Lord Cornwallis


Lord Cornwallis

During the American Revolution, Lord Charles Cornwallis commanded British troops in the southern states. This is especially interesting and ironic because in England, he had voted against policies such as the Stamp Act that led the colonies to declare independence. But when his nation called, Cornwallis did his duty, again and again. He captured Savannah, Charleston, and Camden, South Carolina. If he had won the south—or at least its major cities—then why were Patriot guerrilla fighters pestering his troops to death? Those Patriots never gave up, and they made his life miserable.

Cornwallis camped at Yorktown in August 1781 and waited for General Clinton to resupply him by sea. But at Yorktown, General Washington and his French allies cornered him. Forced to surrender, Cornwallis couldn't bring himself to hand over his sword to Washington in person, so he sent one of his generals instead. Some British critics accused him of "losing America" but it wasn't really his fault.

You'd think that losing the war in America would have wrecked his career. But it didn't. People still respected him in England; he came from an important family, and King George III liked him. So even after the defeat in America, the British government appointed Cornwallis to other important jobs, where he distinguished himself as a diplomat and military leader.



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