After four and a half months crossing storm swept seas 144 weary Englishmen made land-fall in April 1607. They anchored their ships in the protected waters of the bay and landed a small party upon the shore. They built a wooden cross and planted it in the sand naming the place Cape Henry.
This is the first landing site of those adventurous Englishmen who, some three weeks later, established the first permanent English Colony in North America at Jamestown.
From this same site some 174 years later, citizens of a soon to be free and independent United States of America watched as a British fleet commanded by Admiral Graves engaged the French fleet of Admiral Comte deGrasse in a sea battle know as the Battle of the Capes. This French naval victory sealed the fate of General Cornwallis at Yorktown leading to his surrender with one third of the British contingent in America and the eventual end of the American Revolutionary War.
Cape Henry Memorial, a part of Colonial National Historical Park, is administered by the National Park Service. This quarter acre of ground marks the approximate site of the first landing of the Jamestown settlers in Virginia. A memorial cross of granite was erected in 1935 by the Daughters of the American Colonists to commemorate the site where a wooden cross was erected by those early adventurers in the spring of 1607. There is also a statute of Admiral Comte deGrasse, a granite memorial to the Battle of the Capes, a three-panel wayside describing Cape Henry's significance to America, and a walkway leading to the top of the sand dunes where one can overlook the Atlantic Ocean and the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay.
History & Culture
Last updated: February 26, 2015