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Published: August 25th 2008
Black Point on Jamestown Island
Great views of the James River, you can imagine the famished Englishmen living on this waterless island, surrounded by Indians and brackish waters, hoping to glimpse the arriving ships from England.
The beauty of starting here, then going to Williamsburg and then to Yorktown is that you can see American history in a quick succession and be completely immersed in it.
Located on the west side of the Peninsula on the James River, the settlement is located on Jamestown Island because it was not inhabited by natives and it provided isolation from same, plus it was far up enough along the river that it would not be visible to any passing Spanish ships. The trouble was the island was not inhabited because it lacked water while the river water surrounding it is brackish, creating a great opportunity for the disease that followed. The settlement was funded by private English investors from London seeking to capitalize on the alleged riches of the new world as apparently accomplished by the Spaniards. Unfortunately the settlement was a commercial failure with the colonists barely surviving, six in seven of them dying, even resorting to cannibalism in rare instances. Admittedly it was not entirely the settlers' fault as the area experienced the worst drought in 700 years when they arrived, not really setup for success.
Unpleasant history aside, one is easily fooled
Black Point looking South
Another look at the beautiful James River, the colonists had chopped down just about all of the hardwoods on the island, now largely replaced by pine.
by the beauty of the area much as the British must have been when they arrived. We toured the island on the Park road, going to Black Point (don't know why it is called so), culminating with a tour of the settlement by the wierdest bunch of Park Rangers we have ever come across (they must be drinking the water). The settlement is well-worth the visit and I would addvise avoiding the "Jamestown Settlement" museum which is run by an association and is not the real settlement and go instead to this Park Service site which is the real deal.
The site of the decisive Franco-American victory over the British in 1781, securing American Independence some 5 years after its declaration. Of particular interest is the fact that Admiral de Grasse in fact secured the victory with no American involvement in the York River by halting the English fleet. Furthermore, the Siege of Yorktown involved only 9,000 Americans critically supported by 25,000 French against some 23,000 Englishmen. Had to be said as we so quickly and conveniently forget our history . . . if only poor little Georgia was full of oil . .
Explanation was not given for these found at the end of a short path off the island tour road. It appears they would have moved the interred from Jamestown to this more peaceful location.
. The battlefield itself (and not the Victory Center) is well-worth the visit, the Rangers are very passionate and know a significant amount of information about their site.
The village of Yorktown is incredibly picturesque and has been restored in sections to the way it appeared at the time of the battle. The last time I was here a destroyer in the same Class as the Momson passed by and the beautiful Schooner Virginia had docked, no such luck this time, only the Alliance was there with what appeared to be a bunch of summercamp kids. We had ice cream at Ben n' Jerry's in the little commercial district they built on the bank of the York River, a well-deserved recompense for Jennifer's patience after galavanting through battlefields all day.
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