This Day In History, October 9th, 2021 – “Washington Fires The First Shot”


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(Washington firing the first shot at Yorktown. Painting by Henry Alexander Ogden. Image courtesy of Wikicommons, Public Domain.)

It was just 240 years ago today, October 9, 1781, when General Washington, the man that had kept alive the rebel cause for liberty, fired the first cannon shot from the American batteries overlooking the besieged British forces of General Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia. Cornwallis, over confident and cocky, as most British generals of the time were apt to be, had thought his defenses were strong, after all, the Americans were just a rabble, and the British controlled the seas.

Now, Cornwallis was in a different position. Not only was there a strong American force besieging him, but Washington managed once again to dupe the British, and had secretly marched from New York City, where another British force was, and bolstered the besieging allied force, yes, that’s right, allied force, for the French had come to help, with ground troops and ships to trap the British like delicious fish in a barrel. When Washington fired the first shot, the legend has it that it actually destroyed a table that some English officers were eating at. Now, it’s a legend, and hard to verify sometimes, for after Washington’s shot, a fierce bombardment erupted, and soon, Cornwallis would surrender, and the British band would play, The World Turned Upside Down. This and more all happened, 240 years ago, today.

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