Battle of Yorktown

Last major battle of the American Revolution

September 28th -October 19th (1775-1783)

What Was It?

The Battle of Yorktown was perhaps the most important battle of the American Revolution. It was an American victory that ended the Revolutionary War on October 20, 1781. British General Charles Cornwallis had met defeat in the south and his force had been continually weakened. Cornwallis left the Carolinas and marched north to choose Yorktown, Virginia as their camp awaiting reinforcements from General Henry Clinton. Washington realized that it was time to act. He ordered Marquis de Lafayette and an American army of 5,000 troops to block Cornwallis' escape from Yorktown by land while the French naval fleet blocked the British escape by sea. By September 28, Washington had completely encircled Cornwallis and Yorktown with the combined forces of Continental and French troops. After three weeks of non-stop bombardment, both day and night, from cannons and artilleries, Cornwallis surrendered to Washington in the field at Yorktown on October 17, 1781, effectively ending the War for Independence. At the surrender ceremony, Cornwallis's sword was accepted by General Benjamin Lincoln while a British band played "The World Turned Upside Down." This was the last major battle of the war, although some minor "skirmishes" (arguements) took place for the next two years, until the Treaty of Paris ended the war in 1783.


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