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Yorktown Virginia History

Yorktown, called York until after the Revolutionary War, was established in 1691 as a port for shipping tobacco to Europe.

In 1750 at the peak of its success, Yorktown was made up of approximately 250 to 300 buildings with bustling docks and taverns and shops that were located throughout the town.

In 1781, the sixth year of the American Revolution, the British General, Lord Charles Cornwallis, brought his troops to Yorktown after two defeats in South Carolina.

Cornwallis entrenched his army at Yorktown and at Gloucester Point, located across the York River. Nearby, French and colonist troops combined and watched Cornwallis’s movements and carefully planned their attack.

By the end of September, more than 17,000 troops surrounded Cornwallis’s 8,000. Cornwallis could not escape or receive reinforcements. The siege on Yorktown began, ending in Cornwallis’s surrender on October 19, 1781.

This was the last major battle of the revolution and it officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.