Chesapeake Bay 1781


Map Code: Ax00579

The French navy had been instructed by General Washington to block General Cornwallis’s forces escape through Chesapeake Bay to New York. Cornwallis and his 7,500 men awaited naval transport at Yorktown. On 25 August, 14 British ships, under Rear Admiral Hood, joined with Rear Admiral Graves in New York. They returned to Virginia, arriving at Chesapeake on 5 September. There they saw the French fleet of 28 ships, commanded by Rear Admiral de Grasse. Three of these ships had been detached to block Cornwallis’s exit from Yorktown. The French cut their anchor lines and moved towards the British fleet of 14 ships, where they engaged in battle. At 6.30 pm poor wind direction caused both fleets to withdraw. Upon returning to Chesapeake, De Grasse boxed Cornwallis in further, when he found seven more ships had been sent as support. Cornwallis, surrounded by enemy forces, both at land and sea, finally surrendered.

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