As Cornwallis moved north, his troops were demoralized and weakened. By the time he reached the Virginia village of Yorktown, England's second-in-command had made a series of blunders.

General Washington, meanwhile, was coordinating his scattered land and sea forces. With American infantry and artillery, French naval power and land forces, Washington surrounded the Redcoats and laid siege for twenty days. When the battle at Yorktown was fought, it would be the last of the war. (Follow this link to a terrific U.S. Military Academy annotated map explaining the siege and the battle.) By October 17, 1781, Cornwallis sent a message to Washington:

I propose a cessation of hostilities for twenty-four hours, and that two officers may be appointed by each side, to meet at Mr. Moore's house, to settle terms for the surrender of the posts of York and Gloucester.

Washington agreed:

An ardent desire to spare the further effusion of Blood, will readily incline me to listen to such terms for the surrender of your Posts of York and Gloucester, as are admissible.

By the next day, October 18, 1781, Cornwallis was ready to talk about complete capitulation:

I agree to open a treaty of capitulation upon the basis of the garrisons of York and Gloucester...

Washington proposed the terms of surrender and gave Cornwallis two hours to accept. If the British rejected, the battle would resume. Cornwallis agreed to the terms.

Although the Treaty of Paris, formally ending the war, would not be signed for two more years, the fighting stopped. (Follow the links to view the original signatures, seals and treaty negotiating map.) The United Colonies would soon become the United States of America.

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
3 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jun 01, 2000

Updated Last Revision: Feb 03, 2018

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"CORNWALLIS SURRENDERS" AwesomeStories.com. Jun 01, 2000. Nov 21, 2018.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips