Action of 21 July 1781
The Action of 21 July 1781 was a naval skirmish off the harbor of Spanish River, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, during the American Revolution. Two French Navy frigates, led by Admiral Latouche Tréville and La Pérouse, engaged a convoy of 18 British ships and their escorts from the Royal Navy; the two French frigates captured two of the British escorts while the remainder of the British convoy escaped. The convoy, which consisted of eighteen ships, including nine coal-transporting and four supply ships, was bound for Spanish River on Cape Breton Island to pick up coal for delivery to Halifax; the escorting ships were the frigate Charlestown. A possible motive for the French attack was to make advances to reclaim Louisburg, a strategic fortress which the British had seized during the French and Indian War. Two French frigates Astrée, commanded by La Pérouse, Hermione, commanded by Latouche Tréville, attacked the convoy; the French damaged Charlestown, which lost its mainmast and a number of its officers, including Captain Francis Evans.
The French significantly damaged Jack, which lost its captain, subsequently struck her colors. The engagement ended at nightfall. Captain Rupert George of Vulture led the damaged escorts into a safe harbor. Six French and seventeen British sailors were killed. While the British escort was damaged, the convoy was still able to pick up a load of coal at Spanish River and deliver it to Halifax; the French captured the British ship Thorn off Halifax Harbor, along with three merchantmen, which they brought back to Boston. On October 6, Jack was taken to Halifax and released under the British command of R. P. Tonge, after a brief skirmish with two American privateers in Canso, took American prisoners to Quebec; the following year, the British recaptured Jack in the Naval battle off Halifax. The French commanders would go on to achieve further recognition for their performance. Latouche Tréville was named a hero of the Napoleonic war. La Pérouse became a famous explorer. American privateers attacked British mining on Cape Breton throughout the war.
American Revolution - Nova Scotia theatre American Revolution Franco-American alliance Military history of Nova Scotia
Capture of St. Lucia
The Capture of St Lucia was the result of a campaign from 18–28 December 1778 by British land and naval forces to take over the island, a French colony. Britain's actions followed the capture of the British-controlled island of Dominica by French forces in a surprise invasion in September 1778. During the Battle of St. Lucia, the British fleet defeated a French fleet sent to reinforce the island. A few days French troops were soundly defeated by British troops during the Battle of Morne de la Vierge. Realising that another British fleet would soon arrive with reinforcements, the French garrison surrendered; the remaining French troops were evacuated, the French fleet returned to Martinique, another French colony. St. Lucia stayed in the hands of the British. France formally recognized the United States on February 6, 1778, with the signing of the Treaty of Alliance. Britain declared war on France on March 17, 1778 spurring France's entry into the American Revolutionary War. On September 7, 1778, the French governor of Martinique, Marquis de Bouille, launched a surprise attack on the British-held Island of Dominica, took control of the former French colony.
On November 4, Commodore William Hotham was sent from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, to reinforce the British fleet in the West Indies. Hotham sailed with "five men of war, a bomb vessel, some frigates, a large convoy." The convoy consisted of 59 types of transport carrying 5,000 British soldiers under Major General Grant. Admiral Samuel Barrington, the British naval commander stationed on the Leeward Islands, joined the newly arrived Commodore Hotham on December 10 on the island of Barbados. Grant's men were not spent the next several days aboard their transports. Barrington and Hotham sailed for the French island of St. Lucia on the morning of December 12, with the idea of capturing it and using it as a base for monitoring French activity in the area; the French Admiral Jean Baptiste Charles Henri Hector Comte d'Estaing had sailed for the West Indies, departing from the port of Boston, Massachusetts on November 4. However the French fleet was blown off course by a violent storm, preventing it from arriving in the Caribbean ahead of the British.
Upon the British ships' arrival on December 13, Major General James Grant ordered Brigadier General William Medows to land with a force of 1,400 at Grand Cul-de-Sac. This force consisted of the flank companies from the 5th Foot, they scaled the heights on the north side of the bay and captured an abandoned gun. Brigadier-General Prescott landed shortly afterward with the 27th, 35th, 40th, 49th Regiments of Foot and guarded the bay. On December 14, Medows' group took the fort at Morne Fortune and the capital, while Prescott's force remained in support; the third force of 1600 remained with the fleet under the command of Brigadier General Sir H. Calder; the French governor, Claude-Anne Guy de Micoud, had evacuated into the jungle without a fight, allowing the British to occupy the Carénage Bay, three miles north of Cul de Sac, without losses. On 13 December Admiral Barrington received news of the imminent arrival of the French Fleet. Barrington placed his transports inside the bay, but behind his battle line which took the entire evening of 14 December.
By 1100 hours the next day, most of the transports were safely behind his line By the evening of December 14, the French fleet under d'Estaing had arrived. The Battle of St. Lucia or the Battle of the Cul de Sac was fought between the British invasion fleet and French relief fleet on December 15, 1778, for control of the Island of St. Lucia. Admiral Barrington had organised his line of battle so that Isis and his three frigates were close to shore guarding the windward approach, he placed his flagship, Prince of Wales, toward the leeward. At 1100 hours 15 December Admiral d’Estaing approached St. Lucia with ten ships of the line, was fired on by one of the shore batteries. D’Estaing moved to engage Barrington from the rear, a “warm conflict” raged between the two fleets, with the British supported by two shore batteries. D'Estaing was succeeded in reforming his line of battle. At 1600 hours d’Estaing renewed his assault by attacking Barrington’s centre with twelve ships of the line. Again heavy fire was exchanged.
On 16 December Admiral d’Estaing appeared to be preparing for a third assault against Admiral Barrington’s line, but sailed away towards the windward. On the evening of 16 December d’Estaing anchored in Gros Islet Bay with "ten frigates and twelve sail of the line, &c."Admiral d’Estaing’s failure to break Barrington’s line on 15 December was a major setback for the French in their efforts to expel the British from St. Lucia. On December 18, 1778 a force of 9,000 French troops was landed near Castries, St. Lucia to attack General Medows' smaller force of 1,400. Medows ordered his troops to entrench themselves on a hill located on the neck of the Vigie peninsula; the British force consisted of the grenadier and light infantry companies of the 4th, 5th, 15th, 27th, 28th, 35th, 40th, 46th, 55th Regiments of Foot. The French were inexperienced soldiers and were unprepared to fight against experienced,entrenched British infantry who were veterans of fighting in America, they advanced in line on the British force several times.
After the third French attack, the British commander, Brigadier General Medows, wounded, realised that ammunition was low and fearing that they would be over-run, addressed his men "Soldiers, as long as you have a bayonet to point against an enemy's breast, defend the colours." But the French did not attack a fourth time. Despite being heavily
Battle of Ushant (1782)
The Third Battle of Ushant or the Action of 20–21 April 1782 was a naval battle fought during the American Revolutionary War, between a French naval fleet of three ships of the line protecting a convoy and two British Royal naval ships of the line off Ushant, a French island at the mouth of the English Channel off the north-westernmost point of France. This was the third battle. Intelligence had been received that the French were detaching a fleet from Brest destined for the East Indies to supply the Bali de Suffren's fleet in his campaign to recapture French possessions taken by the British in support of Admiral Edward Hughes. Vice-Admiral Samuel Barrington, was sent out with a fleet consisting of twelve sail of the line and three frigates in hopes of falling in with them, sailing on 5 April from Portsmouth. On 20 April, the fleet was northeast of Ushant when the frigate HMS Artois under Captain John Macbride sent a signal after discovering the French fleet. Barrington made the signal for the 84-gun ship HMS Foudroyant in the lead under Captain John Jervis with other ships, to give chase to the French fleet.
The French convoy comprised nineteen transports and the 64-gun Actionnaire armed en flûte bound from Brest to the Île-de-France They were escorted by the 74-gun Protecteur and Pégase, the frigates Indiscrète and Andromaque. At sunset Foudroyant had got far ahead of her consorts, near enough to the French ships and made them out to be a convoy; the squadron soon afterwards separated and the largest ship, the 1,778-ton Pégase which Foudroyant was pursuing bore up. A hard squall with hazy weather, coming on about the same time Foudroyant lost sight of the fleet, about half an hour after midnight brought the chase to close action. Broadsides from Foudroyant caused significant damage and after engaging about three-quarters of an hour, Foudroyant boarded Pégase, compelled her commander Chevalier de Sillans to surrender. Out of a crew of 700 men, she had upwards of 100 wounded while the rest had surrendered. Only two or three men were wounded in Foudroyant including Jervis himself. With other ships arriving up, Pégase was taken possession of.
Her mizzen mast and fore topmast sell overboard soon after the action. In the morning of the 21st some of the squadron again joined company and with the disabled state of Pégase and the continuation of a strong gale with heavy seas induced Captain Jervis to the signal for immediate assistance; the 90-gun HMS Queen, captained by Frederick Maitland, signaled to assist the ship. As soon as the weather permitted Jervis moved the prisoners by nine o clock in the evening of the 22nd. Captain Maitland ordered Pégase and a cutter, in company make their way to England and sail towards the rest of the convoy, which he came up with in sight of a chase after fourteen hours. Queen engaged the ship protecting the convoy fired at her with a broadside, returned only with one gun and struck her colours. Maitland took possession and found her to be Actionnaire, a French ship of sixty-four guns armed en flûte and commanded by Captain de Querengal a Knight of the Order of Saint Louis, she had on board two hundred and sixty seamen and five hundred and fifty soldiers of whom nine were killed and twenty wounded, with most being captured.
At this time there were over one thousand one hundred prisoners on board Queen and Maitland attempted to chase the French ship Protecteur of seventy-four guns but decided to help in taking the rest of the convoy. Twelve of the convoy were taken. Jervis meanwhile captured four transports: Fidelité, Belonne and Duc de Chartres. Nearly half of the French convoy was captured causing severe financial losses to the French treasury. There were lower masts for four seventy-fours, with sails and rigging complete besides her own masts, which were intended for the captured HMS Hannibal off Sumatra renamed; the capture of half the convoy in addition was a huge blow to the Bali de Suffren. The British loss was minimal with only a total of five men were wounded and moderate damage to their ships. Pégase though had been damaged in her masts and yards, her mizzen mast and fore topmast sell overboard soon after the action was used in the Royal Navy and commissioned as the third rate HMS Pegase. She served as a prison ship from 1799, was used in this role until 1815 when she was broken up.
Lord Charles FitzGerald in HMS Prudente who being on his return to Spithead with his prizes, soon after he came upon a cutter off Cape Clear to which he gave chance pursuit of thirty six hours most of the time within gun he came up with and took her. She was called Le Marquis de Castries and was a French privateer pierced for twenty guns but mounting only eighteen six pounders. Vice Admiral Barrington with the ships under his command returned to Spithead on 26 April and soon after that for his services Jervis was invested as a Knight of the Bath on 19 May 1782. Allen, Battles of the British navy, Volume 2. London, H. G. Bohn, 1852 Demerliac, Alain La Marine De Louis XVI: Nomenclature Des Navires Français De 1774 À 1792.. ISBN 2-906381-23-3 Lavery, Brian The Ship of the Line – Volume 1: The development of t
Great Siege of Gibraltar
The Great Siege of Gibraltar was an unsuccessful attempt by Spain and France to capture Gibraltar from the British during the American War of Independence. The British garrison under George Augustus Eliott were blockaded from June 1779 by the Spanish alone, led by Martín Álvarez de Sotomayor; the blockade failed because two relief convoys entered unmolested—the first under Admiral George Rodney in 1780 and the second under Admiral George Darby in 1781—despite the presence of the Spanish fleets. The same year, a major assault was planned by the Spanish, but the Gibraltar garrison sortied in November and destroyed much of the forward batteries. With the siege going nowhere and constant Spanish failures, the besiegers were reinforced by French forces under de Crillon, who took over command in early 1782. After a lull in the siege, during which the allied force gathered more guns and troops, a "Grand Assault" was launched on 18 September 1782; this involved huge numbers—60,000 men, 49 ships of the line and ten specially designed, newly invented floating batteries—against the 5,000 defenders.
The assault was a disastrous failure. The siege settled down again to more of a blockade, but the final defeat for the allies came when a crucial British relief convoy under Admiral Richard Howe slipped through the blockading fleet and arrived at the garrison in October 1782; the siege was lifted on 7 February 1783 and was a decisive victory for the British forces, being a vital factor in the Peace of Paris, negotiated towards the end of the siege. This was the largest action fought during the war in terms of numbers the "Grand Assault". At three years and seven months, it is the longest siege endured by the British Armed Forces and one of the longest sieges in history. In 1738 a dispute between Spain and Great Britain arose over commerce between Europe and the Americas. Both sides intended to sign an agreement at the Spanish Royal Palace of El Pardo, but in January of the following year, the British Parliament rejected the advice of Foreign Minister Robert Walpole, a supporter of the agreement with Spain.
A short time the War of Jenkins' Ear began, both countries declared war on 23 October 1739, each side drawing up plans to establish trenches near Gibraltar. Seeing these first movements, Britain ordered Admiral Vernon to sail from Portobello and strengthen the squadron of Admiral Haddock, stationed in the Bay of Gibraltar; the passage of years failed to break the hostilities in the region. On 9 July 1746, King Philip V of Spain died in Madrid, his successor, Ferdinand VI, soon began negotiations with Britain on trade. The British Parliament was amenable to such negotiations, looked favourably upon lifting the British embargo on Spain and ceding Gibraltar; the neutrality adopted by Ferdinand VI ended with his death in 1759. The new king, Charles III, was less willing to negotiate with Great Britain. Instead, he signed a Family Compact with Louis XV of France on 15 August 1761. At that time France was at war with Britain, so Britain responded by declaring war on Spain and capturing the Spanish colonial capitals of Manila and Havana.
Two years after cessation of hostilities, Spain recovered Manila and Havana in exchange for Spanish holdings in Florida as part of the 1763 Treaty of Paris. In the years of peace that followed both France and Spain hoped for an opportunity to launch a war against Britain on more favourable terms and recover their lost colonial possessions. Following the outbreak of the American War of Independence, both states supplied funding and arms to the American rebels, drew up a strategy to intervene on the American side and defeat Britain. In October 1778 France entered the war and on 12 April 1779, both France and Spain signed the Treaty of Aranjuez wherein they agreed to aid one another in recovering lost territory from Britain. France and Spain sought to secure Gibraltar, a key link in Britain's control of the Mediterranean Sea, expected its capture to be quick—a precursor to a Franco-Spanish invasion of Great Britain; the Spanish blockade was to be directed by Martín Álvarez de Sotomayor. Spanish ground forces were composed of 16 infantry battalions, which included the Royal Guards and the Walloon Guards, along with artillery and 12 squadrons of cavalry.
This yielded a total of about 14,000 men in all. The artillery was commanded by Rudesindo Tilly, while the cavalry and the French dragoons were headed by the Marquis of Arellano. Antonio Barceló commanded the maritime forces responsible for blockading the bay, he established his base with a fleet of several xebecs and gunboats. A fleet of 11 ships of the line and two frigates were placed in the Gulf of Cadiz under the command of Luis de Córdova y Córdova to block the passage of British reinforcements; the British garrison in 1778 consisted of 5,382 soldiers. All the defences were strengthened; the most prominent new work was the King's Bastion designed by Sir William Green and built by the Soldier Artificer Company on the main waterfront of the town in Gibraltar. The King's Bastion comprised a stone battery holding 26 heavy guns and mortars, with barracks and casemates to house a full battalion of foot; the Grand Battery protected the Land Port Gate, the main entrance to Gibraltar from the isthmus connecting to the Spanish mainland.
Other fortifications and batteries crowded on the Rock. Eliott began a programme of increasin
Invasion of Minorca (1781)
The Franco-Spanish reconquest of Menorca from its British invaders in February 1782, after the Siege of Fort St. Philip lasting over five months, was an important step in the achievement of Spain's aims in its alliance with France against Britain during the American Revolutionary War; the ultimate result was the devolution of the island to Spain in the Treaty of Paris in 1783. At the eastern end of the island of Menorca is the port of Mahón, one of the best deep-water anchorages in the Mediterranean Sea. For a naval power with no Mediterranean coast, possession of Menorca, was of major strategic advantage, for most of the 18th century, Menorca was in the hands of the British; the narrow entrance to the port was guarded by a fort, known to the British as St. Philip's Castle, a translation of the original Spanish, el castillo de San Felipe, massively strengthened after the events of 1756, when Admiral John Byng judged the safety of his fleet more important than the possession of the fort, was subsequently shot to encourage other admirals to take a more positive view of their duties.
Although the French won that battle, they lost the Seven Years' War in 1763, so Menorca was returned to Britain rather than France's ally Spain, to which the island was tied. The Spanish government renewed its alliance with France against Britain by means of the Treaty of Aranjuez, with the recapture of Menorca as one of its main aims. Although secondary to the recapture of Gibraltar, Britain's other Mediterranean sea-fortress, removing Menorca from British control was important because it was home to a thriving fleet of privateers, licensed by the Governor, Lieutenant-General James Murray, to seize vessels which might be doing business with Britain's enemies; the attempt at recapturing Gibraltar in 1779 led to a protracted siege, by the end of 1780, Spain's military leaders were accepting that they would have to embark on some of their other projects in parallel with the siege there. An invasion of Menorca was therefore planned during the first few months of 1781 by Don Luis Berton de los Blats, Duque de Crillon.
In theory, he was working with Spain's War Ministers, Foreign Minister José Moñino y Redondo, conde de Floridablanca. On 25 June 1781, a French force of about 20 warships, commanded by Admiral Guichen, left Brest on a coastal patrol, which happened to involve sailing into the Mediterranean, they were going to provide additional protection for the invasion fleet, but, in order to fool the British, they would not be joining their Spanish allies until they were close to the target. The Spanish invasion fleet, departed Cadiz on 23 July 1781 heading westward to appear as if its destination was America, but turned in the night and passed Gibraltar on 25 July. Facing contrary winds in the Mediterranean, by 29 July the convoy was beginning to break up, was forced to take shelter at La Subida cove, near Cartagena. At some time over the next few days the Spanish were discreetly joined by the French warships; the combined fleet left La Subida on 5 August, came within sight of Alicante on 14 August in the night of 17 August headed away from the Spanish coast and sailed parallel to Formentera.
On 18 August, as it passed the little island of Cabrera, south of Majorca, the fleet was joined by another 4 warships, from Palma. That night, the wind blew from the south-east, the fleet had to take precautions to avoid being blown aground on Majorca, but Menorca was sighted the next morning. A main force was to be landed at Mesquida bay, just north of the main target, Port Mahón, a secondary force at Alcaufar bay, south of the port, while the other two significant harbours on the island, at Ciudadela and Fornells, were to be blockaded; the Mesquida force was to move to the town of Mahón, where the Governor lived, to capture him and as many British soldiers as possible. The Alcaufar force was to block the road that led from the British residential suburb, Georgetown, to the fort of St. Philip's Castle. At about the same time, a third force was to land on Degollador beach at Ciudadela, to block the main road across the island. A detachment would be landed at Fornells, to take the small artillery fort there.
This plan had one basic flaw – the assumption that the British would believe a vast convoy approaching Menorca had friendly intentions. Additionally, further modifications had to be made because of the wind, which forced the main part of the fleet to sail round the south of the island, rather than the north. So, about 10:30 am, the fleet rounded Aire island, at the south-east tip of Menorca, began the approach to Port Mahón, while the Alcaufar contingent headed for land. A little after 11:30, the leading vessel of the fleet, San Pascual passed St. Philip's Castle, its crew at battle stations. Around 1:00 pm, San Pascual arrived at Mesquida, the rest of the fleet caught up, preparations for landing began. At 6:00 pm, the Spanish flag was raised on the beach, received a 23-gun salute; the British had a watchtower on the south coast of Menorca, had spotted the fleet approaching. An urgent message was immediat
Armada of 1779
The Armada of 1779 was a combined Franco-Spanish naval enterprise intended to divert British military assets of the Royal Navy, from other war theatres by invading the Kingdom of Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. The proposed plan was to seize the Isle of Wight and capture the British naval base of Portsmouth. No fleet battles were fought in the Channel and the Franco-Spanish invasion never materialized; this threat to Great Britain prompted comparisons to the earlier Spanish Armada of 1588. After the indecisive Battle of Ushant in 1778 between the British Royal Navy and the French Marine Royale, the French were certain that they could have triumphed if their force had been larger. France had allied itself with the Americans in February 1778 and additionally signed a secret treaty with Spain on 12 April 1779, which brought Spain into the war against Great Britain. Fearful of the consequences to their land claims in America, the Spanish did not support the American colonists' rebellion against British rule, but were willing to undertake direct operations against British interests elsewhere.
Spain thus sought to regain various European territories controlled by Britain, most notably the fortress of Gibraltar, the possession of which controlled access to trade in and out of the Mediterranean Sea. On 3 June 1779, in an attempt to achieve a strategic advantage by misleading the British, the French fleet at Brest left port hastily and sailed southward, deliberately under-provisioned in order to avoid Royal Navy scrutiny and a subsequent blockade. On 16 June, Spain declared war on Great Britain; the plan was for the French fleet to meet a Spanish fleet off the Sisargas Islands, near Corunna in north-west Spain, in order to begin an invasion of Britain. The French fleet was commanded by Admiral d'Orvilliers, who had led at Ushant, included 30 ships of the line and numerous smaller vessels; when the French reached the rendezvous point, the Spanish fleet was absent, the Spanish claiming that the winds had been contrary, so d'Orvilliers had to suspend the invasion. Because the French fleet had deliberately departed from Brest before they were supplied, numerous problems arose as the wait for the Spanish forces dragged out to several weeks.
Scurvy weakened the crew, in the hot, crowded conditions on board typhus and smallpox broke out. It was not until 22 July that the Spanish fleet arrived, commanded by Don Luis de Córdova, to be subordinate to d'Orvilliers in the joint enterprise, it consisted of 36 ships of the line. Meanwhile, an army of over 40,000 men was being gathered around Le Havre and St. Malo in northern France, with 400 transport boats; the goal of the combined fleet was to put the Royal Navy out of action so that the allied army could be safely transported across the English Channel, set up a base on either the Isle of Wight or the nearby British coast. At the time there were fewer than 40 Royal Navy ships of the line available in the English Channel area, under the command of the ailing 64-year-old Sir Charles Hardy, desk-bound for 20 years. On 25 July the Franco-Spanish Armada set sail northwards to take on the British fleet, with contrary winds slowing its progress, it soon became apparent that the diseases which had afflicted the French had spread to the Spanish troops.
Having missed opportunities to seize two important British convoys of merchant ships from the West Indies, which reached Plymouth on 31 July, the Armada passed Ushant on 11 August and entered the Channel. Three days a squadron under American colours but consisting of French ships with French crews set sail from the French port of L'Orient, heading northward towards Ireland as a diversion; this diversionary fleet was commanded by John Paul Jones, an American captain with an alarming reputation in Britain. Unknown to d'Orvilliers, the British fleet was not in the Channel. Having learned that the French fleet had gone out into the Atlantic in June, Admiral Hardy was instead patrolling off the Scilly Isles. On 14 August, the massive combined Franco-Spanish fleet came within sight of the English coast, causing a wave of alarm which spread throughout the country but did not reach the Royal Navy ship Ardent, which had left Plymouth on 15 August to join Hardy on patrol. On 16 August the French and Spanish ships, which were sailing eastwards up the Channel, received orders from France to turn around, as it had been decided by the government that the best place for the troops to land would be near Falmouth in Cornwall.
D'Orvilliers considered this a foolish idea, sent a reply asking the government to reconsider. The next day Ardent met an outlying French squadron of the great fleet, but was fooled into thinking it was British, was swiftly captured; the Franco-Spanish allies hovered off Plymouth. On 18 August a gale from the east drove them far to the west and out into the Atlantic. There was one beneficial result: as they struggled eastward again, on 25 August the French and Spanish learned the location of Hardy's fleet, they decided to neutralise it because they were finding it difficult to cope with sickness and a lack of food. The allies steered for the Scilly Isles with the intention of forcing a battle on the British, but Hardy attempted to dodge their move. On 31 August, under cover of fog, the British fleet slipped past Land's End, Hardy began leading his would-be opponents as far as he could towards the key British naval base of Portsmouth. Remarkably, on 3 September, the undamaged British fleet reached the well-defended safety of the Solent, set about equipping for battle.
This was a problem f
Siege of Yorktown
The Siege of Yorktown known as the Battle of Yorktown, the Surrender at Yorktown, German Battle or the Siege of Little York, ending on October 19, 1781, at Yorktown, was a decisive victory by a combined force of American Continental Army troops led by General George Washington and French Army troops led by the Comte de Rochambeau over a British Army commanded by British peer and Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis. The culmination of the Yorktown campaign, the siege proved to be the last major land battle of the American Revolutionary War in the North American theater, as the surrender by Cornwallis, the capture of both him and his army, prompted the British government to negotiate an end to the conflict; the battle boosted faltering American morale and revived French enthusiasm for the war, as well as undermining popular support for the conflict in Great Britain. In 1780, about 5,500 French soldiers landed in Rhode Island to help their American allies fight the British troops who controlled New York City.
Following the arrival of dispatches from France that included the possibility of support from the French West Indies fleet of the Comte de Grasse and Rochambeau decided to ask de Grasse for assistance either in besieging New York, or in military operations against a British army operating in Virginia. On the advice of Rochambeau, de Grasse informed them of his intent to sail to the Chesapeake Bay, where Cornwallis had taken command of the army. Cornwallis, at first given confusing orders by his superior officer, Henry Clinton, was ordered to build a defensible deep-water port, which he began to do in Yorktown. Cornwallis' movements in Virginia were shadowed by a Continental Army force led by the Marquis de Lafayette; the French and American armies united north of New York City during the summer of 1781. When word of de Grasse's decision arrived, both armies began moving south toward Virginia, engaging in tactics of deception to lead the British to believe a siege of New York was planned. De Grasse sailed from the West Indies and arrived at the Chesapeake Bay at the end of August, bringing additional troops and creating a naval blockade of Yorktown.
He was transporting 500,000 silver pesos collected from the citizens of Havana, Cuba, to fund supplies for the siege and payroll for the Continental Army. While in Santo Domingo, de Grasse met with Francisco Saavedra de Sangronis, an agent of Carlos III of Spain. De Grasse had planned to leave several of his warships in Santo Domingo. Saavedra promised the assistance of the Spanish navy to protect the French merchant fleet, enabling de Grasse to sail north with all of his warships. In the beginning of September, he defeated a British fleet led by Sir Thomas Graves that came to relieve Cornwallis at the Battle of the Chesapeake; as a result of this victory, de Grasse blocked any escape by sea for Cornwallis. By late September and Rochambeau arrived, the army and naval forces surrounded Cornwallis. After initial preparations, the Americans and French built their first parallel and began the bombardment. With the British defense weakened, on October 14, 1781, Washington sent two columns to attack the last major remaining British outer defenses.
A French column under Wilhelm of the Palatinate-Zweibrücken took Redoubt No. 9 and an American column under Alexander Hamilton took Redoubt No. 10. With these defenses taken, the allies were able to finish their second parallel. With the American artillery closer and its bombardment more intense than the British position began to deteriorate rapidly. Cornwallis asked for capitulation terms on October 17. After two days of negotiation, the surrender ceremony occurred on October 19. With the capture of more than 7,000 British soldiers, negotiations between the United States and Great Britain began, resulting in the Treaty of Paris of 1783. On December 20, 1780, Benedict Arnold sailed from New York with 1,500 troops to Portsmouth, Virginia, he first raided Richmond, defeating the defending militia, from January 5–7 before falling back to Portsmouth. Admiral Destouches, who arrived in Newport, Rhode Island in July 1780 with a fleet transporting 5,500 soldiers, was encouraged by Washington and French Lieutenant General Rochambeau to move his fleet south, launch a joint land-naval attack on Arnold's troops.
The Marquis de Lafayette was sent south with 1,200 men to help with the assault. However, Destouches was reluctant to dispatch many ships, in February sent only three. After they proved ineffective, he took a larger force of 8 ships in March 1781, fought a tactically inconclusive battle with the British fleet of Marriot Arbuthnot at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Destouches withdrew due to the damage sustained to his fleet, leaving Arbuthnot and the British fleet in control of the bay's mouth. On March 26, Arnold was joined by 2,300 troops under command of Major General William Phillips, who took command of the combined forces. Phillips resumed raiding, defeating the militia at Blandford burning the tobacco warehouses at Petersburg on April 25. Richmond was about to suffer the same fate; the British, not wanting to engage in a major battle, withdrew to Petersburg on May 10. On May 20, Charles Cornwallis arrived at Petersburg with 1,500 men after suffering heavy casualties at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.
He assumed command, as Phillips had died of a fever. Cornwallis had not received permission to abandon the Carolinas from his superior, Henry Clinton, but he believed that Virginia would be easier to capture, feeling that it would approve of an invading British army. With the arrival of Cornwallis and more reinforcements from New York, the British Army numbered 7,200 men. Cornwallis wanted to push Lafayette, whose force now