In the Thirteen Colonies, the war between the American Continental Army and the British army intensified in 1780. By the summer of 1781, the American forces, commanded by General George Washington, were slowly pushing the British armies eastward. By September, the main British army under General Cornwallis had constructed strong defensive positions at Yorktown, Virginia.

Washington commanded 9,500 troops. Some 7,800 French soldiers under the command of General Rochambeau (France had declared war on Britain on 17 June 1778) joined him. Cornwallis, having only 8,000 troops under his command, desperately waited for a fleet bringing reinforcements from England. Unfortunately for the British, however, a French fleet led by Admiral François de Grasse was the first to appear at Yorktown. Faced with encirclement and with no hope of reinforcements, Cornwallis surrendered to General Washington on 19 October 1781. Although peace would not be negotiated until 1783, the American Revolution was effectively over.


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