Today in History, October 19, 1781

cornwallis-surrender-combo-czThe British surrender to George Washington at Yorktown!

On this day in 1781, British General Lord Charles Cornwallis surrendered to American General George Washington, bringing an end to the Siege of Yorktown and effectively ending the American Revolution. Negotiations for that surrender had begun after Cornwallis first raised a white flag of surrender two days earlier, on October 17.

Americans had won an impossible victory!

They had been fighting for 6.5 long years—ever since the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775. Their revolution was fought against a very powerful British military. Often, the Americans had survived on sheer guts and perseverance. They lacked funds. They lacked military supplies. They suffered through long, cold winters. They lost soldiers to small pox. Sometimes, even their basic needs—food, shoes and clothes—went unmet.

Through it all, Washington held the army together. Yes, he made strategic errors, and he has been criticized for it. There are undoubtedly military leaders with better qualifications or better tactical skills. However, few men could have done what Washington did as a leader. Washington held his army together, through all their difficulties, through sheer strength of will. His men loved, revered, and trusted him. For Americans, he was the right man in the right place at the right time.

Washington himself viewed the victory as a miracle. The day after Cornwallis’s surrender, he issued the following general orders to his troops:

“Divine Service is to be performed tomorrow in the several Brigades or Divisions. The Commander in Chief earnestly recommends that the troops not on duty should universally attend with that seriousness of Deportment and gratitude of Heart which the recognition of such reiterated and astonishing interpositions of Providence demand of us.”

Today, then, is the anniversary of a miracle. Let’s celebrate and defend the freedom that was achieved for us that day. is a good historical resource. I recommend it highly!



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10 Responses to Today in History, October 19, 1781

  1. czarowniczy says:

    On this day in history we are less than three weeks away from seeing all of the past patriots’ efforts possibly being trashed.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. nyetneetot says:

    And again, not every colonist supported the revolution. There were even colony brigades against Washington.

    Liked by 1 person

    • stella says:

      I suppose people then were pretty much the way they are now – they have differing opinions based on their circumstances.

      I have several ancestors who fought on the side of the crown. It was a matter of what side their bread was buttered on.

      Liked by 1 person

      • nyetneetot says:

        I’m reading the newspapers from the years leading up to the civil war. The country was as divided ideologically then as now. The North vs. South division was due to economics of the regions. From what I’m reading, the Northern people were more progressive and the considered the Southern people barbarian savages. The Southerners seemed to be more focused on rule of law and astounded that the Northern people wouldn’t follow due process. Any of this sound familiar?


        • stella says:

          I doubt that it was that cut and dried. Slavery wasn’t ever used in the North, and farmers (like my great grandfather) probably couldn’t imagine owning another human being. I’m projecting here, but none of these people could have been described as progressive – maybe more religious.

          My GGF and his brother fought in the Michigan infantry, although in my GGF’s case, I’m sure it wasn’t particularly voluntary.

          Liked by 1 person

          • nyetneetot says:

            I’m sorry stella, I wasn’t trying to hijack your post. I digressed in my response again.


          • nyetneetot says:

            Yes, I was over simplifying just because it was a drive by post originally.
            Actually limited slavery was used in the North until after the conflict ended, but I get the feeling you’re referring to the old Northwest where slavery was illegal. And responding to your post bellow, it seems more like slavery became a rally cry rather than the cause. The Northern business interests saw slavery as unfair competition for their manufacturing, but the for Southern agriculture based economies the cost Northern goods and tariffs were too high. Several other issues were at play at the time increasing the rift between sides. So while slavery was involved, it alone wasn’t the cause.

            The founding fathers had tried to end slavery from the very beginning of the country, but thanks to S. Carolina (where my family had been since 1730 and owned slaves) the practice continued after American Revolution.

            Slavery was not allowed in the new territories which kept any business using it from expanding into those markets. In fact territories like Oregon in the 1840’s didn’t allow blacks at all in them. If I recall correctly one of the first settlers to what became Seattle was a black man specifically because he was chased out of Oregon.

            I keep getting interrupted, so here, read that 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

        • stella says:

          The Southerners seemed to be more focused on rule of law

          Probably more a case of wanting to do things the way they always had. Yes, I believe it was more of an economic consideration rather than constitutional one. Besides, slavery was a huge issue in the mid 1800’s in the Americas and in Europe, and the extension of slavery into new states was a sticking point, to put it mildly.

          Liked by 1 person

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