lundi 7 janvier 2008

The Battle of Yorktown’s 225th anniversary

The Battle of Yorktown’s 225th anniversary

This weekend will not be a good one for French-haters.
Beginning today, festivities will occur in Yorktown, Virginia to commemorate the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Yorktown. The siege and battle of Yorktown, which lasted from October 6-19 of 1781, is considered as the decisive victory in the American War of Independence, and marked an end to the rule of the British over Colonial America. It also marked the beginning of what would become a long and remarkable relationship between the new Allies, France and America.
In what many military historians describe as one of the first combined operations in military history, French and American troops encircled Cornwallis and his 21,000 men in Yorktown. In addition, French Admiral Francois de Grasse moved his entire fleet of 24 ships off the line into the Chesapeake Bay, to reinforce the Allies with an additional 3,000 men, as well as to block any British reinforcement coming from the sea. Under the guidance of General Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, over 9,000 American and 25,000 French troops began a series of sieges, each creeping closer towards the British positions. When French engineers had completed their task, the Allies began using artillery to weaken Cornwallis. These artillery barrages were quickly followed by successive French and American attacks on the British fortifications.
Realizing that he would not be receiving the needed help to breakout, Cornwallis surrendered his force on October 19th. While small, sporadic skirmishes would still occur for the next week or so, the war was, for the most part, over.

Excerpt from a book titled “American Military History,” and published by the United States Army (page 99):

“For all these American virtues and British difficulties and mistakes, the Americans still required French aid - money, supplies, and in the last phase military force - to win a decisive and clear-cut military victory. Most of the muskets, bayonets and cannons used by the Continental Army came from France. The French contested the control of the seas that was so vital to the British, and compelled them to divert forces from the American mainland to other areas. The final stroke at Yorktown, though a product of Washington’s strategic conception, was possible only because of the temporary predominance of French naval power off the American coast and the presence of a French army.”

Perhaps this was the first World War?

Today, the battlefield can be visited, and historical markers point to places where specific events occurred. A single stone cross marks the spot where approximately 50 French soldiers are buried. Nearby is a memorial inscribed with the names of over 1,500 French soldiers and sailors who also died for America’s independence, but have no known graves, or died at sea.
French Defense Minister Michelle Alliot-Marie will attend the ceremonies. The French navy frigate De Grasse will also be present. Her sailors are to march in a parade. The Marine band Bagad de Lann Bihoue will lead with bagpipes.
So, when one looks back at the oldest alliance in modern history, some may wish to celebrate the mutual affection between the French and American peoples. Others may ask themselves, “Where has all the love gone?”


France supported the American Revolution and was the first country to recognize America's independence.

1 commentaire:


Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

Your article is very well done, a good read.