Yorktown, surrender at

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Yorktown, surrender at, 1781. After his costly victory at Guilford courthouse in March 1781, Cornwallis moved north into Virginia. Early in August he dug in on the coast at Yorktown, where communication with New York would be easier and supplies could be brought in. But the ships which arrived were French. Cornwallis, with 6,000 men, was blockaded by 9,000 Americans under Washington and 6,000 French under Rochambeau. Heavy bombardment during the first two weeks of October did great damage to Cornwallis's defences and ammunition began to run low. A rescue operation from New York took too long to get started and arrived too late. On 19 October, the British surrendered with full honours of war, marching out to the tune ‘The World Turned Upside Down’, when ‘cats should be chased into holes by the mouse’. Back in England, North received the news like a man taking a ball in the chest: ‘oh God, it is all over’, he exclaimed.

J. A. Cannon

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