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March Date, Monday, August 14, Day 59

Greetings Friends, I give you the joy of the day.

The day dawns as any other, in an insufferable routine of day after day, week after week, camp duties and drills...waiting for the word to attack, or something. I suppose I am being a bit impatient here, setting in this camp for some 5 weeks or so now. We are more aware of what seems to be going on with Corny (Brit General Cornwallis) in Virginia, than what may be happening right here in the surrounds of New York. How long can we just sit here, waiting? The Brits outnumber us, we do not attack, we stay in camp or conduct small actions, of not much consequence. The men are becoming a bit restless.

The Camps are pristine, the Company streets straight and narrow, the tents clean, the food adequate, the gear clean and ready for something, as are the troops. Yet, still we sit, working and drilling in the day, at evening about the campfire, trying to learn what we can of any camp rumor, be they true or not. And the rumors are indeed flying about, as are the reports of other Army action about the Colonies.

Let me share what I have heard recently.....from some troops recently arrived from some of the Southern action.

We all know that Arnold, that turn-coating pig, (dare I call him a General......... NO!) and General Philips, were prevented from capturing Richmond, by General Lafayette and some 1200 Continentals. Washington had sent Lafayette that way to help counter the actions by Arnold and Philips. That was in very late April, early May, there-abouts. That was some 6 weeks or so before the French left Newport and headed to here in New York, to meet up with General Washington, and the Continentals.

In the later part of May past, about the 20th or so, Corny (geez, I love calling him that, don't you?) arrived with a force at Peterburg, Va. and joined up with Arnold, producing a force of some 5300 troops. The unfortunate Philips, rest his British soul, did the right thing and expired of a fever, a week or so before.

Lafayete was now outnumbered by this British force, and that force included that b'Nasty Tarelton (of Tarleton's Quarter fame), and Simcoe (of the Queens Rangers), both excellent commanders, curse them. They command Light Companies and are most excellent foes, and very quick. Lafayette avoided a direct confrontation, knowing his mettle would be sorely tested.

About a week later, Corny advanced North, toward Lafayette, who withdrew north to the Rapidan Rivewr, so we are told. The news takes so long to get here it seems and sometimes we just wonder what is going on. But apparently, General Wayne, with another 800 Continentals, joined with Lafayette. Corny then withdrew to Williamsburg (about June 25th). I have explained some of this to you in a previous post, I believe, a fortnight or so ago. This info comes from another source, here in the camp, and seems to agree with the other info that I had dispatched to you.

When Corny moved, Lafayette and Wayne shadowed his move. At the same time, Gen. Clinton, here in New York, was worried about the combined French/American force apparently gathering near New York, (you may have read the dispathes posted from that march, June 17th to July 6th, in RI, CT and finally NY) and sent that group of confusing messages to Corny, do you remember...? He wanted Corny to come to New York, then to stay in Virginia, then to move about, etc.....I suspect the Clinton man was in a bit of a sweat, no?

Any way, units of Lafayette and Simcoe forces skirmished at Spensers Ordinary,in the Virginias, but both withdrew, afraid the other might be concealing a larger force......a fortnight later, Wayne was caught by Corny in an action at Green Springs, near Jamstown. Wayne was barely able to get away, but suffered some pretty serious casualties.

So, as it turns out, Corny goes to Yorktown, hoping the British fleet will come get him. I am sure you all remember this, but tis good story telling about the fire..... we laugh and huzzah as the actions are recounted.

And that seems to be where we are at the moment. Corny in Yorktown, a long way away, the British still so strong here in New York, as we sit and ponder the future. Tis just what will that be?

Hmmmmmm... there seems to be another disturbance of some magnitude in the camps, much talking and excitement it seems. The men are most animated and lacking of good conduct. My goodness, I shall return in a moment.......

Oh my Gawd, what I have just heard can not be possilbe, can it?.... but still seems it must be........a messenger arrived in Camp a while ago, aboard a horse very severly ridden. He dissapeared into Officers Country but the word is starting to come into the camps........ startling words at that. It seems that the French frigate, Concorde, had arrived in Newport, after a 14 day journey from Hati. This was three days ago, on August 11th. The ship carried dispatches, just delivered today to Washington and Rochambeau, from the French Admiral De Grasse, and told of his plans to be at St. Francis, on July 16th, and then to move on to North America, from the Carribean, arriving at the Chesapeake about mid August, with plans to stay until Mid October........ can this be? The French Navy in Chesapeake Bay? The British fleet going to get Corny out of there, now or soon, or so we suppose. This does not portend well, the British are always so strong on the sea, the French always second to the British Fleet, how can this possibly be of benefit to us..... now what? Oh, what trevails now mark the mind of men.....

I will write again soonest, as I learn more, expect another dispatch, dearest friends, on the morrow, the horizon darkens, methinks....

I Remain,
At Your Service,
Richard Swartwout
For, 'AMtY'
www.marchtoyorktown.org