September 5, 1781

French Fleet Defeats British Navy at the Battle of the Capes

In perhaps the key naval battle of the war, a French fleet under the Comte de Grasse pushes a smaller British squadron commanded by Thomas Graves away from the Chesapeake, thereby closing off any possibility that Cornwallis might be resupplied or reinforced from the sea. Several days later, on September 10, another French fleet arrives from Newport, Rhode Island, with siege guns to employ against Cornwallis's fortifications at Yorktown.

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