YORKTOWN (OCTOBER 19, 1781)
\jˈɔːkta͡ʊn ɒktˈə͡ʊbə nˈa͡ɪntiːn], \jˈɔːktaʊn ɒktˈəʊbə nˈaɪntiːn], \j_ˈɔː_k_t_aʊ_n__ ɒ_k_t_ˈəʊ_b_ə n_ˈaɪ_n_t_iː_n]\
Definitions of YORKTOWN (OCTOBER 19, 1781)
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On his arrival in Virginia in May, 1781, Cornwallis found himself in command of 5000 veterans. Opposed to him was Lafayette with 3000 men, mostly raw militia. Cornwallis burnt and harried southern Virginia, but was unable to bring Lafayette to battle. Lafayette was continually reinforced and finding he could not catch him, on June 15 Cornwallis retreated to Richmond, and thence on the 20th toward the sea. In the first week of August, Cornwallis took his position at Yorktown with a garrison of 7000 men. Lafayette watched him from Malvern Hill. Washington now conceived the bold scheme of leaving Clinton unguarded in New York and of striking at Cornwallis in the South. The French fleet of thirty-four sail and 20,000 men under De Grasse was expected daily, and on August 17 news came that it was headed for the Chesapeake. without giving Clinton any clue to his movements, Washington shifted a body of 2000 Continentals and 4000 French from West Point to Yorktown. The march was one of 400 miles and was accomplished between August 19 and September 18. The French fleet had already arrived, and kept the enemy's fleet at bay. Cornwallis was completely hemmed in by 16,000 men and the fleet. Each day the lines grew closer and no help came from Clinton. On October 14, two British redoubts were taken by storm. Next day the British made a fruitless sortie, and on the 17th a white flag was displayed. The British became prisoners of war. Cornwallis was directed to give his sword to General Lincoln. He sent it by General O'Hara. The number of the British who surrendered was 7247 soldiers and 840 seamen. This disaster utterly crippled the British forces in America and was considered by all parties the end of the war.
By John Franklin Jameson