Both Dusk and Dawn
October 19 is the anniversary of British General Lord Charles Cornwallis' surrender to General George Washington in 1781 to end the Battle of Yorktown and, effectively, the American Revolutionary War.
The Battle of Yorktown (also referred to as the Siege of Yorktown) was a pivotal event on the timeline of the United States. Cornwallis' surrender to Washington signaled the end of one era and the beginning of another; where 13 colonies became the United States of America.
A Brief Recounting of the Siege
For most of the American Revolution, British forces outnumbered American forces, but support from the French caused a quick shift in the odds. With most of the British occupying forces situated in New York and Yorktown, Washington and Comte de Rochambeau crafted a plan to make the British believe they would face an attack in New York, and to surprise and overwhelm the British at Yorktown.
A fleet of French reinforcements was sailing into Chesapeake Bay (Yorktown is situated at the mouth of the bay) so, with the subterfuge successfully in place, Washington and Rochambeau moved their troops south to surround and lay siege to Yorktown.
Surrender and Relief
Surrounded and cut off from supplies and reinforcements, it only took two days for Cornwallis to conclude that the British position was hopeless.
By the end of the confrontation, about 8,000 British soldiers were officially prisoners of war — nearly a third of the entire occupying force. British soldiers marched out and laid down their arms between the British and French forces; Cornwallis did not attend the surrender ceremony.
Which Flags Were Flown at Yorktown?
Historians rely on written accounts, notes, drawings, and paintings to determine what flags may have been flown at a specific time or event in history.
This shrouds the question of which flags may have been flown at Yorktown in perpetual mystery because, while we can safely assume which British and French flags were being flown, the United States didn't have a standardized banner yet.
As such, there are a multitude of depictions of the surrender at Yorktown with an array of different American flags in them — ranging from the incredibly rare Turnbull flag (top left) to the popular Betsy Ross flag (bottom right) to others whose history is not even known...
(if you see a flag in these images that you'd like to order a replica of, please contact us here)
Looking for Revolutionary Era Flags?
LIBERTY FLAGS, The American Wave® offers an entire collection of Historic American flags from every era of our nation's history. Each of the designs you will find here are standardized versions of the most popular historic depictions.
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Have a great day, from your friends at LIBERTY FLAGS, The American Wave®.