In 1781 the newly formed United States of America learned that it is through the providence of God that you could snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. In January 1781 the picture was quite bleak for the American cause. The Continental dollar had collapsed and there was no money to pay the troops. They were revolting, going home, and enlistments were low. Washington didn't even have money to entertain dignitaries to ask for assistance. This small army of merchants and farmers was fighting the most powerful, highly disciplined army on the face of the earth at that time. There seemed to be nothing but defeat in the future of the American cause. By October God turned another series of defeats into ultimate victory, and America was free to govern herself through the principles of Christian self-government.
On January 17, 1781 a series of providential events began that led up to that final victory at Yorktown on October 19, 1781. On January 17, an American force defeated Colonel Tarleton at Cowpens. For the rest of 1781, leading up to October it appeared that the Americans would be swallowed by defeat even in the jaws of this victory. Lord Cornwallis was enraged by this defeat and determined to destroy the American forces. Stationed in the south, Cornwallis hastily made way north to cut off the retreating American army.
Cornwallis reached the Catawba River just two hours after the retreating Americans. So confident of victory He decided to wait until morning to cross and destroy the army. Providentially, over night a storm filled the river, staying the progress of the British. Cornwallis once again caught up to the retreating army at the Yadkin River just as the American troops were landing on the eastern shore. Again God caused the river to flood, providentially protecting the American army. On February 13, 1781, the Americans crossed the Dan River. A few hours later Cornwallis was poised to deliver the final blow to the Americans when, in the words of Lord Cornwallis' commander in chief, General Clinton “...the royal army was again stopped by a sudden rise of the waters, which had only just fallen (almost miraculously) to let the enemy over, who could not else have eluded Lord Cornwallis' grasp, so close was he upon their rear...”
It was this army in the south that harassed Lord Cornwallis for the rest of the year finally driving him to the sea, to set the stage for his defeat at Yorktown. However, it wasn't that simple. Yes, God preserved this southern force, but had General Washington not left New York for Yorktown when he did, the British would have had time to reinforce their southern army. Had Robert Morris, the financier of the revolution, not utilized extraordinary means to raise money in 1781, Washington's troops would have marched home instead of going to Yorktown. Had a French fleet (unknown to Washington) arrived just in time to defeat the British fleet, Cornwallis could have escaped. Had a tornado-like storm not stopped the last ditch effort of the British to escape across the York River on October 16, 1781 the war would have dragged on, and no one will ever know what consequences that would have held.
Final victory came for Washington and the Americans on October 19,1781, when Cornwallis surrendered. On November 15, 1781 Washington wrote to Congress, “I take a particular pleasure in acknowledging that the interposing hand of Heaven, in the various instances of our extensive preparations for this operation, has been most conspicuous and remarkable. It was only due to the providential working of God Almighty that the Americans were able to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat.”