The French Navy kept the British troops from escaping Yorktown.

After retreating from New Jersey, General Washington ordered Marquis de Lafayette to prevent Cornwallis’ escape by land. Washington then met Count de Rochambeau at New York. With combined forces, they marched to the Chesapeake Bay, arriving in early September.

Meanwhile, the British fleet was unable to defend against Count de Grasse’s French fleet, denying Cornwallis’ expected reinforcements. On September 14, de Grasse transported Washington and de Rochambeau’s troops down the Chesapeake to Virginia. With reinforcements from de Grasse, the American and French soldiers met de Lafayette and finished the encirclement of Cornwallis on September 28.

On October 19, Cornwallis surrendered all his men, and effectively ended the war in the colonies. Peace negotiations began in 1782, and on September 3, 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, which recognized the United States as an independent country.


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