« ForrigeFortsett »
difficulty which they will not bravely overcome.” The redoubts were the same night included wlthin the second parallel.
Lord Cornwallis well knew that the fire of the second parallel would soon render his works untenable, and determined to attempt to destroy it. The sortie appointed for this service consisted of three hundred and fifty men, and was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Abercrombie. With great impetuosity, he attacked two batteries that were in the greatest forwardОст. 15.
ness and carried them ; but the guards from
the trenches advancing, he was compelled to retreat without having effected his purpose. A few pieces of cannon were hastily spiked ; but they were soon again rendered fit for use. The service was honourable for the officers and men engaged, but the siege was not protracted.
By the afternoon of the 16th the British works sunk under the fire of the batteries of the second parallel ; in the whole front attacked, they could not show a single gun, and their shells were nearly expended. In this extremity his Lordship adopted the desperate resolution to attempt an escape. Leaving the sick and wounded in his posts, he determined with his efficient force to cross over to Gloucester, disperse the troops under De Choise, mount his troops upon horses that might be found in the country, direct his course to the fords of the Great rivers, and make his way to New-York. For this purpose boats were collected, and other necessary measures taken. On the night of the 16th the first embarcation arrived in safety at Gloucester, but at the moment the boats were returning, a violent storm arose, which forced them down the river. At day-light the storm subsided, and the boats were sent to bring back the soldiers to Yorktown, which with little loss, was accomplished in the course of the forenoon.
On the morning of the 17th, the fire of the Ameri
can batteries became intolerable, which soon, by its reiterated effects, rendered the British post untenable. Lord Cornwallis, perceiving further resistance to be unavailing, about ten o'clock beat a parley, and proposed a cessation of hostilities for twenty-four hours, that Commissioners might meet to settle the terms on which the posts of York and Gloucester should be surrendered. General Washington, in his answer, declared his “ ardent desire to spare the effusion of blood, and his readiness to listen to such terms as were admissible ;" but to prevent loss of time, he desired “ that, previous to the meeting of the Commissioners, the proposals of his Lordship might be transmitted in writing, for which purpose a suspension of hostilities for two hours should be granted." The terms proposed by his Lordship, were such as led the General to suppose that articles of capitulation might easily be adjusted, and he continued the cessation of hostilities until the next day. To expedite the business, he summarily stated the terms he was willing to grant, and informed Earl Cornwallis, that if he admitted these as the basis of a treaty, Commissioners might meet to put them into form. Accordingly Viscount de Noailles, and Lieutenant Colonel Laurens on the part of the allies, and Colonel Dundas and Major Ross, on tho part of the English, met the next day and adjusted articles of capitulation, which were to be submitted to the consideration of the British General. Resolving not to expose himself to any accident that might be the consequence of unnecessary delay, General WASH. INGTON ordered the rough draught of the Commissioners to be fairly transcribed, and sent to Lord Cornwallis early next morning, with a letter, expressing his expectation that the garrison would march out by two o'clock in the afternoon. Hopeless of more favourable terms, his Lordship signed the capitulation, and surrendered the posts of York and Gloucester with their garrisons to General WASHINGTON ; and the
shipping in the harbour, with the seamen to Count de Grasse.
The prisoners, exclusive of seamen, amounted to more than seven thousand, of which, between four and five thousand were fit for duty. The garrison lost during the siege, six officers and five hundred and forty-eight privates in killed and wounded. The privates with a competent number of officers were to remain in Virginia, Maryland, or Pennsylvania. The officers not required for this service, were permitted on parole to return to Europe, or to any of the maritime posts of the English on the American continent. Lord Cornwallis attempted to introduce into the treaty an article in favour of those Americans who had joined his standard ; but General Washington referred their case to the civil authority. Permission however was granted to his Lordship to send the Bonetta sloop of war, unsearched, to New-York to carry his despatches to Sir Henry Clinton, and in her those Americans went passengers, who had, in the highest degree incurred the resentment of their countrymen. The terms granted to Earl Cornwallis were, in general, the terms which had been granted to the Americans at the surrender of Charleston; and General Lincoln, who on that occasion resigned his sword to Lord Cornwallis, was appointed to receive the submission of the royal army.
The allied army, to which Lord Cornwallis surrendered, amounted to sixteen thousand; seven thousand French, five thousand five hundred continental troops, and three thousand five hundred militia. In the course of the siege, they lost in killed and wounded about three hundred. The siege was prosecuted with so much military judgment and ardour, that the treaty was opened the 11th, and the capitulation signed the 13th day after ground was broken before the British lines. The whole army received the unreserved approbation of the General. But the peculiar services
of particular corps entitled them to special notice. The artillerists and the engineers greatly distinguished themselves. Brigadiers Du Portail and Knox were promoted to be Major Generals. Major Generals Lincoln and the Marquis La Fayette were mentioned with high commendations, and Governour Nelson, who commanded the militia was thanked for his effectual exertions in the field, and in furnishing the army with such articles as his state afforded. To Count Rochambeau, to the French officers and troops, General WASHINGTON expressed his acknowledgments in flattering language.
The British General and Admiral at New-York had not been inattentive to the perilous situation of Lord Cornwallis. Admiral Rodney in the West Indies had early been apprized of the intention of Count de Grasse to visit the American coast ; but not supposing that the whole of the French fleet on that station, would be employed on this service, Rodney detached Sir Samuel Hood to the continent with fourteen sail of line of battle ships. Sir Samuel reached the mouth of the Chesapeak before de Grasse, and finding no enemy there, sailed along the coast to Sandy Hook. Admiral Greaves then lay in the harbour of New-York with seven ships of the line. Immediately after the arrival of Hood, intelligence was received that Count de Barrass had sailed from Newport. Admiral Greaves with the whole British squadron without loss of time sailed in pursuit of him, and on the 24th of September he discovered the French fleet under de Grasse consisting of twenty four ships of the line, riding at anchor in the Chesapeak and extending across its entrance. Count de Grasse ordered his ships to slip their cables and form the line of battle. A partial engagement took place, in which some of the English ships were considerably damaged. The hostile fleets maneuvred for four or five days in sight of each other, and Count de Grasse then returned to his anchorage ground. Here he found Count de Barrass who had taken a wide circuit to avoid the English, and had, while the hostile fleets were at sea, entered the Chesapeak with the squadron from Newport, consisting of five ships and fourteen transports, laden with heavy artillery and military stores for the siege. Admiral Greaves returned to New-York to repair.
In the course of a few days, the British squadron was augmented to twenty-five ships of the line, and Sir Henry Clinton determined to encounter every hazard in the attempt to relieve Earl Cornwallis. He embarked seven thousand of his best troops, and, convoyed by the fleet, sailed on the very day of the capitulation, for Virginia. At the entrance of the Chesapeak, on the 24th of October, he received information of the surrender of his Lordship, and he returned to NewYork.
The capture of Lord Cornwallis and his army excited universal joy through the United States. In a circuitous route from Charleston to Yorktown, this army had marched eleven hundred miles and had spread terrour and distress through the whole extent. From this dread the country was delivered. The surrender of a second royal army, the Americans deemed an event decisive of the independence of the United States, and which would speedily terminate the war.
The day after the capitulation General WASHINGTon ordered," that those who were under arrest should be pardoned and set at liberty;” and announced, that “ 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 provi. dence in our favour claims.” Congress as soon as they received General WASHINGTON's official letter giving information of the event, resolved to go in procession