Killing Time

This is a podcast about the greatest military battles and campaigns that changed the course of history for non-military listeners.

Episode 11 - Yorktown and the Battle of the Capes

February 28th, 2016

In 1781, the American Revolutionary War had been going on for over six years with more defeats for George Washington and the cause of American independence than victories.  The British army under the command of Sir Henry Clinton, based in New York, together with a large fleet commanded by Admiral Thomas Graves, appeared impregnable and invincible.  The British could strike anywhere, anytime along the extended American coastline bringing overwhelming military power to bear.  In the last year, Clinton had again demonstrated this power as his army swooped in from the sea, annihilated a large American garrison at Charleston, South Carolina, and then returned to New York leaving a large occupying force there under the command of Charles, Lord Cornwallis.  As another winter faded into Spring, Cornwallis was moving north from the Carolinas to establish another base midway between Charleston and New York in Virginia, scattering smaller American forces under Lafayette as he went.  Yet new hope sprang up with the arrival of a French expeditionary force of 6,000 men under the command of the Compte de Rochambeau in Rhode Island coupled with the possibility of naval support from the French admiral de Grasse in the Caribbean.  This is the story of a remarkable combination and coordination of sea and land forces that Washington managed patiently and brilliantly, decisively defeating a major part of the British army which finally compelled Britain to grant independence to the new American Republic, changing the course of history