Yorktown, Virginia

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Yorktown is a census-designated place (CDP) in York County, Virginia, United States. The population was 220 in the 2000 census. It is the county seat of York County[3], one of the eight original shires formed in colonial Virginia in 1634.

The town is most famous as the site of the siege and subsequent surrender of General Cornwallis to General George Washington during the American Revolutionary War on October 19, 1781. Although the war would last for another year, this British defeat at Yorktown effectively ended the war. Yorktown also figured prominently in the American Civil War (1861–1865), serving as a major port to supply both northern and southern towns, depending upon who held Yorktown at the time.

Today, Yorktown is part of an important national resource known as the Historic Triangle of Yorktown, Jamestown and Williamsburg, and is the eastern terminus of the Colonial Parkway. Yorktown is also the eastern terminus of the TransAmerica Trail, a bicycle touring route created by the Adventure Cycling Association.

Contents

History

Yorktown, named for the ancient city of York in Yorkshire, Northern England, was founded in 1691 as a port for shipping tobacco to Europe. The lawyer Thomas Ballard was the principal founder of the city along with Joseph Ring.[4] It was called "York" until after the American Revolutionary War, when the name "Yorktown" came into common use.[5]

The town reached the height of its success around 1750 when it had 250 to 300 buildings and a population of almost 2,000 people. It was the base of British General Charles Cornwallis during the 1781 siege, which was the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War.

Nine buildings, including the circa-1730 Nelson House, still survive from this period, as well as many of the earthworks dug by the besieging American and French forces. The Yorktown Victory Monument – commemorating the victory, the alliance with France that brought it about and the resulting peace with England – is located just outside the current town. Designed by New York architect Richard Morris Hunt, the monument was originally topped by a figure of victory sculpted by John Quincy Adams Ward, but that figure was destroyed by lightning in 1942. It was replaced by a figure of Liberty by Oskar J. W. Hansen in 1957.[6] A memorial to the French war dead of the Yorktown campaign is being planned for construction at the French cemetery on the site of the battle.[7]

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