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1781, March Date, Saturday, Oct 21, Day 129

Homestead Headquarters...

Greetings Froiends and Patriots...

Please forgive this late post. The events of the last couple of days, and most notably yesterday, the 19th have been most overwhelming. Combine that fact, with the need to still be on duty, have left but little time to write. We still have the Army on alert, Ole' corny is a wily and dangerous enemy, or was...

HUZZAH, HUZZAH, HUZZAH.....THE END MOMENT HAS COME, THE BATTLE CEASES, THE CANNONS ARE QUIET.......

When yesterday, I wrote to you of some of the end games that have come undone for the enemy, I had not the time to finish the dispatch. Much, much more has happened here in this Town of Yorktown. The last dispatch ended with the British sortie across the York River and a possible break-out from Gloucester, to the north. That action was foiled by the gods of weather, to which we shall ever owe our due.

Ole' Corny then, on the 17th, asked for a parley.... a lone drummer on the battered earthen works beating the parley...to discuss terms of surrender, asking for 24 hours to do so. In that time the appointment of commisioners would be made, to discuss and settle the surrender terms. Gen. Washington thought it was to long a time to wait, knowing that Corny was expecting British re-inforcements at any time, and asked that Cornwallis write his surrender proposals before the Commisioners were to meet....and a suspension of hostilities for two hours would be allowed for Cornwallis to do so...The Earl complied with Gen. Washington's request and sent his proposals, but they were rejected....General Washington then made a counter-offer of terms, that was generally accepted by Cornwallis. The capitulation had begun... HUZZAH...

Col. Jhn Laurens and Vis. de Noailles (Lafayette's brother-in-law) were appointed the two commisioners on behalf of the Allies. Col. Ross and Lt. Col. Dundas on behalf of the British. They met on the morning of the 18th, but to no final avail, the entire day being spent in conferences and negotiations. We could see, from the defensive lines, all the comings and goings of the various particpants to the talks. Flags a'blowing, uniforms bright and clean, all spit and polish, t'was the sight to see and we all strained to get a good look...... this was, afterall, a moment to remember.

Gen. Washington should not, could not and would not allow any further delay of the signing of the terms, and early on the morning of the 19th sent a transcript of the terms to Cornwallis, for signature. We are told that he demanded they be signed by 11 of the Clock, that morning, and that the troops to be marched out of the Garrison for surrender, by 2 of the Clock in the Afternoon.....

The British, having no where to go, had to oblidge, and thus they did, much to the rousing satisfaction of the Army entrenced about them. We have been on the march since June, from Newport, some 4 months ago. Tis finally that we are here, at this place, at this moment, to perhaps put an end to the continuing British injustices in America. We no longer think of ourselves as subjects of the King, nor have we for some time, and now, all the world knows it. We are about to be free.....

At the appointed hour of 2 of the clock in the Afternoon, the garrisons at the Towns of York and Gloucester, the shipping in the harbor, all of the ordinance, amunition and stores, were surrendered to the land and naval forces of America and France, after a siege of some 13 days.
The Battle is won, the enemy has surrendered, I am still alive.........

The excitement of the moment is overwhelming, with tears of joy and relief for us all. The Terms of Surrender, at least a brief form of them, have been posted and they are as such......
I. The garrisons at York and Gloucester to surrender themselves prisoners of war, the land troops to remain prisoners to the United States-the naval forces to to the Naval Army of the French.
II. The artillery, stores, etc to be delivered to the proper Officers, to receive them.
III. The two redoubts captured on the 16th, to be surrendered, one to the Americans, one to the French troops. The garrrison at York to march out at Two of the Clock in the Afternoon, with shouldered arms, colours cased, and the drums beating: there to lay down their arms and return to the encampment. The works on the Gloucester side to be delivered to the Americans and French; the garrison there to lay down their arms at Three of the Clock in the Afternoon.
IV. The Officers to retain their side-arms, papers and personal property. Also, the property of the Loyalists found in the garrison to be retained.
V. The soldiers to be kept in Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, and to be subsisted by the Americans. British, Anspach and Hessian Officers, allowed to be quartered near them, and supply them with clothing and necessities.
VI. The Officers to be allowed to go on parole to Europe, or to any part of the American Confederacy: proper vessels to be granted by the Count de Grasse to convey them, under flags of truce, to New York, within 10 days, if they choose; passports to be granted to those who choose to go by land.
VII. Officers allowed to keep soldiers as servants; and servants, not soldiers, not to be considered prisoners.
VIII. The ship Bonetta to be under the entire control of Cornwallis, to go to New York with Dispatches, and then to be delivered to Count de Grasse.
IX. Traders not considered prisoners of war, but on parole, and allowed three (3) months to dispose of their property, or remove it.
X. Loyalists not to be punished on account of having joined the British Army. (Washington did not assent to this article, considering it a civil matter)
XI. Proper hospitals to be furnished for the sick and wounded, they to be atended by British surgeons.
XII. Wagons to be furnished, if possible, for the carrying of Officers attending the Soldiers, and of the Hospital-surgeons when traveling on account of the sick.
XIII. The shipping and boats in the two harbors (York, Gloucester), with all their appendages, arms, and stores, to be delivered up un-impaired after the private property was unloaded.
XIV. No article of this capitulation to be infringed upon by pretext of reprisal: and a fair interpretation to be given, according to the common meaning and acdeptation of the words.......

These Articles were signed by Lord Cornwallis and Thomas Symonds, the Naval commander in the York River, for the British..... and by Gens. Washington and Rochambeau, and by Adm. De Grasse and De Barras, for tha Allies.....

Will write of the Grand Surrender Ceremonies, in the next post. I am now oblidged to take my station, with my mates,in conducting the surrender terms..... soonest...

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