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The Revolutionary Era, 1764-1783


17. The Southern Campaign and the Establishment of Independence (Part 2)

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Operations of Cornwallis — Lafayette in Virginia – Tarleton's attempt to capture Thomas Jefferson — Baron

Steuben retreats before Simcoe -- Wayne and Lafayette attack Cornwallis — The latter establishes headquarters at Yorktown — Reinforcements received from France - Interview between Washington and the French commanders — The former meditates attack upon New York -- March toward the South begun — Allied armies besiege Yorktown — Arnold burns New London - Attack on British works at Yorktown — The surrender - Lafayette's return to France — Border warfare.

Meanwhile Lord Cornwallis had wallis then marched through Hangone to Petersburg, Virginia, sup- over County and crossed the South posing that Lord Rawdon would be Anne River, his movements being able to check the advance of General constantly watched by Lafayette, Greene in Carolina. Upon his

who awaited a favorable opportunity arrival at Petersburg, Cornwallis to strike a sharp blow on the British learned of the death of General

army. Cornwallis had planned to Phillips and here also he received a surprise Lafayette while on the same reinforcement of 1,800 troops sent by side of the James River as himself, Sir Henry Clinton. Cornwallis now but his plan was frustrated by an thought himself strong enough not American spy who had been sent to only to check the Americans, but also the British camp by Lafayette. This to decisively defeat them, and in a spy was Charles Morgan, a Jersey spirit of exultation wrote to the home soldier, who was sent to give Corngovernment regarding Lafayette,

regarding Lafayette, wallis false information as to the saying that “ the boy cannot escape strength of Lafayette's army, and so

At this time Lafayette's successful was he in his mission that army consisted of but 1,200 Conti- Cornwallis abandoned

his plan. nentals and 2,000 militia. In order Morgan safely escaped from the to dislodge Lafayette from his posi- British camp, taking a number of tion at Richmond, Cornwallis pro- soldiers with him. For this service ceeded from Petersburg to the James Morgan refused to receive any comRiver, and on May 27 forced Lafay- pensation.* ette to evacuate Richmond.# Corn- At this time Cornwallis received

information that a number of the Fiske, American Revolution, vol. ii., p. 270; Tower, Marquis de La Fayette, vol. ii., p. 320. this, see Tower, Jarquis de LaF ette, vol. ii., † Johnston, Yorktown Campaign, p. 55.

pp. 308–320. $ Carrington, Battles of the Rerolution, p. 599 ; Gordon, American Revolution, vol. iii., p. 207 ; and for details of the movements leading up to Thacher, Military Jaurnal, pp. 290–291.





principal men of Virginia had assem- When Tarleton and Simcoe rebled in convention at Charlotteville turned from these expeditions, Cornto regulate the affairs of the pro- wallis marched toward Richmond, vince, and that Steuben with a small June 17, and a short time after went detachment was lying at Point of to Williamsburg, the capital of the Fork, situated at the junction of the State.* His troops, however, were James and Rivana rivers, where also experiencing great difficulty in sewas a magazine of arms and ammu- curing provisions for the army, as nition. Cornwallis thereupon deter- Lafayette's watchfulness rendered it mined to capture both the convention impossible for the light troops to at Charlotteville and Steuben's de

make expeditions into the country tachment, delegating Tarleton to at- for supplies. Lafayette had now tempt the first exploit and Simcoe

been joined by Baron Steuben, and the latter. Both expeditions were in had also received a reinforcement of the main successful. Tarleton suc

Pennsylvania troops under General ceeded in capturing a number of dep- Wayne, which brought his army up uties and confiscated a considerable

to about 5,000 men. Thus he was in quantity of munitions of war and

a position to watch the British moveprovisions.

But the chief person ments and to cut off whatever parties whom Cornwallis had desired to cap

of light troops were dispatched into ture - Thomas Jefferson had been —

the country for supplies.f At about warned of the approach of the Brit

the same time, Cornwallis was inish and had put himself out of their

structed by Sir Henry Clinton to reach.* Before attempting to make

send a portion of his troops to New his escape, however, he hid his

York. Clinton had been advised of papers, plate, and a large quantity

the approach of the allies in that secof arms and ammunition.+ Simcoe

tion of the country, and anticipated also succeeded in putting Baron

that he would be attacked in overSteuben to flight. The latter, sup- whelming force. Because of the inposing he was attacked by the entire

sufficiency of his force, he feared that British force, considered it best not

New York, Staten Island, and Long to risk total annihilation, and hastily Island would fall in rapid succession retreated. I

* Ford's ed. of Jefferson's Writings, vol. ii., pp. La Fayette, vol. ii., pp. 330–334; Lossing, Field392–395, 405-409, 422-423, vol. viii., pp. 363–374; Book of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 258–260, 343. Fiske, American Revolution, vol. ii., p. 271; Loss- Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. ing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. ii., p. 257. 342-343; Morse, Thomas Jefferson, pp. 64-67. † On the various movements, see Tower, Marquis

† Parton, Life of Thomas Jefferson, pp. 250– de Lafayette, vol. ii., p. 334 et seq. 253; Carrington, Battles of the Revolution, pp. | Bancroft, vol. pp. 510–511; Fisher, 600-601.

Struggle for American Independence, vol. ii., pp. # Carrington, pp. 601-602; Tower, Marquis de 465-466,





before the onslaught of the enemy. directed against the royal troops. In obedience to orders, therefore, The Pennsylvania troops under Cornwallis early in June marched General Wayne had passed the his troops toward the banks of the swamp, had attacked the left wing James River. Having passed this, it of the British, and in spite of the was his intention to go to Portsmouth superiority of the enemy,

had for the purpose of there embarking pushed them back some distance. the troops intended for New York.

But the English passed the pond, But Lafayette followed him so closely

advanced against the left wing, that he was compelled to halt on the

consisting entirely of militia, and left bank of the river, and to take

without difficulty dispersed it, then

advancing to attack Wayne's left up a strong position so as to check

flank. At the same time they exLafayette's advance, and at the same

tended their own left behind the time to allow his artillery, ammuni

swamp and turned Wayne's right, tion, baggage, etc., to pass to the

and were in a fair way toward comother side. He therefore established

pletely surrounding it. Lafayette, his camp along the river, with a pond however, perceived this movement


, covering his right, and his left and

and ordered Wayne to fall back; but centre covered by swamps.*

the latter, in executing this moveMeanwhile General Wayne with

ment, was forced to leave two cannon the American van-guard had ap

in the possession of the British. In proached very close to the British

order to collect his scattered troops, army. The latter sent spies among Lafayette remained for some time at the Americans to inform them that

Greene Springs, while Cornwallis rethe bulk of the royal army had al- ëntered his entrenchments. The apready crossed the river, and that proach of night prevented any puronly a small rear-guard remained suit of the Americans by the British.t upon the left bank of the river, this Before Sunrise of the next mornrear-guard consisting of the British ing, however, Cornwallis sent a legion and some few detachments of body of cavalry upon the road infantry. It is evident that the taken by Lafayette with orders to American general was completely de

* See Lafayette's letter in Sparks, Correspondceived by this misinformation, for a

ence of the Rerolution, vol. iii., pp. 360–366. rapid movement was immediately † Stillé, Wayne and the Pennsylvania Line, pp.

268-276; Tower, Marquis de Lafayette, vol. ii.,

pp. 357–369; Carrington, Battles of the RevoluClinton's orders, however, were soon afterward tion, pp. 608-609; Fisher, Struggle for American countermanded, because the ministry at home Independence, vol. ii., p. 466; Lossing, Field-Book thought Cornwallis had an excellent chance of of the Revolution, vol. ii., pr. 259-262; Johnston, recovering the South and did not wish to cripple Yorktoun Campaign, p. et seq.; Lowell, him by withdrawing troops.

Hessians in the Revolution, p. 275.


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