When the British colonial forces were defeated at Yorktown after a month of battle, American independence was essentially guaranteed, and the guns fell silent as the Revolutionary War ended.
The British had been led by Charles Cornwallis, who was backed up by German auxiliary units from the states of Ansbach and Hesse-Kassel. The Americans, commanded by George Washington, were supported by the French. After severely damaging the surrounded British forces in Yorktown, in Virginia, Cornwallis asked for a surrender on October 17, and negotiations were completed on October 19. Cornwallis himself was not present for the surrender ceremony, citing 'illness', but he did sign the document.
With the surrender, some 7,000 British soldiers became prisoners, and American essentially became an independent state. Having lost the last significant battle on the American continent, the British and American governments began to negotiate a final settlement, which concluded with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Under this agreement Britain recognized the United States as an independent country.
Artist: John Trumbull
Location painted: Yorktown, Virginia, USA
Source: Wikimedia Commons
- 1781-08-01 British army under general Cornwallis occupies Yorktown, Virginia
- 1781-09-28 9,000 American and 7,000 French troops begin siege of Yorktown
- 1781-10-09 Americans under George Washington and the French under Comte de Rochambeau begin bombardment of Yorktown, the last battle of American Revolutionary War
- 1781-10-19 British forces under General Charles Cornwallis sign terms of surrender to George Washington and Comte de Rochambeau at Yorktown at 2 pm, ending the US Revolutionary War
1st US Secretary of Treasury
General and Colonial Administrator
Comte de Rochambeau
First US President
French General and Aristocrat
Marquis de Lafayette