Tag Archives: revolutionary war

Yorktown National Park mini museum and a whole lotta humps.

 

We were beginning to discover a strange thing about the Historic Triangle area in Williamsburg ,Virginia…. everything is done in triplicate. National Parks, State Parks and tourist venues all cover the same history and it can be a bit confusing when choosing a place to visit. So after finishing the Revolutionary War Museum and the Yorktown re-creation, we headed to the actual Yorktown site and found a National Parks visitors center.

It had a small museum with most of the same information we had just seen… and a broken heating system which rendered the building slightly less cold than the Arctic tundra. Needless to say, we didn’t linger.

There was a ship.

 

 

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A one fourth size replica of the one that sunk in the neighboring York River.

 

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So we boarded her…

 

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Explored… and then moved on.

 

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To some tents.

 

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But not just any old tents.

 

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These were literally George Washington’s tents.

Delivered by Philadelphia upholsterer Plunket Fleeson in May 1776, Washington’s original set of campaign tents included a large dining tent — which also served as his headquarters and meeting room — and two additional tents that provided space for the general to sleep and store his baggage.

Though made of rugged worsted wool and linen, several of these tents succumbed to rough treatment during the war, requiring Washington to order replacements. Still more abuse took place after the deaths of the general and his wife, when their stepson — George Washington Parke Custis — began snipping off pieces of the historic fabric to give to guests at his celebrated outdoor parties.

Later, the tents accompanied the Marquis de Lafayette on his triumphant 1824 tour of the nation he helped create. Yet even at historic Fort McHenry, where they were reverently displayed under the original Star-Spangled Banner, the increasing fragile artifacts were handled with a recklessness that’s hard for curators to imagine today.

Greater still was the threat from Union Army pillagers who seized the Arlington estate of Custis’ heir — Mary Custis Lee — and her husband, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, during the Civil War. Only a word of warning from a Lee family slave named Selina Gray persuaded federal officials to seize them for safekeeping, thus saving the irreplaceable relics.

Returned in 1901, the outer elements of both the dining and sleeping tents were quickly sold; they ended up in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution and what is now the American Revolution Center at Valley Forge, Sundberg said. The Park Service acquired the dining tent ceiling and sleeping tent chamber from the Lee family in 1955, putting both on display at what was then the new Yorktown Visitor Center.

 

 

And pardon my geekdom, but I think that’s pretty damned cool!

 

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Heck, they even had Lord Cornwallis’s table he used during the war.

But by that time we were freezing and had to go outside to warm up. Wanting to see the actual Yorktown battlefield…. we started the driving tour with directions from the park rangers.

 

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I’m not quite sure what I was expecting.

 

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But what I got were a bunch of humps.

Humps here.

 

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Humps there.

 

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Humps everywhere.

 

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Apparently they’re called redoubts.

 

 

And not be outdone, we had humps as well.

 

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I believe there were 10 of them on the tour, but come on. Once you’ve seen a  few humps?

You’ve seen them all.

 

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Though this one had cannons, which I photographed from the top of  a hump……

 

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Before realizing you weren’t supposed to climb to the top of the humps.

 

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Yorktown re-creation… in which we explore outdoors.

 

The second half of the American Revolutionary War Museum in Yorktown, Virginia is the interactive outdoor exhibit re-creation.

 

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First up…. the soldier’s encampment.

 

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It’s one thing to read about these things and see them in your mind’s eye….. quite another when you can physically touch and experience them first hand.

See those little tents? 4-6 men slept in there….. and let me tell you, it wouldn’t have been comfortable for one.

 

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Meals, such as they were… were cooked here.

 

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And the fire was kept burning 24/7.

 

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There were few doctors as we think of them today, and the surgical tent more than likely contained a barber with a bag of torture implements like these. Please note the large bottle of laudanum in the back. I’d be chugging that like iced tea, thank you very much.

Though if you were bitten by a mad dog?

They had you covered.

 

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The General’s tent was a bit larger….

 

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And served as his office as well.

 

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The laundromat was a bit primitive.

 

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Though you did get a discount if you brought your own soap.

And the entire camp was ringed with wooden spikes to repel attackers.

 

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As well as providing excellent selfie backgrounds.

 

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Yes, another Revolutionary War museum post…..

 

But there was so much to see and I’m not even covering an eighth of it.

 

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Oh, stop.

A little knowledge won’t hurt you, although these might.

 

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While I’m not a general fan of firearms…

 

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Even I had to admit they were beautiful in the 18th century.

 

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The silver work was lovely.

 

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And the under sides of the butt caps really did have grimacing faces… but the lighting, the glass cases, and the reflections prevented any of my pictures from being post worthy.

 

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Everywhere you looked you were surrounded by history.

 

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Which is basically my nerdy idea of heaven.

When I die? I want to find out who killed JFK, how the pyramids were built and the location of ancient Troy.

 

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And trust me, I have a lot of shoes.

 

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Impressive, right?

 

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There was even a tree of knowledge. If only I could spread some of it’s seeds in our nation’s capitol today…..

 

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Naturally we had to check out the surround sound movie.

 

 

 

Complete with battle scene sequence smoke rolling by on the floor.

 

 

 

And in my experience?

There are very few museums who actively instruct you to touch their balls.

 

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Yup.

 

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Seriously big balls.

 

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This now concludes the indoor museum section of our trip to Yorktown, Virginia.

Well, wait….

Maybe just one more thing.

 

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Because who doesn’t love 244 year old rat skulls?

 

Revolutionary War Museums can be fun.

 

Really, they can.

For example…. is it me?

 

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Or is Paul Revere a dead ringer for Jack Black?

 

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See?

Fun!

 

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America looked a little different in the 1700’s.

 

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Back when this fellow was in charge.

 

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And who knew ole Ben was a songwriter?

 

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Not exactly top 40 material, but hey… he had other things on his mind.

 

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We spent hours exploring…..

 

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And were very impressed.

 

 

They brought history to life.

 

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And there was even a little Revolutionary Name That Crap!

 

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Can you guess?

 

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And how about…..

 

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Can you guess?

 

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One more.

 

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This was rusty so you know the husband loved it.

 

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We learned a lot… and I won’t bore you with it all.

 

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But it was a fascinating place.

 

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Filled with fascinating things.

 

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Admit it, you started humming Yankee Doodle Dandy when you saw that drum.

 

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They even had shoes!

 

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How great is that?

 

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Colonial Williamsburg…the Governor’s Palace tour.

 

Finished with out outdoor stroll….

 

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We headed for the interior tour…

 

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Of the Colonial Seat of English rule in early Virginia.

 

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Our guide led us inside…

 

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Where we were immediately surrounded by a large numbers of weapons.

 

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Weapons.

 

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Everywhere.

I won’t bore you with the long history of the place, if you’re interested…. take a peek here.

I’ll just point out that it was home to the Royal Governor pre revolution, and numerous Virginia Governors like Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson post revolution.

 

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It was an impressive place.

 

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With an impressive wood stove.

 

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Amazing decorative detail….

 

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And some pretty brightly colored walls.

 

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There was even a separate room for men to powder their wigs.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong with politics today…

Not enough wigs.

 

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The beds were elaborate.

 

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But the only thing I thought of when I saw the red room…

 

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Complete with fancy dress crib to show off the progeny?

 

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Was this:

 

 

It’s in there Rosemary….

 

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Grab your knife.

(Sorry, but I saw that movie when I was 9 and it still creeps the hell out of me)

The final part of the tour was self guided.

 

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And led us around back…

 

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To the cellar.

 

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Which was basically a whole lotta barrels…

 

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And a whole lotta wine….

 

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So… that done, we emerged.

 

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And caught a charming scene.

 

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A horse drawn carriage.

 

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Adding a little something to the atmosphere of days gone by.

As well as making us watch where we walked… because, well. Horse diapers hadn’t been invented yet.

And yes… they do exist.

Pampers for Mr. Ed