The war is over! We are free! If you haven’t heard yet, General Washington’s troops beat Lord Cornwallis’s British army last week on October 19 (1781)! We can hardly believe that we are finally, after years of suffering, our own country, free of England.
On September 28, General Washington, commanding a force of 17,000 Continental and French troops, began the siege against Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. Just a few days earlier, in a stroke of luck for us Patriots, the French navy left St. Domingue (an island colonized by the French) for the Chesapeake Bay. That happened to be the same location where Cornwallis chose to set up base. Washington realized this was his chance to settle the war, once and for all.
He ordered 5,000 American and French troops to block off the British’s escape from land, while the French navy would block off their escape by sea. By the end of the day on September 28, the whole city of Yorktown was circled by Washington’s army.
Cornwallis was outnumber 2 to 1, and his last hope was that the promised 5,000 extra men would come in from New York. He ordered his men to the line of defense, not offense. On the night of October 5, Washington ordered his men to construct the first siege line of the battle. On October 7, Washington personally fired the first gun of the battle.
After three weeks of non-stop battles, Cornwallis surrendered to Washington on the field of Yorktown, on October 17, finally ending the War for Independence.
By the end of the battle, there were 500 British casualties, 80 American casualties, and 200 French.
Although we aren’t formally recognized as an independent country yet, this Patriot victory has ended the fighting. We’re on our way to being, not English people, but American people.