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West Indies, to proceed to America to co-operate with ; Washington. This determined the plan of operations. De Grasse was expected in the month of August
. The allied generals, in a conference held at Wethersfield, agreed to lay siege to New York, in concert with the expected fleet. А junction was accordingly formed early in the month of July, between the troops of Washington, and the French troops from Newport. The Americans marched down from their encampment at Peekskill, and united with the French under Rochambeau, at Dobbs' Ferry. The Commander-in-chief proceeded to prepare for active operations, which he hopeil to commence by the middle of July, or the first of August. But the tardiness of the recruiting service again arrested his movements, and other obstacles intervened. The garrison of Clinton, reinforced by the late arrivals from Europe, counted ten thousand men, while the Americans did not exceed five thousand regulars, with about an equal number
of militia, upon whom little reliance could be placed in a I
siege. The French troops and feet made the numbers up to a very respectable force, but by no means such as could make the event certain. The chief reliance was on the assistance of Count de Grasse, and his immense armament, consisting of twenty-five ships of the line, and three thousand soldiers. About the middle of August intelligence was received that De Grasse had sailed from the West Indies, and that his destination was the Chesapeake. An entire change of plan was the result, and the whole skill and energy of the Commander-in-chief were exercised in directing the movements of the several distinct and different armaments, so as to concentrate.them at once against Yorktown, where Cornwallis was encamped; and at the same time so to mask his designs as to prevent Sir Henry Clinton from uniting his forces with those of Cornwallis. His plans were wisely taken and ably executed. Circumstances beyond the control of any calculations favored the enterprise, and distant bodies of men and squadrons, separated thousands of miles, moved with the precision of a chessboard.
The show of making an attack upon New York was still kept up by labored demonstrations in various quarters. Reports of the expected arrival of De Grasse to besiege the city were industriously spread. Letters confirming this were written to be intercepted. The British works were
reconnoitred constantly, and plans taken even under the fire of batteries by the American engineers. Some of the French troops were advanced to the opposite side of Staten Island, as though to communicate with and aid the besieging ships. Batteries were established, and other preparations of a permanent kind made, so as to impress Clinton with the conviction that a joint and general attack was to be made upon the city. Having thus completely baffled the sagacity of the British commander-in-chief, Washington waited anxiously for the time at which he computed De Grasse would reach the Chesapeake. He then left his camp, and turning sud
| denly South, crossed the Croton and the Hudson,
" and pushed on rapidly through New Jersey, when he paused for further intelligence of the fleet. The report had been carefully encouraged that this movement was but a feint to draw the British into the open field, and, still de. ceived, Clinton lost the opportunity of arresting or molesting the progress of the allied army. Washington, receiving intelligence of the near approach of De Grasse, no longer hesitated, but crossing the Delaware pushed on with rapidity oson | through Pennsylvania, and reached the Elk river, at
the head of the Chesapeake, on the 25th of August. As soon as the bewildered English general was persuaded of the real purpose of this march, instead of promptly reinforcing Cornwallis, he thought to recall the Americans, or profit by their absence, by striking a blow at the defenceless coast of Connecticut. Arnold was placed at the head of this marauding detachment, a fit instrument for such deeds of violence and rapine. When Cornwallis took command of the combined troops at Petersburg, in May, Arnold had obtained leave to return to New York, and now seized the opportunity of heading a plundering expedition into his native state. New London was the point aimed at. It was taken, sacked, and pillaged. The defences consisted of a fort on the Groton side, garrisoned by Lieutenant-colonel Ledyard, and one hundred and sixty men. The party which assaulted this fort was commanded by an officer nanied Eyre. The garrison was overpowered after an obstinate resistance, in which Eyre and his second in command were killed. Ledyard finally surrendered his sword to Major Bromfield, who instantly plunged it in the heart of the prisoner, and the bloody example was followed so mercilessly, that nearly every man of the garrison was butchered. The Groton
Massacre is another horrible stain on the British arms, and was fitly perpetrated under the lead of Arnold. He ravaged and laid waste the town in the spirit of a fiend, and returned to New York, loaded with curses and imprecations from a plundered and outraged community of his own early relations and friends.
This barbarous inroad did not serve the purpose of Clinton in checking the southern advance of Washington, or prevailing on him to weaken his troops by detaching any part of them to the defence of Connecticut. Without delay the allied armies pushed forward to Virginia, cheer- L ed by the intelligence that the Count de Grass had 108**
Aug. 28th. entered the Chesapeake with his squadron; and blocking up the mouth of the bay and the York and James rivers, had effectually cut off all communication with New York. Three thousand French troops, commanded by the Marquis de St. Simon, were landed from the fleet, and joined La Fayette in his camp, then at Williamsburg. By this reinforcement the danger of a sudden attack upon him by the superior force of Cornwallis, was happily removed. The American Commander-in-chief, with the French general Rochambeau, having provided for the transportation of the army down the Chesapeake, pushed on in person, and reached Williamsburg on the fourteenth of September. *
Sept. 14. The plan of operation was immediately settled at an interview on board the French flag ship, the Ville de Paris. The whole body of French and American troops | united at Williamsburg on the twenty-fifth of Sep-|
Sept. 25. tember, where they were joined by a detachment of Virginia militia, commanded by Governor Nelson. A few days of repose were allowed, when the siege of Yorktown was commenced.
The other branches of the American plan of action, succeeded not less perfectly, and with equal fortune. The French fleet at Newport had been also ordered to rendezvous at the mouth of the Chesapeake, and join that of De Grasse. Count de Barras accordingly sailed with five ships of the line, and numerous transports, laden with arms, am. munition, and implements for the siege, in which the army before Yorktown was deficient. But danger was in the way of Barras. Admiral Graves, with a much superior British force, was at New York, and Admiral Rodney, informed of the movements of De Grasse, but not believing that the
whole French fleet would accompany him, had sent Sir Samuel Hood, with fourteen line of battle ships, to the American coast. Hood arrived at the Capes of Virginia before de Grasse, and finding no enemy there, pursued his way to New York, and joined Admiral Graves, who, as senior officer, took command, and sailed to intercept de Barras, and engage de Grasse. On the twenty-fourth of Sep
tember he came in sight of the French squadron, Sept. 24.
at anchor in the Chesapeake, and though inferior in the number of ships, offered them battle. The French admiral slipped his cables and stood out to sea.
His policy was to employ the British fleet, in manæuvring for battle, without coming to a decisive action, until the convoy of De Barras could safely enter. The scheme succeeded. A partial battle took place, and, for four or five days, the two fleets were in sight of each other; the French gradually withdrawing from the coast, but avoiding a general engagement. Meanwhile, De Barras, who had stood far off to sea, and made a wide circuit to avoid the British fleet, passed safely into the bay, and De Grasse, having achieved his object, knowing that delay was fatal to the British, and, acting upon the plan of caution urged upon him by Washington, returned to the Chesapeake and re-anchored in his former position. Admiral Graves found the French fleet too strong to be attacked, and, his own damaged in the action; he accordingly returned to New York, leaving Cornwallis to his fate. The transports thus fortunately brought into the Chesapeake, were employed in bringing down the army of Washington from the Elk, and the artillery and tools which they brough were all important in the prosecution of the siege.
The grand combination of fleets and armies in the Chesapeake was thus complete. The joint land forces amounted to about seventeen thousand men, of whom thirteen thousand were regulars. The fleet was composed of twenty-nine sail of line of battle ships. There was no hope of escape for Cornwallis but in speedy succor from New York, and he pressed for it urgently, at the same time that he prepared to hold out as long as possible. He had chosen his position on the south side of York river, and strongly fortified it, as well as Gloucester Point, on the opposite side of the river. Armed ships on the river, and batteries on the shore, defended the communications between their posts. The works at Yorktown, consisting of a range redoubts and field-works,
were guarded by the main body of the army. Tarleton with about six hundred men occupied Gloucester.
Every preparation being made, the allied armies moved down on the 28th of September to invest Yorktown. They drove in the British piquets and patroles, and encamped on the grounds assigned to them. “On the north side of the river, the investiture of Gloucester Point was placed under the direction of the French General Choisiè, with the French legion, under the Duke de Lauzun and General Weedon's brigade of militia.
On the evening of the next day, Cornwallis committed what by military men has been considered the capital error, of withdrawing his men from the outposts, and retiring within the fortifications of the town. His reasons for this act met with opposition among his own officers, and certainly were based upon a too sanguine reliance on the promises of Clinton. On the 29th, intelligence was brought him, that the feet at New York had been strengthened by the arrival of Admiral Digby from England, with several ships of the line, and also by a ship and frigates from Rod. ney, in the West Indies. He was assured that a squadron of twenty-three ships of the line, with five thousand men, would sail to his relief from New York, by the fifth of October. These assurances prevailed upon him to husband his own strength by not attempting to defend his outworks in detail. He thus narrowed the space of action for his troops, and limited most materially the time upon which he might calculate to protract the siege. He put his fate upon the literal compliance of Clinton with these assurances within the period assigned. On his withdrawal the allies advanced, and occupied the ground he had aban
Sept. 30. doned. No attempt was made, as the British general had desired, to carry the place by assault. A fortunate defence might have saved him. The allies were resolved to risk nothing; the great prize was secure within their hands, and they wisely abstained from trusting any thing to the chance of battle, their enemy's only hope. They proceeded with their works in regular form. Their artillery and
Oct. 6th. stores were brought up, and on the night of the sixth of October they broke ground, within a few hundred yards of the British lines, without serious obstruction. The besieged labored hard to strengthen their own works, and their artillery was actively plied. The batteries were