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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Yorktown in York County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Cornwallis Headquarters

1781 Siege of Yorktown

 
 
Cornwallis Headquarters Marker image. Click for full size.
By David Graff, September 20, 2014
1. Cornwallis Headquarters Marker
Inscription.
"…Lord Cornwallis has built a kind of Grotto at the foot of the secretary's Garden where he lives under Ground…" – St. George Tucker, October 11, 1781

On the level plain above you stood the home of Thomas Nelson, former secretary of the royal governor's council prior to the American Revolutionary War. General Charles Lord Cornwallis chose the prominent two story mansion just within the British Inner Defense Line for his headquarters. When the American and French bombardment began on October 9, 1781, the secretary's house was extensively damaged, forcing Cornwallis to seek safer quarters from which to direct the defense of his position.

According to eyewitness descriptions of the town after the siege, Cornwallis moved his headquarters to an earthen bunker in this ravine where he had additional protection from the intense artillery barrage. An American officer who visited Yorktown after the siege described Cornwallis' headquarters as a "bombproof."

Unfortunately any trace of this important spot no longer exists. It is left to one's imagination to paint the scene of Cornwallis and his staff carrying on their duties in this ravine and making important decisions while faced with the ever-growing possibility of defeat as cannonballs struck around them and their defenses crumbled.
 
Erected by
Cornwallis Headquarters Marker image. Click for full size.
By David Graff, September 20, 2014
2. Cornwallis Headquarters Marker
Looking north along the Tobacco Road Trail in the ravine.
Colonial National Historical Park, National Park Service.
 
Location. 37° 13.853′ N, 76° 30.297′ W. Marker is in Yorktown, Virginia, in York County. Marker can be reached from Water Street 0.1 miles east of Compte de Grasse Street, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. The marker is along the Tobacco Road Trail which connects the east section of Water Street with the NPS Visitor Center. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1000 Colonial Parkway, Yorktown VA 23690, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. British Inner Defense Line (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Yorktown (about 400 feet away); The Hornwork (about 400 feet away); Home of Thomas Nelson (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Yorktown (about 600 feet away); Yorktown Bicentennial Pine Trees (about 600 feet away); a different marker also named Yorktown (about 700 feet away); Victory Monument (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Yorktown.
 
Regarding Cornwallis Headquarters. The marker contains two Revolutionary War era maps of this location and Yorktown. There is also a portrait of St. George Tucker, an American Continental soldier who kept a journal of the siege.
 
Also see . . .
Tobacco Road Trail image. Click for full size.
By David Graff, September 20, 2014
3. Tobacco Road Trail
Looking south from the marker en route to the NPS Visitor Center.
 Journal of the Siege of Yorktown. Transcription from St. George Tucker's journal. (Submitted on October 22, 2014, by David Graff of Halifax, Nova Scotia.) 
 
Categories. War, US Revolutionary
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on October 22, 2014, by David Graff of Halifax, Nova Scotia. This page has been viewed 387 times since then and 34 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 22, 2014, by David Graff of Halifax, Nova Scotia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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