The Patriot Resource - American Revolution


Battle of Yorktown
Battle of Yorktown


French and British Armies at Yorktown
Lt. General Comte de Rochambeau was comprised of four 900-man regiments that had come from Newport, Rhode Island and three 1000-man regiments that Admiral de Grasse had brought from the West Indies for a total of 6600 infantry. He also had 600 artillerymen, 600 horse and foot from Lauzun's Legion and 600 marines for operations against Gloucester. British Lt. General Charles Cornwallis had the 1,500 men that had been with him in the Carolinas, which included infantry under Brig. General Charles O'Hara and Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton's British Legion. His remaining troops and come south with Benedict Arnold and Maj. General William Phillips, which numbered about 5,500 men. They included the Queen's Rangers commanded by Lt. Colonel John Simcoe, Captain John Ewald's Jäger Company, 200 artillerymen and 800 marines.


The Allied Army Arrives and Action At Gloucester: September-October 1781
As late as September 5, 1781, General Cornwallis still had a chance to retreat to Richmond and then south back into the Carolinas, but Cornwallis did little more than probe the Marquis de Lafayette's blocking forces. He was still expecting Lt. General Henry Clinton to send his reinforcements, so he was content to continue to fortify his positions at Yorktown and Gloucester. On September 28, the combined Continental and French allied force left Williamsburg, Virginia at around 5:00 A.M. and moved to with a mile of Cornwallis' Yorktown defenses by dark. On the British right, Lt. Colonel Robert Abercromby withdrew as the French Wing adavnced there, while Lt. Colonel Tarleton withdrew as the American Wing moved to the southeast of Yorktown.

On September 29, General Washington inspected the British position while the army continued to surround Yorktown. Artillery and siege equipment and stores were also brought to the front. On September 30, the allies discovered that the British had abandoned three outposts that had covered the southwest approach to Yorktown. General Cornwallis had chosen to withdraw from those positions to maximize defenses with his limited forces after he had received word from General Clinton that a relief fleet would be departing New York on October 5.

Across the York River at Gloucester, Virginia, General George Weedon and his 1,500 Virginia militia had been opposing the British garrison commanded by Lt. Colonel Thomas Dundas. On September 28, 1781, Weedon was reinforced by 600 men of the French Lauzun's Legion. On October 1, General de Choisy assumed allied command of these operations while 800 marines were detached to Gloucester as well. On October 2, Lt. Colonel Tarleton's British Legion arrived to support Dundas bringing the British garrison's strength to nearly 1,000 men.

On October 3, 1781, Lt. Colonel Dundas was returning to camp after leading a foraging expedition when General de Choisy pushed forward. Dragoons from Lauzun's Legion formed an advance for de Choisy, while Lt. Colonel Tarleton's cavarly formed a rear screen for the British. Tarleton was nearly captured by Lauzun when he was pinned under his horse, but some of his men rode in and saved him. Tarleton reassembled his men, but John Mercer held the allied line and Tarleton withdrew. He would not see any more action on the American continent. For the remainder of the campaign, Choisy kept the British garrison at Gloucester pinned.








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