Slike strani




themselves. All those of his army who were under arrest, were pardoned and set at liberty. "Divine service," it was added, "is to be performed to-morrow in the several brigades and divisions. The commander-in-chief earnestly recommends that the troops, not on duty, should universally attend, with that seriousness of deportment and gratitude of heart which the recognition of such reiterated and astonishing interpositions of Providence demand of us."

"At about 12 o'clock the combined army | other officers who had especially distinguished was drawn up in two lines more than a mile in length, the Americans on the right side of the road, the French on the left. Washington, mounted on a noble steed, and attended by his staff, was in front of the former; the Count de Rochambeau and his suite, of the latter. The French troops, in complete uniform, and well equipped, made a brilliant appearance, and had marched to the ground with a band of music playing, which was a novelty in the American service. The American troops, but part in uniform, and all in garments much the worse for wear, yet had a spirited, soldier-like air, and were not the worse in the eyes of their countrymen for bearing the marks of hard ser-ed. On the very day that he had been comvice and great privations. The concourse of spectators from the country seemed equal in number to the military, yet silence and order prevailed.

About two o'clock the garrison sallied forth, and passed through with shouldered arms, slow and solemn steps, colors cased, and drums beating a British march. They were all well clad, having been furnished with new suits prior to the capitulation. They were led by General O'Hara on horseback, who, riding up to General Washington, took off his hat and apologized for the non-appearance of Lord Cornwallis, on account of indisposition. Washington received him with dignified courtesy, but pointed to Major-General Lincoln as the officer who was to receive the submission of the garrison. By him they were conducted into a field where they were to ground their arms. In passing through the line formed by the allied army, their march was careless and irregular, and their aspect sullen, the order to "ground arms" was given by their platoon officers with a tone of deep chagrin, and many of the soldiers threw down their muskets with a violence sufficient to break them. This irregularity was checked by General Lincoln; yet it was excusable in brave men in their unfortunate predicament. This ceremony over, they were conducted back to Yorktown, to remain under guard until removed to their places of destination." *

On the following morning, Washington in general orders congratulated the allied armies on the recent victory, awarding high praise to the officers and troops both French and American, for their conduct during the siege, and specifying by name several of the generals and

*Thacher, p. 346.

Cornwallis felt deeply the humiliation of this close to all his wide and wild campaigning, and was made the more sensitive on the subject by circumstances of which he soon became appris

pelled to lay down his arms before Yorktown, the lingering armament intended for his relief sailed from New York. It consisted of twentyfive ships of the line, two fifty gun ships, and eight frigates; with Sir Henry Clinton and seven thousand of his best troops. Sir Henry arrived off the capes of Virginia on the 24th, and gathered information which led him to apprehend that Lord Cornwallis had capitulated. He hovered off the mouth of the Chesapeake until the 29th, when, having fully ascertained that he had come too late, he turned his tardy prows toward New York.

Cornwallis, in a letter written subsequently, renders the following testimony to the conduct of his captors: "The treatment, in general, that we have received from the enemy since our surrender, has been perfectly good and proper; but the kindness and attention that has been shown to us by the French officers in particular, their delicate sensibility of our situation, their generous and pressing offer of money, both public and private, to any amount, has really gone beyond what I can possibly describe, and will, I hope, make an impression in the breast of every officer, whenever the fortune of war shall 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 es



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.

pecially. Two stands of colors, trophies of the | his troops on the last of October, and 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!'"*


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, 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

* Wraxall's Historical Memoirs, vol. ii., p. 99.

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, Washington left Yorktown on the 5th of November, and arrived the same day at Eltham, the seat of his friend Colonel Bassett. 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, 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 in 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 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 they failed in their naval superiority. * A doubt did not exist, nor does it at this moment, in any man's mind, of the total extirpation of the British force in the Carolinas and Georgia, if the Count de Grasse could have extended his co-operation two months longer."

* *


We may add here that Congress, after resolutions highly complimentary to the marquis, had, through the secretary of foreign affairs, recommended to the ministers plenipotentiary of the United States, resident in Europe, to confer with the marquis, and avail themselves of his information relative to the situation of national affairs, which information the various heads of departments were instructed to furnish him; and he was furthermore made the bearer of a letter to his sovereign, recommending him in the strongest terms to the royal consideration. Much was anticipated from the generous zeal of Lafayette, and the influence he would be able to exercise in France in favor of the American cause.

Towards the end of November, Washington was in Philadelphia, where Congress received him with distinguished honors. He lost no time in enforcing the policy respecting the ensuing campaign, which he had set forth in his letters to General Greene and the marquis. His views were met by the military committee of Congress, with which he was in frequent consultation, and by the secretaries of war, finance, and public affairs, who attended their conferences. Under his impulse and personal supervision, the military arrangements for 1782 were made with unusual despatch. On the 10th of December resolutions were passed in Congress for requisitions of men and money from the several States; and Washington backed those requisitions by letters to the respective governors, urging prompt compliance. Strenuous exertions, too, were made by Dr. Franklin, then minister in France, to secure a continuance of efficient aid from that power; and a loan of six millions had been promised by the king after hearing of the capitulation of Yorktown.

The persuasion that peace was at hand was, however, too prevalent for the public to be roused to new sacrifices and toils to maintain what was considered the mere shadow of a war. The States were slow in furnishing a small part of their respective quotas of troops, and still slower in answering to the requisitions for money.

After remaining four months in Philadelphia, Washington set out in March to rejoin the army at Newburg on the Hudson. He was at Morristown in the Jerseys on the 28th, when a bold project was submitted to him by Colonel Matthias Ogden, of the Jersey line. Prince William Henry,* son of the king of England, who was


In a recent letter to General Greene, Washington had expressed himself strongly on the subject of retaliation. "Of all laws it is the most difficult to execute, where you have not the transgressor himself in your possession. Humanity will ever interfere, and plead strongly against the sacrifice of an innocent person for the guilt of another."

serving as a midshipman in the fleet of Admiral Digby, was at that time in New York with the admiral, an object of great attention to the army, and the tory part of the inhabitants. The project of Colonel Ogden was to surprise the prince and the admiral at their quarters in the city, and bring them off prisoners. He was to be aided in the enterprise by a captain, a subaltern, three sergeants, and thirty-six men. They were to embark from the Jersey shore on a rainy night in four whaleboats, well manned, and rowed with muffled oars, and were to land in New York at half-past nine, at a wharf not far from the quarters of the prince and admiral, which were in Hanover Square. Part of the men were to guard the boats, while Colonel Ogden with a strong party was to proceed to the house, force the doors if necessary, and capture the prince and admiral. In returning to the boats, part of the men, armed with guns and bayonets, were to precede the prison-block-house in Monmouth County, and carried ers, and part to follow at half a gunshot distance, to give front to the enemy until all were embarked.

The plan was approved by Washington, but Colonel Ogden was charged to be careful that no insult or indignity be offered to the prince or admiral, should they be captured. They were, on the contrary, to be treated with all possible respect, and conveyed without delay to Congress.

It was but three or four months after this writing, that his judgment and feelings were put to the proof in this respect. We have had occasion to notice the marauds of the New York refugees in the Jerseys. One of their number by the name of Philip White had been captured by the Jersey people, and killed in attempting to escape from those who were conducting him to Monmouth jail. His partisans in New York determined on a signal revenge. Captain Joseph Huddy, an ardent whig, who had been captured when bravely defending a

captive to New York, was now drawn forth from prison, conducted into the Jerseys by a party of refugees, headed by a Captain Lippencott, and hanged on the heights of Middletown with a label affixed to his breast, bearing the inscription, "Up goes Huddy for Philip White."

The neighboring country cried out for retaliation. Washington submitted the matter, with all the evidence furnished, to a board of general and field-officers. It was unanimously determined that the offender should be demand

How far an attempt was made to carry this plan into operation, is not known. An exag-ed for execution, and, if not given up, that regerated alarm seems to have been awakened by extravagant reports circulated in New York, as appears by the following citation from a paper or letter dated April 23d, and transmitted by Washington to Ogden:

"Great seem to be their apprehensions here. About a fortnight ago a number of flat-boats were discovered by a sentinel from the bank of the river (Hudson), which are said to have been intended to fire the suburbs, and in the height of the conflagration to make a descent on the lower part of the city, and wrest from our embraces his Excellency Sir Henry Clinton, Prince William Henry, and several other illustrious personages-since which great precautions have been taken for the security of those gentlemen, by augmenting the guards, and to render their persons as little exposed as possible."

These precautions very probably disconcerted the project of Colonel Ogden, of which we find no other traces.

taliation should be exercised on a British prisoner of equal rank. Washington accordingly sent proofs to Sir Henry Clinton of what he stigmatized as a murder, and demanded that Captain Lippencott, or the officer who commanded the execution of Captain Huddy, should be given up; or if that officer should be inferior in rank, so many of the perpetrators as would, according to the tariff of exchange, be an equivalent. "To do this," said he, "will mark the justice of your Excellency's character. In failure of it, I shall hold myself justifiable in the eyes of God and man, for the measure to which I will resort."

Sir Henry declined a compliance, but stated that he had ordered a strict inquiry into the circumstances of Captain Huddy's death, and would bring the perpetrators of it to immediate trial.

Washington about the same time received the copy of a resolution of Congress approving of his firm and judicious conduct, in his appli






cation to the British general at New York, and | Count de Vergennes, the French minister of promising to support him "in his fixed purpose state, imploring his intercession in behalf of her of exemplary retaliation." The letter was shown to the king and queen, and by their direction the count wrote to Washington soliciting the liberation of Asgill. Washington, as has been shown, had already suggested his release, and was annoyed at the delay of Congress in the matter. He now referred to that body the communication from the count, and urged a favorable decision. To his great relief, he received their directions to set Captain Asgill at liberty.

He accordingly ordered a selection to be made by lot, for the above purpose, from among the British officers, prisoners at Lancaster in Pennsylvania. To enhance the painful nature of the case, the lot fell upon Captain Charles Asgill of the guards, a youth only nineteen years of age, of an amiable character and high hopes and expectations, being only son and heir of Sir Charles Asgill, a wealthy baronet.

The youth bore his lot with firmness, but his fellow prisoners were incensed at Sir Henry Clinton for exposing him to such a fate by refusing to deliver up the culprit. One of their number, a son of the Earl of Ludlow, solicited permission from Washington to proceed to New York and lay the case before Sir Guy Carleton, who had succeeded in command to Sir Henry Clinton. In granting it, Washington intimated that, though deeply affected by the unhappy fate to which Captain Asgill was subjected, and devoutly wishing that his life might be spared, there was but one alternative that could save him, of which the British commander must be


The matter remained for some time in suspense. Washington had ordered that Captain Asgill should be treated "with every tender attention and politeness (consistent with his present situation), which his rank, fortune, and connections, together with his unfortunate state, demanded," and the captain himself acknowledged in writing the feeling and attentive manner in which those commands were executed. But on the question of retaliation Washington

remained firm.

This, like the case of the unfortunate André, was one of the painful and trying predicaments in which a strict sense of public duty obliged Washington to do violence to his natural impulses, and he declares in one of his letters, that the situation of Captain Asgill often filled him with the keenest anguish. "I felt for him on many accounts; and not the least when, viewing him as a man of honor and sentiment, I considered how unfortunate it was for him that a wretch who possessed neither, should be the means of causing him a single pang or a disagreeable sensation."

While these pages are going through the press, we have before us an instance of that conscientious regard for justice which governed Washington's conduct.

A favorite aide-de-camp, Colonel Samuel B. Webb, who had been wounded in the battles of Bunker's Hill

and White Plains, was captured in December, 1777, when commanding a Connecticut regiment, and accompanying General Parsons in a descent upon Long Island. He was then but twenty-four years of age, and the youngest colonel in the army. Presuming upon the favor of Gencral Washington, who had pronounced him one of the most accomplished gentlemen in the service, he wrote to him, reporting his capture, and begging most strenuously for an immediate exchange. He received a prompt, but disappointing reply. Washington lamented his unfortunate cordi tion. "It would give me pleasure," said he, "to render you any services in my power, but it is impossible for me to comply with your request, without

Lippencott was at length tried by a courtmartial, but, after a long sitting, acquitted, it appearing that he had acted under the verbal orders of Governor Franklin, president of the board of associated loyalists. The British commander reprobated the death of Captain Huddy, violating the principles of justice, and incurring a and broke up the board.

These circumstances changed in some degree the ground upon which Washington was proceeding. He laid the whole matter before Congress, admitted Captain Asgill on parole at Morristown, and subsequently intimated to the secretary of war his private opinion in favor of his release, with permission to go to his friends in Europe.

In the mean time Lady Asgill, the mother of the youth, had written a pathetic letter to the

In fact, several officers of Colonel Webb's rank had been a long time in durance, and it was a rule with Washington that those first captured should be first released. To this rule he inflexibly adhered, however his feelings might plead for its infringement. Colonel Webb, in consequence, was not exchanged until the present year; when Washington, still on principles of justice, gave him the brevet rank of Brigadier-general and the command of the light-infantry.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »