<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
Image (a) shows a 1780 British map of Charleston with details of the locations of Continental forces. A portrait of General Nathanael Greene is shown in image (b).
This 1780 map of Charleston (a), which shows details of the Continental defenses, was probably drawn by British engineers in anticipation of the attack on the city. The Siege of Charleston was one of a series of defeats for the Continental forces in the South, which led the Continental Congress to place General Nathanael Greene (b), shown here in a 1783 portrait by Charles Wilson Peale, in command in late 1780. Greene led his troops to two crucial victories.

The disaster at Charleston led the Continental Congress to change leadership by placing General Horatio Gates in charge of American forces in the South. However, General Gates fared no better than General Lincoln; at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina, in August 1780, Cornwallis forced General Gates to retreat into North Carolina. Camden was one of the worst disasters suffered by American armies during the entire Revolutionary War. Congress again changed military leadership, this time by placing General Nathanael Greene ( [link] ) in command in December 1780.

As the British had hoped, large numbers of Loyalists helped ensure the success of the southern strategy, and thousands of slaves seeking freedom arrived to aid Cornwallis’s army. However, the war turned in the Americans’ favor in 1781. General Greene realized that to defeat Cornwallis, he did not have to win a single battle. So long as he remained in the field, he could continue to destroy isolated British forces. Greene therefore made a strategic decision to divide his own troops to wage war—and the strategy worked. American forces under General Daniel Morgan decisively beat the British at the Battle of Cowpens in South Carolina. General Cornwallis now abandoned his strategy of defeating the backcountry rebels in South Carolina. Determined to destroy Greene’s army, he gave chase as Greene strategically retreated north into North Carolina. At the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in March 1781, the British prevailed on the battlefield but suffered extensive losses, an outcome that paralleled the Battle of Bunker Hill nearly six years earlier in June 1775.


In the summer of 1781, Cornwallis moved his army to Yorktown    , Virginia. He expected the Royal Navy to transport his army to New York, where he thought he would join General Sir Henry Clinton. Yorktown was a tobacco port on a peninsula, and Cornwallis believed the British navy would be able to keep the coast clear of rebel ships. Sensing an opportunity, a combined French and American force of sixteen thousand men swarmed the peninsula in September 1781. Washington raced south with his forces, now a disciplined army, as did the Marquis de Lafayette and the Comte de Rochambeau with their French troops. The French Admiral de Grasse sailed his naval force into Chesapeake Bay, preventing Lord Cornwallis from taking a seaward escape route.

In October 1781, the American forces began the battle for Yorktown, and after a siege that lasted eight days, Lord Cornwallis capitulated on October 19 ( [link] ). Tradition says that during the surrender of his troops, the British band played “The World Turned Upside Down,” a song that befitted the Empire’s unexpected reversal of fortune.

Questions & Answers

What source did the Roman Catholic church have
robbie Reply
Please clarify: do you mean what sources do they made their authority on?
impact of coming of Portuguese in kenya
Brian Reply
impact of coming of portuguese
impact of coming of portuguese
What was the first problem that Franklin Roosevelt dealt with during his "First Hundred Days"?
Bryan Reply
The Great Depression
worst cover up! they should feel dumb! they we're trapped in, on both sides of the East and West borders of the Islamic forces, Columbus was desperate and started voyage due to the events of his time!
Which of the following protests was directly related to federal policies, and thus had the biggest impact in creating a negative public perception of Hoover presidency
Steven Reply
the Bonus Army
what mistakes did Britain mak the lost them the colonies
Victor Reply
tax without representation
they did not give the colinies any representation
they also imposed taxes ,such as the stamp Act, on those it is unwise to offend; lawyers, business men and other men of influence
the american revolution
Angelica Reply
what started the American revolution
immediate cause: British tried to seize weapons stored by local militia which led to a confrontation
the British handling of the situation was quite inept and they allowed things to escalate out of control.
hi...can you state benefit of U.S constitution
Chimi Reply
bill of rights
it provided a political framework which provifed stability while at the same time permitting freedoms which allowed the American people to flourish
bill spelled out rights so there wpuld be no confusion
Among the major cause of American civil war, can I have a brief account on social cause?
Rinchen Reply
The issue of slavery between South America and North America that lead to the American Civil War
not sure what you mean by "social" causes. Do you mean things like differences between Northern ers & southerners?
The N & S developed very differently. This led to clashing outlooks and agendas. Slavery was the "irepressible conflict" that made compromise impossible.
what was the purpose of Operation Valkyrie?
Matthew Reply
I have no idea
that was the WWII attempt by German officers to overthrow Hitler.
which culture developed the writting system in the western hemisphere?
cierra Reply
the phoenicians
loops I mean the Maya
Treaty of Greenville
The Reply
By this treaty Indians gave up some land in exchange for am annuity of money & supplies. It followed Battle of Fallen Timbers, a decisive victory of US troops over Indian tribes organized into the Western Confederacy. It marks the beginning of modern state of Ohio.
Please keep in mind that it is not allowed to promote any social groups (whatsapp, facebook, etc...) or exchange phone numbers or email addresses on our platform.
QuizOver Reply
Columbus didn't discover ish. He stole America from the Natives
LovingN Reply
Who was Nat Turner? What was the cause and impact of the Nat Turner Rebellion?
what is marcantlisim and its ultimate effects?
Explain the concept of salavery how it developed and what were the subsequent consequences?
The definition of the term "discovery" is to find something that; A. was lost or B. You were previously unaware of. By this definition (B) Columbus certainly DID discover a new continent that we now call America.
mercantilism was an economic philosophy. it held that the goal of a nation was to establish a favorable balance of trade, largely through accumulating a large supply if gold.
which culture developed the only writing systems in the western hemisphere
rose Reply
economic causes of American civil war
Samten Reply
do you mean the major causes of American civil war
South based on agriculture & slave labor, North industrializing & based on free labor. Their views on economic policy clashed.

Get the best U.s. history course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, U.s. history. OpenStax CNX. Jan 12, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11740/1.3
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'U.s. history' conversation and receive update notifications?