Surveys by Year: 1781
Declaration of Independence


In the North, General George Washington was again wintering in Morristown, Pennsylvania. He had to deal with the yearly mutinies, which had grew worse each year. Lt. General Henry Clinton had tried to resign in 1780 and brooded in New York, where he watched Washington watch him. Benedict Arnold reappeared on the scene now in command of British forces raiding in Virginia and nearly captured Governor Thomas Jefferson.

In the South, Lt. General Charles Cornwallis sent Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton after Brig. General Daniel Morgan. Tarleton caught up with Morgan on January 17, 1781. Morgan thoroughly defeated Tarleton at the Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina and then joined Maj. General Nathanael Greene for a retreat to Virginia from Cornwallis' main force. Morgan himself retired to his home in February due to illness.

During the ensuing 'Race to the Dan', General Cornwallis burned his wagons and overextended his force, while General Greene escaped by crossing the swollen Dan River into Virginia on February 13. On March 1, 1781, Greene crossed back into North Carolina and began manuevering against Cornwallis. On March 15, the two armies met at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina. Cornwallis held the field, but had received greater casualties than Greene. As a result, he abandoned the Carolinas and marched for Virginia.

In May 1781, Louisiana's Spanish Governor, Don Bernardo de Gálvez, concluded his successful campaign in West Florida when he captured Fort George in Pensacola. General Washington came out of winter quarters and began planning joint actions with the French Army and trying to get the French Navy to assist with naval operations. His attention turned to General Cornwallis, who had built fortifications at Yorktown, Virginia after maneuvering in Virginia against Maquis de Lafayette from May to July.

In September, General Washington finally received word that the French Naval Fleet would soon arrive. The French marched in from Newport, Rhode Island and the two armies slipped away from New York without General Clinton's knowledge. During the first two weeks of September, the French and British Fleets fought for control of Chesapeake Bay. The French won and General Cornwallis was trapped when Washington's combined force arrived on September 28. Official siege operations began on October 6 and Cornwallis surrendered on October 19, 1781, ending the Battle of Yorktown. The Revolutionary War was now virtually over.







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