Friday, February 18, 2011
So, the Downeast Duckhunter asked a while back, "What's in a historic picture?" Depends on the picture, I guess. Take, for example, the image above, from the mid-1800s. Looks like a small-ish American plantation house under reasonable upkeep. Nothing fancy. It wouldn't mean much to you if I mentioned that the house is in Yorktown, Virginia, where I went to high school (and the only hometown my two brothers know). It also wouldn't be terribly significant to note that the house belonged to Augustine Moore, as Moore himself never played a major role in history.
So perhaps you'd find it interesting that in this house, in October 1781, colonels of the British Army sat down with General George Washington at Moore's old, splitting chestnut dining room table and agreed to:
"...march out...with shouldered arms, colors cased, and drums beating a British or German march. They are then to ground their arms and return to their encampment, where they will remain until they are dispatched to the places of their destination..."
The British Articles of Capitulation. Lord Cornwallis was immediately imprisoned. Lord North exclaimed, "My God, it is all over" and immediately sailed for England. Thousands of English, German, and American loyalist soldiers were disarmed and imprisoned within 24 hours. It was done.
America was a free country. The British sat in this very house and said, "Fine. You can have it." While the British Empire did not acknowledge surrender for another 18 months, their regular Army and its mercenaries surrendered here on October 19, 1781.
Look at the picture again. It is the Moore House, on York Plantation (now Yorktown National Battlefield), overlooking the York River in southeastern Virginia. Freedom was finally claimed by Patriots at this modest place. Not Boston, New York, Charleston, or any other great American city. Yorktown.
And that's where I'm from.