"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 19th - Happy Yorktown Day

The Americans storming the redoubts on 14th October 1781
during the Battle of Yorktown.

October 19, 1781  -  The British surrender to General George Washington at Yorktown

Happy Yorktown Day Everyone. 

Oh, that's right.  Today a nation was born, but no one celebrates what is perhaps the most important day in the history of the United States.  There isn't even a phony, pretend made-up three day weekend for people to get drunk at a BBQ or go to a casino.

Modern Americans appear to neither know about their own heritage nor care.

But here at The Federalist blog I sit at my laptop and raise my glass of gin and tonic to our brave troops who kicked British imperialist ass so long ago.

The Battle of Yorktown took place from September 28 to October 19, 1781.  The battle was a decisive victory by a combined force of American Continental Army troops led by General George Washington and French Army troops led by the Comte de Rochambeau over a British Army commanded by Lieutenant General Lord Cornwallis.

The culmination of the Yorktown campaign, it proved to be the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War in North America, as the surrender by Cornwallis of his army prompted the British government to negotiate an end to the conflict.

American Continental troops capture British guns

In 1780, 5,500 French soldiers landed in Rhode Island to assist their American allies in operations against British-controlled New York City. Following the arrival of dispatches from France that included the possibility of support from the French West Indies fleet of the Comte de Grasse, Washington and Rochambeau decided to ask de Grasse for assistance either in besieging New York, or in military operations against a British army operating in Virginia.

On the advice of Rochambeau, de Grasse informed them of his intent to sail to the Chesapeake Bay, where Cornwallis had taken command of the army. Cornwallis, at first given confusing orders by his superior officer, Henry Clinton, was eventually ordered to make a defensible deep-water port, which he began to do at Yorktown, Virginia. Cornwallis's movements in Virginia were shadowed by a Continental Army force led by the Marquis de Lafayette.

America's Final Victory - 1781


Washington firing the first shot at Yorktown.
The French and American armies united north of New York City during the summer of 1781. When word of de Grasse's decision arrived, the combined armies began moving south toward Virginia, engaging in tactics of deception to lead the British to believe a siege of New York was planned.
De Grasse sailed from the West Indies and arrived at the Chesapeake Bay at the end of August, bringing additional troops and providing a naval blockade of Yorktown. He was transporting 500,000 silver pesos collected from the citizens of Havana, Cuba, to fund supplies for the siege and payroll for the Continental Army
The troops engaged at Yorktown.
French: 10,800 regular.
29 war ships
22,000 Sailors

American: 8,845 regulars
3,100 militia

Britain: 9,000 (includes German troops)
In the beginning of September, he defeated a British fleet led by Sir Thomas Graves that came to relieve Cornwallis at the Battle of the Chesapeake. As a result of this victory, de Grasse blocked any escape by sea for Cornwallis. By late September Washington and Rochambeau arrived, and the army and naval forces completely surrounded Cornwallis.
After initial preparations, the Americans and French built their first parallel and began the bombardment. With the British defense weakened, Washington on October 14, 1781 sent two columns to attack the last major remaining British outer defenses. A French column took redoubt #9 and an American column redoubt #10. With these defenses taken, the allies were able to finish their second parallel.
With the American artillery closer and more intense than ever, the British situation began to deteriorate rapidly and Cornwallis asked for capitulation terms on the 17th. After two days of negotiation, the surrender ceremony took place on the 19th; Lord Cornwallis, claiming to be ill, was absent from the ceremony. With the capture of over 7,000 British soldiers, negotiations between the United States and Great Britain began, resulting in the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
At Yorktown.

General George Washington reviews the captured British
army at the Battle of Yorktown.

American troops storming the redoubt

General Washington at Yorktown

The new portrait of George Washington by Igor Babailov
It is based precisely on the original sculptured likeness, transforming it into a painting. The artist’s portrait research and references also included Houdon's preliminary sculpture studies: the Washington's bust and the life mask at Mount Vernon, Virginia.
"It is right that people in later generations could see my exact likeness"
George Washington
(About Houdon's sculpture)


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