In October of 1781 the American Revolutionary War had been raging for six long years. The American colonist, in what had seemed an impossible dream at the beginning of
the war, are about to win their freedom from British rule with a victory at the Battle of Yorktown. On this page we list facts about this final major battle of the
American Revolutionary War. You will find information on how the American's won the battle, where it took place, and why it was such an important battle. As with all our
pages this summary is written in a kid-friendly format.
Basic Battle of Yorktown Facts
The battle took place in Yorktown Virginia from September 28th of 1781 through October 19th 1781.
The battle pitted General George Washington, aided by French General de Rochambeau, against British General Lord Cornwallis.
The Americans had a fighting force of approximately 8,800 who were aided by 7,800 French soldiers against a British force of about 6,000.
The defeat of the British at Yorktown prompted the British government to negotiate an end to the American Revolution and give the colonist their freedom.
Battle of Yorktown Timeline
1780 - Over 5,000 French soldiers arrived in Rhode Island in order to help the Americans defeat the British.
August 19, 1781 - The combined American and French armies start marching towards Virginia from New York.
Late August 1781 - The French fleet commanded by Admiral Comte de Grasse arrives in the Chesapeake Bay and forms a blockade of Yorktown.
September 5, 1781 - The British fleet and French fleet clash at the Battle of the Capes. The French navy, commanded by Admiral de Grasse, win the battle. This is
extremely significant due to the fact that it meant the British at Yorktown had no chance of reinforcements coming to their rescue.
September 28, 1781 - American and French forces arrived at Yorktown and started a siege on the British forces.
October 9, 1781 - The American and French armies began a bombardment of the British positions.
October 14, 1781 The Continental Army attacked and took the last remaining outer defenses of the British.
October 16th and 17th of 1781 - The American and French forces have worked there artillery very close to the remaining British fortifications. They fire at close range
causing high British casualties.
October 17, 1781 - A British Officer waving a white flag informed the Americans and French that they wished to discuss terms of surrender. The American bombardment
stopped at this point.
October 18, 1781 - Surrender negotiations began.
October 19, 1781 - Articles of capitulation are signed, which stated the British admitted defeat. Several thousand British soldiers are taken prisoner.
Interesting Battle of Yorktown Facts
Prior to the battle General Cornwallis occupied the town of Yorktown in order to establish a defensible deep-water port.
Although this final major battle took place in 1781 the American Revolutionary War was not officially over until the signing of the Treaty of Paris in September of 1783.
British General Cornwallis, claiming to be sick, had General Charles O'Hara officially surrender to the Americans and French.