Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Colonial Williamsburg on Wednesday-Meeting Generals Washington and Lafayette

Monday and Tuesday were terrific in Colonial Williamsburg and Wednesday proved to be thrilling!  The theme of Revolutionary City was "Citizens at War" 1776-1781.    First, we met with the Marquis de Lafayette, even though we had already met him the day before.  It was still wonderful! He has a wonderful sense of humor and his monologue is informative, witty, and humorous. Afterwards he opened it to questions and answers as he did the day before.   It was a different crowd so it was interesting to hear some of the same questions and many different ones!  Some were sort of funny, like whether Benedict Arnold was really a traitor, and the Marquis engaged the crowd (audience) to respond with our own opinion (boo).    My son raised his hand with a question and the Marquis said, "Ah, the young historian has returned!  Are you going to ask about the Hundred Years' War?"  No, ds had a different question this time.  What did the Marquis think of Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox?  Later he asked the Marquis another question...What is a marquis?  That was actually my question but I wasn't brave enough to ask!  LOL After the question and answer, he quickly left for an important meeting with General Washington.  Hmmmm, I was looking all over my program for that meeting.  I couldn't find it anywhere!  Oh well, I knew there would be one in the afternoon I was looking forward to.

  We headed for the capitol for Revolutionary City.  It began with the drum and fife corps playing a march.

It is July 25, 1776.  A copy of the Declaration of Independence has arrived.  (In fact I purchased a newspaper from the print shop in town with that very date. The Declaration of Independence had been printed on the front page.)  The Declaration of Independence was publicly read from the balcony and  recited by the different actor/interpreters.  Wow, it sent goose bumps up the spine.  It also reminded me of how we also read the Declaration of Independence aloud on the Fourth of July

Then we went behind the Coffee House to see the drama of prisoner, Henry Hamilton, the British governor of Detroit.  It was June 18, 1779 and Thomas Jefferson was governor of Virginia.  Henry Hamilton had been captured by George Rogers Clark and Thomas Jefferson had him put in gaol (jail) in Williamsburg.  There was a question of precisely whom was responsible for war atrocities.

Then we went to the Raleigh Tavern to watch the unfolding story of Barbara Hoy.  She had followed her husband to war in South Carolina, where he had been captured.  Needing a job, she returned to Williamsburg for help.  It was September 15, 1780, and the future looked bleak. 

After this, the citizens of the town (actor/interpretors) got agitated and told us to make haste for the capitol, because the British were coming!  The British were coming!  They kept moving us along, encouraging us to speed up before danger arrived.  The date was July 4, 1781 and Benedict Arnold was in town!  How dare he arrive on Independence Day!

Audaciously Benedict Arnold announced the rules of occupation, which he considered fair.  I got the impression from him that he honestly thought he was doing the town of Williamsburg a service, by putting them under British rule.  We all booed at the gloomy prospects.

 Sadly, we watched the British flag rise over the capitol.  Wow, one can really get caught up in the emotions of history in this place!  Huzzah!

 Then we went behind the Coffee House to see the story of some slaves who were leaving with the Redcoats, who had promised them their freedom.  After that we went to Raleigh Tavern to see General George Washington!   Hip hip hurrah! It was September 28, 1781.  He was on his way to Yorktown to meet up with the Marquis de Lafayette and his troops.  After months of the Marquis and his men tenaciously chasing Cornwallis through the south, the Redcoats were finally trapped!  Victory is within their grasp! Huzzah!

 After eating our lunch under the trees and watching the horses prance up Bottetourt Street, we headed for the College of William and Mary.  Taking this picture made my heart stop.  My 12 year old son could be walking to grammar school, on the path to higher education!  That's a statue of Lord Botetourt in front of the college.

 Boys began their studies in the grammar school at the College around the age of 12.  We did a self guided tour of the college.  We walked all over indoors and out.  I have misplaced my tour paper so I don't remember all the details.  There was a room upstairs where the House of Burgesses sometimes met, I think when the Capitol had to be built.  Behind this building is the camp where the Virginia militia pitched their tents, when they were led by Patrick Henry! DD is rather quiet and never did ask any questions of the actor/interpreters.  But as we did the indoor tour there were paintings of some of the Kings and Queens of England.  DD knew every one!  Pretending to be studious scholars at the grammar school...

A notable group of children and Thomas Jefferson.  Thomas Jefferson attended the College of William and Mary and recieved further training in law from George Wythe in town.

Bruton Parish Church where we attended the candlelight harp concert the night before.


After we toured the Thomas Everard House, we went to the Palace Gardens to see "Prelude to Victory".  We were going to meet General Washington and his staff as they prepared for the seige of Yorktown.  We got to meet with General Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette!  How wonderful to see them together!

There was a close bond between Lafayette and the General.  In fact, when Lafayette was wounded at the Battle of Brandywine in September 1777, General Washington told the medics to take care of him as his son.  In fact, my first memory of the Marquis was when I visited Mount Vernon 4 years ago.  Well, I'm getting ahead of myself.  But this was a lot of fun to see them together!  In fact, it sort of gave us an idea of their working relationship, with the Marquis as the aide-de-camp to the General, fielding all the questions. 

Although I never got a picture of it, there was a cute part of the presentation.  There were 2 little boys who were playing guns on the side. General Washington stepped down to talk to one while the Marquis was talking and I thought, uh oh....I turned my attention directly on the Marquis while the General whispered in the boy's ear,  I thought to tell him to be quiet for the audience.  Then I heard soft laughter, pictures were being taken of the boys, and I looked and saw the General teaching the boys how to properly hold their guns and stand behind the tree!   

When my son raised his hand for a question, the Marquis said, "Ah, monsieur, the young historian! " Then the Marquis told the General that he had met the young historian the day before.  The General is usually very serious, but he smiled and then quickly became serious again.  =)  This time my son asked two questions. First, why is the General's sword straight when the Marquis' is curved?  Second, what did all the black and white fluff on top of the Marquis' hat represent and why didn't the General have that fluff?  (I was so glad ds asked that because I had asked it early amongst ourselves, once again I was too shy to ask.)  

After the question and answer time, the generals left to prepare for  General Washington's review of the militia.    

The day was nearly done, we hardly got to see everything.  DS wanted to see the magazine so we headed for that.  The day before the Marquis had asked him what his favorite place was and he said the magazine.  Well guess what?  We got there and they were closed!  I felt bad for ds because I had not realized they close at 4 instead of 5.  Well, he does have impeccable memories of his time there 4 years ago.  Hmmmm, couldn't we just come back another vacation...or even live here?????

We found seats under the shade to view the General's review of the militia.  Here is the Marquis and the militia.

The Marquis presents the General.

The General has encouraging words for his troops on the eve of the siege of Yorktown.  

The drums play...

DS joins the junior militia for boot camp...




The drum and fife corps play and march in and out of formation...

We capped off our day with some shopping at the print shop, a walk to Basset Hall to see the grounds and then dinner at the King's Arms Tavern.  Colonial musicians played for us and an actor/interpretor came to our table to tease us.  My husband and children had cups of peanut soup.  During Revolutionary City the day before, my husband introduced me to Mrs. Vobe, the owner (actor/interpretor) of the King's Arm Tavern.  He had told her that I also make peanut soup and she wanted to exchange receipts with me! 

 Sigh...three days is not enough time to experience all of Colonial Williamsburg. We could have easily spent our entire 2 weeks here.  We would love to live and work here!  Huzzah!         


  1. So why was one sword curved and the other straight? And what was the answer about the black and white stuff on the hat?

  2. FM #2 and 3 just saw your blog and FM#2 wants to shoot Benedict Arnold and FM#3 is going to challenge him to a fist fight. I told FM#2 he might get arrested if he shot Benedict Arnold and he asked "even if they found out it was just a fake gun?" and I told him, "Yes, because their guns aren't real either." Now, I think he's going to try it just to see if mom is right. :-)

  3. Hey Beth! I am excited that your kids are getting excited about their upcoming trip to Colonial Williamsburg! I might show up at your door to stowaway in your van! LOL

    Be forewarned, the Redcoats will prevent any attacks on Benedict Arnold!

    I purposely didn't answer any of the questions of the interpretors, because I could never relate the answers as well as they. They have an incredible store of information and communication skills. I also wanted it to be a tease for others to have to check out Colonial Williamsburg themselves! ;) Since you will soon be going, I will send you a private e-mail on what I remember! LOL