October 06, 2016

The Midnight Ride of Jack Jouett

Listen, my children, and you will hear
Of the midnight ride of -- Jack Jouett?

It's the most famous, unheard-of ride in American history: How the young and handsome Jack Jouett out-rode British dragoons in the dark of night in 1781, covering 40 miles through thickly wooded trails in just over six hours. He successfully warned Thomas Jefferson and members of the Virginia legislature holed up at Monticello with his own shouts of "The British are coming! The British are coming!", thus saving the legislative body from capture in toto.

Talk about bad-ass!

But thanks to Longfellow, most Americans are familiar with Paul Revere's famous ride from Boston to Lexington in 1775, but have never even heard of Jack with the strangely-spelled last name (Jouett: pronounced "Jew-ett") from Virginia whose ride arguably played a bigger role and had a larger impact on the outcome of the American Revolution than his northern counterpart.

But Monticello wants to change all that with their annual "British Invasion Days," which debuted this year with a reenactment of Jack Jouett's ride, the arrival of British cavalry, musket and cannon demonstrations, and a walk-through of a militia camp - all hosted on the beautiful and historic grounds of Thomas Jefferson's home.

For just $15 per adult (or $25 if you'd like to tour the house, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and well worth the admission), take yourself back to 1781 and learn about Jack Jouett's midnight ride!

Read more details here.

Hearken good people: awhile abide
And hear of stout Jack Jouett's ride;
How he rushed his steed, nor stopped nor stayed
Till he warned the people of Tarleton's raid.

The moment his warning note was rehearsed
The State Assembly was quickly dispersed.
In their haste to escape, they did not stop
Until they had crossed the mountain top.
And upon the other side come down.
To resume their sessions in Staunton Town.

His parting steed he spurred,
In haste to carry the warning
To that greatest statesman of any age,
The Immortal Monticello Sage.

Here goes to thee, Jack Jouett!
Lord keep thy memory green;
You made the greatest ride, sir,
That ever yet was seen.

Travel With Kids Tips:
The visitor center and cafe are located at the bottom of the hill near the parking lot. Currently, there are no options to buy meals on top of the mountain, so be sure you have full bellies before taking the shuttle to Monticello. There are restrooms up top, however. Beyond standing in a bathroom stall, there is no privacy for nursing mothers unless you fancy wandering into the woods and sitting beneath a tree. Strollers are permitted in the house, but if you're visiting on a busy day, a staff member would be more than willing to push it through to the back of the house where you can collect it upon exiting.

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