The Battle of Yorktown


The Battle of Yorktown took place in 1781. At this point, the Americans had four main advantages. The first is that the Americans had better leadership. The British were overconfident  and made poor decisions. On the other hand, George Washington learned from his mistakes and had developed better strategies. The second is that America had foreign aid. The French were now on their side and this helped greatly. This added huge numbers to the American army. The third is that the Americans knew the geography better than the British. Yorktown was on a peninsula and this would be a big disadvantage for the British. The last is that Americans had motivation. They were fighting for their freedom and this helped a lot, yet the British didn't really have any motivation.

One of the main reasons that the Americans won this battle was that Yorktown was located on a peninsula on the Chesapeake Bay. The siege began on September 6, 1781. George Washington had about 17,000 men at his command. The Americans and the French surrounded them. This allowed the soldiers and cannon to slowly come closer and closer to Yorktown. This plan worked extremely well. Not only were the Americans able to move in closer and bombard them, but this caused major problems at the British base. The British were unable to get resources and food was scarce. The British had convinced slaves to help them in their efforts and because of the small amount of food, the slaves were forced away right into the ongoing battle. The British would have been able to bring in resources by water, but the French did an excellent job of cutting off the Chesapeake Bay so the British couldn't get in. (See the picture below.) The British were essentially sealed off from absolutely everything. General Cornwallis had no choice but to surrender his huge army of 9,000 men on October 17, 1781. (See the second picture below.)  The Americans started to celebrate but when George Washington saw this, he told all of the soldiers not to rub it in. About a week later reinforcements came from to help the British, but it was too late. This battle ended the Revolutionary war. This would be the biggest British defeat since the battle of Saratoga. There were minor battles afterward but this was the main ending.

After all of the battling was over, the Americans and Britain made the Treaty of Paris in 1783. This agreed on three main things.
  1. Great Britain agreed to recognize the independence of the US.
  2. All debts between Britain and America were to be paid off.
  3. The US borders were agreed to be east of the Mississippi.




"The Battle of Yorktown." American History by Era. vol. 3. pp. 219-220, 2003.

Gay, Kathlyn and Martin Gay. Revolutionary War. Brookfield, Connecticut: Twenty-First Century Books, 1995.

Fleming, Thomas. The Battle of Yorktown. Fifth Avenue, New York: American Heritage Publishing Company, 1968.