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August 13, 2002

Gen. Washington prepares for 1781 Siege of Yorktown during Labor Day weekend at CW

Continental Army re-enactors, 500 strong, prepare for the final offensive of the American Revolution--the siege of Yorktown and the defeat of the British Gen. Lord Cornwallis and his troops--during three days of special programming, “Prelude to Victory: Washington Prepares for Yorktown, September 1781!” at Colonial Williamsburg during the Labor Day weekend, Aug. 30 – Sept. 1.

An encounter between black soldiers of the First Rhode Island Regiment and Williamsburg slaves, and the entrance into Colonial Williamsburg by advance units of Washington’s army Friday, signal the beginning of the annual holiday re-enactment. While the advance group prepares for the arrival of the remainder of Washington’s troops, several programs through the weekend tell the little-known story of African Americans during the Revolutionary era. Through interactions with the enslaved community of Williamsburg, black soldiers share their aspirations of freedom for themselves, their families and country.

The reading of General Orders at the Courthouse puts the army to the tasks at hand Saturday morning, while Gen. Washington’s staff formulates strategies, tactics and contingencies for the siege. Their planning complete, Gen. Washington and his staff officers tour the town and the Continental Army encampment.

At a military field hospital at the Governor’s Palace, an army surgeon tends to the sick and wounded while captured British officers at the Benjamin Powell House offer their opinions on the war between England and the rebellious Americans.

Evidence of military skill and prowess by both Continental Army troops and their French allies fills the weekend. Demonstrations include artillery practice with the different pieces of ordinance, and the Manual of Arms with a drill and firing exercise while cavalry dragoons exhibit their horsemanship during field maneuvers. Sunday morning begins as the military chaplain ministers to the troops from the drumhead altar.

Following a full day of re-enactment events, Gen. Washington addresses his troops and issues final marching orders as the army prepares to leave for Yorktown at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281