Facts About Battle of Yorktown
From the viewpoint of American rebels and their French allies, The Battle of Yorktown (also known as the Siege of Yorktown) was an extremely fortunate break.
American and French forces took over an unimportant town along the Virginia coast and captured thousands of soldiers from the enemy in a narrow time frame.
The sudden attack brought Great Britain to ultimately recognize the colonies of the rebels as a single sovereign nation, thus ending the American War for Independence.
However, the siege of Yorktown could have ended differently had it not been for bad weather and deceitful bread ovens. This is what you need to be aware of the conflict that changed the world.
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INSTEAD OF GOING TO YORKTOWN, GEORGE WASHINGTON WANTED TO RETAKE NEW YORK CITY.
The ink had just barely dried in the Declaration of Independence when New York was attacked by the British. On August 27, 1776, General William Howe led a force of 35,000 British and German soldiers to Brooklyn. In 1776, the Redcoats and Hessians were able to take Manhattan and The Bronx, Long Island, Staten Island, and surrounding regions.
New York City was held under British occupation for seven years. It was used as a base for military operations by the advancing force. According to Valerie Paley of the New York Historical Society, “We were the British base of operations up to the war’s end.”
After suffering a devastating loss when the Redcoats attacked Brooklyn in 76, General George Washington was eager to get New York back. It appeared as if he’d finally get his opportunity in 1781.
There was a hint that an ally Francois Joseph Paul Comte of Grasse, an admiral of the French navy — could be heading towards New York City with a fleet of 24 warships that year (a fleet that appeared to be needed to have if Washington was planning to take over the city. at the island). On August 14, Washington discovered that his count would be bringing his ships back to Virginia and not returning to New York.
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“I was forced … to abandon all thoughts of a war against New York,” Washington wrote in his diary. At the time of the diary entry, he lived in Westchester County, New York, and so was the French General Comte de Rochambeau and his troops. On August 18, The two commanders set off on an extremely long journey.
They led a force that included over two thousand Americans and 4600 Frenchmen and Frenchmen; they embarked on the long journey towards Virginia. Their objective was Lord Charles Cornwallis. The decorated British General Cornwallis was a soldier at the Battle of Brooklyn and had spent the last couple of months fighting across the South American south. He was now preparing for the possibility of disaster in a city known as Yorktown.
A NAVAL CLASH HELPED DETERMINE THE RESULT …
General Cornwallis had placed thousands of British-led soldiers into an extremely vulnerable position. In the spring of 1781, Cornwallis had been instructed to strengthen the security of a military base on the Virginia coast. The 7000 troops under his direction established a shop in Yorktown, the seaside town that was a tobacco hub.
Geographical factors placed the troops at the risk of being at a huge disadvantage. As the city was located near the top of the York River peninsula, the Allies of the Franco-American era believed that if they struck Yorktown with an attack on the naval sector and a massive land-based assault, Cornwallis and his men were in danger of being ostracized. The eventual capture of their men could bring the war to an end.
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The chance to capture Cornwallis was too tempting to pass up. However, the way to pursue him was a risky move. It was crucial to have time, and if British reinforcements did not make it to Yorktown before Yorktown was destroyed, the war could quickly be a bloody disaster.
Enter the Comte de Gasse on August 30, 1781, his army to his position at the Chesapeake Bay, where the admiral delivered supplies and troops for his ready Marquis de Lafayette. A week later, the Comte de Grasse’s naval force was engaged by 19 warships from the British fleet, ordered to search for it.
Two and a half hours later, a sea conflict began. The French triumphed, damaging the six British vessels and killing 90 sailors during the battle. (De Grasse suffered only damage to two vessels.) If the British prevailed, the seamen on those Royal Navy vessels might have arrived in Yorktown and offered Cornwallis the desperately required support. Instead, the foundation was set for a victory by the Franco-Americans.
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… And SO did FRENCH BREAD Ovens.
In the sense that Cornwallis — and the majority of England–was concerned, Yorktown fell because the British Commander-in-Chief was too slow to offer an emergency lifeline. General Howe was forced to leave his post three years earlier and replaced General Henry Clinton, who took charge of the British troops within North America in 1778. The General made a few critical mistakes concerning Yorktown. Yorktown siege.
One thing is that the allies were able to trick Clinton into a false sense of security. Clinton was based in New York City, and throughout the summer of 1781, Clinton rehearsed himself for an attack on NYC that never materialized. In late August (as we’ve observed), the Franco-American military had decided to attack Virginia instead.
However, to allow their southward incursion to succeed, they had to prevent Clinton from off the battlefield. “If they believe that we’ve abandoned the idea of launching an attack on New York,” explained one of Washington’s advisors, “they will strengthen General Cornwallis before we arrive at the city.”
So while the Washington-Rochambeau march was underway, the allies built several French-style brick bread ovens in northern New Jersey, which fooled British spies into thinking that Rochambeau and the Americans were about to set up a huge army encampment just a few miles away from Staten Island. They circulated false rumors of an upcoming attack on New York to sell the lie. The Brits purchased it for a short time anyway.
Clinton was unaware of his mistake until Washington and Rochambeau were headed toward Yorktown at the end of September. Once the threat was evident, he did not immediately respond to Cornwallis’s demands for reinforcements. General Clinton finally dispatched a vessel with 7000 soldiers on the night of October 19, the day that Cornwallis gave up his cause as Yorktown was transferred on behalf of the Allies. But at this point, it was too late.
It was a battle of TRENCHES, BARRICADES, and INTENTIONAL SHIPWRECKS.
The construction of solid defenses was Cornwallis’s number priority. When the General arrived at Yorktown on August 1, Cornwallis began laying out physical barriers to defend the city from intruders. A series consisting of 4 redoubts (hill-like fortifications constructed of dirt or sod, wood, and dirt) was constructed just to the northwest of Gloucester Point.
This neighboring village was located across the York River. Several others were constructed around Yorktown in its city, with a large and star-shaped one in the northwest, which was later referred to in the later years as “Fusiliers Redoubt.” There were underwater barriers as well. In the event of the possibility of a French naval attack, Cornwallis deliberately sunk approximately twelve of his vessels close to the river’s mouth in hopes that it would stop other vessels from entering.
The allied forces also had construction plans of their own. French and American troops had spent the night of October 6 digging the two-mile trench, which ran parallel to Cornwallis’s southeastern redoubts, and ended close to the York River. Legend says that George Washington himself started things with his actions as the first soldier from either army to throw an ax into the ground.
ROOTING HORSES SUNK ALL OVER THE PLACE.
For a successful siege, the siege must stop the supply lines. As allies surrounded Yorktown, water, food, and other essentials became scarce supply. After it became apparent that he was unable to feed his troops and the hundreds of horses they seized from farmers in the area, Cornwallis got rid of the horses.
After releasing some extremely large and bony horses back to their natural habitat, the king demanded that the rest be killed on September 30. About 400 carcasses of horses were dumped in the York River. The tide drove a number of them into the river and tainted the air with an unpleasant stink.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON LED A VITAL ATTACK.
Officially, it was known as the Battle of Yorktown lasted from September 28 until October 19, 1781. The pivotal event occurred on October 14. During the entire siege, the two most strategic pieces of real estate were two earth-based barricades called Redoubt Number Nine and Redoubt Number 10, which Cornwallis’s men constructed to stop the entrance to Yorktown via the southern part.
In the battle, the allies gradually progressed beyond their initial trench lines, pushed closer to the city, and put additional pressure on the troops that were boxed in British troops. When the ground was cleared, construction began on a second trench. However, to complete the trench, the allies had to conquer Redoubts Nine and 10.
A savage attack on them both started with the attack at around 8:30 p.m. on October 14. Wilhelm Graf von Zweibrucken–a German Lieutenant Colonel serving under Rochambeau–stormed Number Nine with 400 men. He lost the 114 soldiers to injury or death in the initial seven-minute battle, but Von Zweibrucken won and secured the fortification at the end of the day.
In the meantime, Redoubt 10 was taken by Colonel Alexander Hamilton, who almost did not get the job. Lafayette hoped to have his deputy Jean-Joseph Sourbader de Gimat take over the battle. However, Hamilton, who’d been longing for glory–coaxed General Washington to give the reigns to him. Hamilton, the upcoming Treasury Secretary’s task was laid into pieces for him.
Once Hamilton reached Redoubt 10, Hamilton had to jump over an encircling of sharpened tree limbs at an elevation of. However, within 10-minutes, Hamilton and the 400 men under his command were able to capture Redoubt 10. According to Hamilton’s estimation, just nine of his soldiers were killed and just over 30 wounded.
There were many GERMAN SOLDIERS FROM BOTH SIDES.
Von Zweibrucken formed part of the Royal Deux-Ponts Regiment, a group consisting of more than a thousand soldiers recruited from Zweibrucken, the state of Prussia, which is today part of the southern region Germany.
The Duke of Zweibrucken Christian IV originally founded the regiment to pay his obligations towards the French King Louis XV; the regiment took on behalf of France during both the Seven Year the Wars ( against Prussia) and the American War Revolution.
In Yorktown, it suffered massive losses. In a gesture of appreciation, George Washington gave the regiment one of the British brass cannons captured. Rochambeau acknowledged their gratitude with two days of payment.
In a bizarre twist, in the same way, when Royal Deux-Ponts attacked Redoubt Number Nine, the Germans fought back against a section of Germans. They were the Musketeer Regiment von Bose was a Hessian mercenary force of Hesse-Kassel that assisted the British to conquer Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina.
In Yorktown, they were among the four German groups under the command of Cornwallis. On October 14, The Musketeer Regiment joined forces with a few British friends to defend Redoubt Nine.
GENERAL CORNWALLIS N’T RENDER IN PERSON.
The weather conditions were what ultimately ended the life of Cornwallis. On October 16, the British attack on the mainline of the allied army was unsuccessful in making any progress. Their troops attempted to cross their way across the York River and escape through Gloucester Point the following night. But their escape plans were thwarted by a fierce storm that struck unexpectedly and made crossing the river impossible. The only option was to leave, and Cornwallis gave up.
Peace talks were initiated the following day. Allied soldiers were amazed to see an unidentified British drummer boy and a red-coated soldier with a white flag escorting them from Yorktown around 9.30 a.m. on October 17. The two sides did not finish discussions on surrender conditions until October 19.
Normally, as the General was defeated, Cornwallis would be present at the official surrender ceremony that day. However, Cornwallis said he was feeling sick and sent the second officer in his command Brigadier General Charles O’Hara in his place.
“THE world turned upside down” Could not have been played later.
“I am honored of bringing to congress,” Washington wrote on October 19, “that the reduction of a British force under the direction by Lord Cornwallis is most joyfully accomplished.” In addition to certain officers who were granted parole, all British military, land troops, mariners, and seamen were held to be prisoners of war following the surrender conditions.
As the defeated British fled Yorktown, the fifers and drummers played the battle tune “The World Turned Upside Down.” But it’s possible that this isn’t the case. There’s no mention of the tune in the primary documents that date back to that Battle of Yorktown, with the Library of Congress dating the first mention of the song to 1828. However, Lin-Manuel Miranda decided to weave the song’s name in his score of the Tony Award-winning musical Hamilton: A Musical. American Musical.
Technically, the war lasted up to 1783.
Although Yorktown was a decisive battle, Yorktown Siege is rightly considered a decisive victory, but it was not the only victory. Revolutionary War did not officially end until it was over when the Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783.
Yorktown set the stage for the momentous event that took place. After the surrender of General Cornwallis Yorktown, the British lost one-third of their force across North America. Public opinion and Parliament British Parliament both reacted in opposition to the effort after the news of the disaster reached the Atlantic.
It is believed that the moment Prime Secretary Frederick North learned about the Yorktown disaster at the time, North declared, “Oh God, this is over!”
In reality, the war was just beginning to get underway. In April of the following year, American and British diplomats were in Paris, France, to discuss ending the war between their nations. The initial arrangement between Great Britain and the new United States of America was signed in November 1782.
Before it took effect in the United States, the British needed to negotiate terms in conjunction with France, Spain, and the Dutch Republic, all of whom were also in conflict with the superpower of the monarchy.
While the state’s leaders debated in Paris, fighting continued throughout the globe. Battles between the European powerhouses broke out overseas and in the western part of North America. In the meantime, American rebels kept skirmishing with redcoats shortly on U.S. soil.
(Present-day Robertson County, Kentucky, was the scene of one of these battles post-Yorktown on August 19, 1782.) George Washington–wisely–decided not to immediately disband the continental army until the Treaty of Paris had been finalized by all parties involved. The last remaining British soldiers quit for the United States on November 23, 1783.
YORKTOWN WAS ALSO THE SETTING OF A BATTLE IN THE CIVIL WAR.
About a century later, Yorktown, Virginia, weathered another battle. From April 5 through May 4 in 1862, more than 100,000 blue-jacketed troops arrived there in the early stages of Union General George B. McClellan’s failed attempt to take Richmond.
In the vicinity of Yorktown, they encountered the initial army of 13,000 Confederates under the command of Major General J. Bankhead Magruder. The rebels retreated to Williamsburg amid the battle as McClellan moved over the peninsula. Southern landmines and the hot northern balloon were used in this conflict.
In his way, Magruder couldn’t help but comment on the region’s historical significance. In a letter aimed at motivating his troops, General Magruder informed his troops that “The long battle of the Revolution ended with a victory on the particular areas of Yorktown.”