Visit to the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown (Part 1)

Museum entrance

I just returned from spending a few days in Yorktown and Williamsburg, Virginia. I had a fabulous time! It really could not have gone any better, as far as I'm concerned.

The main purpose of my trip was to attend Diana Gabaldon's appearance at the American Revolution Museum in Yorktown on September 16th, but I decided to spend the weekend in the area, to give myself time to explore the museum in detail. I love the American Revolution Museum! It's my favorite historical museum; the living history section is excellent and a lot of fun, and I hadn't been there since 2018. So I was excited to have the opportunity to go back, to explore it at my own pace, with time to look at everything in as much detail as I wanted.

Cardboard image of Jamie and Claire

Last time I visited, five years ago, there was not a speck of anything OUTLANDER-related in the whole museum! Well, things have changed, to say the least, as you can see from the cardboard Jamie and Claire greeting visitors at the entrance to the gift shop. <g> The gift shop itself was well stocked with a selection of Diana's books, plus other merchandise related to the TV show. They even had an OUTLANDER trivia event at the museum in July. Obviously the people in charge of the museum have realized that the "OUTLANDER Effect" on tourism applies to them as well, and now that Diana has confirmed that Book 10 will cover the events at Yorktown, interest will only grow in the years to come.

Before I get into my account of this trip, a brief personal note. I was born with cerebral palsy, and have difficulty walking. I use an electric scooter to get around most places. Traveling has always been challenging for me, and often logistically complicated. It's only since I retired two years ago that I've started to travel occasionally by myself, without a family member available to help if I run into problems. I've gone on occasional day trips, and two multi-day Road Scholar programs, but this trip to Yorktown was the very first time I've ever taken a multi-day vacation to another state, completely on my own. And I am just DELIGHTED with how well everything worked out!

Karen selfie at hotel

Here I am on Saturday morning in the hotel room, very excited and ready for a fabulous day! I decided to explore the outdoor areas of the museum first, before it got too hot. (A very good idea, as it turned out!) The outdoor "living history" areas of the museum are divided into a Continental Army camp and a model 18th-century farm. Both are fascinating, and a must-see for OUTLANDER fans! I've long been fascinated by what the things mentioned in Diana Gabaldon's books actually looked like, and so this part of the museum is a real treat for me. There are re-enactors at all of the different locations, happy to explain things or answer questions. Click on the photos below to enlarge them.


Continental army tents

These are tents for the Continental soldiers. Each small tent housed six soldiers, believe it or not!

Officers tent

The officers' tents were larger, used for discussion of strategy and so on.

Army uniforms

Here's a selection of army uniforms -- American, British, French, and so on.

Camp kitchen

Fire pit for cooking

The communal camp kitchen contained a number of individual fire pits, each for a small group of soldiers to cook their rations.

Beans and hard biscuit

Each soldier received a daily ration of beans and the hard biscuits shown here, similar to hardtack. I'm told it's almost inedible, but if you have nothing else...?


The camp laundry. I suppose the camp followers (women accompanying the army) would have been in charge of this area.

Medical tent

Naturally I was fascinated by the medical supplies. I recognized much of this equipment from descriptions in the OUTLANDER books.

Surgeon's supplies 1

Notice the bleeding bowl and fleam on the left side of this picture.

Surgeon's supplies 2

I think the object to the left of that toothbrush is one of those leather strips they gave wounded men to bite down on during surgery.

Medicine bottles

I liked all the little bottles and jars in that medicine box, just like Claire's. The labels read (L to R), "Castor Oil", "Epsom Salts", "Tartar Emetic", and "Ipecacuanha".

Peruvian bark in a little bottle

Peruvian bark, aka Jesuit bark or cinchona bark. A treatment for malaria.


I was fascinated by the trephine, which I'd never seen before. Look at the sharp toothed edges of that circular piece. Then imagine Dr. Fentiman, drilling a hole in Lord John's skull (in DRUMS OF AUTUMN) using a device like that.

Re-enactor with musket

Re-enactor with musket. After showing us how to load and fire the musket (something I had seen a few times before), she invited everyone to come back at 3pm that afternoon for a cannon demonstration. I did, and I really enjoyed it! You can see my post about it HERE.


And speaking of cannons, what would an army camp be without artillery?


The model farm had a number of interesting things to look at. Here's a selection, in no particular order. Naturally I kept picturing Jamie, Claire, and their family using many of these things on Fraser's Ridge.

Writing desk

I like this writing desk, complete with quills.


This wooden bucket is about the size of an ordinary 2-gallon plastic bucket that we would use in our own time, but it's much heavier! They had one of a similar size filled with water, and I couldn't even budge it.


What would farm life be without a few chickens wandering around?

Peanuts drying in the sun

Peanuts drying in the sun.

Dutch ovens on open hearth

The little kitchen building was very hot, even early in the day, with the fire in the hearth going strong. I asked what was in the Dutch ovens and was told they were making shortbread.

Herbs hanging from the ceiling

Herbs hanging from the rafters to dry, just as they did on the Ridge.

Kitchen garden

They have a large kitchen garden with a variety of crops.

Meat preserved in salt

Salting meat

This big container is used for salting meat. The second photo shows what it looks like inside. (That's a LOT of salt!)

Canteen, lantern, shirts, and Liberty cap

Here are some items belonging to a militiaman: some extra shirts, a cartridge box with ammunition, a lantern, a Liberty cap, and a canteen with his initials.

Would you believe all of that only covered the first half of the day on Saturday? Part 2 of the story is here, covering the indoor parts of the museum, Diana Gabaldon's event on Saturday, and more!


Susan F said...

So glad you got to go and that you had a wonderful trip. Thanks for the great upclose photos from your visit! I love museums and now I totally want to go to this one. I also watched the cannon video--such a great presentation by the staff. My 10 year old loves military history, and he really enjoyed it too.

vivian said...

I'm excited for you and your solo trip. I recently returned from my second solo trip to Scotland (not Outland oriented) and over the past two years have been there 5 weeks. I'm a healthy 76 year old and went with the full support of my family so let me take a minute and be supportive of you.

Alexandra Mansfield said...

First off,so glad you could go on your own.I've always found the US to be SO much more disability able than the UK!I recall a wonderful visit to Williamsburg in October 1991,aged 18! Sadly we never got to this museum, probably because it's only mine & Dad's 'thing' Mum doesn't do history!!I guess there was only one place she could cope with!! I didn't want to leave though.So thanks SO much for sharing this, as I get to visit through you!👍🏼🫂Regards, Alexandra. Hastings,England

Patti Taves said...

Thank you for the museum tour and photos. Very interesting to see the actual equipment and artifacts of live and war during the Revolution. And of course visualize them within the Outlander stories. Kudos to you for your courage in making your solo voyage and sharing your experiences.

Rental Trader Inc said...

It sounds like a fascinating glimpse into the life of a militiaman and an exciting day at the museum! Your description of the militiaman's items really sets the scene and makes history come alive.

As you continue your journey through the indoor parts of the museum and attend Diana Gabaldon's event, it's clear that there's much more to uncover. And for anyone planning trips to explore historical sites and museums like this, I'd recommend checking out Rental Trader to find the best vacation rentals and accommodations across the United States. Having a comfortable place to stay can make your travel experience even more enjoyable. Enjoy the rest of your adventure!

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