Surrender at Yorktown

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"America is lost"

George III

The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, John Trumbull (Capitol Rotunda - 1820)

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Primary Source

Letter From George III

On October 19, 1781, a French military force commanded by the Comte de Rochambeau, and the Continental Army commanded by George Washington cornered and forced the surrender of a large British army under the command of Lord Cornwallis. This defeat at Yorktown, Virginia, on October 19, 1781, forced the British to negotiate for a peace. The war for independence was over.

The American Revolution: A History
by Gordon S. Wood


There were 11,000 Americans in the battle and at least 29,000 French soldiers and sailors. There were 37 French war ships which prevented the 87,000 soldiers from escaping by sea. The French were instrumental in the American victory.

When King George heard of the surrender he wanted to keep on fighting. The Parliament, however, was not willing. The King threatened to abdicate, and even wrote a letter of abdication to Parliament, but in the end withdrew  it. He never got over the loss of the colonies, but he still hoped to profit from them. In a letter written sometime in the 1790s he remarked "it is to be hoped we shall reap more advantages from their trade as friends than ever we could derive from them as Colonies."



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