||07-17-2011 01:57 PM
Thank you Froggy
Battle of Yorktown
Lafayette's French compatriot, Rochambeau, joined Washington's army outside New York City with a French army of his own. Washington was planning to attack the vital British base there. Some historians see this as a diversion, or an effort to gain more support for his army, but perhaps it was a genuine goal of Washington. Instead, at the urging of Rochambeau, Washington decided to move the combined army to Virginia, 450 miles away, and strike Cornwallis. The French navy under DeGrasse could stay in the North Atlantic until the end of October when the Caribbean hurricane season ended, and so the French admiral sailed to the Chesapeake Bay to prevent any escape or rescue of Cornwallis's army by sea. On August 20th, Washington and Rochambeau began the long journey from New York to Virginia. DeGrasse defeated a British fleet in the Battle of the Capes on September 5th, blocking a British escape by sea.
Siege of Yorktown - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In 1780, 5,500 French soldiers landed in Rhode Island to assist their American allies in operations against British-controlled New York City. Following the arrival of dispatches from France that included the possibility of support from the French West Indies fleet of the Comte de Grasse, Washington and Rochambeau decided to ask de Grasse for assistance either in besieging New York, or in military operations against a British army operating in Virginia. On the advice of Rochambeau, de Grasse informed them of his intent to sail to the Chesapeake Bay, where Cornwallis had taken command of the army. Cornwallis, at first given confusing orders by his superior officer, Henry Clinton, was eventually ordered to make a defensible deep-water port, which he began to do at Yorktown, Virginia. Cornwallis's movements in Virginia were shadowed by a Continental Army force led by the Marquis de Lafayette.
The French and American armies united north of New York City during the summer of 1781. When word of de Grasse's decision arrived, the combined armies began moving south toward Virginia, engaging in tactics of deception to lead the British to believe a siege of New York was planned. De Grasse sailed from the West Indies and arrived at the Chesapeake Bay at the end of August, bringing additional troops and providing a naval blockade of Yorktown. He was transporting 500,000 silver pesos collected from the citizens of Havana, Cuba, to fund supplies for the siege and payroll for the Continental Army. While in Santo Domingo, de Grasse met with Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis, an agent of Carlos III of Spain. De Grasse had planned to leave several of his warships in Santo Domingo. Saavedra promised the assistance of the Spanish navy to protect the French merchant fleet, enabling de Grasse to sail north with all of his warships. In the beginning of September, he defeated a British fleet led by Sir Thomas Graves that came to relieve Cornwallis at the Battle of the Chesapeake. As a result of this victory, de Grasse blocked any escape by sea for Cornwallis. By late September Washington and Rochambeau arrived, and the army and naval forces completely surrounded Cornwallis.
Battle of Yorktown - American Revolution Battle of Yorktown
As troops from New York reached Williamsburg, they joined with the forces of the Marquis de Lafayette who had been shadowing Cornwallis' movements. With the army assembled, Washington and Rochambeau began the march to Yorktown on September 28. Arriving outside the town later that day, the two commanders deployed their forces with the Americans on the right and the French on the left. A mixed Franco-American force, led by the Comte de Choissey, was dispatched across the York River to oppose the British position on Gloucester Point.
In Yorktown, Cornwallis held out hope that a promised relief force of 5,000 men would arrive from New York. Outnumbered more than 2-to-1, he ordered his men to abandon the outer works around the town and fall back to the main line of fortifications. This was later criticized as it would have taken the allies several weeks to reduce these positions by regular siege methods. On the night of October 5/6, the French and Americans began construction of the first siege line. By dawn, a 2,000-yard long trench opposed the southeast side of the British works. Two days later, Washington personally fired the first gun.
For the next three days, French and American guns pounded the British lines around the clock. Feeling his position collapsing, Cornwallis wrote to Lieutenant General Henry Clinton on October 10 calling for aid. The British situation was made worse by a smallpox outbreak within the town. On the night of October 11, Washington's men began work on a second parallel, just 250 yards from the British lines. Progress on this work was impeded by two British fortifications, Redoubts #9 and #10, which prevented the line from reaching the river.
The capture of these positions was assigned to General Count William Deux-Ponts and Colonel Alexander Hamilton. After extensive planning, the attack moved forward on the night of October 14, with Deux-Pont's French troops seizing #9, while Hamilton's Americans captured #10. Immediately after the redoubts were captured, American sappers began extending the siege lines. With the enemy growing nearer, Cornwallis again wrote to Clinton for help and described his situation as "very critical." As the bombardment continued, Cornwallis was pressured into launching an attack against the allied lines on October 16.
Led by Colonel Robert Abercrombie the attack succeeded in taking some prisoners and spiking six guns, but was unable to breakthrough. That night, Cornwallis shifted 1,000 men and his wounded to Gloucester Point with the goal of transferring his army across the river and breaking out to the north. As the boats returned to Yorktown, they were scattered by a storm. Out of ammunition for his guns and unable to shift his army, Cornwallis decided to open negotiations with Washington. At 9:00 AM on October 17, a single drummer mounted the British works and beat the long roll as a lieutenant waved a white flag.
The fighting at Yorktown cost the allies 72 killed and 180 wounded. British losses were higher and included 156 killed, 326 wounded. In addition, Cornwallis' remaining 7,018 men were taken prisoner. Meeting at the nearby Moore House, Cornwallis attempted to obtain the same favorable terms of surrender that Major General John Burgoyne had received at Saratoga. This was refused by Washington who imposed the same harsh conditions that the British had demanded of Major General Benjamin Lincoln the year before at Charleston.
With no other choice, Cornwallis complied and the final surrender documents were signed on October 19. At noon the French and American armies lined up to await the British surrender. Two hours later the British marched out with flags furled and their bands playing "The World Turned Upside Down." Claiming he was ill, Cornwallis sent Brigadier General Charles O'Hara in his stead. Approaching the allied leadership, O'Hara attempted to surrender to Rochambeau but was instructed by the Frenchman to approach the Americans. As Cornwallis was not present, Washington directed O'Hara to surrender to Lincoln, who was now serving as his second-in-command.
With the surrender complete, Cornwallis' army was taken into custody rather than paroled. Shortly thereafter, Cornwallis was exchanged for Henry Laurens, the former President of the Continental Congress. The victory at Yorktown was the last major engagement of the American Revolution and effectively ended the conflict in the American's favor.
American: 8,000 regulars
French: 7,800?8,800 regulars
29 war ships
Britain: 9,000 (includes German troops)