Cornwallis surrendered October 19, 1781
American Minute with Bill Federer
British Colonel Tarleton was known as ‘the bloody butcher’ for letting his dragoons bayonet and hack hundreds of surrendering American soldiers at Buford’s Massacre, May 29, 1780.
In January of 1781, Colonel Tarleton with 1,200 dragoons were pursuing American troops, but General Daniel Morgan led them into a trap at the Battle of Cowpens, killing 100 British and capturing 800.
When British General Cornwallis heard the news, he was leaning on his sword, and leaned so forcibly that it snapped in two.
Cornwallis gave chase, even abandoning his slow supply wagons along the way, but was unable to catch the Americans, now led by General Nathaniel Greene.
Providential flash floods and rising rivers allowed the Americans to escape.
Without supplies, Cornwallis was ordered to move his 8,000 troops to a defensive position where the York River entered Chesapeake Bay.
By this time, Ben Franklin and Marquis de Lafayette had succeeded in their efforts to persuade French King Louis XVI to send ships and troops the help the Americans.
French Admiral de Grasse left off fighting the British in the West Indies and sailed 24 ships to the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, where, in the Battle of the Capes, he drove off 19 British ships which were sent to evacuate Cornwallis’ men.
De Grasse’s 3,000 French troops and General Rochambeau’s 6,000 French troops hurriedly joined General Lafayette’s division as they marched to help General Washington trap Cornwallis against the sea.
They joined the troops of Generals Benjamin Lincoln, Baron von Steuben, Modrecai Gist, Henry Knox and John Peter Muhlenberg.
Altogether, 17,000 French and American troops surrounded Cornwallis and, on OCTOBER 19, 1781, he surrendered.
Yale President Ezra Stiles wrote, May 8, 1783:
“Who but God could have ordained the critical arrival of the Gallic (French) fleet, so as to… assist… in the siege… of Yorktown?…
Should we not… ascribe to a Supreme energy… the wise… generalship displayed by General Greene… leaving the… roving Cornwallis to pursue his helter-skelter ill fated march into Virginia…
It is God who had raised up for us a…powerful ally… a chosen army and a naval force: who sent us a Rochambeau… to fight side by side with a Washington… in the… Battle of Yorktown.”
General Washington wrote:
“To diffuse the general Joy through every breast the General orders… Divine Service to be performed tomorrow in the several Brigades…
The Commander-in-Chief earnestly recommends troops not on duty should universally attend with that gratitude of heart which the recognition of such astonishing Interposition of Providence demands.”
The next year, October 11, 1782, the Congress of the Confederation passed:
“It being the indispensable duty of all nations…to offer up their supplications to Almighty God…the United States in Congress assembled…
do hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe…the last Thursday, in the 28th day of November next, as a Day of Solemn Thanksgiving to God for all his mercies.”
On September 3, 1783, the Revolutionary War officially ended with the Treaty of Paris, signed by Ben Franklin, John Adams, John Jay and David Hartley:
“In the name of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity.
It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts of the most serene and most potent Prince George the Third, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain…and of the United States of America, to forget all past misunderstandings and differences…
Done at Paris, this third day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three.”
With the war over, Massachusetts Governor John Hancock proclaimed November 8, 1783:
“The Citizens of these United States have every Reason for Praise and Gratitude to the God of their salvation…
I do…appoint…the 11th day of December next (the day recommended by the Congress to all the States) to be religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer,
That all the people may then assemble to celebrate…that he hath been pleased to continue to us the Light of the Blessed Gospel…
That we also offer up fervent supplications… to cause pure Religion and Virtue to flourish…and to fill the world with his glory.”
Ronald Reagan, in proclaiming a Day of Prayer, stated January 27, 1983:
“In 1775, the Continental Congress proclaimed the first National Day of Prayer…
In 1783, the Treaty of Paris officially ended the long, weary Revolutionary War during which a National Day of Prayer had been proclaimed every spring for eight years.”
The Journal of the U.S. House of Representatives recorded that on March 27, 1854, the 33rd Congress voted unanimously to print Rep. James Meacham’s report, which stated:
“Down to the Revolution, every colony did sustain religion in some form. It was deemed peculiarly proper that the religion of liberty should be upheld by a free people…
Had the people, during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle.”
The Moral Liberal contributing editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s books here.