Battle of the Virginia Capes, 5 September 1781
Oil on canvas by v. Zveg, 1962, depicting the French fleet (at left), commanded by Vice Admiral the Comte de Grasse, engaging the British fleet (at right) under Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Graves off the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. In this tactically inconclusive but strategically decisive battle line action, the French successfully prevented the British fleet from entering Chesapeake Bay and relieving Major General Lord Cornwallis' army at Yorktown, Virginia. After a siege by American and French forces, Cornwallis was forced to surrender on 19 October 1781, an event that led the British to abandon their effort to prevent American independence. Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.