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Yorktown, historic town (1990 pop. 270), seat of York co., SE Va., on the York River 10 mi (16 km) from its mouth on Chesapeake Bay; settled 1631, laid out 1691. It is included in the Colonial National Historical Park (see National Parks and Monuments, table). The town, once an important tobacco port, reached its zenith c.1750. The Yorktown campaign (1781) brought to a close the American Revolution; the battlefield surrounds the town. In the Civil War, Yorktown was besieged (Apr.–May, 1862) by McClellan in the Peninsular campaign, and the city was taken by Union troops on May 4. Places of interest in Yorktown include the customhouse (c.1706; restored 1929); Grace Church (1697); the Moore House (c.1725), in which the terms of Cornwallis's surrender were negotiated; and the Yorktown Monument (1881), commemorating the victory of 1781.

See B. Davis, The Campaign That Won America: The Story of Yorktown (1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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