Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis (1738-1805) [Articles of capitulation settled at Yorktown]

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.09555 Author/Creator: Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis (1738-1805) Place Written: Yorktown, Virginia Type: Manuscript document Date: 19 October 1781 Pagination: 7 p. : docket ; 31.3 x 19.7 cm.

Summary of Content: List of articles dictating the surrender of Cornwallis (Lieutenant General of Britain) to George Washington, the Count de Rochambeau (Lieutenant General of the French army), and the Comte de Grasse (Lieutenant General of the naval armies of France). Written in the hand of Samuel Shaw, Henry Knox's aide de camp. Shaw has penned the signature "Thomas Symonds." Shaw apparently also attempted to create with the same pen a look-alike signature of Cornwallis. Symonds was the commander of British naval forces in the York River. Article one indicates that the garrisons of York and Gloucester, British seamen, and other mariners will surrender themselves as prisoners of war to the forces of America and France. Article four allows officers to retain their arms and renders them exempt from search. Article seven indicates that officers may keep soldiers as servants. Eight allows for the sloop Bonetta to remain at the disposal of Cornwallis. Article ten prevents natives from being punished for joining the British army.

Full Transcript: [draft]
V Articles of Capitulation,
Settled between his Excellency General Washington, Commander in Chief of the combined Forces of America and France; His Excellency the Count De Rochambeau, Lieutenant General ...of the Armies of [inserted: the King of] France, Great Corp of the royal and military order of St. Louis, commanding the auxiliary troops of His Most Christian Majesty in America; and His Excellency the Count de Graffe, Lieutenant General of the Naval Armies of His Most Christian Majesty, Commander of the order of St. Louis, commanding in chief the naval army of France in the Chesapeak - on the one part. - And the Right Honorable Earl Cornwallis, Lieutenant General of His Britannic Majesty's forces, commanding the garrisons of York and Gloucester; and Thomas Symonds Esquire commanding His Britannic Majestys Naval forces in York River, in Virginia - on the other part.
V Article 1. Article 1.
The garrison of York and Gloucester, including the
officers and Seamen of His Britannic Majesty's Ships, as
well as other Mariners, to surrender themselves prisoners Granted.
of war to the combined forces of America and France. The
land troops to remain prisoners to the United States - the
navy to the naval army of his Most Christian Majesty.

[2] V Article 2d. Article 2d.
The artillery, arms, accoutrements, military
chest and public stores of every denomination, shall be Granted.
delivered, unimpaired, to the heads of departments
appointed to receive them.

V Article 3d. Article 3d.
At 12 o'clock this day the two redoubts on the
left flank of York to be delivered - the one to a
detachment of American infantry, the other to a
detachment of French grenadiers. The garrison of York
will march out to a place to be appointed in front of the
posts, at 2 o'clock precisely, with shouldered arms, colors
cased, and drums beating a British or German march. They Granted.
are there to ground their arms and return to their
encampment where they will remain until they are
dispatched to the place of destination. - Two works on the
Gloucester Side will be delivered at 1 o'clock to
detachments of French and American troops appointed
to possess them. The garrison will march out at 3 o'clock
in the afternoon, - the cavalry with their swords drawn,
trumpets sounding - and the infantry in the manner
prescribed for the garrison of York. They are likewise [3]
to return to their encampment until they can be finally
marched off.

V Article 4th. Article 4th.
Officers are to retain their side arms -
both officers and soldiers to keep their private
property of every kind, and no part of their baggage or
papers to be at any time subject to search or inspection. Granted.
The baggage and papers of officers and soldiers taken
during the siege, to be likewise preserved by them. - It is
to be understood that any property obviously belonging
to the inhabitants of these states, in the possession of the
garrison, shall be subject to be reclaimed.

V Article 5th. Article 5th.
The soldiers to be kept in Virginia, Maryland
or Pennsylvania, and as much by regiments as possible,
& supplied with the same rations of provisions as are
allowed to soldiers in the service of America. A field
officer from each Nation, viz[r] British, [and such] & Hessian,
and other officers on parole, in the proportion of one to Granted.
fifty men, to be allowed to reside near their respective
regiments to visit them frequently and be witness of their
treatment. And that these officers may receive and
deliver clothing and other necessaries for them, for which
[passports] are to be granted when applied for.

Ar [4] V Article 6th. Article 6th.
The General, Staff, and other officers, not
employed as mentioned in the above article, and who
chuse it, to be permitted to go on parole to Europe,
to New York, or to any other American maritime posts
as present in the possession of the British forces, at
their own option, and proper vessels to be granted by
the Count de Graffe to carry men under flags of truce to
New York, within ten days from this date, if possible,
and they to reside in a district to be agreed upon hereafter
until they embark. The officers of the civil departments
of the Army and Navy to be included in this article.
Passports to go by land to be granted to those to whom
vessels cannot be furnished.

V Article 7th. Article 7th
Officers to be allowed to keep soldiers as servants,
according the common practice of the service. Servants
not soldiers, are not to be considered as prisoners and are
to be allowed to attend their Master.

V Article 8th. Article 8th.
The [Bonetter] sloop of War to be equipped
and navigated by its present captain and crew, and
left entirely at the disposal of Lord Cornwallis from [5] from
the hour that the capitulation is signed, to receive an
Aide de Camp to carry dispatches to his H. Clinton - and
such soldiers as he may think proper to send to New York,
to be permitted to sail without examination, when his
dispatches are ready. His Lordship engaging on his part
that the ship shall be delivered to the order of the Count de
Graffe, if she escapes the dangers of the seas - that she shall
not carry off any public stores - Any part of the crew that
shall be deficient on her return, and the soldiers passengers,
to be accounted for on her delivery.

V Article 9th. Article 9th.
The traders are to [preserve] their property The traders will be allowed to
and to be allowed three months to dispose of their effects. The allied army
dispose of or remove them. And those traders having the right to pre-emption. The traders
are not to be considered prisoners of war. to be considered as prisoners of war on parole.

V Article 10th. Article 10th.
Natives or inhabitants of different parts of This article cannot be assented to -
this Country at present in York or Gloucester, are being altogether of civil resort.
not to be punished on account of having joined
the British Army.

Ar [6] V Article 11th. Article 11th.
Proper [struck: articles] [inserted: hospitals] The hospital stores now in York and
to be furnished for the sick and wounded - they are Gloucester shall be delivered for the
to be attended by their own surgeons on parole, and use of the British sick and wounded-
they are to be furnished with medicines and stores passports will be granted for
from the American hospitals. procuring them further supplies from N. York, as occasion may require - and proper hospitals will be furnished for the reception of the
sick and wounded of the two
garrisons.

V Article 12th. Article 12th.
Waggons to be furnished to carry the They will be furnished if
baggage of the officers attending the soldiers, possible.
and to surgeons when traveling on account of
the sick - attending the hospitals at public
expence.

V Article 13th. Article 13th.
The shipping and boats in the two harbours,
with all their stores, guns, tackling and apparel,
shall be delivered up in their present state to an
officer of the navy, appointed to take possession of Granted
them, previously unloading the private property,
part of which had been on board for Security during
the Siege.

Ar [7] V Article 14th. Article 14th.
No article of the of the capitulation to be
infringed on pretext of reprisal, and if there by any
doubtful expressions in it, they are to be interpreted
according to the common meaning and acceptation
of the words.

Done at York in Virginia, this 19th day of October 1781.
Corwnallis
Thos. Symonds
[docket]
Article of Capitulation
19 Octo 1781.
See More

People: Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis, 1738-1805
Symonds, Thomas, fl. 1781
Rochambeau, Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de, 1725-1807
Grasse, François Joseph Paul de Grasse, comte de, 1722-1788
Washington, George, 1732-1799

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Prisoner of WarBattle (Siege, Surrender) of YorktownRevolutionary WarRevolutionary War GeneralMilitary HistoryBattleSurrenderGlobal History and CivicsForeign AffairsContinental ArmyFranceNavy

Sub Era: The War for Independence

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources