Scott and I had a wonderful time at Colonial Williamsburg! The first thing we did was tour the British Governor’s Palace with a docent. It is luxurious and decorated fashionably according to 17th century England’s styles. I was surprised that the red and white slip covers on the chairs are consistent with high society in America’s colonial days. When I asked about it I was told that they were used to protect the seat covers from fly spots. When a person desired to use a chair a nearby servant would quickly remove the cover.
There were many people dressed in colonial style and were willing to talk with us about their trade. We met a gardener, silversmith, a milliner and others. I really enjoyed seeing the simple dresses along with a very dressy dress in the milliner’s shop which also stocked thread and fabric for those who desired to sew for themselves.
We enjoyed seeing a short movie about Martha Washington and how the war affected her. Following the movie a very accomplished actress came on stage as America’s “first” First Lady. For nearly an hour she talked about “her” life. She described her joining General Washington at various camps and how she gave up wearing her British silk dresses and wore “colonial” clothes. She spoke of how she and other officers’ wives mended clothes and knitted socks for the soldiers. She also told of how her son died of camp fever.
Later on we heard a Black slave preacher called Moses preach and pray for the colonial soldiers. He had an exchange with a member of the local militia and also a chaplain from the local colonial militia. The spiritual element was very strong and we were reminded of the faith of our national forbearers.
The last house we toured was the Randolph Peyton House. It’s a big place — painted a deep red. The oldest part of the building was constructed in 1715. The house has been added onto several times and various out buildings such were added through the years. We entered through a side door into the oldest part of the house and were directed on a tour through the house, seeing the Mr. Peyton’s office and various other rooms. I was impressed by the trunks that were stored in one room. They were antiques even when the house was new, dating back into the 1600’s.
We concluded our visit to Colonial Williamsburg by watching a great presentation of the Fife and Drum Corps and a review of the troops by General Washington on his white horse. Following the review there was a demonstration of shooting loading and firing rifles, use of bayonets and then, the very loud and impressive firing of the cannons.
The other highlight of our time here was a visit to Yorktown. We began our visit at the Yorktown National Park Visitor center where we watched and introductory film that helped us understand the driving tour. We were surprised to see how close the two armies actually were as they prepared for to do battle. The fact that Washington was able to march his forces, build the redoubts and do battle show determination and stamina on the part of the Colonials. Of course, having the French fleet hold off the British Navy was a turning point, contributing to Cornwallis’ inability to retreat across the York River to Gloucester.
During the driving tour we saw the restored Moore House where the terms for the surrender of Yorktown were worked out. It’s a lovely home originally on 500 acres with a view of the York River.
Finishing our trip we rode the free trolley from the NPS visitors center to Yorktown and walked along Water Street by the River then took the trolley back.