Yorktown Battlefield

1000 Colonial Parkway, Yorktown, VA

Yorktown Battlefield - Part of Colonial National Historical Park

Date of Battle: September 28 - October 19, 1781

The Battle

General Washington had hoped to get a French army under Rochambeau and a French fleet under Admiral de Grasse to cooperate with the Continentals in the recapture of New York City. The French fleet sails for the Chesapeake instead. There, it fights a naval battle against the British Navy which is trying to provide support for the British Army under General Cornwallis at Yorktown.

After the French repulse the British fleet, Continental and French armies move from New York to surround the British at Yorktown. They besieged the army for several weeks before Cornwallis is compelled to surrender.

The British loss at Yorktown is the final blow for leaders in London. They end all major offensive operations in America.  Several months later, they begin negotiating a peace treaty which will recognize American independence.

Visiting the Battleground

Yorktown Battlefield, part of Colonial National Historical Park, preserves the site of the last major battle of the Revolutionary War. Surrender negotiations between allied American and French forces and the British took place at the Moore House.

Address: 1000 Colonial Parkway, Yorktown, VA

Entrance fee: Yorktown Battlefield is part of Colonial National Historical Park. For information about park fees visit Colonial National Historical Park's Fee Page.

At the Yorktown Battlefield visitor center you can view an orientation film and tour the museum exhibits which focus on the 1781 Siege of Yorktown. You can also view the campaign table used by British General Cornwallis during the siege and General Washington's campaign tents.

You can view the battlefield and interpretive information along the 16-mile driving tour roads. A map of the tour roads is available at the visitor center. You can also use the Yorktown Battlefield Tour Guide App while driving the Yorktown Battlefield tour roads. Visit the Yorktown Battlefield web site for more information about the app.

Significant sites of interest in the park include:

  • Moore House: Augustine Moore purchased Temple Farm, including this plantation house, in 1768. It is likely that the Moore family, like so many others in the area, fled from their home during the Yorktown Siege. This house is located behind what was the Allied forces siege lines. It was used for the surrender negotiations between Allied and British representatives. The National Park Service acquired the Moore House and restored it to its original colonial appearance between 1931 and 1934.
  • Nelson House: This house was the home of Thomas Nelson, Jr. (1738-89), Yorktown's most famous son and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Nelson served in the Continental Congress, the state legislature and was governor of Virginia from June through October 1781. The house was acquired by the National Park Service in 1968 and then restored it to its colonial appearance.
  • Yorktown Victory Monument: The cornerstone of the monument was laid on October 18, 1881, for the Yorktown Centennial Celebration. The monument was planned and constructed in three parts with a base, a sculptured podium in the form of a drum, and a column. In design, it embodies the symbolic theme originally specified by Congress in 1781 and repeated in 1880. A sculptured figure of “Liberty herself” stands atop the column.

Check the Yorktown Battlefield web site for information on hours of operation.

Don't Miss!

Washington’s tents in the visitor center.

→ Have you been here? Do you have suggestions for others who are passionate about history and want to make the most of their visit, or recommendations for things nearby that every history lover should see? Please send them in and we may add them to this page.

Contributor: This list of major Revolutionary War Battles and descriptions was written by Michael Troy, the creator and host of the American Revolution Podcast, who selected these sites and described the battles.

Photo: "Moore House," National Park Service, public domain.

Editor: Creation of this trip, including additional research on visiting these historic sites by Donna Keesling, editor at The History List.

Updated April 8, 2022

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