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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

October 19th, 1781 - The Battle of Yorktown

Conflict: American Revolution

Combatants: Americans/French vs. British

Location: Virginia (USA)

Outcome: American victory

At 2 pm on this day in 1781, the British army under command of General Charles Cornwallis surrendered Yorktown and lay down its arms before the victorious American and French forces. The siege of Yorktown had lasted for nearly two weeks and inflicted nearly 500 casualties on the British to about two hundred and fifty American and French losses in killed and wounded. Cornwallis himself refused to attend the surrender ceremony and dispatched a subordinate in his place. The defeat at Yorktown convinced the British to make peace with the Americans.

Points of Interest:

  • Brigadair General Charles O'Hara, Cornwallis' designated representative at the surrender ceremony, first attempted to hand the sword over to French commander, the Comte de Rochambeau. Rochambeau, with a flick of his eyes, redirected O'Hara to George Washington's retinue, thus forcing Britain to symbolically recognize the new American nation.

  • Despite the failure of his Southern Campaign and defeat at Yorktown, Cornwallis avoided most of the blame in both the press and public eye. He was appointed to many important positions throughout the rest of his life and was serving as governor-general of India when he died in 1805.

Charles Corwallis, First Marquis of Cornwallis by an unknown artist

George Washington by Gilbert Stuart

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