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der, seventy in number, were made prisoners. The loss of the British was considerable. A great quantity of valuable property was destroyed, and the town much injured.
The loss sustained by the Americans at New London was great ; but that predatory incursion had no effect in diverting General Washington from his purpose, or in retarding his march southward. From Philadelphia the allied armies pursued their route, partly to the head of Elk river, which falls into the northern extremity of Chesapeake bay, and partly to Baltimore, at which places they embarked on board of transports furnished by the French fleet, and the last division of them landed at Williamsburgh on the 25th of September. Generals Washington and Rochambeau, and their attendants, proceeded to the same place by land, and reached it ten days before the troops. Virginia had suffered extremely in the course of the campaign : the inhabitants were clamorous for the appearance of the commander-in-chief in his native state, and hailed his arrival with acclamations of joy.
Generals Washington and Rochambeau immediately repaired on board De Grasse's ship, in order to concert a joint plan of operations against Cornwallis. De Grasse, convinced that every exertion would be made to relieve his lordship, and being told that Admiral Digby had arrived at New York with a reinforcement of six ships-of-the-line, expected to be attacked by a force little inferior to his own; and deeming the station which he then occupied unfavorable to a naval engagement, he was strongly inclined to leave the bay, and to meet the enemy in the open sea. General Washington, fully aware of all the casualties which might occur to prevent his return, and to defeat the previous arrangements, used every argument to dissuade the French admiral from his purpose, and prevailed with him to remain in the bay.
As Count de Grasse could continue only a short time on that station, every exertion was made to proceed against Cornwallis at Yorktown, a small village on the southern bank of the river York, in which ships-of-the-line can ride in perfect safety. A long peninsular tract of land, only eight miles broad, lies between James and York rivers. Opposite Yorktown is Gloucester point, which projects considerably into the river, the breadth of which at that place does not exceed a mile. Cornwallis had taken possession of both these places, and diligently fortified them. The communication between them was commanded by his batteries, and by some ships-of-war which lay in the river under cover of his guns. The main body of his army was encamped near Yorktown, beyond some outer redoubts and fieldworks calculated to retard the approach of an enemy. Colonel Tarleton, with 600 or 700 men, occupied Gloucester point.
The combined army, amounting to upward of 11,000 men, exclusive of the Virginia militia, was assembled in the vicinity of Williamsburgh; and on the morning of the 28th of September marched by different routes toward Yorktown. About midday the heads of the columns reached the ground assigned them; and, after driving in the outposts and some cavalry, encamped for the night. The next day was employed in viewing the British works, and in arranging the plan of attack. At the same time that the combined army encamped before Yorktown, the French fleet anchored at the mouth of the river, and completely prevented the British from escaping by water, as well as from receiving supplies or reinforcements in that way. The legion of Lauzun and a brigade of militia, amounting to upward of 4,000 men, commanded by the French General de Choisé, were sent across the river to watch Gloucester point, and to enclose the British on that side.
On the 30th Yorktown was invested. The French troops formed the left wing of the combined army, extending from the river above the town to a morass in front of it: the Americans composed the right wing, and occupied the ground
between the morass and the river below the town. Till the 6th of October the besieging army was assiduously employed in disembarking its heavy artillery and military stores, and in conveying them to camp from the landing place in James river, a distance of six miles.
On the night of the 6th the first parallel was begun, 600 yards from the British works. The night was dark, rainy, and well adapted for such a service; and in the course of it the besiegers did not lose a man. Their operations seem not to have been suspected by the besieged till daylight disclosed them in the morning, when the trenches were so far advanced as in a good measure to cover the workmen from the fire of the garrison. By the afternoon of the 9th, the batteries were completed, notwithstanding the most strenuous opposition from the besieged, and immediately opened on the town. From that time an incessant cannonade was kept up; and the continual discharge of shot and shells from twenty-four and eighteen-pounders, and ten-inch mortars, damaged the unfinished works on the left of the town, silenced the guns mounted on them, and occasioned a considerable loss of men. Some of the shot and shells from the batteries passed over the town, reached the shipping in the harbor, and set on fire the Charon of forty-four guns, and three large transports, which were entirely consumed. In this action Alexander Hamilton distinguished himself.
On the night of the 11th, the besiegers, laboring with indefatigable persever ance, began their second parallel, 300 yards nearer the British works than the first; and the three succeeding days were assiduously employed in completing
it. During that interval the fire of the garrison was more destructive than at any other period of the siege. The men in the trenches were particularly annoyed by two redoubts toward the left of the British works, and about 200 yards in front of them. Of these it was necessary to gain possession; and on the 14th preparations were made to carry them both by storm. In order to avail himself of the spirit of emulation which existed between the troops of the two nations, and to avoid any cause of jealousy to either, the attack of the one redoubt was committed to the French, and that of the other to the Americans. The latter were commanded by the Marquis de la Fayette, and the former by the Baron de Viominel.
On the evening of the 14th, as soon as it was dark, the parties marched to the assault with unloaded arms. The redoubt which the Americans attacked was defended by a major, some inferior officers, and forty-five privates. The assailants advanced with such rapidity, without returning a shot to the heavy fire with which they were received, that in a few minutes they were in possession of the work, having had eight men killed, and twenty-eight wounded, in the attack. Eight British privates were killed; the major, a captain, an ensign, and seventeen privates, were made prisoners. The rest escaped. Although the Americans were highly exasperated by the recent massacre of their countrymen in Fort Griswolde by Arnold's detachment, yet not a man of the British was injured after resistance ceased. Retaliation had been talked of, but was not exercised.
The French party advanced with equal courage and rapidity, and were successful; but as the fortification which they attacked was occupied by a greater force, the defence was more vigorous, and the loss of the assailants more se
There were 120 men in the redoubt; of whom eighteen were killed, and forty-two taken prisoners : the rest made their escape. The French lost nearly 100 men killed or wounded. During the night these two redoubts were included in the second parallel ; and, in the course of next day, some howitzers were placed on them, which in the afternoon opened on the besieged.
Cornwallis and his garrison had done all that brave men could do to defend their post. But the industry of the besiegers was persevering, and their approaches rapid. The condition of the British was becoming desperate. In every quarter their works were torn to pieces by the fire of the assailants. The batteries already playing upon them had nearly silenced all their guns; and the second parallel was about to open on them, which in a few hours would render , the place untenable.
Owing to the weakness of his garrison, occasioned by sickness and the fire of the besiegers, Cornwallis could not spare large sallying parties; but in the present distressing crisis, he resolved to make every effort to impede the progress of the enemy, and to preserve his post to the last extremity. For this purpose, a little before daybreak on the morning of the 16th of October, about 350 men, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Abercrombie, sallied out against two batteries, which seemed in the greatest state of forwardness. They attacked with great impetuosity, killed or wounded a considerable number of the French troops who had charge of the works, spiked eleven guns, and returned vrith little loss. This exploit was of no permanent advantage to the garrison; for the guns, having been hastily spiked, were soon again rendered fit for service.
About four in the afternoon several batteries of the second parallel opened on the garrison, and it was obvious that, in the course of next day, all the batteries of that parallel, mounting a most formidable artillery, would be ready to play on the town. The shattered works of the garrison were in no condition to sustain such a tremendous fire. In the whole front which was attacked the British could no