What was the last battle of the American Revolution?

The American Revolution led to the ultimate freedom of the American colonies from the British rule that started on April 19, 1775. The battles of Lexington and Concord were the two battles that first erupted after a long period of conflicts and occasional violence.

In 1781 America gained victory over the British after a war that lasted seven years. The war at Yorktown, Virginia, marked the end of the revolution while fighting continued into the fall of 1783.

On September 3, 1783, representatives of King George III from Britain and the United States signed the Treaty of Paris, formally ending the conflict. 

The Combat of Yorktown, fought in October of 1781, was the American Revolution‘s final battle. 

Where did the American Revolution’s final fight take place?

General Lord Cornwallis surrendered his sword and troops to General George Washington and the Continental and French armies following the Revolutionary War’s decisive battle in Yorktown, Virginia, on October 19, 1781.

What was the American Revolution’s final war?

The siege of Yorktown, known as the Battle of Yorktown, the Yorktown capitulation, or the German conflict, took place in Yorktown, Virginia, from September 28, 1781, to October 19, 1781. It was the last battle of the American Revolution.

Siege of Yorktown

A plan of the Battle of Yorktown drawn in 1875
A plan of the Battle of Yorktown drawn in 1875

The siege of Yorktown, the last battle of the American Revolution, began on the 28th of September 1781, in Yorktown, Virginia, and ended on the 19th of October 1781.

Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis commanded the British army, General George led the American Continental Army forces, and Comte de Rochambeau led the French Army troops.

In 1780, around 5,500 French soldiers came to assist the Americans in Rhode Island. In the summer of 1781, north of New York City and further advanced towards Virginia in the south, deceiving the British into thinking a siege of New York was intended.

At the Battle of the Chesapeake, De Grasse destroyed a British fleet led by Sir Thomas Graves in early September, who had joined to help Cornwallis. This victory resulted in hindrance in receiving reinforcements or fleeing by sea. 

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By late September, Washington and Rochambeau had arrived, and the army and navy had encircled Cornwallis entirely.

On October 19, the surrender ceremony took place with the capture of over 7,000 British soldiers. Soon after, the Treaty of Paris of 1783 was formed between the US and the UK.

Initial movements

Rochambeau and Washington giving their last orders before the battle
Rochambeau and Washington gave their last orders before the battle

Washington had the leadership of an army of 7,800 Frenchmen, 3,100 militaries, and 8,000 Continentals on the 26th of September. While on the 28th of September, he led the troops out of Williamsburg to encircle Yorktown. 

The left position was occupied by the French likewise the right position was occupied by the Americans.

As Washington drew his forces closer to Yorktown on September 29, the British started firing, and after a series of redoubts, Cornwallis finally withdrew from his outer defenses. The abandoned defenses were seized by the Americans and the French and gained control.

The French were defeated as they attacked the British on September 30. After a troop led by Marquis de Choisy set out, the British retreated.


Washington firing the first gun
Washington firing the first gun

The French were instructed to distract the British, on the 6th of October, with a false attack as the Americans constructed a trench. However, the British came to know about this plan and directed their fire at the French.

The British noticed the trench, but by then, the Americans had all their guns adequately placed, making the British cease fire.

On the 9th of October, the French guns started an open fire, forcing the British to rush to cross the York River to avoid capture.

Washington ordered that the cannons be fired continuously throughout the night to prevent the British from making repairs, making the guns silent.

The French opened fire on the British ships, hitting the British HMS Charon, which caught fire and set fire to two or three more ships.

The British fire continued throughout the night, and Cornwallis had no idea the Americans across the river were digging a new parallel. The allied soldiers were on the new line by the morning of the 12th.

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Assault on the redoubts 

Storming of Redoubt
Storming of Redoubt

According to Washington’s plan, the French would launch a distracting attack on the British, then assault redoubt nine and the Americans’ redoubt ten half an hour later.

Redoubt 9 would be attacked by 400 French regular soldiers, while redoubt ten would be attacked by 400 light infantry forces. 

The diversionary attack began around 6:30 p.m. with gunfire. Movements in other parts of the line made the British fear the Americans were preparing for an attack on Yorktown.

The Americans began redoubt No. 10, and Hamilton despatched Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens to the rear of the redoubt to prevent the British from leaving. 

With their axes in hand, the Americans arrived at the redoubt and began hacking away at the British wooden walls.

The British then opened fire on the Americans, and the Americans retaliated by assaulting the redoubt with their bayonets. They chopped their way through the ends, across a ditch, and climbed the redoubt’s walls.

After capturing redoubts nine and ten, Washington fired from three directions at the town while the allies put some cannons into the redoubts.

On October 16, more guns were added to the American side, and the fire became more intense. Out of desperation, Cornwallis transferred his forces across the York River to Gloucester Point to escape Virginia and march to New York.

The first wave of boats made it through, but a storm hit as they returned to pick up additional men, making the evacuation impossible.

British surrender

Surrender of Cornwallis. at Yorktown
Surrender of Cornwallis. at Yorktown

Cornwallis explained to his commanders that they were in a hopeless situation as forces kept adding on the American side and firing kept getting intense. They waved a white handkerchief on October 17, and the bombardment stopped, followed by leading the blindfolded officer behind the French and American lines. 

On October 18, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Dundas and Major Alexander Ross (representing the British) and Lieutenant Colonel Laurens (representing the Americans), and Marquis de Noailles (who represented the French) went into the negotiation at the Moore House.

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The British had requested their soldiers to march out with flags flying, bayonets drawn, and a band playing American or French music to tribute to the victorious, but Washington refused to claim the British had denied the defeated American troops at the siege of Charleston the year before.

When Lincoln accepted Cornwallis’ deputy’s sword, the surrender was complete.

After the surrender, the American and French officers hosted a supper for the British officers. 

After the war

Overview of the capitulation of the British army at Yorktown, with the blockade of the French squadron
Overview of the capitulation of the British army at Yorktown, with the blockade of the French squadron

After the surrender, the American and French officers hosted a supper for the British officers. 

The British officers were “overwhelmed” by their former adversaries’ courtesy shown to them.

The British navy dispatched by Clinton to rescue the British forces arrived five days after the fight ended, on October 24, 1781.

Washington dispatched Tench Tilghman to Congress to proclaim the triumph following the British capitulation.

Washington transferred his army to New Windsor, New York, where they remained until the Treaty of Paris, which effectively ended the war, was signed on September 3, 1783.

The Yorktown Campaign was decisive; there was no vital combat or campaign on the North American mainland after the Battle of Yorktown, and “the British Parliament had consented to terminate hostilities” in March 1782. However, the peace treaty was not signed for another two years.


The American Revolution resulted in the formation of the United States of America by the Americans in the Thirteen Colonies after winning victory over the British with the first constitutional liberal democracy.

The conflict was fought mainly in New York, New Jersey, and South Carolina, with over 200 skirmishes and battles in these three provinces. 

However, battles were fought in all thirteen original colonies and the modern-day states of Tennessee, Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Alabama, and Florida.

After the defeat, General Lord Cornwallis surrendered his sword and troops to General George Washington and the Continental and French armies.

The last decisive battle of the Revolutionary War occurred in Yorktown, Virginia, on October 19, 1781, where the American and French troops gained victory over the British Crown.

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