1781 Siege of Yorktown
"I propose a cessation of hostilities for twenty four hours, and that two officers may be appointed by each side, to meet at Mr. Moore's house, to settle terms for the surrender of the posts of York and Gloucester."
General Charles Lord Cornwallis to General George Washington, October 17, 1781
On October 18, 1781, after eight days of continual bombardment, the battlefield was finally tranquil. Washington and Cornwallis now focused on the surrender negotiations taking place at this house, the home of Augustine Moore. Each general had selected two officers to handle the face-to-face discussions. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Dundas and Major Alexander Ross represented the British, while Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens and Second Colonel Viscount de Noailles spoke for the Allies.
Slowing the progress was Laurens' insistence, with Washington's support, that the British submit to similar terms granted by the British to the defeated American army at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1780. Those terms had deprived the American soldiers to surrender with the army's personal honor intact. The British argued for better terms, but the Allies prevailed and around midnight, a draft of the "Articles of Capitulation"
was completed with 14 provisions, including two conditions that denied the British the "full honors of war."
These two articles required that at the surrender ceremony, the British army would case their regimental flags, and their military band would play British music instead of professionally saluting the victor with American and French songs.
History of Moore House
The Moore House is an early 18th century home that has undergone many structural changes and about 50 owners. The house was extensively damaged during the Civil War, both by cannon fire and soldiers stripping wood from the house for campfire use. By the 150th anniversary of the surrender, the house was in a dilapidated state. In 1931, the National Park Service undertook its first restoration of a historic building - the Moore House. Three years later the project was complete, and the house once again appeared as it did in 1781.