Yorktown Essay, Research Paper
The Battle of Yorktown was the climax of the
Revolutionary War. The combined forces of George Washington,
Admiral de Grasse, General Rochambeau, and
General Lafayette were enough to converge on the largest
concentration of British forces, overtake them and force a surrender.
With planning, skill, and courage, the army was able to defeat the
British and end the War.
Generals Rochambeau and Washington met in 1781 to determine the next move. Washington was firmly for going to New York and attacking the British there, but due to the pleading and persuasiveness of Rochambeau it was decided that they would attack the South, where there was one of the largest concentrations of British troops in North America. A message from Lafayette arrived to General Washington stating that Cornwallis had taken up a defensive position at Yorktown, in Virginia. Cornwallis was stationed next to the York River, and it was decided that if they could trap Cornwallis by land and block his escapes by water, the Americans could inflict serious damage to the British forces in America. Planning began immediately to expand the scheme to Include Admiral de Grasse.
French Admiral de Grasse, who was at the time stationed in the West Indies, would take his fleet to the Chesapeake Bay and secure the water so reinforcements and escapes could not arrive or occur. With a simple concept, but with the need for extreme military skill, the plan was risky.
For the first part of the plan, Washington and Rochambeau would march men to New York and station around 2500 men there to fool the British into believing that Washington and Rochambeau s entire force was still there. The combined army of French and Americans raced towards Virginia. As they were marching South, Admiral de Grasse and his fleet arrived at the Chesapeake Bay. They blockaded the Bay and were able to repel the attack of the British Fleet. This now meant that they controlled the mouth of the York River. This was one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Now they could prevent a British retreat from Yorktown.
On September 28, 1781, Washington and Rochambeau, Lafayette s troops, and 3000 of de Grasse s men arrived at Yorktown. With all American and French forces combined, there were about 17,000 men coming up upon Cornwallis camp. The stage was now set for the final showdown, the finishing battle, the end of the Revolution and a new beginning.
The French and Americans approached Yorktown form the South. The French forces on the left, under the command of Rochambeau, and the Americans on the right under the command of Washington converged upon Cornwallis. Soon the British were surrounded by heavy fire. Eventually Franco-American Forces captured two British redoubts, both major and crucial for the British. Soon even more fire came from the Americans as they took out British Soldier after soldier. Cornwallis s options were starting to run out. He eventually developed a plan to exterminate the Americans. He told smallpox-infected soldiers to run across lines to infect the Americans, although most were shot before any harm could be done to the. The situation was eventually totally helpless and Cornwallis surrendered and the official papers were signed on the 19th of October.
Immediately following the Battle of Yorktown, Lord North, the British P.M., resigned from his position. His successors decided that it was no longer in Britain s best interest to continue the war. They immediately drafted and proposed the Treaty of Paris, which the Americans accepted. Just over 8 years after the drafting of the Declaration of Independence America was a fully independent nation.