• Cape Henry Memorial Park

    Cape Henry Memorial

    Part of Colonial National Historical Park Virginia

Admiral Comte deGrasse

Statue of French fleet Admiral deGrasse at Cape Henry Memorial

Statue of French fleet commander Admiral deGrasse

NPS

Some 174 years after English colonist first stepped foot on these shores to establish an English colony, two mighty war fleets would exchange cannon shot for about 2 1/2 hours.

On September 5, 1781, the Battle of the Capes took place just off these sand dunes. Local residents might have lined these shores to watch as French and English naval forces engaged in an epic sea battle. It is only because of Admiral deGrasse, commander of the French fleet sent to support the American cause, that the British were unable to relieve Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown. This sea battle was critical in securing America's independence from England by assuring Cornwallis was trapped at Yorktown.

 

Did You Know?

The English

On April 29, 1607, three days after the first landing, the English “set up a cross at Chesupioc Bay and named that place ‘Cape Henry’.” (quotation from George Percy’s Discourses)