long and grueling war for American Independence came to a dramatic ending when
the British surrendered to Washington in October, 1781; the battle leading to
the end of the war began on this day in history, September 28.
General Lord Charles Cornwallis hoped to occupy Yorktown, Virginia; unbeknownst
to the British, General George Washington planned to encircle the British Army
by land, while Francois Count de Grasse sailed north from St. Domingo, thus
lending French naval support from the Chesapeake Bay. Communication was a
central part of the war, for Cornwallis had been assured by his superior, Henry
Clinton, that 5,000 British soldiers were on their way to Yorktown to assist
him. But Cornwallis waited for reinforcements that never came.
the American side, much of the heavy fighting that led to the victory was
handled by black soldiers, both free men and freed slaves, who fought under the
belief that an American victory would lead to the end of slavery. These hopes
would be delayed another 84 years, until the 13th Amendment (passed
in 1865) abolished slavery.
peace ceremony marking the end of the war was scheduled for October 19, 1781,
but in another show of British arrogance, Cornwallis refused to meet any of the
enemy Generals. Still, as British
soldiers marched from the battle field, they laid down their guns between the
lines of American and French troops, thus signifying the end of the War for American