Public Programs

Battle Briefs

“We Will Fight Like Lions”: The Yorktown Campaign, 1781

Tuesday, September 6, 2022 | 7 p.m. (ET) | Virtual
Tuesday, September 13, 2022 | 12 p.m. (ET) | Virtual and In-Person
Center: An American general sits on a white horse. A British officer stands next to the horse leading a line of surrendering troops. Left: French officers standing and mounted on horses. Right: American officers standing and mounted on horses.

“Surrender of Lord Cornwallis” by John Trumbull, 1826. Architect of the Capitol

The American and French victory at Yorktown in October 1781, was one of the most pivotal events of the Revolutionary War (1775-83). After a three-week siege in Virginia’s Tidewater region, beleaguered British forces under General Charles, Lord Cornwallis surrendered to an allied army led by General George Washington, effectively ending major military operations in the new United States, and guaranteeing American independence. How did Washington’s Continental Army and their French allies force the capitulation of a major British field army along the York River? How did Cornwallis get trapped in fortifications around Yorktown, unable to be rescued by the Royal Navy and redcoat soldiers?

In this two-part program, military historians Dr. John Maass and Dr. Britt McCarley examine this decisive event in our nation’s early military history. On September 6, Maass explores the sprawling campaign in the months before the siege that led to the British defeat. In operations that ranged from Rhode Island to North Carolina, this presentation focuses on Cornwallis’s invasion of Virginia, the Marquis de Lafayette’s attempts to defend the state, and the movements of both armies—and navies—to Yorktown. McCarley takes up the story on September 13, with an in-depth analysis of the siege, including logistics, fortifications, artillery and General Washington’s key role in the triumph.

J. Britt McCarley, Ph.D. is the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s chief historian and has served in the Army Historical Program since 1988. He is the author of the Army Center of Military History’s publication on the Atlanta and Savannah Campaigns, 1864, and is now writing on the Yorktown Campaign. He is one of the Army’s leading staff ride facilitators, including those covering the Siege of Yorktown for the last 25 years.

John R. Maass, Ph.D. is an education staff member of the National Museum of the U.S. Army at Fort Belvoir. He received a Ph.D. in early American history at The Ohio State University, and is the author of several books and numerous articles on early U.S. military history, including “Defending a New Nation, 1783-1811” (2013); “The Road to Yorktown: Jefferson, Lafayette and the British Invasion of Virginia” (2015); and “George Washington’s Virginia” (2017).

Register for the VIRTUAL Battle Brief on September 6 at 7 p.m. ET

This program is offered VIRTUALLY and IN-PERSON on Tuesday, September 13. Museum guests may attend in-person. Seats are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Register for the VIRTUAL Battle Brief on Tuesday, September 13 at 12 p.m. ET.

Get a Museum General Admission ticket on Tuesday, September 13 to attend IN-PERSON at 12 p.m. ET.


“To Destroy and Lay Waste”: The Burning of Washington, 1814

Tuesday, October 4, 2022 | 7 p.m. (ET) | Virtual
Tuesday, October 11, 2022 | 12 p.m. (ET) | Virtual and In-Person
Drawing shows the ruins of the U.S. Capitol following British attempts to burn the building; includes fire damage to the Senate and House wings, damaged colonnade in the House of Representatives shored up with firewood to prevent its collapse, and the shell of the rotunda with the façade and roof missing.

The U.S. Capitol after it’s destruction by the British, 1814. George Munger | Library of Congress

 

Two years after the start of the War of 1812 pitted the young United States against its powerful nemesis Great Britain, weary Americans endured a destructive invasion in the Chesapeake Bay region by Royal Navy ships and marauding British redcoats led by Admiral George Cockburn. During the summer of 1814, King George III’s quick-moving forces raided Maryland and Virginia, defeated Americans in battle, then devastated the nation’s capital at Washington, D.C. Hear the compelling story of the war’s low point for President James Madison and the new nation, as well as American resilience after the raid in what many patriots called “the Second War for American Independence.” Museum educator John Maass uses maps, images, and participant descriptions to bring this fascinating campaign to life.

Dr. John R. Maass is an education specialist at the National Museum of the United States Army, and a former officer in the 80th Division of the U.S. Army Reserve. He received a B.A. in history from Washington and Lee University, and a Ph.D. from the Ohio State University in early U.S. history and military history. He is the author of several military history books, including “The Battle of Guilford Courthouse: A Most Desperate Engagement,” “The Road to Yorktown: Jefferson, Lafayette and the British Invasion of Virginia,” and “Defending a New Nation, 1783-1811.”

Register for the VIRTUAL Battle Brief on October 4 at 7 p.m. ET

This program is offered VIRTUALLY and IN-PERSON on Tuesday, October 11. Museum guests may attend in-person. Seats are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Register for the VIRTUAL Battle Brief on Tuesday, October 11 at 12 p.m. ET.

Get a Museum General Admission ticket on Tuesday, October 11 to attend IN-PERSON at 12 p.m. ET.


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