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March Date, Thursday, July 27th, Day 41

Greetings friends, I give all the joy of the day to you, and yours.

When last I was able to commit thoughts to paper, I recall mentioning that there seemed to be 'something in the wind' here, and that came to pass the very next day. But before I get to that, let me continue the camp fire stories that I have been hearing, and trying to commit to memory, this last week or so.....

As I recall, we left off after just finding out that Gen. Cornwallis (Corny to most of us) has just moved his army into Petersburg, Virginia, about May 20th, I think it was. Well, apparently, right after he got his army to Virginia, Gen. Clinton, here in New York, reinforced Cornwallis with a sizeable force. Cornwallis now has somw 7,200 troops at his command. He very soon started to move against the Marquis de Lafayette, also operating in Virginia. On June 3rd, Corny sent that Col. Benaste ('Nasty' to us) Tarelton to try to capture the Virginia legislature in Charlottsville. He almost succeeded, just missing Jefferson by some few minutes. That was on June 4th., but the legislature reconvened in Staunton, some days later, the 7th, I think....

In the meantime, Simcoe of the Queen's Rangers won a bluffing duel with Von Steuben, at Point of Fork, Virginia. Shortly thereafter, Gen. Anthony Wayne arrived at Lafayette's camp, with reinforcements, but not enough to affect an outcome with Cornwallis. However, Lafayette now had enough men to really harass the British force, which he gladly did.

On June 15th Corny left Elk Hill, and arrived at Richmond on the 16th. Then on June 20th, he headed for Williamsburg, with Lafayette trailing to the north. Lafayette was able to pick up men from the countryside and his force was sizably increased. On June 26, Simcoe of the Queens Ranger's, and Butler of the Continentals, had a little set-to near a place called Chic-a-hominy (I think, tis hard to remember all of this, but I think that's it). It all came to no avail, for either party.

Apparently, somehow, Clinton, in New York, learned of the French fleet under Admiral DeGrasse. He suggested that Corny send some 3000 troops to him there. Things are getting a bit sticky for Corny it seems, Clinton wants some of his troops, Corny wants to go to Charleston, so instead, he settles for giving up Williamsburg, and gets ready to cross the James River.

It is just about this time that Lafayette makes a move on Cornwallis, with Wayne in attendence. In a move that was adventurous, but perhaps not well conceived, at least not with enough intelligence, the Americans are able to fall off before falling afoul of the larger British force.

On July 7th, Corny crosses the James and a day later ( as we noted in a dispatch last week) received the note that Clinton wants men for Philadelphia, on the 12th another note to send the troops to New York, and then again on the 20th that he should keep all the troops and establish a fort at Point Comfort. The British high command seems in a bit of a topsy-turvy mood as of late. What to do, what to do......but the same seems the fate in our own camp as well.

You may recall, that I noted 'something was in the air', I think that was on the 20th, my last note to you.......is that right? Yes, I think so. Mayhap, on the following day, the Generals Washington and Rochambeau, with their retinue, did indeed, conduct a 3 day reconnoiter of the British positions about New York. We being but soldiers of the line, and low ranking Officers, are not privy to the counsels, or the decisions made, or to the discussions in the Marque's.

But, it seems that not much has changed since they have returned. Camp life remains the same here, a bit stagnant at the moment, but pregnant with possibilities, dare I say. Oh yes, the camp fires are rife with conjecture, and ought-to's, and may-be's, and a load of perhaps'es. But the truth is, we know nothing of what is about. The British are still strong in their defense, and still outnumber us, even without any more troops from Corny. There does not appear to be any plan of action on our part, other than to keep the British busy with our patrols. This we do, and thus they do also....

The daily drills are spirited, the camps clean, but the men are awanting to do something, almost anything, ..... time is the enemy here, the interminable waiting that keeps us on edge, taking the life spirit from the men in slow, but nervous anticipation, how many times can we clean a musket, drill a parade, work the teams, practice the artillary...?

We have found that we are able to work together, the French and the Americans, even though we speak not the same words. The men seem to be enjoying the repartee with each other, the sharing of food and stuffs, the difference in the uniforms and commands. Much laughter is heard on both sides, as the commands come across the grounds.......but we cannot entertain ourselves like this forever, can we??

There seems to be an uproar in the camp, let me see what tis about.........
ah hah, more word from the south. It seems that Corny, and his army, have moved into Yorktown, Virginia, there to establish a defensible works, and also to hold Gloucester, Virginia, as well. Virginia, tis seems so far away, what possible consequence could that mean to us, with this large British force right here in front of us, in New York....? Virginia, Corny, damn, we would need a Navy to get there and everyone knows we don't have one...... Tis must be that we kick Clinton out of New York, or what are we doing here..??

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