George Washington secured his place as an American hero at Yorktown, where Continental and French troops beat the best Army and biggest Navy in the world. Patty DeMuth knows that well, as she related while sailing the York River with her family in the shadow of the battlefield. “I’m a direct descendant of Washington’s youngest full brother, Samuel,” she said. “He’s my great-great-great-grandfather and was the last child in the Washington family who was born at Mt. Vernon.” Unlike some Revolutionary War figures, George Washington’s legacy remains intact despite revisionist history and new findings. He joined up with Count Rochambeau to execute the siege at Yorktown in the French tradition. He parlayed the French fleet 25 miles away at the Battle of the Capes to repel the British fleet and blockade the Chesapeake Bay. He fired the ceremonial first shot, which killed the British commissary general in Yorktown. He graciously ceded the surrender sword to the French for their aid, though the demurred. He then yielded it to Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, whom Lord Cornwallis had earlier humiliated in the Battle of Charleston. By every standard, he set an exemplary course to become America’s first president. Patty relished Washington’s history as the family toured Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown.

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