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de la Fayette arrived from the northward to take the command of the military force in that state. This young nobleman had early espoused the cause of America with all the enthusiasm of an ardent and generous mind, and had manifested such a lively zeal for the interests of the Union as secured to him the enire confidence both of the American commander-in-chief and of congress. When che attempt was meditated against Arnold at Portsmouth, he was appointed to command the troops to be employed in the enterprise ; but on the abandonment of the expedition by the naval force of France he returned from Annapolis in Maryland, where he had arrived, and proceeded to the head of Elk river, at which place he received orders to take the command of the troops in Virginia.
When the Marquis de la Fayette marched to the southward on the meditated enterprise against Arnold, the troops which he carried along with him were drawn chiefly from the northern states; and, as it was believed the expedition would be of short duration, they were ill provided for a southern campaign, and had imbibed strong prejudices against the climate. When they understood that the duty would be more permanent than had been at first expected, numbers of them deserted. But, appealing to their honor, the marquis at length succeeded in inspiring his troops with the resolution of braving every danger and enduring every privation in the cause of their country. In order to encourage them, that young nobleman, as careless of fortune as he was ambitious of fame, borrowed money on his own personal credit from the merchants of Baltimore to purchase shoes, linen, and other necessaries, for his detachment; and the ladies of that city, with patriotic zeal, took charge of immediately making the summer clothes of the troops.
The marquis arrived at Richmond with his detachment on the evening before General Philips entered Manchester; and, instead of attempting to pass the river in the face of that officer, the British general marched back to Bermuda Hundreds, a point of land formed by the junction of James river and the Appomattox, destroying much valuable property on his way. Embarking his army,
he sailed down the river as far as Hog's island, where the van of his fleet arrived on the 5th day of May.
On the return of the British down the river, the marquis sent small parties to follow them and watch their motions, while he established his headquarters behind the river Chicahominy, at some distance from Richmond. On the 7th of May, General Philips received a letter from Cornwallis, informing him of his lordship’s march into Virginia, and mentioning Petersburgh as the place at which he expected to meet the British troops in that province. General Philips immediately returned up the river, landed one division at Brandon, while another proceeded to City point; and on the 9th, those two divisions met at Petersburgh, where their arrival was so unexpected that they took prisoners some of La Fayette's officers, who had been sent to that place for the purpose of collecting boats to convey his troops across the river. Meanwhile General Philips was seized with fever, and was so ill on reaching Petersburgh as to be unable to give orders. The progress of his disease was rapid, and he died four days afterward, when the command of the troops devolved on Arnold.
We formerly left Cornwallis at Wilmington, in North Carolina, on the 7th of April. There he remained eighteen days, in order to refresh his exhausted troops; and having resolved, after much deliberation, to proceed northward, on the 25th of the month he set out on his march into Virginia, a distance of 300 miles. In his progress, he met with little opposition. Colonel Tarleton, with 180 cavalry and 60 mounted infantry, preceded the army, and easily dispersed any bodies of militia that were assembling to interrupt it. On the 20th of May Cornwallis reached Petersburgh, and took the command of the British troops in Virgiñia. He felt his force decidedly superior to that opposed to him, and exulted in the prospect of success. Undervaluing the talents and resources of the Marquis de la Fayette, his young opponent, he incautiously wrote to Europe, in a letter which was intercepted, “ The boy can not escape me."
On being informed that General Philips, in returning up the river, had landed at Brandon on the southern bank, and that Cornwallis was marching northward, the marquis perceived that a junction of their forces was intended; and suspecting that Petersburgh was the appointed place of meeting, he endeavored to anticipate them in the occupation of that town. But the march of General Philips was so rapid that he entered it before him, and frustrated his design. The marquis, with his little army, consisting of 1,000 continentals, 2,000 militia, and 60 dragoons, took a position at Richmond and exerted himself in removing the military stores to places of greater security.
On the 24th of May, Cornwallis left Petersburgh, crossed James river at Westover, thirty miles below La Fayette's encampment, and, being joined by a reinforcement from New York, marched at the head of upward of 4,000 veterans toward Richmond. But the marquis evacuated that town on the 27th, and retired toward the back country ; inclining his march toward the north, so that he might easily form a junction with General Wayne, who was hastening to reinforce him with 800 men of the Pennsylvania line. Cornwallis eagerly pursued his retreating foe as far as the upper part of Hanover county ; but, finding it impossible to overtake the marquis, or to prevent his junction with General Wayne, he at length altered the course of his march, and turned his attention to more attainable objects.
In his progress he destroyed much public property. That of individuals also was plundered or consumed, under pretext of cutting the sinews of war; so that Virginia, which had long escaped hostile ravages, now experienced its full share of the public calamity. Cornwallis took the horses from the stables of private gentlemen, formed an efficient cavalry, and mounted many of his infantry ; so that he could move considerable detachments with uncommon rapidity.
Being thus provided with the means of rapid marches, he planned an expedition against Charlotteville, where the general assembly of Virginia was then sitting, deliberating on the means necessary for the prosecution of the war. The assembly had been sitting at Richmond, but, on the approach of the British army, had retired to Charlotteville, which stands on the bank of the Rivanna, high up the river. At that place there were some military stores ; but the British prisoners were removed from it and conducted toward Pennsylvania.
The force under Tarleton, in the expedition against Charlotteville, consisted of 180 cavalry and seventy mounted infantry of the 23d regiment. At first the second battalion of the 71st regiment was ordered to accompany him, but the officers of that regiment presented a memorial to Cornwallis, representing their unwillingness to serve under that officer, who had commanded at the Cow-Pens, where the first battalion of their regiment were made prisoners. They were therefore attached to Simcoe's corps, and the 23d regiment appointed to accompany Tarleton, who on that occasion displayed his usual activity, and advanced so rapidly toward the place of destination, that it was by mere accident that the inhabitants of Charlotteville heard of his approach before he entered the town, and that all the members of the assembly of Virginia were not made prisoners. But Mr. Janiette, a private gentleman, observing Tarleton's march, suspecting his design, mounted a fleet horse, and, by following a short and unfrequented road, reached the town two hours before the British cavalry entered it. The greater part of the legislative assembly escaped and re-assembled at Staunton, beyond the Blue Ridge ; only seven of them were made prisoners. Tarleton destroyed all the public stores at Charlotteville ; and sent Captain M.Leod, with a troop of horse, to Mr. Jefferson's mansion three miles farther, in order to ape prehend that gentleman and some other individuals who were understood to be there, but with instructions to commit no depredations. Mr. Jefferson and his friends made their escape ; but M-Leod punctually obeyed his orders; and, after remaining eighteen hours in the house, left it and all it contained uninjured ; conduct which was very rare, especially in Virginia.
Colonel Tarleton having executed his commission at Charlotteville, hastened down the Rivanna to co-operate with Colonel Simcoe, who had been sent with a detachment of 500 men, chiefly infantry, in order to surprise Baron Steuben, who was then at Point of Fork, formed by the confluence of the Rivanna and Fluvanna, the two great branches which constitute James river. He had upward of 500 raw troops and a considerable quantity of stores under his protection ; and waited for the militia to the south of James river, who had been directed to assemble at Point of Fork.
Colonel Simcoe's progress had not been so rapid as that of Tarleton; but so skilfully had he conducted his march, that though Steuben had heard of Tarleton's expedition against Charlotteville, yet he had received no notice of Simcoe's approach to his own encampment; but, as a measure of precaution, he left Point of Fork and took a position on the south side of the Fluvanna, securing all the boats on the southern bank. Colonel Simcoe's detachment unexpectedly appeared ; and the baron, mistaking it for the van of the British army, retreated precipitately during the night, leaving behind him part of the stores, which were next day destroyed by Colonel Simcoe. The baron did not halt till he was thirty miles from Point of Fork.
In Virginia the British had committed fearful devastations, and had destroyed much valuable property ; but Cornwallis, though at the head of a superior army, had gained no important advantage over his opponent. He had pushed the Marquis de la Fayette across the Rappahannock, but was unable to prevent his junction with General Wayne, which was accomplished at Rackoon ford on the 7th of June. The marquis immediately repassed the Rappahannock, and advanced toward the British army.
In the course of those movements Cornwallis had got completely between the marquis and the stores of the state, which were deposited at different places, but principally at Albemarle old courthouse high up the Fluvanna, on the south side of the river. Those stores were an object of importance to both armies; and, early in June, the British commander, after having dispensed with the services of Arnold, and allowed him to return to New York, directed his march to Albemarle courthouse. The marquis was anxious to preserve his magazines ; and, while the British army was more than a day's march from Albemarle courthouse, by a rapid and unexpected movement he suddenly appeared in its vicinity. The British general easily penetrated his design ; and, being between him and his magazines, took a position near the road, so that he could attack him with advantage if he attempted to advance. During the night, however, the marquis discovered and cleared a nearer but long disused road, and passed the British army unobserved ; and, in the morning, Cornwallis, with surprise and mortification, saw his adversary strongly posted between him and the stores.
Perceiving that the Americans could not be attacked unless under great disadvantages, and believing their force greater than it really was, Cornwallis abandoned his enterprise and began a retrograde movement, and, in two night marches, fell back upward of fifty miles. On the 17th of June he entered Richmond, but left it on the 20th, and continued his route to Williamsburgh, where the main body of his army arrived on the 25th.
The American army followed him at a cautious distance. On the 19th the marquis was joined by Steuben with his detachment, which increased the American army to 4,000 men; of whom 2,000 were regulars, but only 1,500 were
disciplined troops. That of Cornwallis appears to have been somewhat more numerous, and consisted entirely of veterans: it was also provided with a wellmounted body of cavalry, which had spread terror and devastation over the country, and greatly intimidated the militia.
Though the marquis kept about twenty miles behind the main body of the British army, yet his light parties hung on its rear, and skirmishes occasionally ensued. A sharp encounter happened near Williamsburgh between the advanced guard of the Americans, under Colonel Butler, and the rear guard of the British under Colonel Simcoe, in which both suffered considerable loss. Part of the British army marched to Colonel Simcoe's assistance, and the Americans were obliged to retreat. Although the marquis encouraged skirmishes and partial conflicts, yet, distrusting his new levies and militia, he cautiously avoided a general battle. While the British army remained at Williamsburgh, the Americans occupied a strong encampment twenty miles from that place.
During the various movements of the troops in Virginia, property to a great amount, both public and private, was destroyed. Among other articles 2,000 hogsheads of tobacco were burned ; individuals suffered severely, and the resources of the state were considerably impaired. While the army traversed the country, carrying devastation in its train, ships-of-war sailed up the rivers, pillaged the farms, received fugitive negroes, and, in some instances, laid the houses in ashes. Early in the spring a British frigate went up the Potomac to General Washington's mansion at Mount Vernon, and demanded from the steward a quantity of provisions, which was granted in order to save the property. This compliance, however, was not satisfactory to the American commander-inchief, who declared that it would have been more agreeable to him to have left the enemy to take what they pleased by force, even at the risk of burning his house and property.
Though the militia showed no alacrity in taking the field, and though less resistance was made to the royal arms in Virginia than had been expected from such a powerful state, yet very little inclination manifested itself among the people to support the British cause. Some loyalists in a remote part of the province were easily reduced to unconditional submission by General Morgan, whom ill health had obliged to quit the army; but who, on this occasion, put himself at the head of a few mounted riflemen to subdue the insurgents.
We will here introduce the adventure of Charles Morgan, commonly called Charlie by his comrades. Charlie was a shrewd private of the Jersey brigade, a good soldier, and had attracted the notice of the Marquis de la Fayette. In the course of the movements on James river, the marquis was anxious to procure exact information of the force under Cornwallis, and, if possible, to penetrate his lordship's designs; he considered Charlie as a proper agent for the accomplishment of his purposes, and proposed to him to enter the British camp in the character of a deserter, but in reality as a spy. Charlie undertook the perilous enterprise, merely stipulating that, if he were detected, the marquis should cause it to be inserted in the Jersey newspapers, that he was acting under the orders of his commanding officer.
The pretended deserter entered the British lines and was conducted into the presence of Cornwallis. On being questioned by that nobleman concerning his motives for desertion, he replied, " that he had been with the American army from the beginning of the war, and that while under General Washington he was satisfied ; but that now they had put them under a Frenchman, he did not like it, and therefore had deserted." Charlie was received without suspicion, was punctual in discharging his duty as a soldier, and carefully observed everyihing that passed. One day while on duty with his comrades, Cornwallis, who was in close conversation with some of his officers, called him and asked, “ How
long will it take the marquis to cross James river ?" “ Three hours, my lord,” was the answer. " Three hours !” exclaimed his lordship, “ will it not take three days?" "No, my lord," said Charlie ; "the marquis has so many boats, each boat will carry so many men ; and if your lordship will take the trouble of calculating, you will find he can cross in three hours.” Turning to his officers, the earl said, in the hearing of the American, " The scheme will not do."
Charlie was now resolved to abandon his new friends ; and for that purpose plied his comrades with grog till they were all in high spirits with the liquor. He then began to complain of the wants in the British camp, extolled the plentiful provision enjoyed by the Americans, and concluded by proposing to them to desert: they agreed to accompany him, and left it to him to manage the sentinels. To the first he offered, in a very friendly manner, a draught of rum from his canteen ; but, while the soldier was drinking, Charlie seized his arms, and then proposed to him to desert with them, which he did through necessity. The second sentinel was served in the same way; and Charlie hastened to the American camp at the head of seven British deserters. On presenting himself before his employer, the marquis exclaimed, “ Ah, Charlie ! have you got back ?" “ Yes, sir," was the answer, - and have brought seven more with me." The marquis offered him money, but he declined accepting it, and only desired to have his gun again : the marquis then proposed to raise him to the rank of a corporal or serjeant, but Charlie's reply was, “I will not have any promotion ; I have abilities for a common soldier, and have a good character : should I be promoted, my abilities may not answer, and I may lose my character.” He, however, generously requested for his fellow-soldiers, who were not so well supplied with stockings, shoes, and clothing as himself, the marquis's interference to procure a supply of their wants.
For some time after entering Virginia, Cornwallis entertained the most flattering hopes of success. He was at the head of an army, which no force in that province was able to resist; and he felt no doubt of succeeding against the Marquis de la Fayette. But that young officer eluded his most active exertions, frustrated some of his schemes, and now hung upon him with an army, which, though still inferior, was nevertheless formidable, and daily increasing in strength. But new disappointments and more mortifying events awaited this active noble
While at Williamsburgh he received a requisition from Sir Henry Clinton for part of the troops under his command: the commander-in-chief having discovered that an attack was meditated on New York, thought his garrison insufficient for the defence of that place, and wished part of the troops in Virginia to be sent to his assistance. Cornwallis prepared to comply with Sir Henry Clinton's requisition ; and, believing that with the remaining troops he would be unable to maintain himself at Williamsburgh, he resolved to pass James river and retire to Portsmouth. On the 30th of June he apprized the commander-inchief of his resolution.
On the 4th of July the army marched from Williamsburgh, and encamped on the bank of James river, so as to cover a ford leading into the island of James
On the 5th and 6th, the baggage and some of the troops passed the ford; but the main body of the army kept its ground.
On the morning of the 5th of July, the Marquis de la Fayette left his encampment, crossed the Chickahominy, pushed his light troops near the British position and advanced with the continentals to make an attempt on the British rear, after their main body had passed the river. On the afternoon of the 6th, the marquis was told that the main body of the British army had crossed the ford, and that a rear guard only remained behind ; an opinion which the British general artfully encouraged by the judicious manner in which he posted his troops. General Wayne, imagining that he had to fight a rear guard only, advanced