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"Best Revolutionary War Battlefield to Visit: Yorktown!" Topic

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18th Century

460 hits since 8 Jun 2018
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian09 Jun 2018 9:10 a.m. PST

You voted, Yorktown won: TMP link

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP09 Jun 2018 10:43 a.m. PST

Yes, but sadly, the British lost!

42flanker09 Jun 2018 12:16 p.m. PST

I had a very nice afternoon at Yorktown, although I probably spent too much time in the museum. There was a lot to take in. It was a lovely, warm May day and I emerged in time to latch on to a talk by a ranger called Mac who knew how to hold a crowd but was a mite opinionated it seemed to me (very harsh on Cornwallis.

He proceeded to bat me around the park when I mentioned afterwards the family tradition that my ancestor had been at Yorktown as an Adjutant General, since, he said, that individual "had his head taken off by a round shot while sat at Cornwallis' dinner table."

It turns out that was neither my forbear nor the AG (more properly DAG, whose name I don't recall), but Major Charles Cochrane (of Brandywine cap fame) who was actually with Lord Cornwallis looking over the ramparts at the time.

The happy effect of this buffeting from 'Mac,' however, was that it sent me back to our family's history notes such as they were, found them to be mostly wrong and so embarked on the trail of my ancestor's actual career before, during, and after the AWI, which proved much more interesting and even mysterious.

"So where was he in October 1781?" – I hear you ask. At the time of Yorktown he was in fact languishing down Charleston way, having accompanied Leslie's expedition south in winter 1780-81 as Deputy Assistant Deputy Adjutant General, an appointment which he held from late 1777 till he was evacuated from Charleston to New York in late 1782.

So, a profitable day at Yorktown all round.

The road from Norfolk was execerable however.

nevinsrip Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Jun 2018 7:41 p.m. PST

Actually dude, None of the above won, not Yorktown.

I was there in '85 or '86. I remember this because I bought the cassette that accompanied the car tour. Cassettes? Yikes!!

Anyway, I didn't find it all that exciting. Perhaps it has been refurbished since then? Mostly mounds of dirt.

I prefer the Upstate NY Region.

RAOldham181209 Jun 2018 9:41 p.m. PST

I enjoyed driving through it daily when stationed at the Coast Guard training base in 1990. I thought the museum was nice at the time but that was a long time ago. The only other battlefield I have visited was Guilford Court House which is well maintained as well. They have a great miniature display

42flanker10 Jun 2018 11:09 a.m. PST

It is indeed mostly mounds of decayed fortifications, but now covered with gentle green sward. Peaceful on the eye, but not perhaps redolent of battle, but then it was a siege with just a couple of fairly decisive coups de main. It was good to be so aware of the sea, which after all did decide the issue in a number of ways.

Aren't most historic battlefields surprisingly undramatic; the rolling farmland they were before and to which they returned after the events for which they became famous, with subtle folds in the ground deciding the fate of nations? If it wasnt for the monuments, would we think great battles had been fought in those fields?

Dynaman878911 Jun 2018 9:11 a.m. PST

Nature always wins in the end. It is surprising how quickly abandoned areas are reclaimed.

Rawdon11 Jun 2018 2:44 p.m. PST

Yorktown needs more than a day to do properly. Not even including the new museum which is worth at least 4 hours on its own.

FYI most of the entrenchments are actually reconstructions. However, a thorough and detailed examination has many lessons about how the siege unfolded.

42flanker12 Jun 2018 12:43 a.m. PST

Is it true that some of the entrenchments date from the ACW rather than AWI?

RudyNelson12 Jun 2018 3:11 p.m. PST

I went to Yorktown in 1981 three times with family visiting me at Fort Lee. At that time there was an extra exhibit location due to the bicentennial year of the battle. Since then I have been two more times as I attended the Williamsburg shows.

PVT64113 Jun 2018 7:57 a.m. PST

42flanker, If I recall correctly the Confederate did repair some of the original fortifications, plus built new ones. I remember there being remains of Confederate ones that could still be seen on the Jamestown tour.

historygamer13 Jun 2018 8:22 a.m. PST

Not really sure how much the present park works are ACW since there are not works (that I can recall) facing the river – which was the focus of the original CSA defense, though apparently they might have used some of the old works (80 years old) as they tried to block the peninsula.


They also mounted guns on the Gloucester side as well. Not sure what works, if any, remained there to re-use.

historygamer13 Jun 2018 8:23 a.m. PST

Back in 2005 I got a personal tour of the town by a ranger. She told me that a good portion of the town was accidentally blown up by an explosion of a CSA powder magazine.

She also pointed out the old trace of the tobacco rolling road that went down to the water.

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