Map, "CARTE/ DE LA PARTIE DE LA VIRGINIE/ou/ L'ARMÉE COMBINÉE DE FRANCE &/ DES ÉTATS-UNIS DE L'AMÉRIQUE/…"
On August 14, 1781, General Washington received news that would shape his strategy for the remainder of the Revolutionary War. In order to support the American campaign, French Admiral François Joseph Paul, Comte de Grasse, had left the West Indies with a fleet of twenty-eight ships of the line, six frigates, and three thousand troops bound for the Chesapeake Bay.
De Grasse arrived in the Chesapeake on August 26. When the British navy under the command of Admiral Thomas Graves appeared at the Virginia Capes on September 5, de Grasse dispatched his warships to the mouth of the bay. Although the ensuing battled lasted less than three hours, the British fleet was heavily damaged. Six of Graves' nineteen ships were temporarily taken out of action. The Terrible, illustrated in flames, was so mutilated that the British eventually had to destroy the vessel.
This map depicts a dramatic, somewhat stylized version of the important role the French allies played in the American victory at Yorktown. Designed for the French market, it illustrates - and perhaps enhances - their position at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. It was obvious to the French people that Cornwallis could neither flee or receive reinforcements.