SIEGE OF YORKTOWN
The Siege of Yorktown is famous for being the final battle of the American Revolution. In June of 1781, British commander General Lord Cornwallis withdrew his nine thousand men from the fight in the south to the peninsula of Yorktown. His goal was to bide his time and let his army gain some much needed rest and to regain supplies. Unfortunately for Cornwallis, A French fleet was leaving from St. Domingue (now known as Haiti) towards the Chesapeake Bay. Once news reached American commander George Washington of the fortunate circumstances, he quickly abandoned his current plans of seizing British held New York City and planned an attack on Cornwallis’ army. Washington ordered every available soldier to head towards the port of Chesapeake to block off Cornwallis’ army from being able to leave Yorktown.
A key event happened prior to the fighting at Yorktown that very few people are aware of. After Cornwallis realized that his army was trapped by the combined American and French infantry of over 5,000 men on land, and the French fleet of thirty-four ships and another 3,000 soldiers by sea, he asked for help from New York. The British fleet, led by Admiral Thomas Graves, came down from New York to attack the French fleet outside of the Virginia Capes. Graves followed the strict instructions that were given to him in order to avoid mass amounts of losses, giving the control of the fight over to the French fleet. French commander Francois, Count de Grasse repeatedly attacked multiple British ships for a few hour period before Graves was forced to retreat back to New York, essentially abandoning Cornwallis in a compromised position.
By late September, the Siege was firmly underway by Washington and the Frenchmen. Three weeks would go by with constant bombing of the British troops until Cornwallis realized that there was no way out, and that surrender was the only option. On October 17, 1781, Cornwallis met Washington in the field to issue his surrender. It is estimated that the Americans suffered 250 casualties during this conflict, while the British had more than 600, including over 300 deaths.
Although the war would not officially end until later because the British military continued to fight, the English public had been turned against the war, which is a death sentence for any chances of victory and fighting on American soil ceased. It is well recognized that the loss by Cornwallis at Yorktown was the nail in the coffin for the Redcoats and their desire to remain in control of the colonies. The following March, a parliament was elected that was in support of granting America their freedom, and negotiations began with prominent Americans: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay. The Treaty of Paris was reached in the fall of 1783, effectively ending the Revolutionary war and granting Americans their freedom.