Battle of Yorktown
The Battle of Yorktown was one of the last battles of the American Revolutionary War. The engagement lasted 20 days and ended with British Gen. Charles Cornwallis's surrender on October 19, 1781.
It first started months earlier when Cornwallis made an unauthorized move north to Virginia. There his army joined with other British troops and planned an attack. The redcoats pushed Marquis de Lafayette's brigade out of Richmond. However General Sir Henry Clinton stopped the offensive because he criticized Cornwallis's unofficial decision. Clinton ordered Cornwallis to the Chesapeake Bay with instructions to set up a defensive fort. The British had occupied Yorktown and Gloucester by August. The unsuspecting Cornwallis had been followed to Yorktown by Lafayette and a handful of Americans. Lafayette informed General George Washington, who was camped in West Point, New York, of British operations and location.
Washington then learned that Admiral de Grasse, a French ally, and 29 of his warships were headed for the bay. Washington knew that it was a good time to attack the British. On August 21, accompanied by 7,000 American and French soldiers, Washington marched toward Virginia, yet 2,500 men were left behind to defend the forts and fool British forces in New York. In the meantime, Admiral do Grasse's fleet had successfully blockaded the Chesapeake Bay and fought back a British naval unit, therefore, making a British escape impossible. Also, 3000 more French soldiers came to Washington's army from de Grasse's ships.
On September 28 the 16,000 French and American troops marched into Yorktown. They captured two main redoubts on October 14. The British launched a counterattack but it failed. Realizing that the situation was hopeless, Cornwallis asked for a truce on October 17. Two days later, he signed forms of surrender. Meanwhile, Clinton's 7,000 reinforcement troops, upon learning of the surrender, turned back to New York.
The Battle of Yorktown, also named the Siege of Yorktown, is recognized as one of the most skillful military actions in history. The British prime minister, Lord Frederick North, resigned after Cornwallis's surrender. The new leaders signed the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783, which officially ended the revolution.