« PreviousContinue »
From this gentleman the ladies, after having made him acquainted with their circumstances, received every assistance which they could wish. When they were ready to proceed on their journey, he furnished a carriage to convey them to Newburyport. Here they met with the same friendly offices, and were supplied with the means of proceeding pleasantly to Boston; where the distresses of both Mrs. Wadsworth and the General were speedily terminated by his arrival.'
FURTHER EVENTS OF THE CAMPAIGN.-PREPARATIONS FOR
THE SIEGE OF NEW YORK.
It has already been related that, after defeating General Greene at Guildford, Lord Cornwallis marched to Petersburgh, in Virginia. His lordship did not take this step without hesitation. He well knew the enterprising character of his opponent, and was aware of the probability of his making an incursion into South Carolina. He flattered himself, however, that the forces which he had left in that province, under the command of Lord Rawdon would suffice to keep the enemy in check.
In this idea he was confirmed by the result of the battle of Camden, and by the receipt of intelligence that three British regiments, which had sailed from Cork, might be expected speedily to arrive at Charleston. No longer anxious, therefore, for the fate of South Carolina, he determined to march forward, in the confident hope of increasing his military renown by the
Where was Cornwallis at this time?
conquest of Virginia. He accordingly advanced with rapidity from Petersburgh to Manchester, on James river, with a view of crossing over from that place to Richmond, for the purpose of seizing a large quantity of stores and provisions, which had been deposited there by the Americans. But on his arrival at Manchester, he had the mortification to find that, on the day before, this depot had been removed by the Marquis de Lafayette, who, at the command of congress, had hastened from the head of Elk to oppose him. Having crossed James river, at Westown, his lordship marched through Hanover county to the South Anna river, followed at a guarded distance by the marquis, who, in this critical contingency, finding his forces inferior to those of the enemy, wisely restrained the vivacity which is the usual characteristic of his age and country.
But having effected a junction with General Wayne, which brought his numbers nearly to an equality with those of the British, and having once more, by a skilful maneuver, saved his stores, which had been removed to Albemarle old court house, he displayed so bold a front, that the British commander fell back to Richmond, and thence to Williamsburgh. On his arrival at the latter place, Lord Cornwallis received despatches from Sir Henry Clinton, requiring him instantly to send from his army a detachment to the relief of New York, which was threatened with a com
Why did he proceed to Manchester?
bined attack by the French and the Americans. sequent diminution of his force induced his lordship to cross James river, and to march in the direction of Portsmouth. Before, however, the reinforcements destined for New York had sailed, he received counter-orders and instructions from Sir Henry Clinton, in pursuance of which he conveyed his army, amounting to 7000 men, to Yorktown, which place he proceeded to fortify with the utmost skill and industry.
The object of Lord Cornwallis in thus posting himself at Yorktown, was to co-operate in the subjugation of Virginia with a fleet which he was led to expect would about this time proceed from the West Indies to the Chesapeake. Whilst his lordship was anxiously looking out for the British penants, he had the mortification, on the 30th of August, to see the Count de Grasse sailing up the bay with twenty-eight sail of the line, three of which, accompanied by a proper number of frigates, were immediately despatched to block up York river. The French vessels had no sooner anchored, than they landed a force of 3200 men, who, under the command of the Marquis de St. Simon, effected a junction with the army of Lafayette, and took post at Williamsburg. Soon after this operation, the hopes of the British were revived by the appearance off the Capes of Virginia, of Admiral Graves, with twenty sail of the linea force which seemed to be competent to extricate Lord
What other orders did Lord Cornwallis receive?
Cornwallis from his difficult position. These hopes, however, proved delusive.
On the 7th of September, M. de Grasse encountered the British fleet, and a distant fight took place, in which the French seemed to rely more on their maneuvering than on their valor. The reason of this was soon apparent. In the course of the night which followed the action, a squadron of eight line-of-battle ships safely passed the British, and joined De Grasse, in consequence of which accession of strength to the enemy, Admiral Graves thought it prudent to quit that part of the coast, and retire to New York. This impediment to their operations having been removed, the Americans and French directed the whole of their united efforts to the capture of Yorktown.
This had not, however, been the original design of General Washington at the commencement of the campaign. Early in the spring he had agreed with Count Rochambeau . to lay siege to New York, in concert with a French fleet which was expected to reach the neighborhood of Staten Island in the month of August. He had accordingly issued orders for considerable reinforcements, especially of militia, to join his
time to commence the projected operations. The French troops under Rochambeau having arrived punctually at his encampment near Peekskill, General Washington advanced to King's Bridge, and hemmed in the British in York Island. Every preparation seemed to be now in forwardness for the commencement of the siege; but the militia came in tardily. The adjacent States were dilatory in sending in their quotas of troops; and whilst he was impatiently awaiting their arrival Washington had the mortification to receive intelligence that
In what way did the hopes of Lord Cornwallis prove delusive?
Clinton had received a reinforcement of 3000 Germans. Whilst his mind was agitated by disappointment, and cha grined by that want of zeal on the part of the middle States which he apprehended could not but bring discredit on his country, in the estimation of his allies, he was relieved from his distress by the news of the success of Greene in driving Lord Cornwallis into Yorktown; and at the same time learning that the destination of Count de Grasse was the Chesapeake, and not Staten Island, he resolved to transfer his operations to the State of Virginia. Still, however, he kept up an appearance of persevering in his original intention of making an attack upon New York, and in this feint he was aided by the circumstance, that when this was in reality his design, a letter, in which he had detailed his plans for its prosecution, had been intercepted, and read by Sir Henry Clinton. When, therefore, in the latter end of August, he broke up his encampment at Peekskill, and directed his march to the south, the British comma
mander, imagining that this movement was only a stratagem calculated to throw him off his guard, and that the enemy would speedily return to take advantage of his expected negligence, remained in his quarters, and redoubled his exertions to strengthen his position. In consequence of this error, he lost the opportunity of impeding the march of the allied army, and of availing himself of the occasions which might have presented themselves of bringing it to action before it could effect a junction with the troops already assembled in the vicinity of Yorktown. Thus marching onwards without molestation, General Washing
What brought about this state of things?