SEPTEMBER 28, 1781: The pivotal Battle of Yorktown begins as General George Washington lays siege to British General Lord Corwallis. After a series of defeats Cornwallis had retreated to the coast of Virginia to maintain communication with General Henry Clinton at New York, but now found his movements blocked on land by the Marquis de Lafayette and at sea by a squadron of French ships. Leaving a small screening force in New York, Washington moved his troops south where they joined a detachment of French troops and began assaulting Cornwallis’s fortified positions. With Continental Army artillery growing relentlessly closer, Cornwallis asked for terms of surrender, but did not himself attend the actual surrender ceremony (depicted above). The victory at Yorktown marked the end of British land operations in the Revolutionary War.