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ro (»KW YORK


Fom the original painting by D. H. Huntington, P. Y. A.






Edited by EDWIN WILEY, M.A., Ph.D.

of the Library of Congress and





> > > > t



Copyright 1015


American Educatiun'al Alliance



The Revolutionary Era, 1764 — 1783


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







Operations of Cornwallis — Lafayette ia Virginia — Tarleton'a attempt to capture Thomas Jefferson — Baron
Steuben retreats before Simcoe — Wayne and Lafayette attack Cornwallis — The latter establishes head-
quarters 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 York-
town — The surrender — Lafayette's return to France — Border warfare.

Meanwhile Lord Cornwallis liad
gone to Petersburg, Virginia, sup-
posing that Lord Rawdon would be
able to check the advance of General
Greene in Carolina. LTpon his
arrival at Petersburg, Cornwallis
learned of the death of General
Phillips and here also he received a
reinforcement of 1,800 troops sent by
Sir Henry Clinton. Cornwallis now
thought himself strong enough not
only to check the Americans, but also
to decisively defeat them, and in a
spirit of exultation wrote to the home
government regarding Lafayette,
saying that " the boy cannot escape
me."* At this time Lafayette's
aiTQy consisted of but 1,200 Conti-
nentals and 2,000 militia. f In order
to dislodge Lafayette from his posi-
tion at Richmond, Cornwallis pro-
ceeded from Petersburg to the James
River, and on May 27 forced Lafay-
ette to evacuate Richmond.^ Corn-

* Fiske. Ameriran Tierohitwn, vol. ii., p. 270;
Tower, Mnnjtiin de LiiFayettc, vol. ii., p. 320.

t Johnston, Yorhtoicn Campaign, p. 55.

t CarringtoTi, Buttlfs of the Rrvohition, p. 599;
and for details of the movements leading up to

wallis then marched through Han-
over County and crossed the South
Anne River, his movements being
constantly watched by Lafayette,
who awaited a favorable opportunity
to strike a shaip blow on the British
arm)'. Cornwallis had planned to
surprise Lafayette while on the same
side of the James River as himself,
but his plan was frustrated by an
American spy who had been sent to
the British camp by Lafayette. This
spy was Charles Morgan, a Jersey
soldier, who was sent to give Corn-
wallis false information as to the
strength of Lafayette's army, and so
successful was he in his mission that
Cornwallis abandoned his plan.
I^forgan safely escaped from the
British camp, taking a number of
soldiers with him. For this service
Morgan refused to receive any com-

At this time Cornwallis received
information that a number of the

this, see Tower, 3Iarqui.i de LaFayefte, vol. ii
pp. 30S-320.

*f!nrdon. American Repolution, vol. iii., p. 207
Tliacher, Military Jaumal, pp. 290-291.



l^rincipal men of Virginia had assem-
bled in convention at Cliarlotteville
to regulate the affairs of the pro-
vince, and that Steuben with a small
detachment was lying at Point of
Fork, situated at the junction of the
James and Rivana rivers, where also
was a magazine of arms and ammu-
nition. Cornwallis thereupon deter-
mined to capture both the convention
at Charlotteville and Steuben's de-
tachment, delegating Tarleton to at-
tempt the first exploit and Simcoe
the latter. Both expeditions were in
the main successful. Tarleton suc-
ceeded in capturing a number of dep-
uties and confiscated a considerable
quantity of munitions of war and
proAdsions. But the chief person
wliom Cornwallis had desired to cap-
ture — Thomas Jefferson — had been
warned of the approach of the Brit-
ish and had put himself out of their
reach.* Before attempting to make
his escape, however, he hid his
papers, plate, and a large quantity
of arms and ammunition. f Simcoe
also succeeded in putting Baron
Steuben to flight. The latter, sup-
posing he was attacked by the entire
British force, considered it best not
to risk total annihilation, and hastily

* Ford's ed. of Jefferson's Writings, vol. ii., pp.
392-395, 405-409, 422-423, vol. viii., pp. 363-374;
Fiske, Amcricnn Ifevolution, vol. ii., p. 271; Loss-
ing, Field-Booh of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp.
342-343; Morse, Tliomns Jefferson, pp. 64-07.

t Partorij Life of Thomas Jefferson, pp. 250-
253; Carrington, Battles of the Revolution, pp.

t Carrington, pp. 601-602 ; Tower, Marquis de

When Tarleton and Simcoe re-
turned from these expeditions, Corn-
wallis marched toward Richmond,
June 17, and a short time after went
to Williamsburg, the capital of the
State.* His troops, however, were
experiencing great difficulty in se-
curing provisions for the army, as
Lafayette's watchfulness rendered it
impossible for the light troops to
make expeditions into the country
for supplies. Lafayette had now
been joined by Baron Steuben, and
had also received a reinforcement of
Pennsylvania troops under General
WajTie, which brought his army up
to about 5,000 men. Thus he was in
a position to watch the British move-
ments and to cut off whatever parties
of light troops were dispatched into
the country for supplies.! At about
the same time, Cornwallis was in-
structed by Sir Henry Clinton to
send a portion of his troops to New
York. Clinton had been advised of
the approach of the allies in that sec-
tion of the country, and anticipated
that he would be attacked in over-
whelming force. J Because of the in-
sufficiency of his force, he feared that
New York, Staten Island, and Long
Island would fall in rapid succession

LaFayette, vol. ii., pp. 330-334; Lossing, Field-
Booh of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 258-260, 343.

• Lossing, Field-Booh of the Revolution, vol.
ii.. p. 257.

t On the various movements, see Tower, Marquis
de LaFayette, vol. ii., p. 334 et seq.

t Bancroft, vol. v., pp. 510-511; Fisher,
Struggle for American Independence, vol. ii., pp.



before the onslaught of the enemy.
In obedience to orders, therefore,
Cornwallis early in June marched
his troops toward the banks of the
James River. Having passed this, it
was his intention to go to Portsmouth
for the purpose of there embarking
the troops intended for New York.
But Lafayette followed him so closely
that he was compelled to halt on the
left bank of the river, and to take
up a strong position so as to check
Lafayette's advance, and at the same
time to allow his artillery, ammuni-
tion, baggage, etc., to pass to the
other side. He therefore established
his camp along the river, with a pond
covering his right, and his left and
centre covered by swamps.*

Meanwhile General Wayne with
the American van-guard had ap-
proached very close to the British
army. The latter sent spies among
the Americans to inform them that
the bulk of the royal army had al-
ready crossed the river, and that
only a small rear-guard remained
upon the left bank of the river, this
rear-guard consisting of the British
legion and some few detachments of
infantry. It is evident that the
American general was completely de-
ceived by this misinfoi-mation, for a
rapid movement was immediately

directed against the royal troops.*
The Pennsylvania troops under
General Wayne had passed the
swamp, had attacked the left wing
of the British, and in spite of the
superiority of the enemy, had
pushed them back some distance.
But the English passed the pond,
advanced against the left wing,
consisting entirely of militia, and
without difficulty dispersed it, then
advancing to attack Wayne's left
flank. At the same time they ex-
tended their own left behind the
swamp and turned Wayne's right,
and were in a fair way toward com-
pletely surrounding it. Lafayette,
however, perceived this movement
and ordered Wayne to fall back; but
the latter, in executing this move-
ment, was forced to leave two cannon
in the possession of the British. In
order to collect his scattered troops,
Lafayette remained for some time at
Greene Springs, while Cornwallis re-
entered his entrenchments. The ap-
proach of night prevented any pur-
suit of the Americans by the British.f
Before sunrise of the next morn-
ing, however, Cornwallis sent a
body of cavalry upon the road
taken by Lafayette with orders to

* Clinton's orders, however, were soon afterward
counterniand'ed, because the ministrj' at home
thought Cornwallis had an excellent chance of
recovering the South and did not wish to cripple
him by withdrawing troops.

* See Lafayette's letter in Sparks, Correspond-
ence of the Revolution, vol. iii., pp. 360-366.

t Stille, Wayne and the Pennsylvania Line, pp.
268-276; Tower, Marquis de Lafayette, vol. ii.,
pp. 357-300; Carrington, Battles of the Revolu-
tion, pp. 608-600; Fisher, Struggle for Ainerican
Independence, vol. ii., p. 460 ; Lossing, Field-Book
of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 259-262; Johnston,
Yorktoum Vampaiqiu p. 00 et seq.; Lowell,
Hessians in the Revolution, p. 275.



overtake the Americans and harass
them as much as possible. The only
damage inflicted on the Americans
was the capture of a few soldiers,
though- undoubtedly had Cornwallis
advanced with his whole force he
would have been able to cut off Lafay-
ette entirely.* But Cornwallis was
exceedingly anxious to reach Ports-
mouth so that he might send the

ceeded to embark the troops. At this
time he received new instructions
from Clinton directing him to retain
the troops, to return to "Williams-
burg, and then to establish head-
quarters at Point Comfort, so that he
might have a safe retreat in case of
necessity.* This new plan had been
forced on Clinton by two events. He
had received a reinforcement of 3,000

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
Portsmouth. Upon a carefid exami-
nation of the place, he became con-
vinced that the position was unsuit-

army. He also desired to open a
passage by way of Hampton and the
James River toward that fertile
region of Virginia lying between the

able to furthering the ulterior designs James and York rivers. After ex-

of Clinton; nevertheless, he pro-

* See Gordon, American Revolution, vol. iv.,
pp. 107, 118, 185 (ed. 1788) ; Tower, LaFayette,
vol. ii., chap, xxvi.; Lee's Memoirs, vol. ii., pp.
222-2.S0, 234; Tarleton, Campaigns, pp. 353-356,

amination, Point Comfort was found
to be unsuitable for an entrenched
camp, and the British abandoned

* Tower, Marquis de LaFayette, vol. ii., pp.



their plans of fortifying it.* Never-
theless, as it was considered advisable
to have some fixed basis of opera-
tions, Lord Cornwallis on August 3
resolved to repass the James River
and to establish headquarters at

This village was situated on the
right bank of the York River, and
opposite lay a small town called
Gloucester, built upon a point of land
projecting into the river from the left
side. At this point the river was very
deep and capable of receiving and
harboring the largest vessels of war.
For a mile in front of Yorktown lay
a strip of open level ground, in ad-
vance of which was a wood, its left
extending to the river and its right
being bordered bj' a creek. On the
right of Yorktown flowed a marshy
stream. By August 22 Coi'nwallis
had established himself in entrench-
ments at this place, while Lafayette
occupied a position from which he
could watch the British movements
and prevent foraging in the country. J

Meanwhile the French court had
closely watched the turn of affairs in
America, and believing that the time
had now come for decisive action,
sent a naval force to American
waters sufficient to render the French

'Fisher, Struggle for Amencnn Independence,
vol. ii., p. 469.

^ Ibid, p. 470. See also Lafayette's letter in
Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution, vol.
iii., pp. 366-368.

J See his letter of August 21 to Washington in
Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution, vol.
iii., pp. 389-3!)2.

fleet there vastly superior to the Brit-
ish. They also sent sufficient troops
to enable Washington to completely
overwhelm the British army. In
March, 1781, therefore, FrauQois
Jean Paul, Count do Urasse, set sail
from Brest with 25 ships of the line,
several thousand land troops, and a
large convoy, the whole fleet num-
bering about 200 vessels.* A small
portion of this force was destined for
the East Indies, but de Grasse with
the greater part of it sailed for Mar-
tinique. The British fleet then in the
West Indies, though weakened by the
departure of a squadron to protect
the ships carrying to England the
booty captured at St. Eustatius, at-
tempted to intercept the French fleet
under De Grasse ; but before the two
fleets met, the French had been rein-
forced by eight ships of the line and
one of 50 guns, which had previously
been at Martinique and San Do-
mingo. Thus the French had a de-
cided superiority, and the English
deemed it unwise to attack. After
completing his mission in tlie Indies,
De Grasse set sail for America early
in August.

Meanwhile, on August 22, Wash-
ington and Knox had gone to
Weathersfield, Conn., for the purpose
of consulting with Rochambeau re-
garding plans for besieging New
York.t Relying upon the arrival of

• For details concerning the efforts to secure
this aid, see Tower, Marquis de hafaiictte, vol.
ii., chap. xxiv.

t Fisher, Struggle for American Independence,



De Grasse, Washington earnestly
called for troops from the New Eng-
land States, hoping that the com-
bined forces would have no difficulty
in capturing that citj. In June the
French troops began to march from
Rhode Island, and early in the fol-
lowing month effected a junction
with the American army. At the
same time, Washington moved his
army from their winter quarters at
Peekskill to the vicinity of Kings-
bridge.* Lincoln fell down the Hud-
son with a detachm.ent of boats and
occupied the position where Fort In-
dependence formerly stood. All the
British outposts were now called in
to the main encampment at New
York.t Washington hoped to begin
operations against New York at the
latest toward the end of July. He
ordered the construction of enough
flat-bottom boats to transport 5,000
troops down the Hudson, and had
caused ovens to be erected opposite
Staten Island for the use of the
French troops. He was disappointed,
however, in the number of troops re-
ceived from the New England States ;
whereas he had expected 12,000, he
could hardly muster more than 5,000,
a number by no means adequate to
carry out the projected siege. He

vol. ii., pp. 47G-477; Tower, Marquis de La-
Fayette, vol. ii., p. 381 et seq.; Irving, Life of
Washington, vol. iv., p. 318 et seq.; Sparks, Life
of Washington, p. 332 et seq.

* Heath's Memoirs, p. 2G9 et seq. (Abbatt's ed.).

fTliacher, Military Journal, p. 257; Irving,
Life of Washington, vol. iv., pp. 322-323; Tower,
Marquis de Lal'ayette, vol. ii., pp. 393-394.

also learned that De Grasse could not
remain on the American coast longer
than October 15,* and that instead
of coming to the north, his destina-
tion was the Chesapeake. Washing-
ton therefore suddenly changed his
plans, and instead of attacking Clin-
ton at New York, determined to com-
pletely surround and capture Corn-
wallis in Virginia.f

While the plans for the attack on
New York were being perfected, the
British had somehow captured a let-
ter from Washington giving all the
details and particulars concerning
the intended operations against the
city.J But even after Washington's
plans were changed, Clinton could
not be persuaded that Washington
really had designs on Cornwallis,
thinking that any movement toward
the South was merely a subterfuge
to make him unwary in his defence of
New York. Therefore, instead of at-
tempting to prevent the passage of
the French and American troops to
the South, Clinton contented himself
with strengthening the defences of
New York against the expected at-
tack. Not until the opportunity of
striking at the allied armies had
passed, did Clinton become convinced
that the capture of Cornwallis was
the object of the combined forces.
Then it was too late for him to make

*See his letter quoted in Tower, Marquis de
LaFayette, vol. ii., pp. 402-403.

t Fiske, American Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 274-

t Fisher. Struggle for American Independence,
vol. ii., p. 478.



a movement by land, for General
Heath had been left in the vicinity
to watch Clinton, and if possible to
prevent his following the allied
forces, or at least to delay him until
they had had time to reach Virginia.*
Some years later, Washington re-
plied as follows to inquiries regard-
ing his movement :

"A combined operation of the land and naval
forces of France in America,' for tlie year 1781,
was preconcerted tlie year before; tliat tlie point
of attack was not absolutely agreed upon; be-
cause it could not be foreknown where the enemy
would be most susceptible of impression; and,
because we (having the command of the water,
■with sufficient means of conveyance) could trans-
port ourselves to any spot, with the greatest
celerity ; that it was determined by me, nearly
twelve months beforehand, at all hazards, to give
out. and cause it to be believed by the highest
military, as well as civil oflicers, that New York
was the destined place of attack, for the import-
ant purpose of inducing the eastern and middle
states, to make greater exertions in furnishing
specific supplies, than they otherwise would have
done, as well as for the interesting purpose of
rendering the enemy less prepared elsewhere;
that, by these means, and these alone, artillery,
boats, stores, and provisions, were in seasonable
preparation, to move with the utmost rapidity,
to any part of the continent; for the difficulty
consisted more in providing, than knowing how
to apph' the military apparatus; that, before the
arrival of the Count de Grasse, it was the fixed
determination, to strike the enemy in the most
vulnerable quarter, so as to insure success with
moral certainty, as our affairs were then in the
most ruinous train imaginable; that Xew York
was thought to be beyond our effort, and conse-
quently, that the only hesitation that remained
was between an attack upon the British army in
Virginia, and that in Charleston; and finall.y,
that, by the intervention of several communica-
tions, and some incidents, which cannot be de-
tailed in a letter, the hostile post in Virginia,
from being a provisional and strongly expected,

* Heath's Memoirs, pp. 175-179 (Abbatt's ed.) ;
Sparks' ed. of Washington's Writings, vol. viii., p.

became the definitive and certain object of the

" I onl}' add, tliat it never was in contemplation
to attack New York, unless the garrison should
first have been so far degarnislied, to carry on the
southern operations, as to render our success in
the siege of that place as infallible as any future
military event can ever be made. For I repeat
it, and dwell upon it again, some splendid ad-
vantage, whether upon a larger or smaller scale
was almost immaterial, was so essentially neces-
sary, to revive the expiring hopes and languid
exertions of the country, at the crisis in question,
that I never would have consented to embark in
any enterprise, wherein, from the most rational
plan and accurate calculations, the favorable issue
should not have appeared to my view as a ray of
light. The failure of an attempt against the
posts of the enemy, could, in no other possible
situation during the war, have been so fatal to
our cause.

" That much trouble was taken, and finesse
used, to misguide and bewilder Sir Henry Clinton,
in regard to the real object, by fictitious com-
munications, as well as by making a deceptive
provision of ovens, forage, and boats in his
neighborhood, is certain ; nor were less pains taken
to deceive our own army; for I had always con-
ceived, where the imposition does not completely
take place at home, it would never sufficiently
succeed abroad."

Following this plan, therefore,
Washington broke up the camp at
New Windsor and on July 21 reached
Kingsbridge.* Here he was joined
by the French troops to the number
of 5,000 under Eoehambeau. The
combined forces then made several
movements calculated to deceive the
British into believing that the object
of the movement was to capture New
York. On August 19 a body of troops
was sent across the Hudson at Dobb's
Ferry, ostensibly to establish a per-
manent post in that vicinity. On the
next two days the main body of the

• Sparks, Life of Washington, p. 2S5.

Vol. ni-




American army passed the river at
King's Ferry, while the French made
a longer circuit and did not complete
the passage until the 25th. For some
time Washington continued the
march in such a direction that the
British would think his object was
New York. But when it became im-
possible further to conceal his inten-
tions, Washington ordered a rapid
advance toward the South. In this
way Clinton was not aware of his
real intention until the main part of
the army had crossed the Delaware.*
On August 30 the combined forces
entered Philadelphia and were re-
ceived there with demonstrations of
great joy. Toward the end of Au-
gust De Grasse entered the Capes and
was met there by an officer sent by
Lafayette to give him full informa-
tion regarding the condition of
affairs in Virginia and the plans
made for operating against the Brit-
ish army.

After Cornwallis reached York-
town, he proceeded to erect strong
fortifications. Lafayette, being en-
camped on the James River, was in a
position to prevent his passage into
North Carolina, while the allied

•Bancroft, vol. v., p. 516; Thacher, Military
Journnl, p. 260 et seq.; Carrington, Battles of
the Revohition, p. 617 et seq.; Irving, Life of
Washington, vol. iv., pp. 32.5-.329; 354 et seq.;
Gordon, .American Revolution, vol. iv., pp. 119-
127; Ford's ed. of Washington's Writings, vol.
ix., pp. 343-347: Tarlpton, Campaigns, pp. 416-

t Fiske, American Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 277-
278 ; Oberholtzer, Life of Morris, p. 82.

JTower, Marquis de LaFayette, vol. ii., p. 420.

forces on their way south could pre-
vent his escape to the northward. De
Grasse then sent four ships of the
line and some frigates to block the
entrance of the York River, so that
Cornwallis could not escape in that
direction, and the French troops
brought by De Grasse under the
Marquis de St. Simon were sent to
Lafayette's camp. The rest of the
fleet remained at the entrance of the
bay on the lookout for the British

Having made all the necessary
arrangements for transporting the
northern army to Yorktown, Wash-
ington, accompanied by Rochambeau,
proceeded ahead of the troops, and
on September 14 joined Lafayette at
Williamsburg.f As Cornwallis was
now lying behind very strong works,
it was seen that without artillery he
could not be captured save by a regu-
lar siege. It was expected that a
French squadron under command of
Count de Barras, which had sailed
from Rhode Island, would bring the
needed artillery; but tliis did not
arrive for some time, as De Barras
had gone far out to sea in order to
avoid the British fleet which was
known to be in that vicinity. On Sep-
tember 5, while awaiting the arrival
of De Barras, De Grasse spied off
the coast a British fleet of 19 vessels

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