The Victory Monument -a powerful symbol then and now

The Victory Monument, Yorktown, VA

See the paragraph below, a quote taken from page 297 of my book: Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant regarding the Victory Monument at Yorktown, VA memorializing the last significant battle of the American Revolution.

Lest we forget, this key battle was planned by the French under General Rochambeau and realized under the combined leadership of General George Washington, and the Continental Army along with General Rochambeau and the French Army.

“America was also busy creating her own permanent remembrance to honor Rochambeau’s victory at Yorktown. In 1781 the United States Congress provided for the construction of a monument recognizing the alliance and victory in Yorktown but failed to begin the project until one hundred years later.

The promise was kept, however, and the cornerstone was laid on October 18th, 1881, by “the order of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons as the appropriate opening for the Yorktown Centennial celebration,” and finally completed in 1884. It consists of a base, a podium, and a slender shaft of Hallowell Maine granite.

At the top of this tall, imposing monument stands the figure of Liberty herself, a symbol of freedom from tyranny and oppression.”

 

We have just celebrated Memorial Day last weekend. May I remind you of a breathtaking memorial to those who fought to save America and our freedom  239 years ago at Yorktown in 1781?

On October 17, 1781, Cornwallis asks for a ceasefire. On the18th the Articles of Capitulation are written at the Moore House in Yorktown. On the morning of the 19th, the Articles of Capitulation are sent from General George Washington to the defeated General Cornwallis for his approval.

Cornwallis has no choice but to approve them. By the afternoon of the 19th, it is the official laying down of arms ceremony at Yorktown.

P.S. Coincidentally, also on 19th the British fleet leaves New York (at long last!) to rescue Cornwallis (too late!). It is all in the timing!

 

 

King George III of England is cow-towed! And hog-tied!!

November 1st

Here are a few things you may not know that happened after the Surrender of Yorktown, VA, October 19th 1781

 

October 19, 1781
Later that afternoon the Duc de Lauzun, French cavalry officer, faced his opposite on the battlefield of Gloucester Peninsula, Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton, British cavalry, as the latter surrendered to him.

 

October 19, 1781
That night Rochambeau invited the vanquished Cornwallis for supper, but was turned down.  He had pled ill and skipped the Surrender Ceremonies as well.

 

October 21, 1781
French Commissary-in-Chief, Claude Blanchard finally took time away from the busy hospital in Williamsburg. “I went to see the City of York.”

 

October 24, 1781
The Duc de Lauzun was dispatched to Paris to tell King Louis XVI  the good news!

 

October 26, 1781
Comte Guillaume de Deux Ponts was dispatched to Paris to tell the King the Good News too! (on a separate ship)

Not long after – no date given: British King George III penned a letter saying, “America is lost. Must we fall beneath the blow?”

And so it went that glorious month of October 1781!!!

Battle of Yorktown – Eyewitness account

The battle of Yorktown has been in full force now for a week. From my bird’s eye view near Governor Nelson’s House very close to the bluff overlooking the York River, I can see that much devastation has occurred here since Cornwallis got the final bad news that he would be under siege very soon indeed. He has long since moved out of his headquarters at the Nelson House into a bunker even closer to the bluff.

Governor Nelson's home, Cornwallis' headquarters, near the bluff, Yorktown, VA

Governor Nelson’s home, Cornwallis’ headquarters, near the bluff, Yorktown, VA

Cannonades are still fierce and non-stop on both sides. In fact, a cannonball has hit the beautiful brick mansion of the Governor of Virginia very close to my location.  Yes, it is clear to me that Cornwallis has been forced to quit all manner of comfort to huddle with his men behind trenches and fierce-looking abbatis.

Jini in the rain at Yorktown battlefield beside a gabion used by French in building redoubts

Jini in the rain at Yorktown battlefield beside a
gabion used by French in building redoubts

Last night I learned that the French and Americans successfully stormed British redoubts 9 and 10, very close to Cornwallis, with surprise and unexpected force in hand-to-hand fighting. The battle here is nearly done. Surely it will be over in a day or two.

Some say that the cornered Cornwallis has dug himself a failsafe cave beneath the bluff at the edge of the York River where he can hide, but from which he can never escape! I cannot see it from where I stand, but I take it as fact.

When I look out over the York River I see the smoking remains of a British ship, partially sunk, named the Charon. On the 10th, from what I heard, that ship met a terrible end. It was bomb blasted by allied cannon balls that were heated to high temperature in a special oven brought to America by the French. When those hotshot balls hit the ship, it burst into flames. My goodness! That Rochambeau came through again!

The more I hear about him, the more I love that man! I know I am only a simple, colonial, rebel woman observer, but I have begun to realize the value in pre-planning that General Rochambeau must have done before leaving France. Thanks be to God he is on our side!!

Cornwallis' supposed hideaway cave under the bluff at Yorktown.

Cornwallis’ supposed hideaway cave under the bluff at Yorktown.

And, did you hear about the several heavy siege cannon Rochambeau brought all the way from France too? They arrived by ship from Newport at the beginning of the siege. This past week the allies rolled out these secret weapons much to Cornwallis’ shock and awe! The extra heavy siege guns flattened Cornwallis’s defenses and his already deepening morale in one swift blow!

It is plain to me that Cornwallis must reconcile himself to the fact that his compatriots, Admirals Graves and Hood, will not return to rescue him. In fact there have been no friendly-to-Cornwallis British ships in view for days! Cornwallis is coincé, as they say in French.

Roch Scans Howitzer

Hooray!! Washington and Rochambeau have pushed his back to the sea, and Admiral de Grasse has blocked his retreat by sea as planned. Their three-point plan is working like a charm.  The French Navy has made the difference.

Long Live America!  Vive la France!