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On October 19, 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.While the annual Yorktown Day parade and public commemorative ceremony are cancelled this year in response to COVID-19, a variety of programs are planned to mark the historic occasion. Visitors can take the free Yorktown Trolley to various Yorktown attractions between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily, following safety protocols.
AMERICAN REVOLUTION MUSEUM AT YORKTOWN
Yorktown Victory Celebration Event on October 16 Features Revolutionary War Programs, Artillery Firings, Musical Performances, Immersive Exhibits & Films
At the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, stories of citizens and soldiers of the American Revolution unfold daily at the expansive history museum through immersive films, exhibition galleries, and outdoor re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm. During “Yorktown Victory Celebration” on October 16, visitors can enjoy musical performances and take part in interpretive demonstrations, including cooking, fabric dyeing, and artillery.
Artillery demonstrations, showcasing the varied roles of an artillery crew, will take place in the outdoor amphitheater at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:45 p.m., each followed by the crew firing a salute in honor of the victory at Yorktown.
Visitors can enjoy musical performances by the Fifes and Drums of York Town at 12 noon and 1:30 p.m. in the Continental Army encampment. At 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3:15 p.m. in the Education Center, the Old Cigar Box String Band will perform the “Great American Sing-Along,” featuring popular tunes from American history that everyone knows by heart. Visitors are encouraged to sing along as songs are performed on fiddle, banjo, and bones.The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown and Gift Shop, open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, are located on Route 1020 in Yorktown. The event is included with museum admission: $16.00 for adults, $8.00 for ages 6-12, and free for children age 5 and under. Residents of York County, James City County, and the City of Williamsburg, including William & Mary students, receive complimentary admission with proof of residency. Event activities are presented in part by the York County Arts Commission. For more information, call (757) 253-4838 or visit jyfmuseums.org/yorktownvictorycelebration.On October 19, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will offer free admission to active duty, reserve, and retired military personnel and up to three direct family members with military identification.
Colonial National Historical Park at Yorktown Battlefield, site of the climactic 1781 siege, is open for self-guided tours. A free tour app is available at nps.gov/york/yorktown-guide-app.htm. Park Rangers are available to provide information about Yorktown Battlefield, tour roads, and Colonial National Historical Park outside the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, weather permitting. Stop by the Eastern National Park Store in the Visitor Center, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to purchase items to commemorate your visit to the park. The Visitor Center is located at 1000 Colonial Parkway at the eastern end of the Colonial Parkway, 12 miles from Williamsburg. Visitors are also encouraged to follow the park's Facebook and Instagram for posts and programs related to Yorktown Day. For more information, visit nps.gov/colo.
Wreath-laying ceremonies on Tuesday, October 19, will honor British and Canadian forces. A 3 p.m. ceremony honoring the British will take place in the Garden at the Nelson House near the plaque honoring Lt. General Charles, Earl Cornwallis, followed by a 4 p.m. ceremony honoring the Canadian Queen’s Rangers near the commemorative plaque along the York River waterfront.