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Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis (31 December 1738 – 5 October 1805) was a British Army officer and colonial administrator. He was one of the leading British generals in the American Revolutionary War.
In 1781, General Cornwallis was ordered to secure a deep water port in Virginia, and chose Yorktown, on the Chesapeake Bay. He had the city fortified by September and awaited supplies from New York, unaware that the Royal Navy was defeated at the Battle of the Chesapeake by the Assassin Ratonhnhaké:ton and the French Navy earlier that month.
George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, secured an alliance with France and decided to attack Yorktown, as he was not prepared for an attack on New York. By 6 October the Continental and French forces had settled around the city and began their siege, using French artillery to bombard and invade the city by 14 October. The British forces crumbled, and Cornwallis surrendered on 19 October.
The loss at Yorktown made the war too costly for Great Britain, and Parliament began peace negotiations after British citizens started voicing disinterest in the conflict.