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for reviving public credit, and giving vigour to future ope. rations.” It was farther stated, " that next to a loan of mo. ney, a French naval superiority in the American seas was of so much consequence, that without it nothing decisive could be undertaken against the British, who were in the greatest force on and near the coasts."
The future capacities of the United States to repay any loan that might be made, were particularly stated ; and that “there was still a fund of resource and inclination in the country equal to great exertions, provided a liberal supply of money would furnish the means of stopping the progress of disgust which resulted from the unpopular mode of supplying the army by requisition and impress
Such interesting statements, sanctioned by the American chief, and enforced by the address of Col. Laurens, directly from the scene of action, and the influence of Dr. Franklin, who, for the five preceding years, had been minister plenipotentiary from the United States to the court of Versailles, produced the desired effect. His Most Chrisiian Majesty gave his American allies a subsidy of six millions of livers, and became their security for ten millions more, borrowed for their use in the United Netherlands val co-operation was promised, and a conjunct expedition against their common foes projected.
The American war was now so far involved in the consequences of naval operations, that a superior French fleet seemed to be the hinge on which it was likely soon to take a favorable turn. The British army being parcelled in the different seaports of the United States, any division of it, blacked up by a French fleet, could not long resist the sué perior combined force which might be brought to operate against it. The Marquis de Castries, who directed the marine of France with great precision, calculated the naval force which the British could concentre on the coast of the United States, and disposed his own in such a manner as ensured him a superiority. In conformity to these principles, and in subserviency to the design of the campaign, M. de Grasse sailed in March, 1781, from Brest, with twen. ty-five sail of the line, several thousand land forces, and a large convoy amounting to more than two hundred ships. A small part of this force was destined for the East Indies;
but M. de Grasse with the greater part sailed for Martinique.
'The British feet then in the West Indies had been previously weakened by the departure of a squadron for the protection of the ships which were employed in carrying to England the booty which had been taken at St. Eustatius. The British admirals Hood and Drake were detached to intercept the outward bound French fleet, commanded by M. de Grasse ; but a junction between his force and eight ships of the line, and one of fifty guns, which were previa ously at Martinique and St. Domingo, was nevertheless effected. By this combination of fresh ships from Europe, with the French fleet previously in the West Indies, they had a decided superiority. M. de Grasse having finished his business in the West Indies, sailed in the beginning of August with a prodigious 'convoy. After seeing this out of danger, he directed his course for the Chesapeak, and arrived there on the thirtieth of the same month. Five days before his arrival in the Chesapeak, the French fleet in Rhode Island sailed for the same place. These fleets, notwithstanding their original distance from the scene of action, and from each other, coincided in their operations in an extraordinary manner, far beyond the reach of military calculation. They all tended to one objeci, and at one and the same time; and that object was neither known nor suspected by the British, till the proper season for counter. action was elapsed.
This coincidence of favorable circumstances extended to the marches of the American and French land forces. The plan of operations had been so well digested, and was so faithfully executed by the different commanders, that Gen. Washington and Count Rochambeau had passed the British head quarters in New York, and were considerably advanced in their way to Yorktown, before Count de Grasse had reached the American coast. This was effected in the following manner; Mons. de Barras, appointed to the command of the French squadron at New Port, arrived at Boston with despatches for Count de Rochanıbeau. An interview soon after took place at Weathersfield, between Generals Washington, Knox and du Portail, on the part of the Americans, and Count de Rochambeau and the Cheva. lier Chastelleux, on the part of the French. At this intere riew an eventual plan of the whole campaign was fixed. This was to lay siege to New York, in concert with a French fleet, which was to arrive on the coast in the month of August. It was agreed that the French troops should march toward the North River. Letters were addressed by Gen. Washington to the executive officers of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey, requiring them to fill up their battalions, and to have their quotas of six thousand two hundred militia in readiness within a week of the time they might be called for. Con-formably to these outlines of the campaign, the French troops inarched from Rhode Island in June, and early in the following mouth joined the American army. At the same time Washington marched his army from their winter encampment near Peekskill to the vicinity of Kingsbridge. Gen Lincoln fell down the North River with a detachment in boats, and took possession of the ground where Fort Independence formerly stood. An attack was made upon him, but was soon discontinued. The British about this time re. tired with almost the whole of their force to York Island. Washington hoped to be able to commence operations against New York about the middle, or at farthest the latter end of July. Flat bottomed boats sufficient to transport five thousand men were built near 4lbany, and brought down the North River to the neighbourhood of the Ameri.. can army before New York. Ovens were erected opposite 10 Staten Island for the use of the French troops. "Every movement introductory to the commencement of the siege was made. To the great mortification of Washington, he. found himself on the ed of August, to be only a few hun., dreds stronger than he was on the day his army first moved from their winter quarters. To have fixed on a plan of operations with a foreign officer at the head of a respectable force ; 10 have brought that force from a considerable distance in confident expectation of reinforcements sufficiently large to commence effective operations against the common enemy; and at the same time to have engagements in behalf of the states violated in direct opposition to their own interest, and in a manner derogatory to his personal ho... nour, was enough to have excited storms and tempests in any mind less calm than that of Gen. Washingion. He bore this hard trial with his usual magnanimity, and contentech
himself with repeating his requisitions to the states; and at the same time urged them by every tie to enable him to fulfil engagements entered into on their account with the commander of the French troops.
That tardiness which at other times had brought the Americans near the brink of ruin, was now the accidental cause of real service. Had they sent forward their recruits for the regular army, and their quotas of militia, as was expected, the siege of New York would have commenced in the latter end of July, or early in August. While the season was wasting away in expectation of these reinforcements, lord Cornwallis, as has been mentioned, fixed himself near the Capes of Virginia. His situation there ; the arrival of a reinforcement of the three thousand Germans from Europe to New York; the superior strength of their garrison ; the failure of the states in filling up their battalions and embodying their militia ; and especially recent intelligence from Count de Grasse, that his destination was fixed to the Chesapeak, concurred about the middle of August to make a total change of the plan of the campaign.
The appearance of an intention to attack New-York was, nevertheless, kept up.
While this deception was played off, the allied army crossed the North River, and passed on by the way of Philadelphia through the intermediate couns try to Yorktown. An attempt to reduce the British force in Virginia promised success with more expedition, and to secure an object of nearly equal importance as the reduction of New York,
While the attack of New York was in serious contemplation, a letter from Gen. Washivgton, detailing the pare ticulars of the intended operations of the campaign, being intercepted, fell into the hands of Sir Henry Clinton. After the plan was changed, the royal commander was so much under the impression of the intelligence contained in the intercepted letter, that he believed every movement toward Virginia to be a feint calculated to draw off his attention from the defence of New York. Under the influence of this opinion, he bent his whole force to strengthen that post; and suffered the American and French armies to pass him without molestation. When the best opportunity of striking at them was.elapsed, then for the first time he was
brought to believe, that the allies had fixed on Virginia for the theatre of their combined operations. As truth may be made to answer the purposes of deception, so no feint of attacking New York could have been more successful than the real intention.
In the latter end of August, the American army began their march to Virginia from the neighbourhood of New
Cork. Washington had advanced as far as Chester, before he received the news of the arrival of the fleet commanded by M. de Grasse. The French troops marched at the same time, and for the same place. Gen. Washington and Count Rochambeau with Generals Chastelleux, du Portail, and Knox, proceeded to visit Count de Grasse on board his ship, the Ville de l'aris, and agreed on a plan of operations.
The Count afterwards wrote to Washington, that in case a British fleet appeared," he conceived that he ought to go out and meet them at sea, instead of risking an engagement in a confined situation." This alarmed the general. He sent the Marquis de la Fayette with a letter to dissuade him from the dangerous measure.
This letter, and the persuasions of the Marquis, had the desired effect.
The combined forces proceeded on their way to Yorktown, partly by land, and partly down the Chesapeak. The whole, together with a body of Virginia militia, under the command of Gen. Nelson, rendezvoused at Williamsburg, on the 25th of September, and in five days after moved down to the investiture of Yorktown. The French fleet at the same time moved to the mouth of York river, and took a position which was calculated to prevent lord Comwallis either from retreating, or receiving succour by wa. ter. Previously to the march from Williamsburg to Yorktown, Washington gave out in general orders, as follows: "If the enemy should be tempted to meet the army on its march, the General particularly enjoins the troops to place their principal reliance on the bayonet, that they may prove. the vanity of the boast which the British make of their particular prowess in deciding battles with that weapon.”
The works erected for the security of Yorktown on the right, were redoubts and batteries, with a line of stockade in the rear.
A marshy ravine lay in front of the right, over which was placed a large redoubt. The morass extended along the centre, which was defended by a line of