Troops at Yorktown - America

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American army

The American forces that opposed Cornwallis at Yorktown also arrived in Virginia at different times, since most of the detachments were made in reaction to the British movements. After Arnold was sent to Virginia, Major General George Washington, the American commander-in-chief, in January 1781 sent the Marquis de Lafayette to Virginia with 900 men. He was to be followed promptly by troops from the Pennsylvania Line under the command of Brigadier General Anthony Wayne, but Wayne did not arrive in Virginia until June. Lafayette's force included a substantial number of Virginia militia, and he shadowed Cornwallis during the movements that ended at Yorktown, with a skirmish at Spencer's Ordinary and a larger battle at Green Spring being their only significant encounters.

The main Continental Army of General Washington was at first stationed outside New York City, which Washington hoped to besiege with the assistance of the French army. However, word from Admiral Paul de Grasse of the French West Indies fleet would sail north to assist in operations on the Chesapeake Bay convinced Washington that action was best taken against Cornwallis's army in Virginia. Accordingly, the American and French armies set out in mid-August for Virginia. Some troops went overland the entire way; others were transported on the Chesapeake by ships of the French Navy. Washington arrived in Lafayette's camp before Yorktown on September 17.

Commander Gen. George Washington, commanding


4th Continental Light Dragoons
Armand's Legion

Brig. Gen. Henry Knox

1st Continental Artillery (1 company)
2nd Continental Artillery (9 companies)
4th Continental Artillery (3 companies)
Sappers and miners (4 companies)


Light Division
Maj. Gen. Marquis de Lafayette

1st Brigade
Brig. Gen. Peter Muhlenberg
Col. Vose’s Battalion
(8 Massachusetts light infantry companies)
Lt. Col. Gimat’s Battalion
(5 Connecticut, 2 Massachusetts, and 1 Rhode Island light infantry companies)
Lt. Col. Barber’s Battalion
(2 New Hampshire, 2 New Jersey, and Canadian Regiment light infantry companies and 3 New Jersey line companies)
2nd Brigade
Brig. Gen. Moses Hazen
Lt. Col. Scammell’s battalion[1]
(2 New Hampshire, 3 Massachusetts, and 3 Connecticut light infantry companies)
Lt. Col. Hamilton’s Battalion[1]
(2 New York light infantry companies; 2 New York and 2 Connecticut provisional light infantry companies)
Hazen’s Canadian Regiment

2nd Division
Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln

1st Brigade
Brig. Gen. James Clinton
1st New York
2nd New York
2nd Brigade
Col. Elias Dayton
1st New Jersey
2nd New Jersey
Rhode Island Regiment

3rd Division
Maj. Gen. Baron von Steuben

1st Brigade
Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne
1st Pennsylvania Battalion
2nd Pennsylvania Battalion
2nd Brigade
Brig. Gen. Mordecai Gist
3rd Maryland
4th Maryland

Virginia Militia
General Thomas Nelson

1st Brigade
Brig. Gen. George Weedon
2nd Brigade
Brig. Gen. Robert Lawson
3rd Brigade
Brig. Gen. Edward Stevens
Dabney’s State Legion


  1. ^ a b Reorganized on October 1 after Scammell was mortally wounded. All the Connecticut companies were grouped under Lt. Col. John Laurens in Scammell's Battalion. All of the Massachusetts companies were sent to Hamilton.