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American Revolution

Battle of Yorktown

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The Battle of Yorktown was the last great battle of the American Revolutionary War. It is where the British Army surrendered and the British government began to consider a peace treaty.

Build up to the Battle

General Nathanael Greene had taken over command of the American Continental Army in the South. Prior to General Greene's command, the war in the South had not been going very well, but Greene put in some new tactics that enabled American victories and caused the British Army to retreat to the East Coast.

Routes taken on march to Yorktown - Click to see larger view

At the same time that the British Army under General Charles Cornwallis was retreating to Yorktown, General George Washington was marching his army down from the north. The French Navy, having defeated the British Navy, started to move to the coast near Yorktown as well.

The Siege of Yorktown

The British Army was now surrounded at Yorktown. They were greatly outnumbered by the French and American troops. For eleven days the American forces bombarded the British. Finally Cornwallis sent out the white flag for surrender. He originally made a lot of demands to George Washington for his surrender, but Washington didn't agree. When the American troops started to prepare for another attack, Cornwallis agreed to Washington's terms and the battle was over.


On October 19, 1781 General Cornwallis signed the British surrender. The document was called the Articles of Capitulation.

British Done Fighting

Around 8,000 British troops surrendered in Yorktown. Although this wasn't all of the army, it was a big enough force to cause the British to start thinking they were going to lose the war. Losing this battle made them start to think about peace and that it wasn't worth the cost of the war to keep the colonies. This opened the door for the Treaty of Paris.

Interesting Facts about the Battle of Yorktown

Take a ten question quiz at the Battle of Yorktown questions page.

Revolutionary War Events
Timeline of the American Revolution
Stamp Act
Boston Massacre
Boston Tea Party
The Continental Congress
Declaration of Independence
The United States Flag
Valley Forge
The Treaty of Paris

Battles of Lexington and Concord
The Capture of Fort Ticonderoga
Battle of Bunker Hill
Washington Crossing the Delaware
The Battle of Saratoga
Battle of Yorktown

Abigail Adams
John Adams
Samuel Adams
Benedict Arnold
Ben Franklin
Patrick Henry
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Paine
Paul Revere
George Washington

Daily Life
Revolutionary War Soldiers
Revolutionary War Uniforms
Patriots and Loyalists
Glossary and Terms

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