Thursday, March 28, 2013

Washington's Beloved Home and Yorktown Victory!

Mt. Vernon! What words can encompass the essence of George and Martha Washington? God fearing, honest, humble, determined, loyal, hospitable...all those and more. George was a surveyor, farmer, supreme military commander, and the first president of the United States. The people would have crowned him king. But he refused, and went home after his first term as president to be what he enjoyed most...a visionary farmer. "I hope someday or another, we shall become a storehouse and granary for the world." -George Washington to the Marquis de Lafayette, June 19th, 1788

The back porch, and view from it, looking across the Potomac River. The large tree is the original from Washington's days.

The wash house and kitchen area. When the weather was inclement, the clothes would be hung on a frame called a horse, thus the term, "clothes horse". We were not allowed to photograph the inside, but, it was quite plain, and the walls and trim gaudy in my estimation. Kelly green for the dining room was a bit much, but popular back then. Green supposedly helped the digestive process!

George's beloved farm and methods. Baby lambs were born just this week!

Towards the end of his life, the practice of slavery troubled him, so on his deathbed, he wrote in his will to free them as soon as his wife died (two years later). Martha (formerly a widow with two children) was so devoted to George that the day he died, she locked their bedroom door, never to return. She accompanied him all six winters during the war, helping where needed, and nursing the soldiers back to health. Her marble tomb rests beside Washington's with the inscription, "Martha Washington, consort of President George Washington. Consort: spouse of a reigning monarch, a companion or partner. Verb form? To agree or harmonize....I like that!

Then, on to Yorktown...the decisive victory that brought about our Liberty!

It's extremely difficult to summarize all we've learned today. But, two things are evident. We should not be celebrating the declaration of our independence on July 4th, 1776, but the victory at Yorktown on October 19th, 1781! And secondly, two tactical naval blunders by the British, the timely arrival of the entire French fleet from the West Indies, and two inclement weather patterns which aided the Americans, all point to the providence of God. The decisive battle that turned the tide for America's Independence was the naval "Battle of the Capes", between the French and English. Not a single American was involved!

The war of independence had been going on for seven years by this time, and moral was low. Washington knew something had to be done soon, or there would be mutiny. The British had captured New York and Charleston, and were now stationed at Yorktown, a perfect location for their troops and fleet. So, they had constructed "redoubts", earthwork barriers or fortifications on land, to protect themselves from enemy fire. These were overlooking the York River, to defend the town and waterways. The British never guessed the French fleet would come to America's rescue!

To make these, trees were first cut down. Then large baskets, "gabions" were woven from branches. Next, bundles of sticks called "fascines" or, if thicker branches, "saucissons" were constructed. The men would lay out a line of the gabions, then dig a trench behind them, throwing the dirt into and around the baskets. This would fortify them against cannonballs. Next, the sides of the mounds, or redoubts, would be lined with fascines or saucissons, and then covered with sod. Heavy sharpened poles, or fraises, would be shoved into the side of the mounds at a perpendicular angle to prevent the enemy from climbing up the embankment.

Washington had changed his tactics, and marched his men from NY towards Yorktown, eventually arriving a mile from the British redoubts which were near the shore. French and American troops both constructed a redoubt facing the British and waterways, under cover of darkness IN ONE NIGHT, without notice, because God had sent rain and fog to provide cover, soften the dirt, and muffle the sound...amazing! This provided protection, so days later, the French and Americans took British redoubts 9 and one night!! Cornwallis and his army tried to escape across York River, but a storm destroyed their boats, allowing only 1,000 men to reach shore. Since the French fleet now controlled the waters, and realizing their predicament, the British surrendered, and the rest is history!

That's all folks...thanks again for joining our tour.  We hope you enjoyed it!  Please feel free to comment below...

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Journey into the Promised Land

Journey into the Promised Land
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