Siege of Yorktown

What was going on in 1781?

In 1775, the American colonies had declared war against Britain and sought to gain complete independence. Britain responded by sending armies into North America and so, the fighting began between the two sides.

Although the British armies were better organized and well-equipped, the American Continental armies quickly came into good shape and were an equal match for the British soldiers. By 1780, the American armies had already defeated the British armies in a number of battles. And by this time, Spain and France were officially supporting the “American war of independence”. In 1781, the Siege of Yorktown took place.

What was the Siege of Yorktown?

In 1776, a British army under General Charles Cornwallis took control of New Jersey and forced the American forces to move out of the area. The British army then moved towards Yorktown and after campaigning in the neighboring regions, settled down in Yorktown in 1781.

This allowed it to maintain contact with the large British army in New York by navigating the coastline. The army began to fortify the town and defend it against possible American attacks. At this point, French and American armies were fighting together. Both agreed to reach Yorktown and confront the British army present there.

What happened at the Siege of Yorktown?

The British army in the Yorktown numbered 8,000. They were expecting to receive help from British army in the New York city. This help was supposed to come via ships. In September, 1781, a fleet of British ships tried to reach Yorktown and help the British army there. But this fleet was intercepted by a French fleet and after suffering losses, was forced to retreat.

Meanwhile, George Washington, Marquis DE Lafayette and the Count DE Rochambeau brought together their American-French armies, totaling 11,000 men. The French fleet which stopped the British fleet brought another 3000 men. This army then proceeded to position themselves on all three sides of the Yorktown. On the fourth side, the French fleet was positioned in the sea and blocked any help from reaching the British from this side.

Was the siege successful?

The French-American army outnumbered the British army 3 to 1. They positioned themselves around Yorktown and began bombarding the defensive positions of the British. The French fleet also attacked from the sea-side. As a result of the bombardment, the British suffered losses.

Since no help could reach them and the American army was continuously moving towards Yorktown, getting closer every day, British General Cornwallis finally agreed to surrender. As a result of the surrender, nearly 8000 British troops were taken prisoners by the American forces. This finally forced Britain to end the war and effectively heralded victory for America.

How Did the Siege of Yorktown end war?

Yes, at least in the American colonies. So with the victory of the Siege of Yorktown, the American forces were decisively victorious against the British. In 1782, Britain agreed to sue for peace with the newly-independent American colonies. This finally resulted in the Treaty of Paris in 1783 where Britain officially recognized America as a free nation.