Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Williamsburg, Yorktown, Jamestown and Ft. Monroe

We headed towards Hampton, north across the Chesapeake Bay, to visit Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. But right in Hampton was Ft. Monroe, so we headed there first.

Ft. Monroe is the largest stone fort in the U.S. It was started in 1819, but wasn't finished until 1834. Robert E. Lee, later General of the Confederate Army, was one of the engineers who helped build Ft. Monroe.

Although Ft. Monroe sits at the end of Cape Comfort, surrounded by water on three sides, the fort was built inland a ways with a moat all the way around the fort. A busy port and supporting businesses and residences built up outside the fort in the 1800s. As you can see, the moat still exists.

This is one of the locations where Jefferson Davis, Confederate President, was held captive following the end of the Civil War. Another famous person who served at Ft. Monroe was Edgar Allen Poe. It is said his famous epic 'The Raven' was written based on his stay at Ft. Monroe. Ft. Monroe is also said to be haunted and TV shows have even come here to try and prove the ghosts really exist. Underneath the stone walls or casement, there is now a wonderful museum. I would recommend everyone visit Ft. Monroe

The current base commanders home. Until last year the base was an active army base. But recently the army reorganized and the base faced closure. The property was given back to the state of Virginia, who gave it to the city of Hampton. Although the base is no longer active, most of the housing is still occupied by military familes from surrounding areas. Some families are awaiting their loved ones to return from overseas. But by next year the military should be moved out and the city plans on making this affordable housing. There is also a move to take some of the old buildings inside the stone fort and making a high school.
More of the housing located outside the stone fort on Ft. Monroe. In the background is a large building which used to be a hotel, then the military used it for offices. It has recently been updated and remodeled into senior housing. I was told it cost $3000 a month for an apartment.

Another bit of history for Cape Comfort. In the early to mid 1600s, this area was a port where slavers brought in new slaves from Africa. During the Civil War Ft. Monroe was occupied by the Union and this area was considered a safe-haven for escaping slaves. During the Civil War and immediately following there was a thriving black community, including schools to teach the recently freed slaves how to read and write.

The next day it was raining, but we decided to get out anyway. We headed toward Yorktown, where British Commander Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington. This was one of the last major battles of the Revolutionary War.

The memorial sits on top of the hill in Yorktown, overlooking the York River and the battlefields nearby. George Washington, along with French Leader Rochambeau, Washington's aide, Lafayette, and about 15000 troops, confronted the British. French Naval Captain De Grasse was instrumental in blockading the harbor, keeping Cornwallis from receiving more British aide and supplies.

The Nelson house withstood the shelling of the Revolutionary War as well as the burning of the Civil War.

There are several cannonballs imbedded in the side of the house.

The Moore house, located outside of town, is where the officers came to meet face-to-face to discuss the British surrender terms.

The next day was bright and clear, but cold. Just the day to visit Williamsburg and Jamestown.

The governor's mansion in Williamsburg. This is the place where George Washington met his future wife, Martha.

Bruxton Parish Church has been in operation continuously since 1715. It is one of the oldest Episcipal churches in the U.S.

It was only about 45 degrees. Even Fancy had her coat on.

As you walked around Historic Williamsburg you got a glimpse of what it might have been like back in the 1700s. Historic Williamsburg was the brainchild of John D. Rockefeller Jr. He wanted to restore, recreate and preserve our history and our past.

We ran across this unusual instrument. It is played by winding the handle on the end. It turns a wheel across the strings. But even though it is a stringed instrument, it has the sound of bagpipes. Very pretty. I recorded it, but the file is very large. If I can get it reduced, I'll post it in another blog.

The capital building restored. Williamsburg was the first capital of Virginia. It was later moved to richmond after the Revolutionary War.

The College of William and Mary is located is Williamsburg. Except for Harvard, it is the oldest college in America, founded in 1693, chartered by King William and Queen Mary.

The original college building, built in 1693, is now the college president's office.

After wandering through Historic Williamsburg, we decided to head towards Jamestown.

The restored church is built upon the foundations of the the first church of Jamestown, built in 1617. 104 men and boys landed at Jamestown in 1607. Over the next few years more settlers came, but between Indian problems and lack of food and disease, only about 60 of the 600 who came to Jamestown survived. By 1610 though, the settlement stabilized and eventually became a thriving port throughout the 1600s. In the late 1600s the settlement of Williamsburg became more important and was the eventual demise of Jamestown. By the early 1700s the town was no more, and only a few plantations remained.

Although this looks like the ruins of old foundations, they are actually reconstructed ruins. The original ruins were discovered and verified and studied by archeologists, then covered up again for preservation. Then these reconstructed ruins were built on the exact sites of the original ruins. (did you get all that? I'm not sure I did)

The Ambler Plantation. I don't know if these are again, reconstructed ruins or the original ruins. But this plantation house really wasn't all that large, not like the plantation houses you see in the movies.

These deer were wandering around the area. They not only were not afraid of us, but they weren't even afraid of Fancy.

Well, enough history for a while, now its off the the beach again. Outer Banks here we come.

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