Timeline: After Yorktown
Explore the events that occurred in the years following Lord Cornwallis's surrender to George Washington after the British defeat at Yorktown.
Final Years of the Revolutionary War
October 19, 1781
British Lieutenant-General Charles Cornwallis surrenders his army to General George Washington and his French allies at Yorktown, Virginia. Charles Willson Peale’s 1784 painting (below) shows George Washington surrounded by the Marquis de Lafayette, Comte de Rochambeau, and Tench Tilghman after the British surrender at Yorktown.
October 25, 1781
New York militiamen face off with British, Loyalist, Native American, and Hessian forces at the Battle of Johnstown, New York.
Benedict Arnold (pictured below) flees to Great Britain after defecting to the British side of the war. Commissioned as a brigadier-general in the British Army in 1780, Arnold had led many British soldiers into battle against the men he used to command in the Continental Army.
January 25-26, 1782
The British Navy defeats the French Navy in the Battle of Frigate Bay off the coast of St. Kitts in the Caribbean.
February 27, 1782
The British House of Commons votes to end the war in America. This paves the way for the Treaty of Paris, which officially ended the war in 1783.
March 8, 1782
Pennsylvania militiamen kill nearly 100 pacifist Moravian (Christian) Indians at the village of Gnadenhutten, in present-day Ohio. This action became known as the Gnadenhutten or the Moravian Massacre.
April 9-12, 1782
The British Navy defeats the French Navy in the Battle of the Saintes, off the coast of Dominica in the Caribbean. Under the leadership of British Admiral Sir George Rodney (pictured below), the British secured their greatest naval victory of the war.
April 19, 1782
The Netherlands recognizes the Independence of the United States.
Spanish forces capture Nassau, Bahamas, from the British.
The Continental Army builds an ornate pavilion at West Point, New York, to celebrate the birth of the Dauphin of France (the son and heir of French King Louis XVI).
June 11, 1782
William Crawford, a former Continental Army officer who led raids on Native American towns, is killed by Native Americans in retaliation for the Gnadenhutten Massacre and the attacks along the Sandusky River in present-day Ohio.
June 20, 1782
Congress approves the Great Seal of the United States of America with the bald eagle as its central symbol. Secretary of the Continental Congress, Charles Thompson, created the sketch below, which became the basis for the final design.
July 6, 1782
The British and French navies fight in the Battle of Negapatam off the coast of India.
July 11, 1782
The British evacuate Savannah, Georgia, and flee to Charleston, South Carolina.
July 13, 1782
The British and their Seneca Nation allies attack and destroy Hannastown, Pennsylvania.
July 15, 1782
Ann-Cesar, chevalier de La Luzerne (pictured below), hosts a large party in Philadelphia in celebration of the birth of the Dauphin of France (the son and heir of French King Louis XVI). Generals Washington and Rochambeau are in attendance. Continental Army engineer Pierre Charles L’Enfant designed the pavilion for the celebration.
General Washington appoints Major General Henry Knox (pictured below) commander of West Point.
August 7, 1782
General Washington creates the Badge of Military Merit to recognize soldiers who perform any “singularly meritorious action” and the Badge of Distinction for soldiers “who have served more than three years with bravery, fidelity and good conduct.” The Badge of Military Merit, a purple, heart-shaped piece of cloth, was to be stitched on the left breast of the distinguished soldier’s coat. The badge pictured below was given to Sergeant Elijah Churchill by George Washington on May 1, 1783.
August 8, 1782
Brigadier General George Rogers Clark leads 1,000 American Revolutionary soldiers in an attack on five Shawnee villages in what is now Ohio. This becomes known as the Battle of Piqua.
August 19, 1782
Loyalists and American Indians attack and defeat a group of Revolutionary militiamen at the Battle of Blue Licks, in present-day Kentucky.
August 27, 1782
Continental Army Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens (pictured below) is killed at the Battle of the Combahee River in South Carolina.
August 31, 1782
General Washington moves approximately 8,000 Continental troops down the Hudson River from West Point by boat to create an encampment at Verplanck’s Point, New York. Artist Charles Willson Peale painted this view of Verplanck’s Point (below) from the water of the Hudson River in 1801.
September 22, 1782
The Continental Army demonstrates its fighting readiness for French forces at the Verplanck’s Point encampment. Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s sketch below demonstrates a new method of military maneuvering and organization. L’Enfant contributed eight sketches for Inspector General Baron von Steuben’s new manual, Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States.
End of October 1782
The Continental Army leaves their encampment at Verplanck’s Point and marches towards New Windsor, New York, north of West Point.
November 10, 1782
Brigadier General George Rogers Clark and over 1,000 Revolutionary militiamen raid and burn Shawnee villages near present-day Chillicothe, Ohio.
November 30, 1782
Great Britain and the United States sign the Preliminary Articles of Peace.
December 14, 1782
The British evacuate Charleston, South Carolina.
January 20, 1783
Great Britain signs preliminary peace treaties with France and Spain.
Word of the Preliminary Articles of Peace reaches the Continental Army.
February 4, 1783
Great Britain declares that it will cease hostilities with the United States.
February 5, 1783
Sweden recognizes the independence of the United States.
February 7, 1783
The Spanish and French siege of British-held Gibraltar, which started on June 24, 1779, ends after a preliminary peace treaty is signed. The British successfully hold onto the strategic fortress. John Singleton Copley’s 1783 painting below dramatizes the gruesome battle prior to the treaty being signed.
February 20, 1783
Spain recognizes the independence of the United States.
March 10, 1783
An anonymous letter suggesting that Continental Army officers should take action against the Continental Congress because their promised pensions remain unpaid, makes its way around the camp at Newburgh, New York. This became known as the Newburgh Conspiracy.
March 15, 1783
General Washington quiets the Newburgh Conspiracy by assuring his officers that the Continental Congress would make good on their promises to the soldiers.
April 11, 1783
The Continental Congress issues a proclamation “Declaring the Cessation of Arms” against Great Britain.
April 15, 1783
The Continental Congress ratifies the preliminary peace treaty that will end the Revolutionary War.
May 13, 1783
Based on an idea proposed by Major General Henry Knox, Continental Army officers create a fraternal organization called the “Society of the Cincinnati” in Fishkill, New York. Pierre Charles L’Enfant designed the organization’s badge and member diploma, shown below.
June 20, 1783
The French Navy defeats the British Navy in the Battle of Cuddalore off the coast of India.
August 23, 1783
General Washington moves his headquarters to Rockingham, a house near Rocky Hill, New Jersey. Joseph Wright painted this portrait of George Washington (below) while he was headquartered at Rocky Hill in the fall of 1783, just before Washington traveled south to resign his command.
September 3, 1783
John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay sign the Treaty of Paris, officially ending the Revolutionary War.
October 23, 1783
Deborah Sampson (pictured below), who dressed in men’s clothes in order to serve in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment, is honorably discharged from the Continental Army after over two years of service.
November 3, 1783
General Washington orders the Continental Army to be disbanded.
November 25, 1783
British troops and more than 29,000 Loyalists evacuate New York City. George Washington leads the Continental Army back into the city for the first time since 1776.
December 4, 1783
At Fraunces Tavern in New York City, General Washington bids farewell to his officers.
December 23, 1783
General Washington resigns his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army in front of the Continental Congress, which was then meeting in Annapolis, Maryland. John Trumbull’s painting, shown below, memorializes George Washington’s resignation and his return to civilian life following the American Revolution.
January 14, 1784
The Continental Congress ratifies the Treaty of Paris.
April 9, 1784
Great Britain ratifies the Treaty of Paris.
May 4, 1784
The Society of the Cincinnati holds its first general meeting at City Tavern in Philadelphia. Members start to receive their eagle insignia (shown below), designed by Pierre Charles L’Enfant and made in France.