What foreign troops were involved in defeating British forces at Yorktown The answer might surprise you. France sent 6,000 troops under Comte de Rochembeau to Newport, Rhode Island, in summer 1780. This was just a few days after the British had been engaged on two fronts. General Henry Clinton, who had just seized New York City, was commanding British forces. General Charles Cornwallis had already seized Charleston and Savannah.
In the summer of 1782, Britain had 30,000 men in North America. The British were occupying seaports in Charles Town, Savannah, and New York. Their numbers began to decline in Yorktown and they started to lose their will to fight the rebels. The victory at Yorktown marked the end of the Revolutionary War. It was officially ended by the signing of the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783.
The British were resting and refitting their army while the American and French forces occupied the main battle zone. By that time, General George Washington’s Continental Army was almost twenty-thousand strong, and was reinforced by several thousand French troops under the command of Comte de Rochambeau. These troops arrived in Yorktown on September 28th and began to attack Cornwallis’ army.
The British took Savannah, Georgia’s capital, in 1779. However, this was a huge mistake. In 1780, the British had hoped to gain a decisive advantage by bringing southern slaves into British hands. By the end of the war, the southern colonies were subject to a brutal civil war, and the British were able to defeat them only by surrendering Cornwallis to American forces.
Another important contribution of foreign troops during the war was the assistance of the French. A naval unit led by Admiral de Grasse fought alongside the American forces, while Washington’s army was stationed near New York City during the French and Indian War. He had marched his troops over three hundred miles southward to Yorktown and staged a series fake military maneuvers to get the British off guard. After the British forces were defeated at Yorktown, the British Parliament voted to end military operations against the rebels and begin peace negotiations. General Cornwallis’ surrender was the last battle of the war, and the British military forces began withdrawing from the former American colonies in 1782. As soon as hostilities ended, George Washington resigned as commander-in-chief.
Although the British forces were defeated at Yorktown by the British, many foreign troops were present at battle. French officers played a key role in the officer corps, helping to transform the Continental Army into a mean fighting force. Marquis de Lafayette served as a diplomatic link with France and brought much-needed funds. He also lobbied for French entry into the war. British forces were forced to concentrate their attention on the Caribbean after the French entered the war.
Although Cornwallis’s southern strategy was successful, it failed at Yorktown. The British moved their military theater to the southern colonies, where they gathered Indian and Loyalist troops. This strategy allowed the British take Charleston and other cities. The British, however, accepted an agreement to recognize American independence east the Mississippi River, end war and make the United States a sovereign nation.