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Chapter 25:

Campaign in Virginia.


Clinton had himself resolved to hold a station in
Chap. XXV.} 1781. Jan. 2.
the Chesapeake Bay, and on the second of January, 1781, Arnold, with sixteen hundred men, appeared by his order in the James river. The generous state had sent its best troops and arms to the southern army. Nelson had received timely orders from Governor Jefferson to call out the militia of the low country; but, in the region of planters with slaves, there were not freemen enough at hand to meet the invaders; and Steuben, thinking Petersburg the object of attack, kept his small force on the south side of the river. Arnold offered to spare Richmond if he might unmolested carry off its stores of tobacco; the proposal being rejected with scorn, on the fifth
and sixth, all its houses and stores, public and private,
were set on fire. In the hope of capturing Arnold and his corps, Washington detached Lafayette with about twelve hundred rank and file to Virginia; and, [498] repairing to Newport, persuaded the French naval
Chap. XXV.} 1781. March 6.
commander to send to the Chesapeake ten ships of war to co-operate with him. They were followed by the British squadron, and twelve leagues east of the bay an action took place. The French were compelled to return to Newport, while Arbuthnot entered the Chesapeake.

On the twenty-sixth of March, General Phillips,

who brought from New York a re-enforcement of two thousand picked men, took the command in Virginia. All the stores of produce which its planters in five quiet years had accumulated were now carried off or destroyed. Their negroes, so desired in the West Indies, formed the staple article of plunder.

By a courier from Washington, Lafayette received information that Virginia was about to become the centre of active operations, and was instructed to defend the state as well as the weakness of his means would permit. His troops were chiefly from New England, and dreaded the unwholesome and unknown climate of lower Virginia. Besides, they were destitute of every thing. To prevent deser-

tion, Lafayette, as soon as he found himself on the south side of the Susquehanna, in an order of the day, offered leave to any of them to return to the north; and not one would abandon him. At Baltimore he borrowed two thousand pounds sterling, supplied his men with shoes and hats, and bought linen, which the women of Baltimore made into summer garments. Then, by a forced march of two hundred miles, he arrived at Richmond on the twenty-ninth of April, the evening before Phillips
[499] reached the opposite bank of the river. Having
Chap. XXV.} 1781. April 29.
in the night been joined by Steuben with militia, Lafayette was enabled to hold in check the larger British force. Wayne should have accompanied Lafayette with the Pennsylvania line, but they were detained week after week for needful supplies. Meantime Clinton, stimulated by Germain's constant praises of the activity of Cornwallis, sent another considerable detachment to Virginia.

On the thirteenth of May, General Phillips died

May 13.
of malignant fever. Arnold, on whom the command devolved, though only for seven days, addressed a letter to Lafayette. The young man returned it with scorn, refusing to correspond with a traitor; upon which Arnold threatened to send to the Antilles all American prisoners, unless a cartel should be immediately concluded. But on the twentieth
Cornwallis arrived at Petersburg; and, to free his camp of one whom he despised, he ordered Arnold back to New York.

Clinton had little reason to be satisfied with an

officer who had represented to the ministry that he might have taken the American posts in the Highlands in a few days by a regular attack. Nevertheless he detached him once more, and this time against his native state. Crossing from Long Island, the troops under his command, on the sixth of Sep-
tember, landed on each side of New London. The town, which offered little resistance, was plundered and burned. After a gallant defence of forty minutes by Colonel Ledyard, with about one hundred and fifty ill-armed militia-men, Fort Griswold was carried by storm, the Americans having lost not more than six [500] men. When Ledyard had surrendered, the British
Chap. XXV.} 1781.
officer in command ran him through with his sword, and refused quarter to the garrison. Seventy-three of them were killed, and more than thirty wounded; about forty were carried off as prisoners. With this expedition, Arnold disappears from history.

Cornwallis now found himself where he had so ardently desired to be,—in Virginia, at the head of seven thousand effective men, with not a third of that number to oppose him by land, and with undisputed command of the water.

The statesmen of Virginia, in the extremity of their peril, were divided in opinion. ‘Wanting a rudder in the storm,’ said Richard Henry Lee, ‘the good ship must inevitably be cast away;’ and he proposed to send for General Washington immediately, and invest him with ‘dictatorial powers.’ But Jefferson, on the other hand, reasoned: ‘The thought alone of creating a dictator is treason against the people; is treason against mankind in general, giving to their oppressors a proof of the imbecility of republican government in times of pressing danger. The government, instead of being braced and invigorated for greater exertions under difficulties, would be thrown back.’ As governor of Virginia, speaking for its people and representing their dis-

May 28.
tresses, he wrote to Washington: ‘Could you lend us your personal aid? It is evident, from the universal voice, that the presence of their beloved countryman would restore full confidence, and render them equal to whatever is not impossible. Should you repair to your native state, the difficulty would then be how to keep men out of the [501] field.’ The words sunk deeply into Washington's
Chap. XXV.} 1781.

During the summer, congress sought to improve the methods of administration. It was proposed to substitute for executive committees a single head of each of the most important departments; and, against the opinion of Samuel Adams and without aid from Massachusetts, the system was adopted. Robert Morris was placed in charge of the finances of the confederation; the conduct of foreign affairs was intrusted to Robert Livingston of New York.

Outside of congress, Hamilton persevered in recommending an efficient government. His views were so identical with those of Robert Morris, that it is sometimes hard to say in whose mind they first sprung up. Many who agreed with them in wishing a stronger union might think they laid too much stress on the institution of a national bank; and their opinion that a national debt, if not excessive, would be a national blessing, a powerful cement to union, and a spur to industry, did not rise out of the best traditions of the country, and was carried, at least by the elder of the two, to a most perilous extreme.

Meantime the conduct of the war continued to languish for the want of a central government. In the states from which the most was hoped, Hancock of Massachusetts was vain and neglectful of business. The president of Pennsylvania was more ready to recount what the state had done than what it meant to do; so that the army was not wholly free from the danger of being disbanded for want of subsistence. Of the armed vessels of the United States, [502] all but two frigates had been taken or destroyed.

Chap. XXV.} 1781. May.
Tired of the war and conscious of weakness, congress, yielding to the influence of the French Minister, made for its sole condition of peace the independence of the United States. The mediation of the empress of Russia and the emperor of Germany was accepted. The American commissioners were not restrained by absolute instructions with respect to boundaries, fisheries, the navigation of the Mississippi, or the country west of the Ohio; and they were charged ‘to undertake nothing in their negotiations for peace or truce without the knowledge and concurrence of the ministers of the king of France, and ultimately to govern themselves by their advice and opinion.’ That New Hampshire abandoned the claim to the fisheries was due to Sullivan, who at the time was a pensioner of Luzerne.

Madison still persevered in the effort to obtain power for congress to collect a revenue, and that body named a committee to examine into the changes which needed to be made in the articles of confederation. ‘The difficulty of continuing the war under them,’ so

Aug. 27.
wrote Luzerne on the twenty-seventh of August, ‘proves equally the necessity of reforming them, produced, as they were, at an epoch, when the mere name of authority inspired terror, and by men who thought to make themselves agreeable to the people. I can scarcely persuade myself that they will come to an agreement on this matter. Some persons even believe that the actual constitution, all vicious as it is, can be changed only by some violent revolution.’

The French government declined to furnish means [503] for the siege of New York. After the arrival of its

Chap. XXV.} 1781. May 21.
final instructions, Rochambeau, attended by Chastellux, in a meeting with Washington at Weathersfield, on the twenty-first of May, settled the preliminaries of the campaign. The French land force was to march to the North river, and, in conjunction with the American army, be ready to move to the southward. De Grasse was charged anew on his way to the north to enter the Chesapeake. In the conduct of the war for the coming season there would be union; for congress had lodged the highest power in the northern and southern departments in the hands of Washington, and France had magnanimously placed her troops as auxiliaries under his command.

Before his return, the American general called upon the governors of the four New England states, ‘in earnest and pointed terms,’ to complete their continental battalions, to hold bodies of militia ready to march in a week after being called for, and to adopt effective modes of supply. Governor Trumbull, of Connecticut, cheered him with the opinion that he would obtain all that he needed.

In June, the French contingent, increased by fifteen hundred men, newly arrived in ships of war, left Newport for the Hudson river. The inhabitants crowded around them on their march, glad to recognise in them allies and defenders, and, mingling at their encampments with officers and soldiers, listened with delight to the bands of their regiments. The rights of private property were most scrupulously respected, and the petty exigencies of local laws good-naturedly submitted to.

Cornwallis began his career in Virginia by seizing [504] the fine horses on the James river, and mounting a

Chap. XXV.} 1781.
gallant and most effective cavalry, five or six hundred in number. He then started in pursuit of Lafayette, who, with about one thousand continental troops, was posted between Wilton and Richmond, waiting for re-enforcements from Pennsylvania. ‘Lafayette, I think, cannot escape him,’ wrote Clinton to Germain.1 The youthful commander warily kept to the north of his pursuer, and, passing South and North Anna, went through the wilderness across the Rapidan, and on the seventh of June made a junc-
June 7.
tion with Wayne not far from Raccoon ford. Small as was his force, he compared the British in Virginia to the French occupation of Hanover in the seven years war, and confidently predicted analogous results. Cornwallis advanced as far as Hanover courthouse, then crossed South Anna, and, having failed in his first object, he sent out two detachments,—one of cavalry under Tarleton to break up the Virginia assembly, then in session at Charlottesville; the other to the Point of Fork, where Steuben, with five hundred Virginians of the line and a few of the militia, kept guard over large stores intended for the south. The main body of his army, in its camp on the James river, just below Byrd creek, awaited the return of the expeditions. For the next ten days, Cornwallis established his Headquarters at Elk Hill on a plantation belonging to Jefferson.

With one hundred and eighty dragoons and forty mounted infantry, Tarleton rode seventy miles in [505] twenty-four hours, destroying public stores on the

Chap. XXV.} 1781. June.
way; but the assembly, having received warning, had adjourned, and Jefferson had gone to the mountains on horseback. The dragoons overtook seven of the legislature. Otherwise the expedition was fruit less.

Steuben had transported his magazine across the Fluvanna, and was safe, the water being too deep to be forded; but Simcoe, who was sent against him, made him believe that the whole British army was in pursuit of him; and he fled, leaving behind him some part of his stores.

The two detachments rejoined the camp of Cornwallis, which extended along the James river from the Point of Fork to a little below the mouth of Byrd creek. Tarleton had suffered nothing of Jefferson's at Monticello to be injured. At Elk Hill, under the eye of Cornwallis, all the barns and fences were

burned; the growing crops destroyed; the fields laid absolutely waste; the throats cut of all the horses that were too young for service, and the rest carried off. He took away about thirty slaves, but not to give them freedom. The rest of the neighborhood was treated in like manner, but with less of destructive fury.

In the march of the British army from Elk Hill down the river to Williamsburg, where it arrived on the twenty-fifth of June, all dwelling-houses were plundered. The trusty band of Lafayette hung upon its rear, but “could not prevent its depredations. The Americans of that day computed that Cornwallis in his midsummer marchings up and down Virginia destroyed property to the value of three million [506] pounds sterling. He nowhere gained a foothold,

Chap. XXV.} 1781. June.
and he obtained no supplies except through the terror of his arms. His long travels had only taught him that the bulk of the people were bent on independence. At Williamsburg, to his amazement and chagrin, he received from his chief orders to send back about

” three thousand men. Clinton's letter of the eleventh expressed his fear of being attacked in New York by more than twenty thousand; there was, he said, no possibility of re-establishing order in Virginia, so general was the disaffection to Great Britain. Cornwallis should therefore take a defensive situation in any healthy station he might choose, be it at Williamsburg or Yorktown. On the fifteenth, he added: ‘I do not think it advisable to leave more troops in that unhealthy climate at this season of the year than are absolutely wanted for a defensive and a desultory water expedition.’ ‘De Grasse,’ so he continued on the nineteenth, ‘will visit this coast in the hurricane season, and bring with him troops as well as ships. But when he hears that your Lordship has taken possession of York river before him, I think that their first efforts will be in this quarter. I am, however, under no great apprehensions, as Sir George Rodney seems to have the same suspicions of de Grasse's intention that we have, and will, of course, follow him hither.’

From this time, the hate which had long existed between the lieutenant-general and the commanderin-chief showed itself without much reserve. The former was eager to step into the chief command; the latter, though he had threatened to throw up his [507] place, clung to it tenaciously, and declared that he

Chap. XXV.} 1781. July. 4.
would not be ‘duped’2 by his rival into resigning.

‘To your opinions it is my duty implicitly to submit,’ was the answer of Cornwallis to the orders of Clinton; and on the fourth of July he began his march to Portsmouth. On that day, the royal army arrived near James island, and in the evening the advanced guard reached the opposite bank of the James river. Two or three more days were required to carry over all the stores and the troops. The small American army followed at a distance. Beside fifteen hundred regular troops, equal to the best in the royal army, Lafayette drew to his side as volunteers gallant young men mounted on their own horses from Maryland and Virginia. Youth and generosity, courage and prudence, were his spells of persuasion. His perceptions were quick and his vigilance never failed, and in his methods of gaining information of the movements of the enemy he excelled all officers in the war except Washington and Morgan. All accounts bear testimony to his prudence, and that he never once committed himself during a very difficult campaign.3 Of his selfpossession in danger he was now called upon to give proof.

On the sixth, Lafayette judged correctly that the

great body of the British army was still on the north side of the James river; but Wayne, without his knowledge, detached a party under Colonel Galvan to carry off a field-piece of the enemy which was [508] said to lie exposed. The information proved false.
Chap. XXV.} 1781. July 6.
The party with Galvan found themselves suddenly in front of the advancing British line; and they retreated in column till they met Wayne with the Pennsylvania brigade. It suited the character of that officer to hazard an encounter. The British moved on with loud shouts and incessant fire. Wayne, discovering that he had been tempted to engage a greatly superior force, saw his only safety in redoubling his courage; and he kept up the fight till Lafayette, braving the hottest fire, in which his horse was killed under him, brought up the light infantry, and rescued the Pennsylvanians from their danger. Two of Wayne's field-pieces were left behind. In killed and wounded, each side lost about one hundred and twenty. The action took its name from the Green Springs farm, about eight miles above Jamestown, where Lafayette encamped for the night.

After passing the river, Cornwallis, on the eighth, wrote orders to Tarleton with mounted troops to ravage Prince Edward's and Bedford counties, and to destroy all stores, whether public or private. The benefit derived from the destruction of property was not equal to the loss in skirmishes on the route and from the heats of midsummer.

From his camp on Malvern Hill, Lafayette urged Washington to march to Virginia in force, and he predicted in July that if a French fleet should enter Hampton roads the English army must surrender. In like manner, on the eighth of the same month, Cornwallis, in reply to Clinton, reasoned earnestly against a defensive post in the Chesapeake. ‘It cannot have the smallest influence on the war in Carolina: it only [509] gives us some acres of an unhealthy swamp, and is

Chap. XXV.} 1781. July.
for ever liable to become a prey to a foreign enemy with a temporary superiority at sea.’ Thoroughly disgusted with the aspect of affairs in Virginia, he asked leave to transfer the command to General-Leslie, and for himself to go back to Charleston. Meantime transport ships arrived in the Chesapeake: and, in a letter which he received on the twelfth, he was desired by his chief so to hasten the embarkation of three thousand men that they might sail for New York within forty-eight hours; for, deceived by letters which were written to be intercepted, he believed that the enemy would certainly attack that post.

But the judgment of Clinton was further confused by still another cause. The expectation of a brilliant campaign in Virginia had captivated the minds of Lord George Germain and the king; and now that Cornwallis was thoroughly cured of his own presumptuous delusions, they came back to Clinton in the shape of orders from the American secretary, who dwelt on the vast importance of the occupation of Virginia, and on the wisdom of the present plan of pushing the war in that quarter. It was a great mortification to him that Clinton should think of leaving only a sufficient force to serve for garrisons in the posts that might be established there, and he continued: ‘Your ideas of the importance of recovering that province appearing to be so different from mine, I thought it proper to ask the advice of his Majesty's other servants upon the subject, and, their opinion concurring entirely with mine, it has been submitted to the king; and I am commanded [510] by his Majesty to acquaint you that the recovery of

Chap. XXV.} 1781.
the southern provinces and the prosecution of the war from south to north is to be considered as the chief and principal object for the employment of all the forces under your command which can be spared from the defence of the places in his Majesty's possession.’

On Cornwallis he heaped praises, writing to him in June: ‘The rapidity of your movements is justly

June 6.
matter of astonishment to all Europe.’ To Clinton he repeated in the same month: ‘Lord Cornwallis's opinion entirely coincides with mine;’ and on the seventh of July: ‘The detachments sent to Virginia
July 7.
promise more towards bringing the southern colonies to obedience than any offensive operation of the war;’ a week later: ‘You judiciously sent ample reenforce-ments to the Chesapeake;’ and on the second of August: ‘As Sir George Rodney knows the destina-
Aug. 2.
tion of de Grasse, and the French acknowledge his ships sail better than theirs, he will get before him and be in readiness to receive him when he comes upon the coast. I see nothing to prevent the recovery of the whole country to the king's obedience.’ So the troops in Virginia which were already embarked were ordered to remain there. ‘As to quitting the Chesapeake entirely,’ wrote Clinton in a letter received by Cornwallis on the twenty-first of July, ‘I
July 21.
cannot entertain a thought of such a measure. I flatter myself you will at least hold Old Point Comfort, if it is possible to do it without York.’ And four days later Clinton urged again: ‘It ever has been, is, and ever will be, my firm and unalterable opinion that it is of the first consequence to his [511] Majesty's affairs on the continent, that we take pos-
Chap. XXV.} 1781. July.
session of the Chesapeake, and that we do not afterwards relinquish it.’ ‘Remain in Chesapeake, at least until the stations I have proposed are occupied and established. It never was my intention to continue a post on Elizabeth river.’ Now the post of Portsmouth on Elizabeth river had, as Lafayette and Washington well understood, the special value that it offered in the last resort the chance of an escape into the Carolinas.

The engineers, after careful and extensive surveys, reported unanimously, that a work on Point Comfort would not secure ships at anchor in Hampton roads. To General Phillips on his embarkation in April, Clinton's words had been: ‘With regard to a station for the protection of the king's ships, I know of no place so proper as Yorktown.’4 Nothing therefore remained but, in obedience to the spirit of Clinton's orders, to seize and fortify York and Gloucester.5 Cornwallis accordingly, in the first week of August, embarked his troops suc-

Aug. 1. 2. 8.
cessively, and, evacuating Portsmouth, transferred his whole force to Yorktown and Gloucester. Yorktown was then but a small village on a high bank, where the long peninsula dividing the York from the James river is less than eight miles wide. The water is broad, bold, and deep; so that ships of the line may ride there in safety. On the opposite side lies Gloucester, a point of land projecting into the river so as to narrow its width to one mile. These were occupied by Cornwallis, and fortified with the utmost diligence; though in his deliberate [512] judgment the measure promised no honor to
Chap. XXV.} 1781.
himself, and no advantage to Great Britain.

On the other hand, Lafayette, concentrating his forces in a strong position at a distance of about eight miles, indulged in the happiest prophecies, and wrote on the twenty-fourth of August to Maurepas: ‘I

Aug. 24.
owe you so much gratitude, and feel for you so much attachment, that I wish sometimes to recall to your recollection the rebel commander of the little Virginia army. Your interest for me will have been alarmed at the dangerous part which has been intrusted to me in my youth. Separated by five hundred miles from every other corps and without any resources, I am to oppose the projects of the court of St. James and the fortunes of Lord Cornwallis. Thus far we have encountered no disaster.’ On the same day, his words to Vergennes were: ‘In pursuance of the immense plan of his court, Lord Cornwallis left the two Carolinas exposed, and General Greene has largely profited by it. Lord Cornwallis has left to us Portsmouth, from which place he was in communication with Carolina, and he now is at York, a very advantageous place for one who has the maritime superiority. If by chance that superiority should become ours, our little army will participate in successes which will compensate it for a long and fatiguing campaign. They say that you are about to make peace. I think that you should wait for the events of this campaign.’

On the very day on which Cornwallis took possession of York and Gloucester, Washington, assured of the assistance of de Grasse, turned his whole thoughts towards moving with the French troops under Rochambeau [513] and the best part of the American army to the

Chap. XXV.} 1781. Aug.
Chesapeake. While hostile divisions and angry jealousies increased between the two chief British officers in the United States, on the American side all things conspired happily together. De Barras, who commanded the French squadron at Newport, wrote as to his intentions: ‘M. de Grasse is my junior; yet, as soon as he is within reach, I will go to sea to put myself under his orders.’ The same spirit insured unanimity in the mixed council of war. The rendezvous was given to de Grasse in Chesapeake Bay; and, at the instance of Washington, he was to bring with him as many land troops as could be spared from the West Indies. Clinton was so certain in his own mind that the siege of New York was the great object of Washington, that, although the force under his command, including militia, was nearly eighteen thousand, he suffered the Hudson river to be crossed on the
23. 24.
twenty-third and twenty-fourth of August without seizing the opportunity to give annoyance. Von Wurmb, a Hessian colonel, who had command at King's bridge, again and again reported that the allied armies were obviously preparing to move against Cornwallis; but the general insisted that the appearances were but a stratagem. On the second
Sept. 2.
of September, it first broke on his mind that Washington was moving southward.

In the allied camp all was joy. The love of freedom penetrated not the French officers only, but inflamed the soldiers. Every one of them was proud of being a defender of the young republic. The new principles entered into their souls, and became a part of their nature. On the fifth of September, [514] they encamped at Chester. Never had the

Chap. XXV.} 1781. Aug. 30.
French seen a man penetrated with a livelier or more manifest joy than Washington when he there learned that, on the last day but one in August, the Count de Grasse with twenty-eight ships of the line, and nearly four thousand land troops, had entered the Chesapeake, where, without loss of time, he had moored most of the fleet in Lynnhaven bay, blocked up York river, and, without being in the least annoyed by Cornwallis, had disembarked at James island three thousand men under the command of the Marquis de St. Simon. Here too prevailed unanimity. St. Simon, though older in military service as well as in years, placed himself and his troops as auxiliaries under the orders of Lafayette, because he was a major-general in the service of the United States. The combined army in their encampment could be approached only by two passages, which were in themselves difficult, and were carefully guarded, so that Cornwallis could not act on the offensive, and found himself effectually blockaded by land and by sea.

One more disappointment awaited Cornwallis. If a bad king or a bad minister pursues bad ends, he naturally employs bad men. No great naval officer wished to serve against the United States. Lord Sandwich, after the retirement of Howe, gave the naval command at New York to officers without ability; and the aged and imbecile Arbuthnot was succeeded by Graves, a coarse and vulgar man, of mean ability and without skill in his profession. Rodney should have followed de Grasse to the north: but he had become involved in pecuniary perils by his indiscriminate seizures at St. Eustatius, and laid himself [515] open to censure for his inactivity during the

Chap. XXV.} 1781. Aug. 30.
long-continued sale of his prize-goods. Pleading ill health, he escaped from uncongenial cares by sailing for England. To the north he sent in his stead Sir Samuel Hood, with fourteen sail of the line, frigates, and a fire-ship into the Chesapeake, where a junction with Graves would have given the English the supremacy in the bay. But Graves, who was of higher rank than Hood, was out of the way on a silly cruise before Boston, which had no purpose unless to pick up a few prizes. Meantime de Barras, with eight ships of the line, sailed from Newport, convoying ten transports, which contained the ordnance for the siege of Yorktown.

There was no want of information at New York, yet the British fleet did not leave Sandy Hook until the day after de Grasse had arrived in the Ches-

Sept. 5.
apeake. Early on the fifth of September, Graves discovered the French fleet at anchor in the mouth of the Chesapeake. De Grasse, though eighteen hundred of his seamen and ninety officers were on duty in James river, ordered his ships to slip their cables, turn out from the anchorage ground, and form the line of battle. The action began at four o'clock in the afternoon, and continued till about sunset. The British sustained so great a loss that, after remaining five days in sight of the French, they returned to New York. On the first day of their return voyage,
they evacuated and burned ‘The Terrible,’ a ship of the line, so much had it been damaged in the engagement. De Grasse, now undisturbed master of the Chesapeake, on his way back to his anchoring ground captured two British ships, each of thirtytwo [516] guns, and he found de Barras safely at anchor in
Chap. XXV.} 1781.
the bay.

Leaving the allied troops to descend by water from Elk river and Baltimore, Washington, with Rochambeau and Chastellux, riding sixty miles a day, on the evening of the ninth reached his ‘own seat at Mount

Sept. 9.
Vernon.’ It was the first time in more than six years that he had seen his home. From its lofty natural terrace above the Potomac, his illustrious guests commanded a noble river, a wide expanse, and the height, then clothed in forest, within a generation to bear the capitol of the united republic.

Two days were given to domestic life. On the fourteenth, the party arrived at Williamsburg, where

Lafayette, recalling the moment when in France the poor rebels were held in light esteem, and when he nevertheless came to share with them all their perils, had the pleasure of welcoming Washington, as generalissimo of the combined armies of the two nations, to scenes of glory.

The first act of Washington was to repair to the ‘Ville de Paris’ to congratulate de Grasse on his victory. The system of co-operation between the land and naval forces was at the same time concerted.

At this moment Gerry wrote from Massachusetts to Jay: ‘You will soon have the pleasure of hearing of the capture of Lord Cornwallis and his army.’ ‘Nothing can save Cornwallis,’ said Greene, ‘but a rapid retreat through North Carolina to Charleston.’ On the seventeenth, Cornwallis reported to Clinton: ‘This place is in no state of defence. If you cannot relieve me very soon, you must be prepared [517] to hear the worst.’ On that same day, a

Chap. XXV.} 1781 Sept.
council of war, held by Clinton at New York, decided that Cornwallis must be relieved; ‘at all events before the end of October.’ The next day RearAdmiral Graves answered: ‘I am very happy to find that Lord Cornwallis is in no immediate danger.’

One peril yet menaced Washington. Count de Grasse, hearing of a re-enforcement of the fleet at New York, was bent on keeping the sea, leaving only two vessels at the mouth of the York river. Against this Washington addressed the most earnest remonstrance: ‘I should esteem myself deficient in my duty to the common cause of France and America, if I did not persevere in entreating you to resume the plans that have been so happily arranged.’ The

letter was taken by Lafayette, who joined to it his own explanations and reasonings; and de Grasse, though reluctantly, agreed to remain within the capes. Washington wrote on the twenty-seventh in
acknowledgment: ‘A great mind knows how to make personal sacrifices to secure an important general good.’

The troops from the north having been safely landed at Williamsburg, on the twenty-eighth the

united armies marched for the investiture of Yorktown, drove every thing on the British side before them, and lay on their arms during the night.

The fortifications of Yorktown, which were nothing but earthworks freshly thrown up, consisted on the right of redoubts and batteries, with a line of stockade in the rear, which supported a high parapet. Over a marshy ravine in front of the right, a large redoubt was placed. The morass extended [518] along the centre, which was defended by a stockade

Chap. XXV.} 1781. Sept.
and batteries. Two small redoubts were advanced before the left. The ground in front of the left was in some parts level with the works, in others cut by ravines; altogether very convenient for the besiegers. The space within the works was exceedingly narrow, and except under the cliff was exposed to enfilade.

The twenty-ninth was given to reconnoitring, and

forming a plan of attack and approach. The French entreated Washington for orders to storm the exterior posts of the British; in the course of the night before the thirtieth, Cornwallis ordered them all to be aban-
doned, and thus prematurely conceded to the allied armies ground which commanded his line of works in a very near advance, and gave great advantages for opening the trenches.

At Gloucester, the enemy was shut in by dragoons under the Duke de Lauzun, Virginia militia under General Weedon, and eight hundred marines. Once, and once only, Tarleton and his legion, who were stationed on the same side, undertook to act offensively; but the Duke de Lauzun and his dragoons, full of gayety and joy at the sight, ran against them and trampled them down. Tarleton's horse was taken; its rider barely escaped.

In the night before the sixth of October, every thing

Oct. 5.
being in readiness, trenches were opened at six hundred yards' distance from the works of Cornwallis,—on the right by the Americans, on the left by the French; and the labor was executed in friendly rivalry, with so much secrecy and despatch that it was first revealed to the enemy by the light of morning. Within three days, the first parallel was completed, the redoubts [519] finished, and batteries were employed in demolishing
Chap. XXV.} 1781. Oct. 10.
the embrasures of the enemy's works, and their advanced redoubts. On the night before the eleventh, the French battery on the left, by red-hot shot, set on fire the frigate Charon of forty-four guns, and three large transport ships, which were entirely consumed.

On the eleventh, the combined armies began at

night their second parallel within three hundred yards of the lines of the British, This measure was undertaken so much sooner than they expected that it could be conducted with the same secrecy as before, and they had no suspicion of the working parties till daylight discovered them to their pickets.

All day on the fourteenth, the American batteries

were directed against the abatis and salient angles of two advanced redoubts of the British, both of which needed to be included in the second parallel; and breaches were made in them sufficient to justify an assault. That on the right near York river was garrisoned by forty-five men, that on the left by thrice as many. The storming of the former fell to the Americans under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton; that of the latter to the French, of whom four hundred grenadiers and yagers of the regiments of Gatinois and of Deux Ponts, with a large reserve, was intrusted to Count William de Deux Ponts and to Baron de l'estrade.

At the concerted signal of six shells consecutively fired, the corps under Hamilton advanced in two columns without firing a gun,—the right composed of his own battalion, led by Major Fish, and of another commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Gimat; the left, [520] of a detachment under Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens,

Chap. XXV.} 1781. Oct. 14.
destined to take the enemy of reverse and intercept their retreat. All the movements were executed with exactness, and the redoubt was in the same moment enveloped and carried in every part. Lieutenant Mansfield conducted the vanguard with coolness and punctuality, and was wounded with a bayonet as he entered the work. Captain Olney led the first platoon of Gimat's battalion over the abatis and palisades, and gained the parapet, receiving two bayonet wounds in the thigh and in the body, but not till he had directed his men to form. Laurens was among the foremost to enter the work, making prisoner of Major Campbell, its commanding officer. Animated by his example, the battalion of Gimat overcame every obstacle by their order and resolution. The battalion under Major Fish advanced with such celerity as to participate in the assault. Incapable of imitating precedents of barbarity, the Americans spared every man that ceased to resist; so that the killed and wounded of the enemy did not exceed eight. The conduct of the affair brought conspicuous honor to the talents and gallantry of Hamilton.

Precisely as the signal was given, the French on the left, in like manner, began their march in the deepest silence. At one hundred and twenty paces from the redoubt, they were challenged by a German sentry from the parapet; they pressed on at a quick time, exposed to the fire of the enemy. The abatis and palisades, at twenty-five paces from the redoubt, being strong and well preserved, stopped them for some minutes and cost them many men. So soon as the way was cleared by the brave carpenters, [521] the storming party threw themselves into the ditch,

Chap. XXV.} 1781. Oct. 14.
broke through the fraises and mounted the parapet. Foremost was Charles de Lameth, who had volunteered for this attack, and who was wounded in both knees by two different musket-balls. The order being now given, the French leaped into the redoubt, and charged the enemy with the bayonet. At this moment, the Count de Deux Ponts raised the cry of ‘Vive le roi,’ which was repeated by all of his companions who were able to lift their voices. De Sireuil, a very young captain of yagers, who had been wounded twice before, was now wounded for the third time and mortally. Within six minutes, the redoubt was mastered and manned; but in that short time nearly one hundred of the assailants were killed or wounded.

Louis the Sixteenth distinguished the regiment of Gatinois by naming it the ‘Royal Auvergne.’ Washington acknowledged the emulous courage, intrepidity, coolness, and firmness of the attacking troops. On that night ‘victory twined double garlands around the banners’6 of France and America.

By the unwearied labor of the French and Americans, both redoubts were included in the second parallel in the night of their capture. Just before the break of day of the sixteenth, the British made a

sortie upon a part of the second parallel and spiked four French pieces of artillery and two of the American; but on the quick advance of the guards in the trenches they retreated precipitately. The spikes were easily extracted; and in six hours the cannon again took part in the fire which enfiladed the British works. [522]

On the seventeenth, Cornwallis, who could neither

Chap. XXV.} 1781. Oct. 18.
hold his post nor escape into the country, proposed to surrender. On the eighteenth, Colonel Laurens and the Viscount de Noailles as commissioners on the American side met two high officers of the army of Cornwallis to draft the capitulation. The articles were the same as those which Clinton had imposed upon Lincoln at Charleston. All the troops were to be prisoners of war; all public property was to be delivered up. Runaway slaves and the plunder taken by officers and soldiers in their marches through the country might be reclaimed by their owners; otherwise, private property was to be respected. All royalists were abandoned to trial by their own countrymen. But in the packet which took the despatches to Sir Henry Clinton, Cornwallis conveyed away such persons as were most obnoxious to the laws of Virginia.

Of prisoners, there were seven thousand two hundred and forty-seven of regular troops, the flower of the British army in America, beside eight hundred and forty sailors. The British loss during the siege amounted to more than three hundred and fifty. A hundred and six guns were taken, of which seventyfive were of brass. The land forces and stores were assigned to the Americans, the ships and mariners to the French. At four o'clock in the afternoon of the nineteenth, Cornwallis remaining in his tent, Major

General O'Hara marched the British army past the lines of the combined armies, and, not without signs of repugnance, made his surrender to Washington. His troops then stepped forward decently and piled their arms on the ground. [523]

Nor must impartial history fail to relate that the

Chap. XXV.} 1781. Oct. 19
French provided for the siege of Yorktown thirtyseven ships of the line, and the Americans not one; that while the Americans supplied nine thousand troops, of whom fifty-five hundred were regulars, the contingent of the French consisted of seven thousand.

Among the prisoners were two battalions of Anspach, amounting to ten hundred and seventy-seven men; and two regiments of Hesse, amounting to eight hundred and thirty-three. On the way to their camp, they passed in front of the regiment of Deux Ponts. At the sight of their countrymen, they forgot that they had been in arms against each other, and embraced with tears in their eyes. The English soldiers affected to look at the allied army with scorn. Their officers, of more reflection, conducted themselves with decorum, yet could not but feel how decisive was their defeat.

When the letters of Washington announcing the capitulation reached congress, that body, with the people streaming in their train, went in procession to the Dutch Lutheran church to return thanks to Almighty God. Every breast swelled with joy. In the evening, Philadelphia was illuminated with greater splendor than at any time before. Congress voted honors to Washington, to Rochambeau, and to de Grasse, with special thanks to the officers and troops. A marble column was to be erected at Yorktown, with emblems of the alliance between the United States and his most Christian Majesty.

The Duke de Lauzun, chosen to take the news across the Atlantic, arrived in twenty-two days at Best, and reached Versailles on the nineteenth of Brest, and reached Versailles on the nineteenth of

Nov. 19.
[524] November. The king, who had just been made
Chap. XXV.} 1781. Nov. 19.
happy by the birth of a dauphin, received the glad news in the queen's apartment. The very last sands of the life of the Count de Maurepas were running out; but he could still recognise de Lauzun, and the tidings threw a halo round his death-bed. The joy at court penetrated the whole people, and the name of Lafayette was pronounced with veneration. ‘History,’ said Vergennes, ‘offers few examples of a success so complete.’ ‘All the wild agree,’ wrote Franklin to Washington, ‘that no expedition was ever better planned or better executed. It brightens the glory that must accompany your name to the latest posterity.’

The first tidings of the surrender of Cornwallis reached England from France, about noon on the twenty-fifth of November. ‘It is all over,’ said

Lord North many times, under the deepest agitation and distress. Fox—to whom, in reading history, the defeats of armies of invaders, from Xerxes' time downwards, gave the greatest satisfaction—heard of the capitulation of Yorktown with wild delight. He hoped that it might become the principle of all mankind that power resting on armed force is invidious, detestable, weak, and tottering. The official report from Sir Henry Clinton was received the same day at midnight. When on the following Tuesday par-
liament came together, the speech of the king was confused, the debates in the two houses augured an impending change in the opinion of parliament, and the majority of the ministry was reduced to eightyseven. A fortnight later the motion of Sir James Lowther to give up ‘all further attempts to reduce [525] the revolted colonies’ was well received by the
Chap. XXV.} 1781 Nov.
members from the country, and the majority of the ministry after a very long and animated debate dwindled to forty-one. The city of London entreated the king to put an end to ‘this unnatural and unfortunate war.’ Such, too, was the wish of public meetings in Westminster, in Southwark, and in the counties of Middlesex and Surrey.

The house of commons employed the recess in grave reflection. The chimes of the Christmas bells had hardly died away when the king wrote as stubbornly as ever: ‘No difficulties can get me to consent to the getting of peace at the expense of a separation from America.’

Yet Lord George Germain was compelled to retire ingloriously from the cabinet. It was sought to palliate his disgrace with a peerage; but as he crossed the threshold of the house of lords, he was met by the unsparing reprobation of his career of cowardice, and blindly selfish incapacity.

1 Clinton to Germain, 9 June, 1781. Out of this has been manufactured the groundless story that Cornwallis himself wrote: ‘The boy cannot escape me.’

2 The word ‘duped’ is used by Clinton in his notes on Stedman's History.

3 Tarleton, 355. The one act of rashness to which Tarleton refers was not the act of Lafayette.

4 Answer, 175.

5 Answer, 174.

6 Oliver Wendell Holmes, ‘Vive la France.’

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