The 5 Most Important Battles That Shaped Modern America And Europe

Published April 10, 2017
Updated February 1, 2024

Famous Battles: Battle of Yorktown, September 19 – October 19, 1781

Siege Of Yorktown

Wikimedia Commons“Siège de Yorktown,” by Auguste Couder (1836) shows Rochambeau and Washington giving their final orders before the battle.

If the American forces had not won the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Yorktown, the United States would almost certainly not exist today.

Although the British, with advantages in both numbers and experience, should have crushed the American troops, an unlikely alliance between France and America saved the day for the fragile, newly-founded country.

French Squadron Yorktown

Wikimedia CommonsA French document recounting the role of the Navy of France’s blockade in the British surrender at Yorktown.

Given the French/American alliance, the British were overpowered on both land and sea. After a few months of a siege on Yorktown by both French and American troops, General Lord Cornwallis surrendered his 8,000 men to American forces.

Within weeks, America fully claimed their independence from the British Empire.

Yorktown Stamp

Wikimedia CommonsThis US postage stamp was issued in 1931 in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Yorktown victory.

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John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.