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ton reached Williamsburg on the 14th of September, and immediately on his arrival, visiting the Count de Grasse on board his flagship, the Ville de Paris, settled with him the plan of their future operations.
SIEGE OF YORKTOWN.-SURRENDER OF LORD CORNWALLIS.
In pursuance of this arrangement, the combined forces, to the amount of 12,000 men, assembled at Williamsburg, on the 25th of September; and on the 30th of the same month marched forward to invest Yorktown, whilst the French fleet, moving to the mouth of York river, cut off Lord Cornwallis from any communication with a friendly force by water. His lordship's garrison amounted to 7000 men, and the place was strongly fortified. On the right it was secured by a marshy ravine, extending to such a distance along the front of the defences as to leave them accessible only to the extent of about 1500 yards. This space was defended by strong lines, beyond which, on the extreme left, were advanced a redoubt and a bastion, which enfiladed their approach to Gloucester Point, on the other side of York river, the channel of which is here narrowed to the breadth of a mile, which post was also sufficiently garrisoned, and strongly fortified. Thus secured in his position, Lord Cornwallis beheld the approach of the enemy
When did Washington reach Williamsburg?
with firmness, especially as he had received despatches from Sir Henry Clinton, announcing his intention of sending 5000 men in a fleet of 23 ships of the line to his relief.
The allied forces on their arrival from Williamsburg immediately commenced the investiture both of Yorktown and of Gloucester Point; and on the 10th of October they opened their batteries with such effect, that their shells, flying over the town, reached the shipping in the harbor, and set fire to the Charon frigate, and to a transport. On this inauspicious day, too, Lord Cornwallis received a communication from Sir Henry Clinton, conveying to him the unwelcome intelligence that he doubted whether it would be in his power to send him the aid which he had promised.
On the following morning the enemy commenced their second parallel, and finding themselves, in this advanced position, severely annoyed by the bastion and redoubt which have been mentioned above, they resolved to storm them. The reduction of the former of these works was committed to the French, whilst the attack of the latter was intrusted to the Americans.* Both parties rushing to the assault with the spirit of emulation which this arrangement was calculated to inspire, the works in question were speedily carried at the point of the bayonet.
* The Marquis de Lafayette commanded the American detachment of light infantry, against the redoubt on the extreme left of the British works; and the Baron de Viominel led the French grenadiers and chasseurs against the other, which was farther toward the British right, and nearer the French lines. On the evening of the 14th, the two detachments moved firmly to the assault. Colonel Hamilton led the advanced corps of the Americans; and Colonel Laurens, at the head of 80 men, turned the redoubt, in order to take the garrison in reverse, and intercept their retreat. The troops rushed to the assault with unloaded arms, and in a few minutes carried the redoubt with inconsider able
How did Cornwallis behold their approach?
It must be mentioned to the honor of the American soldiers, that though in revenge for a massacre recently committed at New London, in Connecticut, by a body of troops under the command of the renegade Arnold,* they had been ordered to take no prisoners, they forebore to comply with this requisition, and when they had penetrated into the redoubt, spared every man who ceased to resist. On the 16th of October, a sally was made from the garrison, but with indifferent success; and Lord Cornwallis was now convinced that he could avoid a surrender, only by effecting his escape by Gloucester Point. Seeing himself therefore reduced to the necessity of trying this desperate expedient, he prepared as many boats as he could procure, and on the night of the 16th of October attempted to convey his army over York river to the opposite promontory. But the elements were adverse to his operations. The first division of his troops was disembarked in safety; but when the second was on its passage, a storm of wind and rain arose, and drove it down the river.
loss.1 The French were also successful. The reboubt assigned to them was soon carried, but with less rapidity and greater loss.2 These two redoubts were included the same night in the second parallel, and facilitated the subse. quent operations of the besiegers.
* Sir Henry Clinton “giving to the traitor Arnold, who had just returned from Virginia, the command of a strong detachment, he sent him against NewLondon, a flourishing city situated upon the river Thames, in his native state. Nearly opposite, on a hill in Groton, stood Fort Griswold, which was then garrisoned by militia, hastily summoned from their labors in the field. Against this fort Arnold despatched a part of his troops. It was assaulted on three sides at the same moment. The garrison, fighting in view of their property and their homes, made a brave and obstinate resistance. By their steady and well directed fire, many of the assailants were killed. Pressing forward with persevering ardor, the enemy entered the fort through the embrazures. Immediately all resistance ceased. Irritated by gallantry which should have caused admiration, a British officer inquired who commanded the fort. “I did," said Colonel Ledyard, “ but you do now," and presented him his sword. He seized it, and with savage cruelty plunged it into his bosom. This was the signal for an indiscriminate massacre. Of one hundred and sixty men, composing the garrison, all but forty were killed or wounded, and most of them after resistance had ceased.
Seldom has the glory of victory been tarnished by such detestable barbarity. The enemy then entered New-London, which was set on fire and consumed. The property destroyed was of immense value. Perceiving no other object within the reach of his force, Arnold led back his troops to New-York.”
1 One sergeant and 8 privates were killed; and 1 lieutenant-colonel, 4 captains, 1 subaltern, 1 sergeant, and 25 rank and file, wounded.
There was no retaliation of the recent carnage at Fort Griswold. The assailants killed not a man, except in action. “Incapable of imitating examples of barbarity, and forgetting recent provocation, the soldiery spared every man that ceased to resist."
2 The loss, in killed and wounded, was nearly 100 men.
What should be mentioned?
Though this second embarkation worked its way back to Yorktown on the morning of the 17th, Lord Cornwallis was convinced, however unwillingly, that protracted resistance was vain.* No aid appeared from New York-his works were ruined—the fire from the enemy's batteries swept the town; and sickness had diminished the effective force of the garrison. In these painful circumstances, noth
*"On the morning of the 17th, several new batteries were opened in the second parallel; and, in the judgment of Lord Cornwallis, as well as of his engineers, the place was no longer tenable. About ten in the forenoon, his lordship, in a letter to General Washington, requested that there might be a cessation of hostilities for 24 hours, and that commissioners might be appointed to digest terms of capitulation. The American general in his answer declared his “ardent desire to spare the farther effusion of blood, and his readiness to listen to such terms as were admissible;" and granted a suspension of hostilities for two hours. The general propositions, stated by Lord Cornwallis for the basis of the proposed negotiation, being such as to lead to an opinion that the terms of capitula. might without much difficulty be adjusted, the suspension of hostilities was prolonged through the night. Commissioners were appointed the next day to digest into form, such articles as General Washington had drawn up and proposed to Lord Cornwallis; and early the next morning the American general sent
On the 16th what was done?
them to his lordship with a letter, expressing his expectation, that they would be signed by eleven, and that the garrison would march out by two in the after. noon. Lord Cornwallis, submitting to a necessity absolutely inevitable, surrendered the posts of Yorktown and Gloucester Point with the garrison, and the shipping in the barbor with the seamen, to the land and naval officers of America and France. By the articles of capitulation, the officers were to retain their side arms and private property. The soldiers, accompanied by a due proportion of officers, were to remain in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania; and the officers, not required for this service, were to be allowed to go on parole to Europe, or to any maritime port, occupied by the English in America. The whole army merited great approbation; but the artillerists and engineers re. ceived the highest applause. Generals Du Portrail and Knox were each promoted to the rank of major-general; Lieutenant-Colonel Gouvion and Captain Rochefontaine were each advanced a grade by brevet. Generals Lincoln, de Lafayette, and Steuben, were particularly mentioned by the commander-in-chief in his orders the day after the capitulation; and Governor Nelson, who remained in the field during the siege, at the head of the militia of Virginia, and who ex. erted himself to furnish the army with supplies, was very honorably men. tioned. The Count de Rochambeau received the highest acknowledgments; and several other French officers were named with distinction. Congress, on re ceiving intelligence of this important victory, passed resolutions, returning the thanks of the United States to the commander-in-chief, to the Count de Rochambeau, to the Count de Grasse, and to the officers of the different corps, and the men under them. It was also resolved, that a marble column should be erected at Yorktown with emblems of the alliance between the United States and his most Christian majesty, and inscribed with a succinct narrative of the surrender of the Earl Cornwallis. Washington, on this very joyful occasion, ordered that those who were under arrest, should be pardoned and set at liberty, and closed his orders in the following pious and impressive manner: “ Divine service shall be performed to-morrow in the different brigades and divisions. The commander-in-chief recommends, that all the troops that are not upon duty do assist at it with a serious deportment, and that sensibility of heart, which the recollection of the surprising and particular interposition of divine Providence in our favor claims.” 1 Congress resolved to go in solemn procession to the Dutch Lutheran Church, to return thanks to Almighty God for crowning the allied arms with success; and issued a proclamation, appointing the 13th day of
Describe bis situation on the 17th.