Edward Percy Moran, Surrender of Cornwallis
to Washington at Yorktown. Oil on Canvas, ca. 1890 - 1910, signed lower
left, 30 x 40 inches, Click on picture for larger view. - - Painting Courtesy
of Seth Kaller
Cornwallis surrenders to Washington
Yorktown, Virginia founded in 1691, was a busy 18th-century tobacco port
but the town is best remembered as the site of the Battle of Yorktown, which
effectively ended the Revolutionary War. Nine 18th-century buildings survived
the 1781 Battle of Yorktown and can still be seen.
In the late summer of 1781 when George Washington and Rochambeau heard of
Lord Cornwallis' encampment in Yorktown they raced southward from New York
to link up with the French fleet under Admiral Comte de Grasse in Chesapeake
Bay. Washington arrived just in time to bottle-up the British, who were
anticipating reinforcements that never came from either General Henry Clinton or
the British fleet.
Off shore, the French fleet effectively blocked aid from Cornwallis while
Washington made life unbearable for the British troops with three weeks of
shelling. Thomas Nelson a signer of the Declaration of
Independence was also engaged in the final siege of Yorktown. Nelson
being a true patriot, urged General Washington to fire on his own home, the
Nelson House, where Cornwallis had his headquarters.
Lord Cornwallis' finally surrendered on October
19, 1781 and this ended the disastrous British southern campaign.
The loyalist and Patriot forces in the south had fought a series of savage
fights that left both sides bloodied. These engagements sent Cornwallis limping
into Yorktown in late summer trailed by a force led by the Marquis de
Lafayette a French Ally. Cornwallis attempted to surrender over 8,000 men to the
French through his second-in-command, Charles O'Hara. French
General Comte de Rochambeau, however, directed O'Hara to George Washington, who
steered the British officer to his own second in command, Major General Benjamin
Lincoln. .The surrender occurred while the British band played The World
Turned Upside Down, a tune that underscored the strange turn of events.
This battle effectively ended the Revolutionary War with Great Britain.
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