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!

 

 

A Battle Worth Remembering!

The Battle of Valcour Island
Lake Champlain
          
October 11-12,  1776

See below a map of Valcour Island with diagram of the sea battle

January 22nd 2016

HISTORY IS FUN!  REALLY!

Believe it or not ~  How many of you history buffs knows about this battle and where Valor Island is? Well, just ask me!  My history lessons started early back in the 1950’s when I was a camper and horseback riding instructor at Brow Ledge Camp near Mallet’s Bay north of Burlington, Vermont. Since I have a mind like a trap, I remember a canoe trip across Lake Champlain where we spent the night, camping out, cooking over a campfire and enjoying the stories about the famous Rev War battle that was once fought there.I never  dreamed that I would be recalling this memory to tell you about it!

Who knew that this battle was fought by the motley crews of America’s first Navy, small as it was. It was assembled by General Benedict Arnold in the fall of 1776. I have written of the importance of the North-South Corridor which must be defended at all costs.  That is the water corridor running from the St. Lawrence River on the north through Lake Champlain, past Fort Ticonderoga and into Lake George and the Hudson, New York City.

Whomever owns this passageway controls the east coast and the land to the west as well. The British knew this and wanted desperately to control this waterway as a result. George Washington knew it as well. He sent Arnold north to thwart the British in October of 1776. The war had just barely begun. Washington was n the run, being chased out of New York by the British.

Brigadier General Benedict Arnold was ordered to put a halt to  British General Sir Guy Carleton southward advance. The result was the inland sea battle of Valcour, a tiny island near the west shore of Lake Champlain. Arnold was given a makeshift small army of castoffs to build, outfit and sail the small fleet that mid October.  A short, fierce battle ensued. The American rebels lost 11 ships, 80 killed/wounded while the British lost 3 vessels with 40 casualties. Yet, the it touted as an American win since Arnold outwitted the Brits putting a sudden end to the battle and sending the redcoats north before their ships were halted by the ice.


book cover front
To learn more about Benedict Arnold, enjoy reading pp 83-85 in my book:
      
Rochambeau, Washington’s Ideal Lieutenant
A French General’s Role in the American Revolution

Did you know that Rochambeau met Washington in Hartford, CT for the very first time?

The met at the home of Jeremiah Wadsworth, now the Wadsworth Atheneum Art Museum.  Below is the plaque that tells the story.

The proper dates were:

  • Arrival on September 20, 1781
  • Departure on September 23, 1781.

The meetings resulted in a decision for Rochambeau and his men to stay put over the winter in Newport, RI and in Lebanon, Ct. Beyond that, Admiral de Ternay would seek more ships and Rochambeau would seek more men while the French remained on the defensive in Newport looking out for a possible British attack. Their next move would be centered around New York, the British head of operations in the North.

The plaque is attached to the exterior of the building, on the left side as you face the front entrance.

Wadsworth Atheneum Art Museum plaque

HERE STOOD THE HOME OF COL. JEREMIAH WADSWORTH COMMISSARY GENERAL OF THE AMERICAN  FORCES IN THE WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE AND A TRUSTED FRIEND OF GEORGE WASHINGTON AND BROTHER JONATHAN TRUMBULL. HERE IN 1775 HE ENTERTAINED WASHINGTON ON HIS WAY TO CAMBRIDGE TO ASSUME COMMAND OF THE CONTINENTAL ARMY IN THE SOUTHWEST CHAMBER WASHINGTON MET THE FRENCH COMMANDER COUNT DE ROCHAMBEAU AND OTHERS IN MAY 1781 AND CONSIDERED THE PLAN OF THE YORKTOWN CAMPAIGN WHICH IN OCTOBER RESULTED IN THE FALL OF THE BRITISH POWER IN AMERICA. 
(Above is the photo of the Wadsworth plaque followed by a more legible version of the inscription.)
Photo by Heather D. Woodring