Final Battle of the American Revolution

Yorktown, VA.

October 23rd, 2001

Yorktown, Virginia is one of the centers of American History. One of the best places to see this history reenacted is at the Yorktown Victory Center. Here through placards and living interpreters, the final days of British Rule in America is told. Yorktown was created in 1691, by a decree from the Virginia house of Burgesses, the governing body in colonial times in the Virginia Colony under British rule. It served the British by controlling commerce that came and went and collecting the various tariffs required. By 1775 the Colonies, especially those in the North, had all they could stand of England bailing out her own economy by taxing her colonial citizens. From the tea tax to the stamp act, money flowed out of the Colonies and into the English coffers to fund things unrelated to the Colonies. When negotiations and demonstrations failed, a handful of farmers and shop keepers in Lexington, Massachusetts, stood up against the British regular army and a shot was fired that was heard around the world. The minutemen farmers were little challenge to the trained professional soldiers of the British Empire and their Hessian mercenaries. But the Colonies population had swollen to more then two million. The rebellion, that was expected by the English to be put down in a matter of months, became a popular belief in the minds of the rank and file colonists who kept the idea alive in thought and deed, as the war dragged on and on, year after year, neither side winning or losing. Seven years later, the British colonial expedition force under General Cornwallis had ground to a stand off in the North. Cornwallis, desiring a victory, turned to the southern Colonies in hopes of subduing the dissidents. With 6000 men he sailed to Wilmington, N.C., and marched across the Carolinas chasing General Nathaniel Green and his ragtag Army of the Carolinas. All the way to Kings Mountain in the Appalachians, where he found that he couldn't extract the militia from the top. Finally he gave up and returned to Wilmington. Behind every tree and under every rock there seemed to be a musket firing at them as they withdrew unable to force any meaningful engagement. Arriving in Wilmington with a little over 600 men remaining in fighting condition, he was ordered to return to Virginia and fortify a seaport in preparation for the arrival of substantial British reinforcements.
The British had elected to fortify Yorktown at the mouth of the York River. Washington, who had his main army surrounding New York City, was given a defining break, unbeknownst to his British counterpart; the French had entered the war on the American side. Initially sending 5000 well trained and equipped infantry. In addition two French
fleets, one from the West Indies and the other from Quebec were made available. In one of his most brilliant and daring decisions, Washington, grasping an understanding that he had the British forces divided, sent his trusted and long term fighting friend, General Lafayette, to shadow and harass Cornwallis. Lafayette finally settled in Williamsburg to await Washington. Washington created several deceits, with multiple shifting of large amounts of troops and setting up empty tents around New York, while his main army slipped out of town and headed south to Virginia. When Sir Henry Clinton in New York, realized what had happened, it was to late to intercept. His response was to load up some 5000 infantry and sail to Yorktown to reinforce Cornwallis. Not only had Washington predicted this move, he had hoped for it.

            HOME PAGE        Next >>>>>      Next