Colonial National Historical Park | TOUR STOP E: THE MOORE HOUSE

The Moore House

The Moore House

YORKTOWN BATTLEFIELD TOUR


See the Yorktown Battlefield Tour home page for a tour map.


On October 17, 1781, after being bombarded at close range by both French and American artillery for eight days, British General Charles Cornwallis asked for a cease fire so that surrender terms could be negotiated. Talks took place the next day in the home of Augustine Moore. Washington and Cornwallis did not personally attend the talks, but sent two representatives each. The British were represented by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Dundas and Major Alexander Ross, and the American-French alliance sent Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens and Colonel Viscount de Noailles. An agreement was reached late that night.

The Moore House still stands today, though it has been renovated and altered many times. It was nearly destroyed during the Civil War and stood falling apart by the time the National Park Service began a renovation in 1931. It was restored back to its 1781 appearance based on drawings and descriptions from the time, though very little of the house is actually from 1781. Some of the floors and door frames are original, but that’s about it.

The house is open at various times from April through October. A schedule is posted at the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center. When open, the upper and lower floors are accessible for self-guided tours. Rangers are stationed at the house so that you can ask questions.

All rooms are furnished, with a few pieces being from the Moore family. The rest of the furniture is either reproduction or antiques from the time period. Nobody knows for sure which room was used to sign the surrender documents, though the Moore family claimed it was the parlor, and the parlor is decorated as the signing room.

Moore House parlor

Moore House parlor

Dining room at the Moore House

Dining room at the Moore House

Upstairs bedroom at the Moore House

Upstairs bedroom at the Moore House

A cemetery is on the property, but most graves have nothing to do with the Moore Family. Two are from the 1780s—Mildred Jamison (1778) and John Turner (October 13, 1781)—and others are from the mid-1800s. Based on the research I dug up, Turner was a merchant who was watching the bombardment of Yorktown when he was accidentally killed. He was brought to the Moore House for medical attention, where he died. For whatever reason, he was buried in the Moore family cemetery. His epitaph hints that he was killed by a stray bullet:

Ah cruel ball so sudden to disarm and tare my tender husband from my arms…

There are homes next to the Moore House, and the house itself has had roughly fifty owners since the Revolution, so while the cemetery may have originated as the Moore Family cemetery, over the years it appears to have been used by whoever lived in the area.

Grave of John Turner

Grave of John Turner

Grave of Anna Shield from the mid-1800s

Grave of Anna Shield from the mid-1800s

If open, plan to spend 15 minutes at the Moore House. Otherwise, all you can do is stop, take a photo, and read an information panel outside the house.


Next Stop: Surrender Field | Previous Stop: Redoubts 9 and 10


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Last updated on April 6, 2020
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