9/5/18 – ????: The past couple weeks have been challenging. Hurricane Florence stopped us dead in our tracks and changed our plans for making the final journey to New Bern. For how long, we don’t know. But during the week while her path was still unknown, we got a chance to visit Yorktown. And after her path was known and we evacuated to Fredericksburg, we spent several days exploring that town, too. There’s a lot of history in these two towns, dating all the way back to the foundations of our country.
Yorktown is one of the most important places in American history. The final battle of the Revolutionary War was fought here, and it was that decisive battle where we finally won our independence from Britain and became a new country. George Washington led 17,000 colonial soldiers against General Cornwallis, who surrendered 3 weeks later, effectively ending the Revolutionary War. Today there are 2 museums in Yorktown, one located at the site of the original battle and commemorates the events in Yorktown, and the other memorializes the Revolutionary War in general. There is a trolley that takes you between both museums, and stops along the way for other historic landmarks and attractions like the Yorktown Victory Monument, the Waterman’s Museum, and the Riverwalk and beach areas. We toured both museums (and battlefield), stopped at the Victory Monument, and had lunch in the little downtown area along the waterfront. It was really a neat town to visit!
Of course, while we were here, hurricane Florence took aim at Virginia and the Carolinas, ultimately making landfall in southern North Carolina. You can read about our hurricane preparation and evacuation in an earlier post. But we ended up spending several days in Fredericksburg, another historical site of both Revolutionary and Civil War eras.
George Washington and his family moved to Federicksburg when he was 6, and lived there until he was around 18. His mother also lived there from the time they moved until she died, and she’s buried near Meditation Rock, a place she would go to pray for her son’s safety and for her country. Nobody is sure the precise location of her grave as her remains were never found, but there’s a large monument to her memory next to Meditation Rock. Her home in Fredericksburg is also a museum, and is furnished with furniture and decor from that period. It also contains some relics from the Washington family. A few years ago, archeologists uncovered the site of George’s home when his family first moved to Fredericksburg (Ferry Farm). They built a new structure on the original foundation, and furnished it with replicas of the furnishings as per George’s father’s will. While it’s not the original structure nor does it contain any historical pieces from his family, it’s a reproduction according to the archeological finds and other historical documents which have survived from that period. It was pretty interesting to see it. There are many other historical places in Fredericksburg related to the Revolutionary War time period, and you could spend days exploring all the places it has to offer.
Fredericksburg was also the site of one of the most brutal and bloody battles of the Civil War. The Union Forces marched upon the town and decimated the city with 4 days of sustained shelling, fighting, and looting. The original site of the first battle has been preserved, including some of the original homes as well as the Union cemetery, where 15,000 Union soldiers lie buried from the Civil War battles. It was a sight to see that many gravestones, all the same, marking each soldier’s final resting place. A Confederate cemetery is also located in the downtown area of Fredericksburg which has over 3,000 southern troops buried there. The museum at the battlefield also has a lot of displays with Civil War relics that describe the battle and the events that transpired there. It was a solemn place to visit.
We planned on returning to the boat after a few days, once Florence passed and we knew the marina was safe. But instead of returning to the boat, we took a trip back to Kingston to get Kate’s car. When we got there they told us her muffler fell off and was dragging on the ground. They tried to fix it but couldn’t find the right parts, so we took it to Meineke where they repaired it the same day. But while we were there, the remains of Florence were heading north, so we spent one more night in Kingston to allow it time to pass further north. When we left it was still moving up through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, but we made a break for it anyway. After about 40 or 50 miles, the rain came, and it came HARD! The freeway had an inch of water on it, traffic was slowed to a crawl, and the wipers did nothing to help see through the deluge. After 8 hours (which should only have taken 6), we were back in Fredericksburg, and spent the night there before making the final 2 hour trip back to the boat. Ironically, when we got there, they told us that the only thing they got from Florence was a little bit of wind. No rain, no flooding, just wind. We could have just stayed at the boat! But, at least now we have Kate’s car, which makes life easier to get groceries, go to restaurants, etc…
All in all this has been a frantic but interesting stop. We had to completely prep the boat for a hurricane, which took several days of back breaking work, but we also got to experience a lot of history here. Besides being stuck here while the Carolinas recover from Florence, this has turned out to be a pretty good place to hole up.