit the road.
Above left: This is a cool ship inside the Visitor Center at Yorktown
National Battlefield. It's cool because it's air-conditioned.
Above center: And here's a cool French mortar. American and French troops cornered
General Cornwallis here on the York peninsula in 1781 and drew the noose ever
Above right: A French howitzer on the siege lines at Yorktown.
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Turned Upside Down