Troops at Yorktown - England

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British Army

The British Army forces present at Yorktown arrived in Virginia in four separate detachments. The first was sent from New York City in December 1780 under the command of the turncoat Brigadier General Benedict Arnold. The second was sent from New York in March 1781 under the command of Brigadier General William Phillips to reinforce Arnold after a Franco-American threat. The third detachment to arrive was that of General Cornwallis, who had been active in the Carolinas, and decided, against standing orders, to join with the forces of Arnold and Phillips after the April Battle of Guilford Court House. He arrived at Petersburg, Virginia in late May to take command of the army; Phillips had died of a fever just a week before, and Arnold returned to New York not long after Cornwallis arrived. While at Petersburg, Cornwallis was joined by a fourth detachment from New York that was under the command of the Hessian Colonel August von Voigt.

With this force, numbering about 7,200, Cornwallis first chased after the army of the Marquis de Lafayette, a much smaller force of Continental Army and local militiamen that had provided some resistance to the movements of Phillips and Arnold. Cornwallis was eventually ordered by the British Commander-in-Chief of North America, Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton, to establish a fortified deep-water port at either Yorktown or Portsmouth. Cornwallis chose Yorktown, and began constructing fortifications there and Gloucester Point, just across the York River from Yorktown, in August 1781.

Commander Lt. Gen. Charles, Earl Cornwallis, commanding


17th Light Dragoons


Royal Regiment of Artillery
(plus detachments of sailors manning guns from scuttled ships

British Infantry

Brigade of Foot Guards
Brig. Gen. Charles O'Hara

Two battalions

Light Infantry Brigade
Lt. Col. Robert Abercromby, 38th Foot

1st Battalion
(Light companies from the 4th, 15th, 17th, 23rd, 27th, 33rd, and 38th Foot)
2nd Battalion
(Light companies from the 37th, 40th, 43rd, 45th, 49th, 55th, 63rd, and 71st Foot)
82nd Foot

1st Brigade
Lt. Col. John Yorke, 22nd Foot

17th Foot
23rd Foot
33rd Foot
71st Foot, 2nd Battalion

2nd Brigade
Lt. Col. Thomas Dundas, 80th Foot

43rd Foot
76th Foot
80th Foot


German Infantry

Ansbach-Bayreuth Contingent
Col. August von Voigt

1st Regiment
2nd Regiment
Artillery company

Hesse-Kassel Contingent
Lt. Col. Matthew von Fuchs

Erb Prinz (Prince Hereditaire) Regiment
von Bose Regiment
Jaeger Company
Artillery Company




Queen's Rangers
British Legion
North Carolina Volunteers