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sion in the breast of every officer, whenever the fortune of war should put any of them into our power.
In the mean time the rejoicings which Washington had commenced with appropriate solemnities in the victorious camp, had spread throughout the Union. “ Cornwallis is taken !” was the universal acclaim. . It was considered a death-blow to the war.
Congress gave way to transports of joy. Thanks were voted to the commander-in-chief, to the Counts De Rochambeau and De Grasse, to the officers of the allied armies generally, and to the corps of artillery and engineers especially. Two stands of colors, trophies of the capitulation, were voted to Washington, two pieces of field ordnance to De Rochambeau and De Grasse ; and it was decreed that a marble column, commemorative of the alliance between France and the United States, and of the victory achieved by their associated arms, should be erected in Yorktown. Finally, Congress issued a proclamation appointing a day for general thanksgiving and prayer, in acknowledgment of this signal interposition of Divine Providence.
Far different was the feeling of the British ministry when news of the event reached the other side of the Atlantic. Lord George Germain was the first to announce it to Lord North at his office in Downing street. “And how did he take it?” was the inquiry. “ As he would have taken a ball in the breast,” replied Lord George, “ for he opened his arms, exclaiming wildly as he paced up and down the apartment, 'Oh God! it is all over !!
* Wraxall's Historical Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 99.
DISSOLUTION OF THE
OOMBINED ARMIES-WASHINGTON AT ELTHAM
DEATH OF JOIN PARKE CUSTIS-WASHINGTON AT MOUNT VERNON
WILLIAM HENRY FROM NEW YORK--THE CASE OF CAPTAIN ASGILL.
WASHINGTON would have followed up the reduction of Yorktown by a combined operation against Charleston, and addressed a letter to the Count de Grasse on the subject, but the count alleged in reply that the orders of his court, ulterior projects, and his engagements with the Spaniards rendered it impossible to remain the necessary time for the operation.
The prosecution of the Southern war, therefore, upon the broad scale which Washington had contemplated, had to be relinquished; for, without shipping and a convoy, the troops and every thing necessary for a siege would have to be transported by land with immense trouble, expense and delay; while the enemy by means of their fleets could reinforce or withdraw the garrison at pleasure.
Under these circumstances Washington had to content himself, for the present, with detaching two thousand Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia Continental troops, under General St. Clair, for the support of General Greene, trusting that, with this aid, he would be able to command the interior of South Carolina and confine the enemy to the town of Charleston.
A dissolution of the combined forces now took place. The Marquis St. Simon embarked his troops on the last of October, and the Count de Grasse made sail on the 4th of November, taking with him two beautiful horses which Washington had presented to him in token of cordial regard.
Lafayette seeing there was no probability of further active service in the present year, resolved to return to France on a visit to his family, and, with Washington's approbation, set out for Philadelphia to obtain leave of absence from Congress.
The British prisoners were marched to Winchester in Virginia and Frederickstown in Maryland, and Lord Cornwallis and his principal officers sailed for New York on parole.
The main part of the American army embarked for the Head of Elk, and returned northward under the command of General Lincoln, to be cantoned for the winter in the Jerseys and on the Hudson, so as to be ready for operations against New York, or elsewhere in the next year's campaign.
The French army were to remain for the winter, in Virginia, and the Count de Rochambeau established his head-quarters at Williamsburg.
Having attended in person to the distribution of ordnance and stores, the departure of prisoners, and the embarkation of the troops under Lincoln, Wash
DEATH OF JOHN PARKE CUSTIS.
ington left Yorktown on the 5th of November, and arrived the same day at Eltham, the seat of his friend Colonel Basset. He arrived just in time to receive the last breath of John Parke Custis, the son of Mrs. Washington, as he had, several years previously, rendered tender and pious offices at the death-bed of his sister Miss Custis. The deceased had been an object of Washington's care from childhood, and been cherished by him with paternal affection. Formed under his guidance and instructions, he had been fitted to take a part in the public concerns of his country, and had acquitted himself with credit as a member of the Virginia legislature. He was but twenty-eight years old at the time of his death, and left a widow and four young children. It was an unexpected event, and the dying scene was rendered peculiarly affecting from the presence of the mother and wife of the deceased. Washington remained several days at Eltham to comfort them in their afflictions. As a consolation to Mrs. Washington in her bereavement, he adopted the two youngest children of the deceased, a boy and girl, who thenceforth formed a part of his immediate family.
From Eltham, Washington proceeded to Mount Vernon ; but public cares gave him little leisure to attend to his private concerns.
We have seen how repeatedly his steady mind had been exercised in the darkest times of the revolutionary struggle, in buoying up the public heart when sinking into despondency. He had now an opposite task to perform, to guard against an overweening confidence inspired by the recent triumph. In a letter to General Greene he writes: “I shall remain but a few days here, and shall proceed to
Philadelphia, when I shall attempt to stimulate Congress to the best improvement of our late success, by taking the most vigorous and effectual measures to be ready for an early and decisive campaign the next year. My greatest fear is, that Congress, viewing this stroke in too important a point of light, may think our work too nearly closed, and will fall into a state of languor and relaxation. To prevent this error I shall employ every means in my power, and if unhappily we sink into that fatal mistake, no part of the blame shall be mine.”
In a letter written at the same time to Lafayette, who, having obtained from Congress an indefinite leave of absence, was about to sail, he says, “I owe it to your friendship and to my affectionate regard for you, my dear marquis, not to let you leave this country, without carrying with you fresh marks of my attachment to you, and new expressions of the high sense I entertain of your military conduct, and other important services in the course of the last campaign.” In reply to inquiries which the marquis had made respecting the operations of the coming year, he declares that every thing must depend absolutely for success upon the naval force to be employed in these seas and the time of its appearance.
“No land force," writes he, “can act decisively unless it is accompanied by a maritime superiority; nor can more than negative advantages be expected without it. For proof of this we have only to recur to the instances of the ease and facility with which the British shifted their ground, as advantages were to be obtained at either extremity of the continent, and to their late heavy loss the moment