The climactic battle of the American Revolution, the siege of Yorktown in October 1781, was a decisive win for George Washington’s Continental Army. It was also a triumph for the unlikely wartime alliance forged between patriot revolutionaries and the French King Louis XVI. A massive Franco-American force succeeded in vanquishing British and Hessian troops led by Lord Cornwallis, scoring a victory so lopsided that peace talks began in earnest soon afterwards.
Historian Richard Bell explores the story of this essential alliance from small-scale privateering and gun-running to the formal recognition of the United States following the Battle of Saratoga in 1777. Bell examines Benjamin Franklin’s pivotal role in persuading the French court to wade into the war between Britain and its rebel colonies; he explains how the war’s scope and global reach changed when France joined the fight; and he reconstructs the experiences of ordinary French soldiers and sailors as they pitched in alongside the patriots.
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