Reference Yorktown

Yorktown was a well-known, thriving tobacco port.


2016 History & Culture (of Yorktown), National Park Service Website:

“Yorktown was established by Virginia's colonial government in 1691 to regulate trade and to collect taxes on both imports and exports for Great Britain. By the early 1700s, Yorktown had emerged as a major Virginia port and economic center. A well-developed waterfront boasted wharves, docks, storehouses and businesses. On the bluff above, stately homes lined Main Street, with taverns and other shops scattered throughout the town. Yorktown had 250 to 300 buildings and a population of almost 2,000 people at the height of its success around 1750. The American Revolution had entered its seventh year when, in 1781, British general Lord Charles Cornwallis brought his army to Yorktown to establish a naval base. In the siege by American and French forces that followed, much of the town was destroyed. By the end of the Revolution, less than 70 buildings remained in Yorktown and the 1790 census recorded only 661 people in town. Yorktown never regained its economic prominence. A fire in 1814 destroyed the waterfront district as well as some homes and the courthouse on Main Street. Additional destruction came during the Civil War Siege of 1862 and the occupation by Union troops that followed.”

1920 Old Yorktown and its History, Margaret P. Crooks Smith:

“Cornwallis' cave, down under the hill, is said to have been the hiding place of Cornwallis during the siege of Yorktown. We cannot think this of the brave general at the head of the British Army. Perhaps if he went in the cave it was, just as the sight- seer goes, to look at it. It is thought to have been a smuggler's cave. The only way of getting into the cave was through a small hole just over where the door now is. By means of a ladder of some make anyone could crawl in and out without being seen, This cave was used during the Civil War as a magazine. A large fort was built around it to protect it. A passageway was constructed which led to the cave, and the holes which are cut in the cave were made to hold the large beam used in making the passageway. Some time after the war all of this gave way and fell ill. The owner of the place cleared away the debris, dug out a place of entrance, put up a door, and at the time of the Centennial of 1881 began to charge an admission fee of ten cents. Whatever its history the cave is one of the places of interest of Yorktown and should be seen by all visitors. Upon entering one finds himself in a large room, to the right of which is a smaller room.”