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Jersey, having been much exhausted by the depredations of the enemy, and by the necessary impressments of the American army, the chief dependence for this essential article was placed on Pennsylvania. The Logislature of the state was not vigorous in its measures, and a scarcity of flour was apprehended.
At this period, Mr. Robert Morris of Philadelphia, a member of Congress from that state, a merchant of much intelligence and enterprise, was entrusted with the management of the finances of the United States To him the Legislature of Pennsylvania transferred the taxes appropriated to furnish the requisitions of Congress upon that state; and he in consequence contracted to supply the national requisition. By his personal agency and credit, he established tem. porary funds, amply supplied the army with flour, and furnished the Quarter Master General with he means effectually to execute the duties of his department, Through the campaign the movemonts of the army wore made with facility and expedition.
In June, the French troops marched from Newport to the Head Quarters of the American army. As they approached the North river, General WASHINGTON laid a plan to surprise the British works at King's bridge On the night of the 2d of July, the plan was to be car: ried into execution. At this time it was expected Count Rochambeau would reach the scene of action, to assist in maintaining the ground, which the American troops might gain. To secure his co-operation, the Commander in Chief sent an Aid to the Count requesting him to direct his route to King's bridge, and to regulate his march in such a manner as to be at that place by the specified time.
To mask the design, and to give a reason for the movement of the American army, which might not excite the suspicion of the British Commander, Gene. ral, WASHINGTON, in orders on the 30th of June montioned that a junction with the French troops might VOL. II.
soon be expected. He, in subsequent orders, gave in. formation“ that the French army would not come to that ground, and as the General was desirous of show ing all the respect in his power to those generous al lies, who were hastening with the zeal of friends, and the ardour of soldiers, to share the fatigues and dangers of the campaign, le proposed to receive them at some other more convenient place; and for this purpose would march the whole line of the American army at three in the morning."
General Lincoln was appointed to command the detachment, which was to assail the works at King's bridge, and on the night of the 1st of July, he embarked in boats at Teller's point, and with muffled oars passed down the North river, undiscovered, to Dobb's ferry. At this place his boats and his men were concealed. He reconnoitred the works to be attacked, and found that a British detachment which had boen some time in New-Jersey, had returned, and was encamped in force on the north end of York Island, and that an armed ship was in such a manner, stationed in the river, as to render it impossible for the American boats, without discovery, to approach the landing place. The attempt upon the enemy was of course relinquish ed
General WASHINGTON extended his orders to an enterpris), to be carried into effect, should the attempt on King's bridge fail. This was to bear off a corps of cmigrants which, under the command of Colonel Do. lancy, was posted above the British. The execution of this plan was left principally with the French, and General Lincoln was directed to take a position that would prevent the retreat of Delancy, and protect the flanks of the French from the British reinforceinents from the Island. But the French troops did not in season reach the scene of action. and this scheme also failed. At day light a sharp skirmish took place be. tween General Lincoln and a party of British light
troops. These retreated to York Island as General WASHINGTON approached, who had moved the army to support his detachments, and to follow up any ad vantage they might gain. On the sixth of July, Count Rochambeau joined the American army at Dobb's ferry.
Early in August Count de Barrass, who had succeeded to the command of the French fleet at Rhode Island, informed General Washington, that the Count de Grasse was to have sailed from the West Indies the 3d of that month for the Chesapeak, with twenty-five ships of the line, and three thousand land troops.
It became necessary to determine absolutely on the plan of operation. The battalions in the army, under the immediate command of General Washington were not full; it was known that the garrison at New-York had received a very considerable reinforcement; and the French marine officers appeared not ardent in the plan to attack the harbour of this city.
For these considerations General Washington de termined to relinquish the attempt on New-York, and to march to Virginia to lay siege to the post of Lord' Cornwallis at Yorktown. Having resolved on this plan, he in a private manner adopted measures for its execution.
The defence of West Point and of the other posts on the Hudson was committed to General Heath, and a large portion of the troops raised in the Northern States was for this service left under his command. General Washington resolved in person to conduct the Virginia expedition. The troops under Count Ro chambeau, and strong detachments from the American army, amounting to more than two thousand men, and consisting of the light infantry, Lamb's artillery and several other corps were destined for this expedition. By the 25th of August the whole body, American and French, had crossed the North river.
An intercepted letter of General WASHINGTON's, in
which he communicated, as the result of a consulta. tion with the French commanders, the design to at tack New-York, had excited the apprehensions of the British General for the safety of that city. This ap prehension was kept alive, and the real object of the Americans concealed, by preparations for an encampment in New-Jersey opposite to Staten Island, by the rout of the American army, and other appearances in. dicating an intention to besiege New-York; and the troops had passed the Delaware out of reach of annoyance, before Sir Henry suspected their destination. General WASHINGTON pressed forward with the ut
most expedition, and at Chester he received SEPT. 3. the important intelligence, that Count do
Grasse had arrived with his fleet in the Chesapeak, and that the Marquis St. Simon had, with a body of three thousand land forces, joined the Marquis La Fayette. Having directed the route of his army from the head of Elk, he, accompanied by Rocham seau, Chatelleux, Du Portail, and Knox, proceeded to Virginia. They reached Williamsburg the 14th of September, and immediately repaired on board the Ville de Paris, to settle with Count de Grasse the plan of operation.
The Count afterwards wrote General SEPT. 15.
WASHINGTON, that, judging his confined situation to be unfavourable for a naval engagement, he should sail to meet the English at sea or to block them up in the harbour of New-York. General WashINGTON apprehending that the successful issue of the expedition, which he had conceived morally certain, might by this measure be defeated, sent a despatch by the Marquis La Fayette to the Count, to dissuade him from it. The Count consented to conform himself to the wishes of the American General, and remained at anchor in the bay of the Chesapeak.
The whole body of American and French troops reached Williamsburg by the 25th of September At
this place the allied forces were joined by a dotach. ment of the militia of Virginia, under the command of Governour Nelson. Preparations were soon made to besiege Yorktown.
The rivers, York and James, form a long and narrow peninsula, and Lord Cornwallis had chosen a position on the south side of York river as a military post, and had strongly fortified it. Opposite to York. town on the north shore is Gloucester Point, which projects into the river, and at this place reduces its width to one mile. This point his Lordship also pos sessed, and fortified. Between these posts the river is deep, and ships of the line may here ride in safety. The conmunication between Yorktown and Glouces. ter Point was defended by batteries on shore, and by several armed ships in the river. The body of the British army was encainped about Yorktown, within a range of redoubts and field works, erected to command the peninsula, which at this place is not inore than eight miles wide, and to impede the approach of an assaulting enemy. Colonel Tarleton with six or seven hundred men defended Gloucester.
On the 28th, the main body of the allied army moved down towards Yorktown, driviny before them troops of horse, and the piquets of the enemy. The columns, as they reached the ground assigned them, encamped for the night and lay upon their arms. The next day was employed in reconnoitring the enemy's position, m which service Colonel Scammel, an officer of merit, was mortally wounded, and taken prisoner. A force consisting of about two thousand French and Ameri. cans, under the command of the French General de Choise, was stationed on the north side of the river, to watch and restrain the enemy in Gloucester.
The French and Americans were employed until the 6th of October, in conveying their artillery and stures from the landing place to camp. On the night of that day, they broke ground within six hundred Vol. II.