Early in August Cornwallis retired to Yorktown to rest and await developments.
McClellan's advance was opposed by a small force of Confederates under General Magruder, which, gradually reinforced, held the historic position of Yorktown for a whole month, and only evacuated it on the 3rd of May.
During the War of American Independence he was in several sea-fights with the English, and was at the taking of Yorktown in 1781.
In February 1781 Congress instructed Jay that he might make concessions regarding the navigation of the Mississippi, if necessary; but further delays were interposed, the news of the surrender of Yorktown arrived, and Jay decided that any sacrifice to obtain a treaty was no longer advisable.
The American army under Washington encamped near Dobbs Ferry on the 4th of July 1781, and started thence for Yorktown in the following month.
He took part in the battles of Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth, and at Yorktown commanded the first brigade of light infantry.