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1781, March Date, Friday, Oct. 20, Day 126

Homestead Headquarters....

Greetings Friends and Patriots....

The walls are tumbing down, this Day of Days..... Oh, I am so excited that I can barely contain my hand on the page. The world, our world, your world has been changed, indeed..... but first, let me bring you up to date on the last couple of days here at the Town of York.

My last despatch to you concerned the taking of Redoubts #9 & 10. I have a bit more intelligence concerning that moment.......... the American attack, commanded by Hamilton, was swift in its resolve and its finality. The Americans made a rather impetous rush, pulling the defensive 'abattis' aside with their hands, knocking down the palisades, leaping over the ditch and scrambling up the redoubts walls and into the enemy works. Tis happened so fast that the enemy could do naught but surrender. The Americans never fired a musket, taking the redoubt by the point of the bayonet only......it happened so fast that the American losses were but 9 killed and thirty-two wounded. The Commander of the British redoubt, Major Campbell, was taken prisoner with 17 of the garrison there, with 8 of the defenders being killed. It is reported that the cry of the Americans, as they mounted the assault, was, "Remember New London"!.... you may recall my report of the dissatisfaction of the Arm y concerning the British actions at that Fort. Let it be said that the Americans acted with mercy, and did not follow the lead of the British atrocity at New London......

The French were not so rapid in their assault and suffered consequences. They determined to do 'european style' and cut the abattis, all the time suffering a mortal fire from the British entrenched there. The French loss of life was considerable, with no accounting at this time. The Regiment Gatanais restored its name to a place of honor.

It is said that Gen. Washington kept himself constantly exposed to the dangers of the furious British cannonade that began as the Allied assault began...... tis many stories I can relate but will hold for another time. Let it be known that while the British did not counter-attack on the redoubts, they did stiffen their cannonade.

The two captured redoubts were now a part of the new parrallel line that had been dug, facing the British defensive works. Shortly thereafter, the heaviest of the guns (cannons) taken from the French ships were mounted there and began their awful work. The allied cannonade was now having tremendous effect upon the Town. Ole' Corny's situation was becoming difficult, we could all see.... that was some days ago, on the 14th.

But we must say that Corny is a dangerous enemy, always alert to the changing situation. Apparently, his thoughts of surrender were not yet in his mind, though we thought that they should be. It seems he ordered an attack, on the 16th Oct.. This took us a bit by surprise, I must admit, we being sure the final cards had already been played. To retard the progress of our 2nd parrallel line, a sortie of some 350 British troops, composed of Foot Guards and Light Infantry, under the command of Col. Abercrombie, assaulted in a stealth manner, the new French Batteries. The attack began a bit before day-break. Abercrombie divided his force into two detachments, sending the Guards against one of the batteries and the Light Infantry against the other. Both attackes were made with furious dash and alacrity...the French were surprised, overrun and driven from the works. The British were able to spike all the guns in the works, and killed an estimated 100 of the French defenders, b less their Papist souls......shortly thereafter, support came from the French trenches and drove the British back out of the works..... the cannon had been so quickly, but poorly spiked, that the French were able to get the guns working in short order, again wreaking havoc on the Town below. For just a moment it was a close thing.......

But tis not over just yet, it seems..... that moment having failed the British plan, another soon took its place, much to our very surprise. Corny, not one to consider surrender easily, was not done.... During the night of the 16th, it seems, a plan was devised to move the Army across the York River to the British garrison at Gloucester, that being commanded by Tarleton (you remember him, I am sure). Perhaps the plan was to move the Army across the river, leave the sick and infirmed, join with Tarleton and take on Gen. Choisy, Lauzon's Legion and the Virginia Militia, in hopes of fighting their way eventually to New York. A bold and ambitious plan, no doubt.... It seems that in the night, members of the Guard, also the 23rd Regiment, must have embarked in boats to go to Goucester. This was done so secretly that we think that perhaps none of the allies, on either side of the river, knew it was happening. We can only surmise at this point as we do not have any documnets, only knowing the fact that a storm came up over-night, and numbers of British soldiers were seen coming back from Gloucester, to Yorktown, upon which we did fire...... tis another close thing, very close...... thanks to Providence for the storm that unveiled this latest plan.

On the 17th, more batteries of allied cannon opened up upon the Town. It does not seem that the land could stay above water with all the cannon shot landing there. Tis must be hell for the British thugs to endure...but we are not sorry. Later on, about noon of the 17th, we saw a lone drummer, beatng the parley. Corny had proposed a cessation of hostilities for some 24 hours, and that commisioners be appointed, so that terms of surrender might be conducted, and settled. The loudest cheer was heard at that moment that the drummer appeared on the battered earthen works.

Gen. Washington, seems to be fearing that Corny is fretting time away time waiting for re-inforcements from Clinton in New York, objected to the long delay. We can only assume that the surrender terms will be made known to us soon..... that is where we are at the moment, the cannonade has ceased, the world is quiet, for the first time in days.... sleep is but a blink away, with hopes that this moment shall come to some good fruition.......will write again soonest.

I Remain,
At Your Service,
Richard Swartwout
Homestead Headquarters
For, 'AMtY'


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