14 August 2010

Under General Washington’s Canopy

Little did I know that right here in Yorktown, Virginia, one can stand right under General George Washington's dining canopy (albeit under glass)! My husband and I did that this afternoon at the National Parks Yorktown Battlefield museum. They also have a sleeping canopy that was his and had been kept the step-grandson George and Martha Washington helped raise (George Washington Parke Custis) after his father died from camp fever contracted during the Yorktown siege.


We have lived here over a decade and I could not believe that I did not know about this! We have been to the Battlefield a number of times, but only twice inside and then briefly. They have a museum that showcases the Washington canopies and also a replica of the interior of a French ship, which was also really cool. The Fifes and Drums of Yorktown entertain here and the annual celebration of the Victory at Yorktown is celebrated at the Battlefield in October. We were treated to a guided tour by a very entertaining park ranger and learned a number of things that surprised us. For the first time in British history, Cornwallis and his army were forced to depart without the honors of war (apparently they had to normally play a song chosen by the victors and also got to carry their flag as they marched out). Cornwallis had visited this humiliation on Charleston previously and then took hostage 5000 soldiers who were treated as civilians and imprisoned on boats (only 400 or so survived this to the end of the war). Benjamin Lincoln, taken hostage and exchanged, had pledged to not take up arms against the British again. He was with Washington at the surrender and it was he who was given Cornwallis' sword after Washington indicated that he did not wish to accept it. Given all the various and sundry things that happened to bring the victory about, it seems only providential that the Americans were victorious at Yorktown.

I wonder how many other people who live in Yorktown don't know about the treasures we have at the Battlefield?


  1. My ancestor Thomas Ballard was one of the founders of Yorktown. I have visted there many times, taken the tour, etc. Alot of American History there.

  2. That is cool Deborah! So, have you been under the canopy, too? Holler the next time you get down this way! My Rousch ancestors fought here in the battle and one of mine was a business man here at the very beginning (early 1600's), Shadrach or Sydrack Williams. Just FYI, the Yorktown Library has all kinds of books with ancient records documented in them if you want to see if Thomas has anything in there.


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