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Copatis^, 188J, bg ii. S. 'gwcnts & €a.


The Allies at Yorktown, 1781, with Appendix, by John Austin Stevens, i

Bauman's Map of the Siege of Yorktown, by the Editor, ... 54
Notes, Queries and Replies, .... 56, 140, 217, 297, 376, 454

Editor's Chronicle, 65, 152, 227, 304, 385, 463

Bibliography of Verrazano, by B. F. de Costa, ..... 68

Literary Notices 71, 233, 315, 391, 472

Register of Books Received, . . . 77, 240, 320, 399, 480

Memorial of Erastus C. Benedict, by George F. Belts, . 78

The Journals of Washington, by Theodore F. Dwight, Librarian Department

of State, Washington, .......... 81

The Roger Morris House, Washington's Headquarters on Harlem Heights,

1776, with appendix, by Wilson Car)' Smith, ..... 89

The Letters of Washington, by the Editor, ...... 107

Washington's Journal, May to August, 1781, ...... 108

Letters of Washington, now for the first time published (thirty), 1754-1777, 126
Kaskaskia and its Parish records, by Edward G. Mason, 161

The Nancy Globe, by B. F. de Costa, 183

Col. Christian Febiger, of the Virginia Line of the Continental Army, by

Henry P. Johnston, . . . . . . . . . .188

Orderly Book of Sir John Johnson's Command, 17 76-1 7 7 7, with introduction

by William L. Stone. Parts I and IL • • • 2°4i 283

The First Settlement in Ohio, by Mary Cone, ...... 241

The new Version of the Battle of Harlem Plains, by John Austin Stevens, 260
Judge William Smith, of the Supreme Court of the Province of New York,

with genealogical appendix, by Maturin Livingston Delafield, . . 264
Pamphlets in the John Carter Brown Library, relating to the Revolutionary

War, by J. C. Stockbridge, 310

Lafayette's Last Visit to America, by Ella Rodman Church, . 321

Lafayette's Virginia Campaign, 1781, by Gen. Henry B. Carrington, . 340
Introduction to Lafayette's Letters from Magdebourg Prison, 1793, by the

Editor, 353

Lafayette's Letters from Prison, from the originals in the possession of Jere-
miah Colburn, . . . . . . ' . . 360, 440

The Sortie from Fort Erie, 1814, by George W. Holley, .... 401

Arnold's Retreat after the Battle of Valcour, by W. C. Watson, . . . 414
William Smith, the Historian, Chief Justice of New York and Canada, with

appendix, by Maturin L. Delafield, ....... 418

List of Newspapers in the Maryland Historical Society, compiled by John

W. M. Lee, . . ' 469


Portrait of Count de Grasse, steel etching, by Hall, ...

Plan of the Siege, of Yorktown in Virginia, fac-simile from Stedman's His-
tory, ............

View of Moore's House, Yorktown, Va., scene of Capitulation, .

Part of Map of the Middle British Colonies,

How are the Mighty Fallen. From the Freeman's Journal, 1781,

Fac-simile of Bauman's Map of the Siege of Yorktown,

Portrait of Washington, steel etching by Hall, after Trumbull, .

Washington's Book plate,

View of the Roger Morris House, Washington's Headquarters on Harlem
Heights, . • ■ .......

Plan of arrangements for the night of Monday, September i6th, 1776,

The arms of Roger Morris,

Fac-simile of Washington's Journal,

Fac-simile of Kaskaskia Parish records, . ....

Plane projection of the Nancy Globe, ... . .

View of the Globe from a photograph, . . ...

Portrait of Col. Christian Febiger, steel etching, by Hall, .

Fac-simile of Map of the State of Ohio, by Rufus Putnam, 1804,

View of Fort Harmar in 1790, from a drawing by Judge Oilman,

View of Campus Martius in 1791, from a drawing by Winthrop Sargent,

Portrait of William Smith, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Province of
New York, steel etching, by Hall,

The Arms of Judge William Smith, ... . .

Portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette, steel etching by Hall, after
Scheffer, ...........

View of the Tompkins House, Staten Island, by A. Hosier,

Map of Lafayette's Virginia Campaign, 1781, by General Henry B. Carring
ton, ............

The Arms of Lafayette, .........

Fac-simile of a letter of Lafayette from Magdebourg Prison, 1793, . _

Plan of Fort Erie, from a Map by Gen. Totten, U. S. Engineers,

Portrait of William Smith, the Historian, steel etching, by Hall,











Vol. VI JANUARY 1881 No. 1


I 78 I

THE popular idea that the war of the revolution was a series of
skirmishes without preconceived plan or interdependence is
erroneous. From its beginning to its close it was conducted
upon an intelligent system of offence and defence — methodical attack
was answered by methodical resistance. In the earlier campaigns,
when the American troops were but an undisciplined militia and the
line officers of little more experience or authority than the men they
commanded, examples may be found of the highest strategy. It is suffi-
cient to name Washington's reduction of Boston and retreat from New
York. Later, when the regular regiments had acquired consistency and
permanence on the Continental establishment, the movements of the
war displayed an equal understanding of tactical evolution. During
the Southern campaign (1780-1781), the last active period of the war,
which opened with the disaster of Camden, and of which the capture
of Yorktown was the brilliant and decisive episode, the Continentals
proved themselves the equals of the best troops in the world, whether
tested in hostile or friendly rivalry. At Camden the Maryland and
Delaware regiments made gallant defence against a superior force of
English veterans, and in the rout of the army saved the honor of their
ifag. At Cowpens the Maryland light infantry led by Colonel Howard
made reckless Tarleton feel the touch of the American bayonet. Nor
were the Northern regiments less thoroughly drilled or less ably
officered. This proficiency was the result of intelligent and incessant
labor on the part of the officers.

In the operations of the allies before New York the discipline of the
American troops was the marvel of the French for its extreme severity ;
not less the admiration of Rochambeau, himself the veteran of an hun-
dred fields, for their order, their silence, their celerity on the march.


They too had received their baptism of fire, and learned the severer
lesson of unmurmuring obedience in the rigor of season and privation
of raiment and of food.

In the solution of the problem the British ministry had assumed — the
subjection of the Colonies by conquest- — the British fleet was an import-
ant factor, enabhng them to shift the scene of military operations from
one to the other extremity of the continent. In the earlier years of the
war this superiority had on more than one occasion baffled the enter-
prise of the American commanders. It had compelled the evacuation
of New York. It provided the means for Clinton's safe retreat after
the battle of Monmouth. The French alliance in a measure compen-
sated for this inequality. The fleet which it brought to the service of
the American cause confined the action of the opposing squadron and
neutralized its effective force, but until the grand movement which, in
its combination of land and naval armament, the extent of land and
waters traversed to reach the point of junction, and the precision of
the final blow, is one of the finest examples of high strategy, there had
been no concert of operation between the two arms of the French
service and their American allies. This has been the occasion of much
and unjust censure of the intentions and temper of France by over-
zealous historians forgetful that her operations on the Continent were
properly subordinate to the safety of her own islands in the West
Indies, which were in their isolation a constant source of solicitude to
the parent state. At last, by the unexampled exertion of the French
ministry, a fleet was gathered of sufficient force in guns and men to
protect their own possessions and give material aid to their allies. The
magnificent armament of de Grasse far exceeded in strength any that
had ever appeared on the coast of the American continent.

The plan for the summer's campaign, originally discussed by the
allied commanders at Wethersfield, contemplated the alternative of a
movement to relieve the Southern States in case an attack on New
York should not offer sufficient probabilities of success. The solution
• of the question was sudden and simple. On the same day (nth August)
that a body of reinforcements reached Sir Henry Clinton at New York,
a French frigate (La Concorde) arrived at Newport with despatches
from Count de Grasse to Count de Barras, who still lay with his
vessels in the harbor, engaging to reach the Chesapeake with his fleet
and the military force under the Marquis de St. Simon by the close of
August. In his letter conveying the news to Washington Count de
Barras urged the anxiety of de Grasse that every thing should be in


readiness to commence operations immediately on his arrival because of
his own particular engagement with the Spaniards to be in the West
Indies by the middle ol October. It was on receipt of this news that
VVashmgton finally resolved upon a movement to the southward, where
Lord Cornwallis, in his sell-confidence and utter ignorance of the pres-
ence of a French squadron in American waters, had ventured into a
position from which Washington, with his military eye and intimate
knowledge of the country, saw that escape could be prevented.

Instantly forming his plans (iSth August), he despatched a courier to
the Marquis de Lafayette, " requesting him to be in perfect readiness to
second his views, and to prevent if possible the retreat of Cornwallis
towards Carolina." He was also directed to halt the troops under the
command of General Wayne, if they had not made any great march to
join the Southern army then in the Carolinas under the command of
Greene. Letters received the next day from Lafayette and others
informed Washington that Lord Cornwallis had further enmeshed him-
self in the toils that were being laid for him, and " with the troops from
Hampton Road he had proceeded up York river and landed at York
and Gloucester Towns," where they were throwing up works. It was
now evident that the British commander intended to take permanent
post in Virginia.

The Yorktown peninsula, now to become the theatre of memorable
war, is about twenty-five miles in length; at its neck about three miles,
and at its foot twelve miles in width ; in shape it resembles a cleaver.
York river and the Chesapeake bay bound it on the north and east,
and the James, flowing by its southern shore, mingles its waters with
those of the Chesapeake at Hampton Road. Between this and Cape
Henry, the eastern point of the main land beyond, is Lynn Haven bay,
an easy, sheltered and commodious harbor. Yorktown, the county seat,
one of the most ancient of Virginia cities, lies on the York river, about
eleven miles from its mouth. Opposite, to the northward, on the other
side of the stream, is Gloucester, the shire town of the county of the
same name. They are respectively about seventy miles distant from
Richmond, the capital, and thirty-five from Portsmouth, then the chief
seaport of the State.

The two commanders who faced each other on this limited area
were worthy foes. It has been too much our habit to look upon the
sentimental side of Lafayette's character, and in our admiration for his
devotion to liberty, a devotion antique in its purity and classic simplic-
ity, to forget that his youthful ardor was tempered by a prudence


beyond his years, and that on every field in which he was entrusted
with supreme command he displayed military qualities of the highest
order. Eager for fame, burning with desire to illustrate his name,
his race, and his country by brilliant service, he had obtained in
the spring from Washington, who, notwithstanding their disparity of
age, trusted him as an officer not less than he valued him as a friend,
the command of an expedition which had been directed, in concert with
a detachment of the French fleet from Newport, to the reduction of
Portsmouth, where the infamous Arnold was harassing the defenceless
population of Virginia with an atrocity all his own, gratifying his
revenge with the blood, and his avarice with the plunder of his country-
men. The failure of the French contingent to co-operate in the move-
ment, notwithstanding the gallant combat between the fleets of Des-
touches and Arbuthnot off the capes of the Chesapeake frustrated the
well-concerted scheme. The story of the dangerous situation for six
weeks of the American forces blockaded in Annapolis by the British
men of war and of their release by the ingenious device of Lieutenant-
Colonel Stevens, chief of the artillery of the expedition, bravely exe-
cuted by Commodore Nicholson, has been told from the papers of the
former officer. Upon the failure of the expedition, the young marquis
returning to the Head of Elk, found orders from Washington to march
with his troops to the southward and to take the orders of General
Greene. He refitted his troops in Baltimore, with the aid of the mer-
chants upon his own credit, and with the hearty practical co-operation
of the inhabitants of the patriotic city, the ladies themselves making the
uniforms of his corps ; then moving by forced marches he occupied
Richmond in time to preserve it from the threatened attack of General
Phillips, who had been sent from New York to the reinforcement of
Arnold. Notwithstanding the inferiority of his force, the Marquis
maintained himself on the north side of James river, but was unable to
prevent the junction at Petersburg on the 20th May of the forces lately
under General Phillips (that officer had fallen a victim to disease a few
days after his occupation of this post) and the troops which Cornwallis
had brought from the Carolinas.

Lord Cornwallis was at this period at the very summit of his repu-
tation. He had taken part in the campaigns of 'jS and '"]"] on Long
Island, at Fort Washington, Germantown and Redbank, in the course
of which he had not only familiarized himself with the nature of the
American contest, but had measured swords as a commander with
Washington himself. Reinforcing Sir Henry Clinton before Charleston


in the spring of 1780 he had been left by his commander in chief on his
return to New York in supreme command of the British forces in the
Carohnas. His victory over Gates near Camden in the following
August commended him to Lord Germain as the hope of the ministry,
who preferred his ruthless severity to the milder conduct of his wiser,
more politic superior, and eventually entrusted to him the direction of
the war. The wail that rose from patriotic hearts over the loss of
Charleston and the defeat at Camden that the Southern States were lost
to the cause of independence was justified by the rapid manner in which
the enterprising and skilful commander immediately took advantage of
his success. But notwithstanding their irregular and spasmodic action,
there was abundant resolution and tough fibre in the hardy men whom
Shelby and Sevier and Campbell led down from the mountain fastnesses
to punish the invader and betrayer of country and home ; and the
severe lesson administered at King's Mountain to Ferguson's ma-
rauders taught caution to the unscrupulous foe. Later the military
skill of Cornwallis was met by a strategy equal to his own ; and on a
new and unfamiliar field Greene, Washington's trusted lieutenant, dis-
played the remarkable qualities which proved him the match of the
best of the EngHsh generals and entitle him to a place in the very front
rank of military commanders. Joining Morgan a few days after the
battle of the Cowpens, Greene divined the purpose of Cornwallis to
undertake the conquest of Virginia, and manoeuvred to defeat his plans
or take advantage of the extended field of operations to rescue the
Carolinas. A series of movements in which the Dan which skirts the
Virginia frontier was crossed and recrossed by both armies terminated
in the doubtful action at Guilford Court House. The Americans were
temporarily discomfited, but rapidly rallied and within a few days
turned upon the enemy. But Cornwallis not waiting for another action
abandoned his position, and, leaving his wounded behind, retreated,
closely pursued by Greene, whose troops were eager to renew the con-
test. On the 28th March the British crossed Deep river at Ramsay's
mills. Arriving a few hours later, Greene found the bridge destroyed,
and, recognizing the folly of further pursuit, turned to the recovery of
the Carolinas. Cornwallis, relying upon Rawdon's ability to hold the
Southern ports, and eager to assume the extended command which the
instructions of the ministry with the reinforcements from Clinton opened
to him in Virginia, marched by way of Wilmington and Halifax to
Petersburg, the assigned point of junction, where, as has been stated, 'he
arrived on the 20th Mav, and took command of the united forces and the


entire department of the South. Petersburg is on the southern bank of
the lower branch of the James; Richmond, where Lafayette had taken
post, IS on the northern bank of the upper branch of the same river,
about twenty-five miles distant in a nearly northerly direction. It was
at this time, in his pride and exultation, with a sufficient force, abundant
supplies, and uninterrupted communication by water with New York
and Charleston, both strongly held by land and naval armament, that
Cornwallis wrote in scorn of his youthful adversary : " The boy cannot
escape me." A boy indeed in years was Lafayette. He had not yet com-
pleted his twenty-fourth year, but the grave Congress had commended
him by letters to his sovereign three years previously as " wise in council,
brave in the field, and patient in the fatigue of war." Cornwallis soon
found that on the young shoulders, beneath which beat a heart as impet-
uous as his own, there rested a head trained, in prudent, wary watchful-
ness, in the great school of Washington. With all his vigor and fertility
of resource and stratagem, the wily general could not force Lafayette to
an engagement. Compelled to confine himself to ravaging the, country
with his light troops, he was not even able to prevent the junction of
Lafayette with the detachment of the Pennsylvania line, chiefly veterans,
which Wayne brought to him by order of Washington. A series of
strategic movements ensued, in which Lafayette manoeuvred with such
skill that Cornwallis, deceived as to the extent of his force, evacuated
Richmond and marched to Williamsburg, devastating the country on
his way, but closely followed by the Americans. The force under
Lafayette at this period amounted to 3,900 men, of whom 1,500 were
regulars, 400 new levies, and 2,000 militia, while the army of Corn-
wallis reached 4,000 regulars, of whom 800 were cavalry, freshly and
admirably mounted, with Tarletcm at their head. At Williamsburg
Cornwallis received orders from Clinton to return to him a consider-
able part of his force, and take strong post in a healthy station. On the
4th July he began his march for Portsmouth. The same day he reached
James Island, closely followed by Wayne. A sharp skirmish ensued on
the 6th without serious consequences. On the 8th Cornwallis, crossing
the James, marched to Portsmouth, while the Marquis held the com-
manding position of Malvern Hill.

Hardly were the British troops embarked than letters came from Sir
Henry Clinton, who had recovered from his immediate dread of an attack
upon New York, countermanding his former order and directing Corn-
wallis to take and fortify stations for the secure holding of the Chesa-
peake. Taking advantage of the vessels which Clinton had sent to him.


he transferred his entire force to York and Gloucester, and at once pro-
ceeded to fortify the posts. Sir Henry Clinton had indicated Old Point
Comfort as the proper position for the erection of works to cover a
naval station. Mr. Bancroft says that Cornwallis' engineers, " after care-
ful and extensive surveys, reported unanimously that a work on Point
Comfort would not secure ships at anchor in Hampton Roads." But
Sir Henry Clinton, in his manuscript notes to Stedman's History, com-
ments on the movement with severity and bitterness, after explaining
how the " narrow channel might have been still further narrowed by the
sinking of vessels, and consequently could not be forced by an enemy's
fleet exposed to batteries on Point Comfort, or ships placed within
Hampton Roads. Any number of ships might have been laid either
across from Old Point Comfort to WiUowby's Point, or up the James
River out of reach of any batteries the enemy might have on either
shore ; had Lord Cornwallis obeyed the only order he ever received
from Sir H. Clinton (the notes are made in the third person) to fortify
a place of arms to cover a naval station for ships of the line, he would
have occupied the peninsula of Old Point Comfort ; and had he done
so the fleet he lost in York river would have been saved, and the army
under his command succored; for the French fleet he well knew would
not have ventured to remain long in Lynnhaven bay, and in the other
roadsteads they could not forbid the entrance into James river. Lord
Cornwallis chose, however, to disobey the commander-in-chief's order
once more, and without waiting for his approbation to remove the naval
station to York river, alleging as a reason that " it was there alone he
could hope to give effectual protection to line-of-battle ships."

Lafayette was quick to perceive that the abandonment of Portsmouth
cut off one way of British retreat to the Carolinas. Of this movement,
made on the 6th August, Washington received advice from Lafayette
on the i6th. Marching orders for the advance guard of the allied forces
were issued the same day. The troops were put in motion; King's
ferry was crossed between the 19th and 20th — the Americans in the van,
the French following — marching over different roads with celerity ; Phil-
adelphia was reached in the first days of September. The march seemed
rather one of triumph than of manoeuvre. The people thronged to wit-
ness the unusual sight of the gay French uniforms, and hailed their
appearance with acclamations of joy. An aureole of victory encircled
the advancing host. The excitement in Philadelphia was intense. The
Congress took part in the rejoicings. The house of the French minister,
the Chevalier de la Luzerne, was besieged by enthusiastic patriots


eager for a view of the leaders of the gallant army — approved veterans
of many a hard fought field, gay noblemen who had left the tapes-
tried halls of Versailles to strike one blow for the new born nation,
long their enemy, now the ally of their generous King. Cries of Vive
le Roi, and Vive la France, mingled with the shouts which welcomed
the steady tramp of the war-worn Continentals. The light troops of
the Americans halted but a day and pressed on to Chester. Rocham-
beau followed immediately with the first division of his army. At
Chester the joyful news was received of the arrival of the French fleet
at the mouth of the Chesapeake. The ardor of the troops redoubled their
energy. On the 2d September the first division crossed Christiana bridge
and marched to Elkton. At the Head of Elk Washington, finding the
transports insufficient for the movement of the entire army, determined
with Rochambeau to divide the forces. The first embarkation to con-
sist of one thousand of the American troops, including Colonel Lamb's
regiment of artillery, the grenadiers and chasseurs of the brigade of
Bourbonnais with the infantry of Lauzun's legion, was to be immedi-
ately pushed forward, while the remainder of the troops was to march
to Baltimore by land or water as circumstances admitted, and the cav-
alry and teams to go round by land.

These dispositions made, Washington, to use the. words of his diary,
determined to set out for the camp of the Marquis de Lafaj'ette without
loss of time, and accordingl}-, in company with the Count de Rocham-

Online LibraryJohn Austin StevensThe Magazine of American history with notes and queries (Volume 6) → online text (page 1 of 65)