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of the main works, an enfilading cannonade was kept up upon the paralle!, which made it well nigh untenable. It was determined to carry these redoubts by coup de main on the night of the 14th. The assault of that nearest the river was to be made by Americans, led by Lafayette, with Hamilton second in command; the other by French, under General the Baron de Viomenil. At about 8 o'clock rockets were sent up as a signal for the advance. The Americans made a characteristic assault; not waiting for their pioneers to remove the abatis, which obstructed their path, each man forced a passage for himself. Hamilton, mounting upon the shoulder of a private soldier, was the first to gain the parapet ; followed by his men, the work was carried at the point of the bayonet, without firing a shot, and with a loss of eight killed and thirty-two wounded; the enemy lost eight killed, and seventeen prisoners. The French proceeded against the other redoubt more regularly. After Lafayette had gained the object of his assault, he sent a messenger to Viomenil, to say that he was in his work. “Tell the Marquis," answered Viomenil, “that I am not in mine, but will be in it in five minutes.” He told the truth, the redoubt was taken, but with much heavier loss than attended the execution of Lafayette's enterprise.
The loss of these advance works discouraged Cornwallis, who could but recognize that his position was well nigh hopeless. He had long expected the coming of succor from New York, but, on the day after this coup de main, he wrote Sir Henry Clinton: “My situation now becomes very critical. We dare not show a gun to their old batteries, and I expect their new ones will open to-morrow morning.
The safety of the place is, therefore, so precarious that I cannot recommend that the fleet and army should run great risk in endeavoring to save us."
On the night of their capture, the redoubts were included in the second parallel; after the fall of darkness on the 16th, Cornwallis sent a detachment to effect the spiking of the guns which were mounting thereon, and succeeded in a measure, but the work was so hastily done that the spikes were easily withdrawn. With the failure of this attempt, he gave up all hope of holding his position until succor should arrive. He consequently determined upon a desperate expedient. Collecting a number of boats, he prepared to transfer his army by night to the shore near Gloucester point, break through the American cordon, and force his march to New York. In pursuance of this plan he actually transferred one division of his army to the main land, undiscovered, and embarked the remainder, save a guard left to surrender the town, when a heavy wind drove his bouts down the river, and he was obliged to abandon his project, with barely time to re-convey to Yorktown the division already transferred.
At the hour of ten on the morning of the 17th, his works being unten. able, and his last hope of escape gone, Cornwallis beat a parley and sent a
messenger to Washington requesting a cessation of hostilities for twentyfour hours, and the appointment of a commission of officers to discuss terms of capitulation. Knowing the prospect of reinforcement, Washington hesitated to grant so long a delay, and requested Cornwallis to send a draft of his proposal to headquarters, before the meeting of the commission. The proposal came, and was rejected. The armistice was prolonged; commissioners were appointed, met, and concerted terms; these were submitted to Cornwallis early in the morning of the 19th of October, with an intimation that an answer was expected by 11 o'clock of that day. The terms were accepted, and, at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, Yorktown and the citadel at Gloucester point, were surrendered, the British army-seven thousand and seventy-three men, of whom five thousand nine hundred and fifty were rank and file, marched out of Yorktown and grounded their arms, the men becoming prisoners of war to the United States, the officers giving their parole, with permission to return to New York or to Europe. The fleet was surrendered to Count de Grasse, its men becoming prisoners of the king of France. The following description of the formal surrender of Lord Cornwallis and his army, is worthy quotation:
“At about 12 o'clock the combined army 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 were in front 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, which was a novelty in 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 service and great privation. The concourse of spectators from the country seemed equal to the military, yet order and quiet prevailed.
“About 2 o'clock, the garrison sallied forth, and passed through with shouldered arms, slow and solemn steps, 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 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 lines formed by the allied armies their march was care less and irregular, and their aspect sullen. The order to 'ground arms' was given by their platoon officers with deep chagrin, and many of the soldiers threw down their muskets with force 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, there to remain, under guard, until removed to their places of destination.”
So ended the siege, and with it the active operations of the war. New York, Charleston and Savannah were still in the hands of the British, and Washington earnestly endeavored to persuade De Grasse to remain and take part in a concerted movement against Charleston, but that officer pleaded his orders, and, on the 4th of November, made sail for the West Indies, there to co-operate with the Spanish flotilla. In default of the assistance of De Grasse, Washington sent to the aid of Greene two thousand troops, under St. Clair, but these, in common with the remainder of the army, had done their work. The war was not to be renewed in the South or elsewhere. Rochambeau remained in Virginia, making his headquarters for the winter at Williamsburg, about which place he established his army in wintersquarters. The American army moved to Newburg on the Hudson, and also went into cantonment, and the campaign was at an end.
FROM THE FALL OF YORKTOWN TO THE PEACE.
HE news of the fall of Yorktown and the surrender of the army of
Virginia, was received everywhere in America with the greatest delight; in England the depression which it created, was correspondingly profound. Congress voted its thanks to Washington, to Rochambeau, to De Grasse, and generally to the officers of the allied armies. As mementoes of the victory, two stands of captured colors were voted to Washington, and two pieces of ordnance, each, to the French military and naval commanders. The country for a time went wild with joy, and assumed that the war was in fact already over. Washington retained his equipoise, recognized the necessity of providing for possible future operations, and, after a hasty visit to Mount Vernon, betook himself to Philadelphia, there to use his influence with Congress to secure the strengthening of the army, and guard against the danger of over security. While on his way to Philadelphia, he was present at the death bed of John Parke Custis, son of Mrs. Washington by her former marriage. Mr. Custis left a widow and four young children, and Washington adopted two of these,-a boy and a girl, -as his own, and removed them to his childless home. The son, John Parke Custis, Jr., subsequently became the biographer of his step-father.
Washington remained in Philadelphia four months. During the intervening time the military committee of Congress adopted his views, and made unusual provision for the organization of an army, and arrangements to secure additional financial aid from France. The execution of the project for army reorganization fell, as usual, far short of the expectation of Congress. The colonies had fallen into an apathy which might have resulted most seriously, had hostilities been renewed. During the month of March the commander in chief set out for the camp of his army at Newburg, where he remained some time, busy with multitudinous administrative duties,
It was while there, that arose a painful question which much resembled in principle that as to the punishment of Major Andre, though it resulted more fortunately. A company of New Jersey people captured a New York “Cow Boy," named Philip White, and, while conducting him to jail, he attempted to escape, and was killed. Shortly after, Captain Joseph Huddy, a whig partisan, held prisoner of war in New York, was taken into New Jersey by a party of refugees, headed by Captain Lippencott, and hanged, his breast bearing a placard, on which were inscribed the words: Up goes Huddy for Philip White." Washington at once demanded of Sir Henry Clinton, the surrender of Lippencott for punishment. This was refused, Clinton, however, promising to investigate the matter and punish the officer should he be found guilty. Washington determined upon retaliation, and ordered that there be selected by lot from among the British captains, held as prisoners of war, one who should die, to atone for the death of Huddy. The lot fell upon Captain Asgill, a youth of but nineteen years, whose amiability had made him a favorite alike with his comrades and captors.
In the meantime Sir Guy Carleton succeeded Clinton in the command of New York, and one of Captain Asgill's fellow-officers solicited permission to go to him, and urge the surrender of Lippencott. This was allowed, Washington, at the same time, saying that, deeply as he was pained by the necessity, nothing but the surrender of Lippencott could save the unfortunate and innocent Asgill. The matter remained undetermined for a long time; eventually Lippencott was tried by a British court-martial, and acquitted, it appearing that he acted under the verbal orders of Governor Franklin, president of the board of associated loyalists. This changed the aspect of the case, and Washington laid the whole matter before Congress, recommending at the same time that Asgill's life be spared. Pending a decision, he placed the young officer upon parole. Before any determination of the case was reached, there came to Washington a request for Asgill's life, sent by the Count de Vergennes, French minister of war, by the direction of the king and queen, who had been greatly moved by the grief of Lady Asgill, mother of the prisoner. This was sufficient to turn the tide in his favor, and save him from the gibbet, much to the relief of Washington and every other person conversant with the circumstances.
The advent of Sir Guy Carleton, to which reference has been made, occurred early in May, Sir Henry Clinton having been permitted, at his own request, to return to England, that he might set himself right before parliament, by explaining the disaster of the final campaign in America. Carleton, immediately upon his arrival, sent Washington notice of the fact that he, as commander of the British forces in America, and Admiral Digby, constituted a peace commission, and, at the same time, sent copies of the proceedings of parliament, looking to the establishment of peace, or