That summer of 1781, a French fleet under the Comte de Grasse as well as General Washington's combined French-American army all arrived in Virginia. Cornwallis now found himself trapped in his coastal enclave at Yorktown. He surrendered on October 19, 1781 after about three weeks' siege. Cornwallis pleaded illness and sent Brigadier General Charles O'Hara in his place to surrender his sword formally. Washington had his second-in-command, Benjamin Lincoln (repatriated after his surrender at Charleston) accept Cornwallis' sword.
With the American war ended in 1783, Cornwallis was by 1789 Governor-General and commander in chief in India. Andrew Jackson was a frontier lawyer in the now independent United States.
For France, 1789 was the year of revolution. A 22 year old French soldier, Jean Joseph Amable Humbert, was a
participant, (born in 1767 in the townland of La Coâre Saint-Nabord, outside Remiremont Vosges). He was soon a sergeant in the National Guard of Lyon, rising through the ranks to become brigadier general on April 9, 1794.
Having participated in the failed attempt to land a French army in Ireland in 1796, two years later Humbert was placed in command of part of a new expedition. On August 23, 1798, he was able to land at Killala, Co Mayo, meeting with initial success in the battle of Castlebar.
A Republic of Connacht was declared and Humbert began with hopes of marching across Ireland and taking Dublin. However, in June, 1798, now 1st Marquis Cornwallis was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland and Commander-in-Chief in Ireland. London also sent reinforcements, eventually having 60,000 British forces there.
Humbert’s tiny command was only a fragment of the planned French force most of which never reached Irish shores. Blocked from reaching Dublin, Humbert and his Irish allies were defeated in a brief battle of Ballinamuck on September 18, 1798. Humbert surrendered but many of the Irish were denied that chance and Cornwallis also ordered the execution by lot of a number of Irish rebels captured.
Also in Ireland was Major Edward Pakenham, 'Ned' to his friends. Pakenham was born at Pakenham Hall, nowTullynally Castle, County Westmeath, Ireland. Educated at The Royal School, Armagh, his family purchased his commission when he was only sixteen. In Ireland in 1798 he was serving in one of the regular British army cavalry units there - 23rd Light Dragoons. As a regular British Army officer, Pakenham according to some sources may also have served as an aide to Cornwallis.