Yorktown; The Final Nail in Britain's Coffin

Arriving at Yorktown, VA on September 28th, General George Washington made history. With the assistance of our French allies, Yorktown was invaded by American forces, and the British were brought to their knees. In what would be a three week-long battle, George Washington, himself, fired the first shot over enemy lines. Lieutenant General Jean-Baptiste Ponton de Rochambeau also brought his army to our aid. With nearly 20,000 soldiers combined, our forces outnumbered the British 2-1. General Washington and General Rochambeau commanded their troops to construct the first line of seizure. In two days time, they had created a 2,000 yard long trench. This would help the American and British forces tremendously. As part of General Washington's plan, a fleet of French naval ships commanded by Rear Admiral Fran├žois Joseph Paul, comte de Grasse were stationed along the Chesapeake Capes. This was to prevent the British ships from resupplying via their own navy boats. After George Washington fired the first shot, battle struck loose for three days straight.

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Seige of Yorktown

The American and French forces were clearly overtaking the British. Meanwhile, the British Navy did everything they could to penetrate the French man-of-wars, but failed. The battle to get through the French ships would be known as the Battle of the Chesapeake.

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Battle of the Chesapeake

The Battle of the Chesapeake was a vital battle to the victory at Yorktown. French Rear Admiral de Grasse established a blockade of his 24 ships at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. This not only kept the British from obtaining reinforcements and supplies, but it also kept them from escaping from the Battle of Yorktown. The British were essentially surrounded and greatly outnumbered. General Cornwallis and his men ran empty of ammunition and was unable to shift his army, so on October 17th, he opened negotiations with General Washington. At 9:00 a.m, a white flag was waved. The American and French Army had successfully beaten the strong British forces at Yorktown!




Statistics of Battle:

French and Americans: seventy-two killed and 180 wounded
British: 156 killed and 326 wounded
The remaining British soldiers were taken as prisoners after they had surrendered (7,018)


General Washington, war genius!

Even after the impressive victories at Princeton and Saratoga, many doubted the resolve of General George Washington. They only saw his retreats as cowardice, and not as the military tactics. After this absolute defeat at Yorktown, every American, Loyalist or Patriot, would agree that Washington is a definite force to be reckoned with. Not many Generals could completely surround an army lead by Cornwallis. Many are calling this the end of the Revolution; the final nail on Britain's red coffin. Washington did not cease his iron fist in the terms of the surrender. He made them harsh just as the British did after their victory at Charleston. Just as you would expect from British slime, General Cornwallis claimed he was too "ill" to sign the surrender documents himself, so Brigadier General Charles O'Hara was sent to finish the paperwork. The American and French Army had successfully, impressively, and officially defeated the British forces at Yorktown.
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Review Questions:

1. What was the ratio of American and French soldiers to British Soldiers?
2. In your opinion, was the Battle of the Chesapeake important to the Battle of Yorktown?
3. Who was the superior general in this battle?