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1781, Part 2, Surrender Ceremony, Oct. 19th

Homestead Headquarters...

Greetings Friends and Patriots.....

As I was writing before being called to duty, the Grand Surrender Ceremony was scheduled for the afternoon, at Two of the Clock, on the 19th Oct. I have already indicated to you the Terms of the Surrender, and those that signed the Agreement.

Under the Terms by General Washington, the British were to step out of the Garrison, to lay down their Arms on the Surrender Field....and thus it happened.

The news of the Capitulation generated wide interest in the surrounding area, certainly among the civilian population. The Publick showed up, by the thousands. It seems there were at least as many spectators as there were those about to Capitulate.

General Lincoln was appointed by Gen. Washington to conduct the surrender, which was upon the same terms as those prescribed to Lincoln when he was forced to surrender Charlestown. There can be no doubt that Lincoln was much pleased to act as such.

At about Twelve of the Clock Noon, the combined French and American Army was drawn up in two lines, on the road from Yorktown, to Hampton, Virginia. The troops created a line a mile long, with the American troops on the right side of the road, the French on the left. At the head of the line were General Washington, upon his most trusted mount, Nelson....and at the head of the other line sat Gen. Rochambeau, on a handsome bay horse, surrounded by his cadre of Officers. The French troops were in complete uniforms, presenting a very military appearance. The Americans, though not as well dressed, some in rags, exhibited the most military appearance possible, of a Soldier at Arms (attention). It is said that Gen. Washington cautioned his troops, saying, "My boys, let there be no insults over a conquered foe, when they lay down their arms, don't huzzah, posterity will huzzah for you". It is also said that the British were amazed at the number of 'blacks' in the Americna ranks, perhaps as many as twenty per-cent of the troops assembled. They may have been surprised, we were not.........

At Two of the Clock in the Afternoon, the captive Army came out of the entrenchments, and began to advance between the lines of the Allies. We all expected to see Lord Cornwllis to attend, and were much dissappointed when informed that he was 'ill'. He had appointed Gen. O'Hara in his place, to attend the Surrender ceremonies. O'Hara, handsome in his full uniform, walked his horse at the head of the column of British troops. He was followed by the soldiers, all with shouldered arms, colors cased, and the drum beating a British march.

Oh, the moment. Oh, the feelings, the emotions that run through my body, my eyes tearing at the sight. The rememberance of friends left behind, of friends lost, of family tossed from homes, of unfairness in the courts, of brutality, and starvation, and want, and need, and hatred, and hatred, and hatred.........

But I digress, let us return to the moment...... the martial beat of the drum, the line of Redcoats, marching before my eyes.....betwen the lines of the Allied troops. The British only looked to their left, to the French troops, adding a last insult to the Americans. The good Gen. Lafayette, noticing this slight, by the loosers to the victors, ordered that 'Yankee Doodle' be played by the his Military Band. Thus did the British look to the right, but not at all pleased to do so..

While I was not at the head of the line, with the General Officers, it was reported that Gen. O'Hara first offered the Sword of Lord Cornwallis to Gen. Rochambeau, who then politely suggested that it be given to Gen. Washington, who then politely suggested that it be given to Gen. Lincoln. And thus it was....

The Royal Army was resplendent in its uniform, having all received new uniforms for the Surrender Ceremony. Lord Cornwallis would have it no other way of course. The British troops were haggard in their step and march, some thought they must be drunk, or afflicted in some way. And at the moment of the laying, or in some cases, throwing down of arms, their mortification was best displayed. The embarrassment of giving the order to 'Ground Arms' was exceedingly noticed by all. Apparently it t'was done in a most un-military manner. Some British soldiers cried, some laid their arms gently, others threw them down with disgust. Do'est not matter, the thing is done.. the arms are done, the surrender is almost completed...

And then came the surrender of the Regimental Colours. Oh, the anger of the momnent, the trying of their souls, the pain ...... Tis a moment that every soldier would wish not to happen, that his Regiment had failed, been captured,and giving up the colours to the enemy the worst wound of all....we could see the dissappintment and the anger, the embarrassed moment, the shame of it all...we are just glad tis not us that is doing the giving up...

Twenty eight (28) British Captains, each with a cased Regimental Colour, were drawn up on the parade, in a line. Opposite to them, at a distance of but six (6) paces, twenty-eight American Sergeants were drawn up, to receive the cased Colours. An American Ensign, still unknown, was appointed by Col. Hamilton, as Officer of the Day, to conduct the ceremony.. The Ensign ordered the two lines to advance toward eash other, for but two paces, but the British demurred.... The British were un-willing to present their Colours to Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO's). Hamilton, sitting ahorse, noticed this hesitation of the British, and ordered that the Colours all be given to the Ensign, which was accomplished. He then handed the Colours to the assembled Sergeants.

When all the ceremonial surrender work was accomplished, the British troops were conducted back to their lines, under sufficient guard. The French and American trops were directed back to their respective lines, to await the morrow.... tis must be said that we hardly knew how to act at the moment. We were so relieved, and happy...yet, New York was still under the British boot heel, and what would become of us next? Must we now needs to march back to the north, in the appraoching winter, to face the British there....?

I shall report more, as soon as I am able..... for now, the peace allows us to drink hard, and rest, to chat about the fires, and express our wonder and happiness at the current situation, to take stock, perhaps to rest a moment or two... we are victors, winners in the game now...free?, how wonderful that small word do'est sound......free to do what? We have won, tis sure, but to what end, now?

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