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266

CORNWALLIS ADVANCES TOWARD YORKTOWN.

overtake the Americans and harass ceeded to embark the troops. At this them as much as possible. The only time he received new instructions damage inflicted on the Americans from Clinton directing him to retain was the capture of a few soldiers, the troops, to return to Williamsthough undoubtedly had Cornwallis burg, and then to establish headadvanced with his whole force he quarters at Point Comfort, so that he would have been able to cut off Lafay- might have a safe retreat in case of ette entirely.* But Cornwallis was necessity.* This new plan had been exceedingly anxious to reach Ports- forced on Clinton by two events. He mouth so that he might send the had received a reinforcement of 3,000

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Lafayette's Operations in Virginia. troops requested by Clinton, and ac- Germans from Europe, and would not cordingly, leaving Lafayette to his require any portion of Cornwallis' own designs, he hastened toward army. He also desired to open a Portsmouth. Upon a careful exami- passage by way of Hampton and the nation of the place, he became con- James River toward that fertile vinced that the position was unsuit- region of Virginia lying between the able to furthering the ulterior designs James and York rivers.

After exof Clinton; nevertheless, he pro- amination, Point Comfort was found

to be unsuitable for an entrenched * See Gordon, American Revolution, vol. iv., pp. 107, 118, 185 (ed. 1788); Tower, Lafayette,

camp, and the British abandoned vol. ii., chap. xxvi.; Lee's Memoirs, vol. ii., pp. 222–230, 234; Tarleton, Campaigns, pp. 353-356, * Tower, Marquis de La Fayette, vol. ii., PP. 400-403.

407-408.

FRENCH REINFORCEMENTS ARRIVE.

267

their plans of fortifying it.* Never- fleet there vastly superior to the Brittheless, as it was considered advisable ish. They also sent sufficient troops to have some fixed basis of opera- to enable Washington to completely tions, Lord Cornwallis on August 1 overwhelm the British army.

In resolved to repass the James River March, 1781, therefore, François and to establish headquarters at Jean Paul, Count de Grasse, set sail Yorktown.t

from Brest with 25 ships of the line, This village was situated on the several thousand land troops, and a right bank of the York River, and large convoy, the whole fleet numopposite lay a small town called bering about 200 vessels.* A small Gloucester, built upon a point of land portion of this force was destined for projecting into the river from the left the East Indies, but de Grasse with side. At this point the river was very the greater part of it sailed for Mardeep and capable of receiving and tinique. The British fleet then in the harboring the largest vessels of war. West Indies, though weakened by the For a mile in front of Yorktown lay departure of a squadron to protect a strip of open level ground, in ad- the ships carrying to England the vance of which was a wood, its left booty captured at St. Eustatius, atextending to the river and its right tempted to intercept the French fleet being bordered by a creek. On the under De Grasse; but before the two right of Yorktown flowed a marshy fleets met, the French had been reinstream. By August 22 Cornwallis forced by eight ships of the line and had established himself in entrench- one of 50 guns, which had previously ments at this place, while Lafayette been at Martinique and San Dooccupied a position from which he mingo. Thus the French had a decould watch the British movements cided superiority, and the English and prevent foraging in the country. I deemed it unwise to attack. After

Meanwhile the French court had completing his mission in the Indies, closely watched the turn of affairs in De Grasse set sail for America early America, and believing that the time in August. had now come for decisive action, Meanwhile, on August 22, Washsent a naval force to American ington and Knox had

gone

to waters sufficient to render the French Weathersfield, Conn., for the purpose

of consulting with Rochambeau re* Fisher, Struggle for American Independence, garding plans for besieging New vol. ii., p. 469.

York.t Relying upon the arrival of Ibid, p. 470. See also Lafayette's letter in Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution, vol. iii., pp. 366-368.

* For details concerning the efforts to secure See his letter of August 21 to Washington in this aid, see Tower, Marquis de Lafayette, vol. Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution, vol. ii., chap. xxiv. iii., pp. 389–392.

† Fisher, Struggle for American Independence, 268

WASHINGTON PLANS TO CAPTURE CORNWALLIS.

De Grasse, Washington earnestly also learned that De Grasse could not called for troops from the New Eng- remain on the American coast longer land States, hoping that the com- than October 15,* and that instead bined forces would have no difficulty of coming to the north, his destinain capturing that city. In June the tion was the Chesapeake. WashingFrench troops began to march from ton therefore suddenly changed his Rhode Island, and early in the fol- plans, and instead of attacking Clinlowing month effected a junction ton at New York, determined to comwith the American army. At the pletely surround and capture Cornsame time, Washington moved his wallis in Virginia.t army from their winter quarters at While the plans for the attack on Peekskill to the vicinity of Kings- New York were being perfected, the bridge.* Lincoln fell down the Hud- British had somehow captured a letson with a detachment of boats and ter from Washington giving all the occupied the position where Fort In- details and particulars concerning dependence formerly stood. All the the intended operations against the British outposts were now called in city. But even after Washington's to the main encampment at New plans were changed, Clinton could York.f Washington hoped to begin not be persuaded that Washington operations against New York at the really had designs on Cornwallis, latest toward the end of July. He thinking that any movement toward ordered the construction of enough the South was merely a subterfuge flat-bottom boats to transport 5,000 to make him unwary in his defence of troops down the Hudson, and had New York. Therefore, instead of atcaused ovens to be erected opposite tempting to prevent the passage of Staten Island for the use of the the French and American troops to French troops. He was disappointed, the South, Clinton contented himself however, in the number of troops re- with strengthening the defences of ceived from the New England States;

New York against the expected atwhereas he had expected 12,000, he

tack. Not until the opportunity of could hardly muster more than 5,000, striking at the allied armies had a number by no means adequate to passed, did Clinton become convinced carry out the projected siege. He that the capture of Cornwallis was

the object of the combined forces. vol. ii., pp. 476–477; Tower, Marquis de La

Then it was too late for him to make Fayette, vol. ii., p. 381 et seq.; Irving, Life of Washington, vol. iv., p. 318 et seq.; Sparks, Life * See his letter quoted in Tower, Marquis de of Washington, p. 332 et seq.

Lafayette, vol. ii., pp. 402-403. * Heath's Memoirs, p. 269 et seq. (Abbatt's ed.). † Fiske, American Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 274–

| Thacher, Military Journal, p. 257; Irving, 276. Life of Washington, vol. iv., pp. 322–323; Tower, | Fisher, Struggle for American Independence, Marquis de La Fayette, vol. ii., pp. 393-394.

vol. ii., p. 478.

MOVEMENT TOWARD SOUTH BEGUN.

269

our cause,

a movement by land, for General became the definitive and certain object of the

campaign. Heath had been left in the vicinity

“I only add, that it never was in contemplation to watch Clinton, and if possible to to attack New York, unless the garrison should prevent his following the allied

first have been so far degarnished, to carry on the

southern operations, as to render our success in forces, or at least to delay him until

the siege of that place as infallible as any future they had had time to reach Virginia.* military event can ever be made. For I repeat Some years later, Washington re

it, and dwell upon it again, some splendid ad

vantage, whether upon a larger or smaller scale plied as follows to inquiries regard- was almost immaterial, was so essentially necesing his movement:

sary, to revive the expiring hopes and languid

exertions of the country, at the crisis in question, "A combined operation of the land and naval that I never would have consented to embark in forces of France in America, for the year 1781, any enterprise, wherein, from the most rational was preconcerted the year before; that the point plan and accurate calculations, the favorable issue of attack was not absolutely agreed upon; be- should not have appeared to my view as a ray of cause it could not be foreknown where the enemy light. The failure of an attempt against the would be most susceptible of impression; and, posts of the enemy, could, in no other possible because we (having the command of the water, situation during the war, have been so fatal to with sufficient means of conveyance) could transport ourselves to any spot, with the greatest That much trouble was taken, and finesse celerity; that it was determined by me, nearly used, to misguide and bewilder Sir Henry Clinton, twelve months beforehand, at all hazards, to give in regard to the real object, by fictitious comout, and cause it to be believed by the highest munications, as well as by making a deceptive military, as well as civil officers, that New York provision of ovens, forage, and boats in his was the destined place of attack, for the import- neighborhood, is certain; nor were less pains taken ant purpose of inducing the eastern and middle to deceive our own army; for I had always constates, to make greater exertions in furnishing ceived, where the imposition does not completely specific supplies, than they otherwise would have take place at home, it would never sufficiently done, as well as for the interesting purpose of succeed abroad." rendering the enemy less prepared elsewhere; that, by these means, and these alone, artillery,

Following this plan, therefore, boats, stores, and provisions, were in seasonable preparation, to move with the utmost rapidity,

Washington broke up the camp at to any part of the continent; for the difficulty New Windsor and on July 21 reached consisted more in providing, than knowing how

Kingsbridge.* Here he was joined to apply the military apparatus; that, before the arrival of the Count de Grasse, it was the fixed by the French troops to the number determination, to strike the enemy in the most of 5,000 under Rochambeau. The vulnerable quarter, so as to insure success with moral certainty, as our affairs were then in the

combined forces then made several most ruinous train imaginable; that New York movements calculated to deceive the was thought to be beyond our effort, and conse

British into believing that the object quently, that the only hesitation that remained was between an attack upon the British army in

of the movement was to capture New Virginia, and that in Charleston; and finally, York. On August 19 a body of troops that, by the intervention of several communica

was sent across the Hudson at Dobb's tions, and some incidents, which cannot be detailed in a letter, the hostile post in Virginia, Ferry, ostensibly to establish a perfrom being a provisional and strongly expected,

manent post in that vicinity. On the

next two days the main body of the * Heath's Memoirs, pp. 175–179 (Abbatt's ed.); Sparks' ed. of Washington's Writings, vol. viii., p. 139.

* Sparks, Life of Washington, p. 335. VOL. III - 18

270

WASHINGTON ARRIVES IN VIRGINIA.

American army passed the river at forces on their way south could preKing's Ferry, while the French made vent his escape to the northward. De a longer circuit and did not complete Grasse then sent four ships of the the passage until the 25th. For some line and some frigates to block the time Washington continued the entrance of the York River, so that march in such a direction that the Cornwallis could not escape in that British would think his object was direction, and the French troops New York. But when it became im- brought by De Grasse under the possible further to conceal his inten- Marquis de St. Simon were sent to tions, Washington ordered a rapid Lafayette's camp.

Lafayette's camp. The rest of the advance toward the South. In this fleet remained at the entrance of the way Clinton was not aware of his bay on the lookout for the British real intention until the main part of squadron.* the army had crossed the Delaware.* Having made all the necessary On August 30 the combined forces

arrangements for transporting the entered Philadelphia and were re- northern army to Yorktown, Washceived there with demonstrations of ington, accompanied by Rochambeau, great joy. Toward the end of Au- proceeded ahead of the troops, and gust De Grasse entered the Capes and on September 14 joined Lafayette at was met there by an officer sent by Williamsburg.+ As Cornwallis was Lafayette to give him full informa- now lying behind very strong works, tion regarding the condition of it was seen that without artillery he affairs in Virginia and the plans could not be captured save by a regumade for operating against the Brit- lar siege. It was expected that a

French squadron under command of After Cornwallis reached York- Count de Barras, which had sailed town, he proceeded to erect strong from Rhode Island, would bring the fortifications. Lafayette, being en- needed artillery; but this did not camped on the James River, was in a arrive for some time, as De Barras position to prevent his passage into had gone far out to sea in order to North Carolina, while the allied avoid the British fleet which was

known to be in that vicinity. On Sep* Bancroft, vol. v., p. 516; Thacher, Military tember 5, while awaiting the arrival Journal, p. 260 et seq.; Carrington, Battles of

of De Barras, De Grasse spied off the Revolution, p. 617 et seq.; Irving, Life of Washington, vol. iv., pp. 325-329; 354 et seq.;

the coast a British fleet of 19 vessels Gordon, American Revolution, vol. iv., pp. 119- under Admiral Graves. He there127; Ford's ed. of Washington's Writings, vol. ix., pp. 343–347; Tarleton, Campaigns, pp. 416

Tower, Marquis de Lafayette, vol. ii., p. 428 † Fiske, American Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 277– et seq.; Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, 278; Oberholtzer, Life of Morris, p. 82.

ish army.

vol. ii., p. 305. Tower, Alarquis de La Fayette, vol. ii., p. 420. † Tower, p. 444.

418.

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