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March Date, Saturday, July 22, Day 36

Campfire stories or intrigue in high places........

Greetings Friends, I give you all the joy of the day. Tis a soup day here, soggy, damp, foggy even, with the sun nowhere in sight. The last number of days have been going by in a rather mind-numbing way. The New England weather makes us pine to be somewhere else, almost anywhere else, in fact. But, we are here, there is no doubting that.

The camp duties have become killingly familiar, take this here, do that there, clean this thing, burn that thing...yes, Sergeant, yes, Sergeant. Dig he latrine, fill the latrine, get firewood....Gawd, the men are but bored out of their minds, but at the same time almost witless about what is to be, or shall be.....

The patrols keep coming and going. We have heard of one piece of news. Apparently, General Clnton, on yesterday, July 20th, has ordered General Cornwallis to keep his Army in Virginia. It has been suggested that Cornwallis should hold a naval station in order that the British fleet could relieve them and perhaps return them to New York. As we look at the maps, it seems that Yorktown, or Portsmouth would be ideal. The rumor is that should that happen, we might attack the Brits here in New York while the Fleet is elsewhere. Oh Lord, perhaps something will happen soon.....

While about the camp fire last evening, the general discussion was about what has got us all here, at this point. The small talk of the soldiers, about a campfire, is a thing that invigorates the mind, gets up the curiosities, and settles friendships. The talk goes on for hours... you know, what about this or that....do you remember when?.... where you there too?.....what do you think will happen now? We only know what has happened of course, not what will happen, but, as I recall, the talk was more about what has happened, and this we are right confident about........of course, tis only soldiers stories,, but some of the lads were there, at other times and places. Let me take a moment to tell you what we have heard...

We know that the French arrived in Newport in May 1780, some 5500 of them. After a period of time, some joint operations were attempted with the Continentals, but most came to naught. It seems there was a distinct lack of workability among the Officers. The French wintered in Newport, and Lauzon, with his Cavalry, wintered in Lebanon, Ct. To the French, it seemed like another Siberia. The good Generals, Washington and Rochambeau, had a couple of meetings over that winter, trying to figure out what to do and how to do it, against the common enemy, the British.

The British, strong in New York, had a very successful Carolina campaign, in 1780. Washington, with about 3500 Continentals, had a ring about New York but was not strong enough to do anything but watch. The French were trapped in Newport. Our friend Lafayette, was harrassing the British in Virginia.

In May 1780, we heard that Clinton, then in the Carolinas, with Cornwallis, captured Charleston. Clinton then returned north, leaving Cornwallis to do what he must do..... to go into the country, bringing the war to the people, while protecting the new British ports of Charleston and Savannah. The Brtish were very strong then, and Cornwallis absolutely routed the Continentals, under Gates, at Camden (you may remember this man, the supposed Hero of Saratoga), in August of 1780, less than a year ago.

Cornwallis seemed unbeatable then, and the Southern American Army was in dissaray. T'was just about then that the almighty God Damn bloody red tide lurched out of control. First, one of his screening forces was well bloodied at King's Mountain (hmmm, seems a fit epitath, if you ask me). Militia, and some Continentals, led by Clarke, Marion, Pickens and Sumter, put a right quick stop to the Brits, then and there. I think that was in October, if I got me story straight. Those fellers continued to harrass the high and mighty until it just seemed to frustrate him.

It got worser and worser for the Brits, after that. General Nathanial Greene was given command of the Southern Army in December, 1780, I think it was. Shortly after that, in January, Morgan kicked the crap out of the Brits at Cowpens, sending the dirty bastard Benaste Tarelton, off the field with his tail between his legs. And Col. Washington and his cavalry, Cousin to his Excellency, was a big help in that, as was the Militia... geez, I wish I'd a been there.....

Cornwallis was fired up now, and tried to catch Greene at the Dan River, but failed, but not by much, sometimes a yard is as good as a rod......they finally had it out at Guilford Courthouse, in May, just two months ago. Apparently Cornwallis held the field, but the losses he sustained in doing so,(we heard that he had to fire into his own lines when hard pressed by the Americans) made him set his sights on some place a little more hospitable.... two months of struggle finally convinced him to move into Virginia, maybe hook up with Clinton in New York, so that they could attack Washington and the Continentals there.....

So, while Washington and Rochambeau were trying to figure out what and when to do something, Cornwallis moved into Petersburg, Virginia. We just found that out a couple of days ago, and we have only been in conjoined camps for about two weeks. Seems Cornwallis got there on May 20, 1781. Things seem to be getting close, if you know what I mean....

I'll bet that makes the Generals stand up and pay attention. Will the Brit Fleet go get Corny and bring him back? We sure hope so cause we would like the opportunity to beat the bloody back of General Clinton.......... of course, tis not our decision, which is why we are sitting around the Campfire.

Lot of commotion around the General's tent this day, seems they are all up and about, with the Engineers and some of the Sappers and Artillery folk. Hmmm, something is in the wind.......

I Remain,
At Your Service,
Richard Swartwout
Camp in New York
For, 'AMTY'
www.marchtoyorktown.com