Rare printed view of Cornwallis' Surrender At Yorktown
Interesting (but largely imaginary) perspective view of Yorktown surrender, with many massed troops and mounted officers on plain at left, warships close to shore at right.
The view is intended to illustrate Lord Cornwallis's surrender to George Washington at Yorktown. The title translates as follows:
Surrender of the English Army Commanded by Mylord Count of Cornwallis to Combined Armies of the United States of America and France by the orders of Generals Washington and Rochambeau to York Town and Glocester in Virginia, October 19, 1781.
There are very view contemporary views of the Siege and Surrender at Yorktown. For obvious reasons, the British did not create any contemporary broadsides commemorating this monumental loss. As such, it was left to the Americans and French to create contemporary views, of which this is perhaps the only large format view intended to capture a birdseye view of the site of the surrender on October 19, 1781.
The key locates the following positions:
- The American Army is shown at the top, in red
- French Troops in Blue
- The English are shown marching out of Yorktown (C)
- Comte De Grace and the French Fleet in the foreground at the right.
- The Weapons surrendered by the British are in the center, in yellow.
Yorktown Siege & Surrender of Cornwallis
By May, 1781, Virginia had become the main theater of War in America. The small allied force under the Marquis de Lafayette was no match for the combined British armies commanded by Lord Conwallis and Benedict Arnold. Much of eastern Virginia, particularly the country along the James was ravaged. In June, Cornwallis moved towards Williamsburg and Yorktown with instructions to establish a post at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. He was closely shadowed by Lafayette at a distance of about twenty miles to the north.
In August, General Washington, then positioned on the Hudson River, received word that the French Admiral Comte de Grasse had left the West Indies with a fleet of twenty-eight ships of the line, six frigates, and three thousand troops bound for the Chesapeake Bay. Washington and the French Commander, Rochambeau, abandoned their plan to attack New York and marched their troops to Virginia. De Grasse arrived at the Chesapeake on August 26th, disembarked his troops and blockaded the entrance to the bay.
The British Navy, led by Admiral Graves, arrived in Virginia in early September. In the subsequent battle, the British fleet was heavily damaged, and withdrew to New York. By September 26th, the American army had arrived and blockaded the British Army at Yorktown. The resulting siege ended with British surrender on October 18, 1781.
The present view is very rare on the market.