Edward Percy Moran, Surrender of Cornwallis
to Washington at Yorktown. Oil on Canvas, ca. 1890 - 1910, signed lower
left, 30 x 40 inches, Click on picture for larger view. - - Painting Courtesy
of Seth Kaller
A Stanley L. Klos Education Project
Rebels With A Vision
Historical Documents of
By: Stanley L. Klos
Yorktown, Virginia founded in 1691, was a busy 18th-century tobacco port but the town is best remembered as the site of the Battle of Yorktown, which effectively ended the Revolutionary War. Nine 18th-century buildings survived the 1781 Battle of Yorktown and can still be seen.
In the late summer of 1781 when George Washington and Rochambeau heard of
Lord Cornwallis' encampment in Yorktown they raced southward from New York
to link up with the French fleet under Admiral Comte de Grasse in Chesapeake
Bay. Washington arrived just in time to bottle-up the British, who were
anticipating reinforcements that never came from either General Henry Clinton or
the British fleet.
Off shore, the French fleet effectively blocked aid from Cornwallis while
Washington made life unbearable for the British troops with three weeks of
shelling. Thomas Nelson a signer of the Declaration of
Independence was also engaged in the final siege of Yorktown. Nelson
being a true patriot, urged General Washington to fire on his own home, the
Nelson House, where Cornwallis had his headquarters.
Lord Cornwallis' finally surrendered on October
19, 1781 and this ended the disastrous British southern campaign.
The loyalist and Patriot forces in the south had fought a series of savage
fights that left both sides bloodied. These engagements sent Cornwallis limping
into Yorktown in late summer trailed by a force led by the Marquis de
Lafayette a French Ally. Cornwallis attempted to surrender over 8,000 men to the
French through his second-in-command, Charles O'Hara. French
General Comte de Rochambeau, however, directed O'Hara to George Washington, who
steered the British officer to his own second in command, Major General Benjamin
Lincoln. .The surrender occurred while the British band played The World
Turned Upside Down, a tune that underscored the strange turn of events.
This battle effectively ended the Revolutionary War with Great Britain.
ARTICLES of CAPITULATION
Settled between his Excellency General WASHINGTON, Commander in Chief of the
combined Forces of America and France; his Excellency the Count de ROCHAMBEAU,
Lieut. General of the armies of the King of France, Great Cross of the Royal and
Military Order of St. Louis, commanding the auxiliary Troops of His Most
Christian Majesty in America; and his Excellency the Count de GRASSE, Lieut.
General of the naval Armies of His Most Christian Majesty, Commander of the
Order of St. Louis, commanding in chief the naval Army of France in the
Chesapeake, on the one Part
The Right Hon. Earl CORNWALLIS, Lieut. General of his
Britannic Majesty Forces, commanding the Garrisons of York and Gloucester; and
THOMAS SYMONDS, Esq; commanding his Britannic Majesty naval Forces in York river
in Virginia, on the other part.
ARTICLE I. The garrisons of York
and Gloucester, including the officers and seamen of his Britannic Majesty
ships, as well as other mariners, to surrender themselves prisoners of war to
the combined forces of America and France. The land troops to remain prisoners
to the United States: The navy to the naval army of his Most Christian Majesty.
ART. II. The artillery, arms, accoutrements,
military chest, and public stores, of every denomination, shall be delivered
unimpaired, to the heads of departments, appointed to receive them. Granted.
ARTICLE III. At 12 o’clock this day the two
redoubts on the let flank of York to be delivered, the one to a detachment of
American Infantry, the other to a detachment of French Grenadiers --- The
garrison of York will match out to a place to be appointed, in front of the
posts, at two precisely, with shouldered arms, colors cased and drums beating a
British or German march --- they are then to ground their arms and return to
their encampment, where they will remain until they are dispatched to the place
of their destination --- Two works on the Gloucester side, will be delivered at
one to detachments of French and American troops appointed to possess them ---
The garrison will march out at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the cavalry with
their swords drawn, trumpets sounding, and the infantry in the manner prescribed
for the garrison of York --- They are likewise to return to their encampment
until they can be finally marched off. Granted.
ARTICLE IV. Officers are to retain their side
arms --- both officers and soldiers to keep their private property of every
kind, and no part of their baggage or papers to be at any time subject to search
or inspection --- The baggage and papers of officers and soldiers taken during
the siege to be likewise preserved for them --- It is understood that any
property obviously belonging to the inhabitants of these States, in the
possession of the garrison, shall be subject to be reclaimed. Granted.
ARTICLE V. The soldiers to be kept in Virginia,
Maryland or Pennsylvania, and as much by regiments as possible, and supplied
with the same rations of provisions as are allowed to soldiers in the service of
America: A field officer from each nation, viz. British, Anspach and Hessian,
and other officers on parole, in proportion of one to fifty men, to be allowed
to reside near their respective regiments, to visit them frequently and be
witnesses of their treatment --- and that these officers may receive and deliver
clothing and other necessaries for them, for which passports are to be granted
when applied for. Granted.
ARTICLE VI. The General --- Staff and other
officers, not employed as mentioned in the above article, and who chose it, to
be permitted to go on parole to Europe, to New York, or to any other American
maritime ports at present in the possession of the British forces, at their own
option; and proper vessels to be granted by the Count de Grasse, to carry them,
under flags of truce, to New York within ten days from this date, if possible,
and they to reside in a district to be agreed upon hereafter, till they embark.
The officers of the civil department of the army and navy to be included in this
article. Passports to go by land to be granted to those to whom vessels cannot
be furnished. Granted.
ARTICLE VII. Officers to be allowed to keep
soldiers as servants, according to the common practice of the army --- Servants,
not soldiers, are not t be considered as prisoners, and are to be allowed to
attend their masters. --- Granted. ART. VIII. The Bonetta sloop of war to be
equipped and navigated by its present Captain and crew, and left entirely at the
disposal of Lord Cornwallis, from the hour that the capitulation is signed, to
receive an Aid de Camp to carry dispatches to Sir Henry Clinton, and such
soldiers as he may think proper to send to New York, to be permitted to said
without examination, when his dispatches are ready. --- His Lordship engaging on
his part, that the ship shall be delivered to the order of the Count de Grasse,
if she escapes the dangers of the seas --- that she shall not carry off any
public stores --- any part of the crew that may be deficient on her return and
the soldiers, passengers, to be accounted for on her delivery. Granted. ART. IX.
The traders are to preserve their property, and to be allowed three months to
dispose of or remove them --- and those traders are to be considered as
prisoners of war.
ANSWER. The traders will be allowed to dispose of their effects --- the allied
army having the right of pre-emption. The traders to be considered as prisoners
of war on parole.
ARTICLE X. Natives or
inhabitants of different parts of this country, at present in York and
Gloucester, are not to be punished on account of having joined the British army.
ANSWER This article cannot be assented to, being altogether of civil
ARTICLE XI. Proper
hospitals to be furnished for the sick and wounded - they are to be attended by
their own surgeons on parole, and they are to be furnished with medicines and
stores from the American hospitals.
ANSWER The hospital stores now in York and Gloucester shall be delivered for the
use of the British sick and wounded. Passports will be granted for procuring
them further supplies from New York, as occasion may require, and proper
hospitals will be furnished for the reception of the sick and wounded of the two
ARTICLE XII. Wagons to be furnished to carry the
baggage of the offices attending the soldiers, and the surgeons when traveling
on account of the sick, attending the hospitals, at the public expense.
ANSWER They will be furnished if possible.
ARTICLE XIII. The shipping and boats in the two
harbors, with all their stores, guns, tackling and apparel shall be delivered up
in their present state to an officer of the navy appointed to take possession of
them, previously unloading the private property, part of which had been on board
for security during the siege. Granted.
ARTICLE XIV. No article of the capitulation to be
infringed, on pretext of reprisal, and if there be any doubtful expressions in
it, they are to be interpreted according to the common meaning and acceptation
of the words. Granted.
Done at York, in Virginia, this 19th day of October, 1781.