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Yorktown in York County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

French Trench

The 1781 Siege of Yorktown

 

—Colonial National Historical Park —

 
French Trench Marker image. Click for full size.
By Carl Clifford, March 2, 2009
1. French Trench Marker
Inscription. The extreme left of the American and French lines, commanded by the Marquis de Saint-Simon, was held by a French artillery battery. On October 9, it became the first battery of siege guns to fire on the British, aiming at the nearby Royal Welch Fusiliers Redoubt. The French also effectively used this position to help contain the British within their defensive lines and to harass British ships anchored between Yorktown and Gloucester Point. On October 10, using superheated cannon balls, called hot shot, the French battery set fire to three British ships. Following the British surrender, General Washington extended commendations to the Marquis de Saint-Simon and his troops: “The military ardour and perfect discipline for which they [Saint-Simon’s troops] have been conspicuous … Have secured you the esteem of the country …”

“The ships were enwrapped in a torrent of fire, which spreading with vivid brightness among the combustible rigging, and running with amazing rapidity to the tops of the several masts, while all around was thunder and lightning for our numerous cannon and mortars, and in the darkness of night, presented one of the most sublime and magnificent spectacles which can be imagined.”

Dr. James Thacher, Surgeon, Continental Army
 
Erected by
Yorktown Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 12, 2008
2. Yorktown Marker
Colonial National Historical Park, National Park Service.
 
Location. 37° 14.438′ N, 76° 31.288′ W. Marker is in Yorktown, Virginia, in York County. Marker is on Fusiliers Redoubt ramp, on the left when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is located across the road from the Yorktown Victory Center. Marker is in this post office area: Yorktown VA 23690, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Washington – Rochambeau Route to Victory (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named French Trench (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fusiliers Redoubt (about 400 feet away); Washington-Rochambeau Route (about 600 feet away); Naval Weapons Station (approx. 0.6 miles away); The Yorktown Windmill (approx. 0.6 miles away); John Smith Explores the Chesapeake (approx. 0.6 miles away); Join the Adventure (approx. 0.6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Yorktown.
 
More about this marker. The bottom of the marker features a map of the French batteries in relation to the vessels that they set afire. The location of the marker is also indicated. The upper right of the marker contains a reproduction of a “1781 French map illustration depicting the destruction of the HMS Charon.
French Artillery image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 12, 2008
3. French Artillery
The York River, site of the ships that were set on fire on October 10 by the French cannon's hot shot, can be seen in the background.
Lithograph courtesy of the Edward E. Ayer collection, the Newberry Library, Chicago.”
 
Also see . . .
1. Yorktown Battlefield. National Park Service. (Submitted on September 1, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

2. The Battle of Yorktown. The Patriot Resource website. (Submitted on September 1, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

3. The Battle of Yorktown 1781. A British perspective of the Battle of Yorktown from BritishBattles.com. (Submitted on September 1, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 
 
Categories. Notable EventsNotable PlacesWar, US Revolutionary
 
Souvenir Français memorial image. Click for full size.
By Carl Clifford, March 2, 2009
4. Souvenir Français memorial
South face of the Souvenir Français memorial. Inscription along top: Ce monument est dédié aux soldats et marins du corps expéditionnaire français morts pour l'independance des Etats-Unis pendant la campagne de Yorktown. This monument is dedicated to the soldiers and sailors of the French expeditionary corps who died for the independance of the United States during the Yorktown campaign.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,152 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Carl Clifford of Arlington, Virginia.   2, 3. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   4. submitted on , by Carl Clifford of Arlington, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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