The Story of Yorktown Told by the Men Who Were There by Jack Darrell Crowder: Book Review

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review and I have received other books from Genealogical Publishing Company, also for review. However, my opinions are my own and not influenced by outside sources.

When I first looked at the cover of this book, my thought was that this would be a dry, scholarly book about the last battle of the American Revolution.

Well, I was half wrong. Mr. Crowder has written a book that is well source, with both end notes and a 7 page bibliography of sources.

However, the book is quite a fascinating read because the text mostly consists of first person accounts from the beginning of the battle to the British surrender by Cornwallis.


Chapter 1 Yorktown
Chapter 2 The Siege Begins
Chapter 3 British Leave a Gift and a Hero Falls
Chapter 4 Preparations and the First Skirmish
Chapter 5 Quiet Before the Storm
Chapter 6 Artillery of Yorktown
Chapter 7 The Allies Roar Back
Chapter 8 Closer to the British Lines
Chapter 9 The Noose Tightens
Chapter 10 A desperate Attempt to Escape
Chapter 11 Capitulation
Chapter 12 Agreeing to Terms of Surrender
Chapter 13 Surrender Ceremony
Chapter 14 Personal Accounts of the Surrender
Chapter 15 Prisoners Begin to Leave
Chapter 16 Final Day
End Notes

What makes this book so interesting to read are all the first person accounts by men, and a few women, who were at the battle site and watched the surrender.

One of my husband’s ancestors, William Williams from Cumberland County, Virginia, was just a bit too young to serve in the war. However, his older brother, Mathias Williams, did participate and stated that he witnessed the surrender at Yorktown.

The author does note that some of these accounts might vary slightly with official records of the war, possibly due to the bias of the speaker or a failure of memory, but that in no way diminishes the experiences of everyone present.

Chapter 1 sets the stage with a detailed account of Yorktown and how Cornwallis prepared for the battle. In addition to British soldiers, he had the helped of 3,000 enslaved persons hoping to win their freedom.

The chapters covering the opening of the siege are filled with excerpts from various diaries and records of senior officials, both American and British.

As the battle unfolds, its story is told through a mix of official records and later interviews with those who were present and/or fought in the battle.

I have to admit that history was always one of my favorite subjects in school, so I was really drawn into the story told by Mr. Crowder.

I would highly recommend this book to other history buffs, both those interested in history in general and the American Revolution, in particular.

The Story of Yorktown told by the Men Who Were There by Jack Darrell Crowder is newly published (June 2023) by Clearfield Company for Genealogical Publishing Company and can be ordered online at for $45.00.

The author has published four other interesting looking books about the American Revolution, which can also be bought online at

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