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The Art of Mort Künstler / The American Spirit / A New Nation

Here you will find a pictorial chronicle of the drama and excitement of American History. These paintings give the viewer an insight into the tumultuous life of this young nation that mere words cannot achieve.

Digging the Trenches at Yorktown

As British General Charles Cornwallis marched toward Yorktown and Continental Army General Nathanael Greene turned south, Washington remained preoccupied with attacking New York City, which seemed to him the most direct means of ending the war. Cornwallis proceeded to raid the countryside, defying the rebels to stop him. They couldn’t, until Washington readjusted his plans and marched his entire army south to Virginia. Aided by Admiral François Joseph Paul de Grasse’s French fleet, Washington surrounded Cornwallis’s positions on September 28. Expecting quick relief from British forces based in New York, Cornwallis abandoned his outer entrenchments and retracted his army of nine thousand men into a close perimeter around Yorktown. It was a fatal error. Washington tightened the noose around Yorktown, and ordered the construction of entrenchments from which he could begin the siege. His men began work on the evening of October 6. Three days later, “His Excellency General Washington put the match to the first gun, and a furious discharge of cannon and mortars immediately followed.”

Date Created: 1976

Medium: Gouache

Image Size: 14" x 22"


All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2022. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.