5 Things You Didn't Know About The Battle of Yorktown

On September 28, 1781, the Battle of Yorktown began, which was the last major battle for American independence. Here are 5 things you probably didn’t know about the Battle of Yorktown which effectively brought an end to the American Revolution....

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The British Were Heavily Outnumbered George Washington’s army was composed of about 17,000 American and French troops, while the British led by Lord Cornwallis numbered around 9,000. With Washington's troops surrounding Yorktown and the British under constant fire, it became inevitable that the British would lose. The 20-day siege ended with the British raising the white flag of surrender.

The Battle of Yorktown Decided the Fate of The Revolutionary War The defeat of the British by allied forces at the Battle of Yorktown was the final major battle of the Revolutionary War conducted on land. Following the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781, peace negotiations started the following year, ultimately leading to the 1783 Treaty of Paris. The treaty officially ended the American Revolutionary War with Britain’s recognition of the United States as an independent and free nation.

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It’s Referred to as “The German Battle” By Historians in Germany Although Germans served on both sides during the American Revolutionary War, about 3,000 German-Americans were numbered among the troops commanded by General George Washington. Most of them were already colonists, while the Germans who served with British troops were auxiliaries, who were basically leased. The Germans made significant contributions to the American war effort, including Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, who taught the Continental Army discipline and military drilling.

Washington Denied British Soldiers Honors of War On October 19, the articles of capitulation were signed. The British asked for traditional Honors of War like marching out with dignity, flags waving etc. Remembering that the British had refused the Americans the same privilege on taking Charleston earlier in the war, Washington denied their request firmly. Legend says that the British band played “The world turned upside down” as the troops marched out to surrender.

Lord Cornwallis Refused to Attend The Formal Surrender At the surrender ceremony following the Battle of Yorktown,  Lord Cornwallis claimed illness and refused to attend the formal ceremony of surrender. Instead, he sent Charles O’Hara, a brigadier general, in his place, who tried to hand over the sword to French General Rochambeau. Rochambeau signaled to O’Hara to offer the sword to General Washington, who refused to accept it. Instead, he told Benjamin Lincoln, his second in command, to take the sword.