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November 03, 2006

Surrender!! Aftermath.......

From Homestead Headquarters..

Greetings Friends and Patriots...

Tis almost a fortnight now since last I was able to write to you. We have been more busy than even I could have imagined. The work of the Peace seems almost as much as the work of the War. Oh, tis that it t'would not be so.

We have learned that Gen. Clinton did come, with the British Fleet, to try to affect a rescue of Cornwallis. Apparently the fleet left New York the same day that Lord Cornwallis had surrendered, here in York. The fleet arrived off of the Capes on or about the 24th of October, staying until the 29th when it was decided, apparently, that naught could be done to remedy the fate of Cornwallis. The French still hold the Naval line on the Chesapeake, therefore, the Brits sailed off and we can only assume that they have gone back to New York.

We have now had the time to take care of the dead and wounded and a count of those that fell, or were captured is as follows, to the best of my knowledge. These numbers seem to change almost daily, but tis the best that I can do now.......

........the number of men surrendered as prisoners amounted to some 7,073. Of that lofty number some 5,950 were Rank and File.....add to that some 2,000 Sailors,1,500 Tories and 1,800 Negroes... the total British loss is some 12,000 men. The seige cost the British some 550 men killed, wounded and missing.....the loss to the Allies (French and American) appears to 253 French and 125 Americans...

The British also of course lost considerable supplies and weaponry, as follows thusly.....some 75 Brass and 160 Iron Cannon, 7,794 Muskets, 28 Regimental Standards, (10 British, 18 German), and a large quantity of mortars, bombs, cannon and musket ball, and some $11,000 in specie...

The day after the surrender, we hear, the Lord Cornwallis paid a visit to Gen. Washington, to await his orders. How far the great had fallen. However, it seems that Cornwallis's bearing, elegant manners and frank soldierly bearing soon made him a favorite at the table of Washington. We would see the two of them about as they inspected the 'leveling of the works'. There was a Grand Dinner, in which the British and Americans sincerly toasted the efforts of the other. It is said that Cornwallis noted that this War was probably over as he did not expect the Ministry to be sending another Army to America....tis grand news indeed.

However, not the same can be said of the bastard Col. Tarelton. He was never invited to the table and was inquiring as to why he was being so dismissed. It fell upon Col. Laurens, as aide-de-camp to General Washington, to explain to the Col. that indeed, his lack of invite was not an accident, but was meant as a reproof for some certain cruelties practiced by him, and his troops, in the field... Ah hah, wish I had been there for that takedown.... It is also said that Tarelton had hired a body guard to protect his person against some slight of the Americans, but after being totally ignored, was soon seen to see that the guard be dismissed. Another time, while canting into Town on a beautiful blood-horse, the horse was claimed by a gentleman from Virginia, as his, and left the Colonol afoot to continue his journey to dinner, with the Count de Viomenil. He was relieved by a French Officer who gave his own steed to the Colonl so that he might make his dinner engagement. Tar elton... not one of the favorites here abouts, at the moment.....

After the surrender, General Washington, in his Orders of the Day, gave praise to General Knox and Col. Du Portail, of the Artillery. Thanks were also given to Governor Nelson, who had asked that the men fire upon his own house where the British Officers were garrisoned. It was also suggested that all men 'to attend Divine Services' in the Brigades.

Gen. Washington has sent Col. Tilghman to Philadelphia, with the latest despatches from Congress. We can be sure that he has spread the word of this Great Victory whilst upon the road, to that end. We have heard the Great Bells of the Churches ringing in the distance, much to our delight.

We have also learned that Gen. Washington has attempted to persuade Adm. De Grasse to co-operate in an expedition against Charleston or Wilmington. The Admiral has demurred, saying that he had different orders from his own Government. We have also learned that this extraordinary expedition against the British here in York, was the last offer from the French. Had this Campaign come to no avail, it is certain that the French would have abandoned us to perhaps a different fate. It seems that King Louis was not all that fond of the idea of aiding a Republican uprising against a sitting King (George), a fellow sitting King, I might add. Perhaps that is why we have not seen the King's Colours aloft in this Campaign. Tis the only standards we have seen among the French, are the Regimental Standards. A situation that is most curious, at best...

In this fortnight since the Surrender, the American Army has left the Town of York, except for Gen. St. Clair, who has marched southward to reinforce Gen. Greene. The rest of the Army is headed northward, we gather to New York perhaps.......We have left Gen. Rochambeau, that saviour of our effort, here in the Virginias. Within the fortnight, we have evacuated the Town of York, both us and the British. The prisoners have been, and are being, taken to Winchester, in the Virginias, some to Fort Frederick and Frederickstown in the Marylands, and some to Lancaster in Pennsylvania. When the Bonetta, sloop-of-war, went to New York, it carried a number of Tories that will be protected by Gen. Clinton, there... All the British Officers have gone by sea to New York, on parole.....

My guess is that King George III has yet to learn of the fate of his Army, or his Colonies. OH, again, t'wish that I could be there in the chamber when he finds it all lost......
Until again, soonest.....

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

October 21, 2006

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'

October 20, 2006

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'

October 19, 2006

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
ww.marchtoyorktown.org

October 15, 2006

1781, March Date, Monday, Oct. 16, Day 122

Greetings Friends and Patriots.....

The noose tightens on the British neck. Oh joy, oh joy....can it be possible? So many years of sweat and starvation, of miss-use and abuse, of frustration o'er the missed opportunity. Tis seems that now, finally, finally, we might actually have these English bastards under our boot heel....... oh the joy of it!

When last you read, we had some hot cannon shot sink some Brit ships in the York river. 3 or 4 if I remember correctly, back on the 10th. The constant drum of the cannon has made my brain numb, methinks. Then, on the 11th we started digging the diagonal trench that would bring us closer to the British lines. On the following day, we started digging a trench (dig the trench, build the redoubt) that is parrallel to the British lines. We are now but some 300 yards or so from the British defenses.

We have the British Redoubts # 9 & 10, in our sights as I write this. Tis sure to be an attack on those positions soon, certainly. We have concentrated our artillery fire on those positions these last couple of days. And the cannonnade is over wrought, going day and night, some two score and more firing all the day and night round, and more like 5 score cannon working now. The spectacular explosions of the cannons, the fire from the barrel, giving the spectre of hell to the enemy. The retorts, so loud and long, ringing about the country and the landing of the shot on the British defenses, so well wished, and guided. The British artillery response has been, as best, paltry. Methinks that our gunners have aimed quite well the round ball. Some bouncing along the ground, some landing and smashing, some exploding. Tis the birth of a new Universe, must be...

Two days ago, the assssault on the British Redoubts 9 $ 10 began in earnest. They had been shelled for two days straight, but the British were still manning them, and it looks that they are determined to hang on. After the concentrated artillery fire, a decison was made on the 14th, Oct., to begin the assault. T'was now as good a time as ever. Gen Wasington gave the command to Gen. Lafayette to make the assault, on foot, on Redoubt #10. Lafayette, we are told, asked the French conmander de Gimat to lead the assault, but we hear that Col. Alexander Hamilton protested that he should lead the assault. Washington selected Hamilton, who would lead some 400 troops against that British position.

The French Col. Deux-Ponts was selected to lead the assult on Redoubt #9, using some 400 French Grenadiers and Chasseurs. The way it worked was like this...
Saint-Simon and de Choisy began diversionary attacks on the Fusilier Redoubt and other positions, at approximately 6:30 of the Clock in the Evening, on the 14th. At about 7 of the Clock in the Evening, just a half-hour later, (tis dark now at that time, seems only days ago that it was still light at that hour), the commands of Hamilton and Deux-Ponts rang out and the men moved forward. Tis a cheer to curdle your soul that then went up on the field, the cheer of men about to die, a last shout to the Almighty....

Hamilton's target, Redoubt # 10 was reached quickly and was just as quickly over run, with few casulties. The British and Hessian defenders surrendered with not much of a fight. Must have been the constant cannon bombardment that made those defenders think twice about wanting to continue the inevitable, being so out gunned, out manned and out manuevered, no place to run, or hide.....

T'was a completely different set of circumstances at Redoubt #9. Col. Deux-Ponts's force took very heavy casualties before the Redoubt could be secured, but secured it was, finally, with the enemy again offering surrender, which was gladly accepted.

Immediately after the taking of the two Redoubts, we very quickly consolidated our positions, expecting a furious British counter-attack, but tis never came about....curious indeed. However, ole' Corny did indeed use all his remaining cannon to pound those positions o'er the next couple of days, but to no effect.

Tis, where we are now, the action has seemed to settle into another cannonade duel, with our guns outnumbering, and out firing the British guns. Tis seems that the British defense is troubled indeed and we await the drum of parley, or a flag, or some sign that they have had enough..... we wait, and wait, and wait....

We sleep little awaiting the dawn, and perhaps an end, but what awaits.....?
More soonest.........

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

October 11, 2006

1781, March Date, Wednesday, Oct. 11, March Day 117

Greetings all Friends and Patriots...

The entire world has changed since I last wtote to you, just a week ago. I would have written you sooner, but we have been very busy here. And there is so much to share with you as we French, and Americans, start to put the hold on Ole' Corny, here in the Town of York.

It seems, about some 5 days ago now, that we were ready to start putting a siege operation into effect against the British Garrison, at York. It was that day that we starting to dig the trenches. Aye, and a right good dig it has been. Tis perhaps the first time that diggin' of a trench might cause a man joy, but tis true, it did, indeed. Dare'st I say that we might have whistled up a tune to help the exertions along. That was on the 6th of October, as dark settled, that we starting the shoveling, one shovel at a time...dig the trench, build the redoubt, dig the trench, build the redoubt.

We are some 500 to 600 yards from the British lines now, with the trenching, a parallel line to the British defense works, starting to stretch across the land. So many men, at work, with joyful, but terrible anticipation. There is the occasional shot from the British of course, enough to remind us to keep oour heads down. But at this distance, tis not mauch damage to be done by the stray and errant musket ball. More just a reminder that this may, and will, be very dangerous, very soon....

Another joyful note also sounded that same day when word of the Allied Wagon train's arrival here. We started to see the Wagon train on the evening of the 6th, with most of it arriving on the next day, the 7th of October. Ah, the stores and equipment so needed to succor the men and conduct the siege operation are now in place, and being distributed to all. A spirit of almost joy, or glee, has indeed infected the entire Army. The smile and determination on the faces of the men, the dirt and grime of the work, have elevated the spirit of all of us. The redoubts get taller, the trenches get deeper, by the hour. Dig the trench, build the redoubt...

It seems the British didn't even know that the siege had begun, until daybreak of the 7th. It reminded us of when, so many years ago now, in 76, that some of us had dug in the cannon from Fort Ticonderoga, secured by the son-of-a-bitch Arnold, at Boston. We dug in that entire cannon line, overnight, about a month after Gen. Knox had conducted the cannon train, from Ticonderoga to Cambridge.... what a tek that was! Oh, the stories.... That action made the British retire from Boston on March 17th of that year, after waking up to see the cannon surroundeing the fleet at Boston Harbor. Ah the joy of good memories.

The men are all atalk about actions like that, that lift our spirits.. Tis funny how the days of the calendar seem to work.... my journal now seems to tell me that Cormwallis started his retreat , after his defeat at Guilford Courthouse, in the Carolinas, toward this hole we have him in now, 5 years and day after the British pulled out, or should I say, evacuated Boston. Ah, the hopeful glory of it all.....

We see that the British are fully aware of what seems to be happening, and the coming days shall certainly make them more aware. We can hardly contain ourselves and the Officers are much full of work to keep the men from just scrambling down upon the Brits. Our excitement seems to almost get the beter of us at times, but tis not the time to be foolish or going off on some fools errand. Best to listen to the Officers, keep our heads down, and do the work of war.... dig the trench, built the redoubt, eat, work, sleep......

Huzzah, the glory of the first cannon shot. HUZZAH, HUZZAH, HUZZAHHHHH! The men are cheering, as the French Cannon, on our left, the British right, finally let the ball aloose into the sky and into the British lines. We are told that the first shot is touched off by General Washington, from the battery of the Comte Saint-Simon. This happened in mid-afternoon, on the 9th of Oct., at about three of the clock, and the entire Army came alive with a'cheer, and much raucous shouting and fist waving. The joy of the men, the entire unbelieveability of the momnent, has rendered us but slaves to an emotional build-up, to tears of joy, frustration and relief. Perhaps now the English Lion will feel the wrath of it's actions...... that was two days ago, and we continue to kep the cannonade alive as bes we can. the din of the cannons, constantly firing, has us numb....

By the next day, Oct. 10th, just yesterday, if my mind is still working, the cannon now firing into the British works number some 46 pieces, going day and night. It seems we have infklicted much damage to the British works as their rate of return fire seems to be but only, perhaps, six rounds an hour. A feeble effort so far, have we been that good with our own shot? We the French are superb gunners, and the fleet guns, manned by the sailors, are particularly accurate, it sems. Must be much easier to fire from a stationary ground gun than from a gun twitching in the high seas, aboard a man-of-war, methinks....

Also, yesterday, about noon, a flag of truce appeared from the British works... we know not what was said, but the decison has been made to continue the bombardment. We were able to destroy some 3 or 4 British ships, via the cannon fire, as well, on this day.

Today, or should I say, this evening, shortly after dusk, we started digging again, more the work of war, dig the trench, build the redoubt. Methinks that a second line of trenching, much closer to the British works, is now underway. I am finally having a moment of rest so that I might get this missive to you before I am back on the line. A good night's sleep, almost impossible with the thunder of the guns is much needed. I am so weary that it shall not make any difference how loud the cannonade is......

It looks as if we are digging in preparation for an assault on the British Redoubts, Nos. 9 and 10 on the southeast side of York. Perhaps, when they are secured, t'will allow us complete the second, and closer parallel to the British defense works. Tis how it works, you see, we move on the diagonal trenching to get closer to the British line. Then when we are closer, and satisfied, we dig the parallel trench. Moving in the diagonal keeps us safe from the British fire, until we are close enought to consider the parallel trench....... the work of war, dig the trench, build the redoubt. As we dig the trench, we put the earth toward the enemy side to help protect us from sniper fire, and the errant or well aimed musket ball.....

We now seem to have a good listing of the British enemy within York. It has taken some time for us to get this information, as you might imagine.....

With Gen. Cornwallis Commanding,
the headquarters staff seems to be of the 17th Light Dragoons and British Marines

British Artillery
The Roayl Regiment of Artillery, with much help from the sailors of scuttled ships also manning the guns

British Infantry Brigade, under the Command of Gen. O'Hara
Brigade of Foots Guards

Light Infantry Brigade of Two battalions...Commanded by Col. Abercrombie...
1st Battalion of Light Companies, from the British 4th, 15th, 17th, 23rd, 27th, 33rd, and 38th Foot
2nd Battalion from the 37th, 40th, 43rd, 45th, 49th, 55th, 63rd, and 71st Foot, and the 82nd Foot

1st Infantry Brigade, commanded by Col. Yorke 0f 22nd Foot
Made up of units of the 17th, 23rd, 33rd & 71st Foot (2nd Batalion)
2nd Infantry Brigade, commanded by Col. dundas of the 80th Foot
made up of unitsof the 43rd, 76th and 80th Foot

German Infantry
Anspatch-Bayreuth Contingent
Commanding, Col. Voigt, included the 1st and 2nd Regimetn and an Artillery Company Hesse-Kassel Contingent
Commanding Col. von Fuchs, included the Erb Prinz, von Bose Regts., a Jaeger Company and an Artillery Company

Loyalists Companies
Queen's Rangers
British Legion
North Carolina Volunteers
Pioneers and other

Tis the best of the listing that we can secure at the moment, given the hard circumstances here. Will write again soonest..... pray for us.

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

October 04, 2006

1781, March Date, Wednesday, Oct. 4, Day 110

Greetings Friends and Patriots.......

Homestead Headquarters.....

I bring you greetings from the front lines at Yorktown! It does not seem possible that we have managed to bottle up ole' Corny, but tis the everloving Gawd darn truth. After all this time, of walking and manuevering, of talking and waiting, tis perhaps the end game we see on the horizon.

It has not been quiet here, with some actions occuring in the near vicinity and at Glocester. We are still a mile or so off from the British Front at the Town of York, but that shall change very soon, methinks.

In the meantime, let me share the latest rumors, innuendo and truth, as best as can be spoke. Just two day ago, on the 2nd. Oct., we learned that the Virginia Militia, under the command of Gen. George Weedon, with some 1,500 troops, had been opposing the British garrison there commanded by Col. Thomas Dundas. We have no information of the troop strength, then, of the British Garrison, but the allied Generals were taking no chance. Gen. Weedon was reinforced by some 600 men from the Duc de Lauzon's Legion. This was near the last of September. On Oct. 1st, the Gen. de Choisy assumed command of these Allied operations. On Oct. 2nd, British Col Tarelton (tis the name that will drive me to madness, he is everywhere it seems) and his British Legion arrived to support Dundas and would bring the garrison troop strength to some 1000 men.

The action that occured shortly there after has only produced these brief notes, to date. On the 3rd, Dundas was returning to camp after a foraging expedition. Gen de Choisy forced an action from the front, with the help of Lauzon Legion, while Tarleton formed a rear screen for the British troop. In the frenzy of quick action that followed, Tarleton was nearly captured when pinned under his horse, but was saved when some of his men rode in and plucked him away. Oh damn it to hell, what a trophy he would have been. Tarleton then reassembled his men, but John Mercer held the allied line and Tarleton withdrew.

Tis naught but a game of cat and mouse now, and how good it feels to be the cat, for once. We have come a long way, to long to turn back now.....

I listed the American Army in my last dispatch to you some days ago. I will now try to list the French Army, tis the best that we can do under the circumstances...

French Army, Gen. Comte de Rochambeau, Commanding

The Artilley is commanded by Col. d'Aboville, with the guns of the Auxonne and Metz Regiments.

The French Infantry is of 4 Brigades, with 2 Brigades under the comand of Gen. de Viomenil, as follows.......

The first Brigade comanded by Col. de Laval, includes the Bourbonnois and Royal du Pont Regiments.

The 2nd Brigade, commanded by Col. de St. Maime, includes the Soussoinas Regiments......

.......and another 2 Brigades under the Command of Gen. de St. Simon....

the 3rd Brigade is commanded by Col. d'Audechamp, and includes the Agenois and Catinois Regiments

The 4th Brigade, commanded by Col. de Pondeux, includes the Touraine Regiment..

The detachment at Gloucester, commanded by Gen. de Choisy includes Marines from the Fleet as well as Lauzon's Legion. The Duc deLauzon's Legions forces included Hussars, Infantry and Gunners......

We are still getting information about the British Trop strength and will share that with you as soon as possilbe....there is a chill in the air as the seasons have changed, but there is a burning in our hearts to get on with it. The camp duties have us keeping to a task as we can only think of the coming moments, do we live or die, do we win or lose.......? Tis' only Providence seems to know, and last I knew, it was not talking......

There is more commotion in the camp, and a call to duty as well, will write again, soonest.....

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

October 01, 2006

1781, March Date, Sunday, Oct. 1, Day 107

Homestead Headquarters

Greetings Friends and Patriots,

Perhaps tis' the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning.... truly.

I wrote that we had moved into position about the British Town of York, some 3 days ago. We left the Town of Williamsburg about 5 of the clock in the morning and were in postion, about a mile away from the British outer defenses, about dark. That was on the 28th of Sept.

It was noticed that on the British right, Lt. Col.Robert Abercrombie was withdrawing as the French left wing advanced there. At about the same time, on the British left, Lt. Col. Benaste Tarleton withdrew as he American right winG moved to the southeast of Yorktow. It appears that the British are consolidating their defenses.

Events are moving at a snails pace, but with lighting speed, both at the same time it seems to us here in the Line. We can see the mass movement of the troops, large amounts of folks moving about, then tis seems to be done, in a moment.

On the 29th, just two days ago, Gen. Washington inspected the British positions while the American army continued to surround Yorktown. All along, artillery, siege equipment and stores are being moved up to the front.

On Sept. 30th we discovered that the British had abandoned three outposts that cover the southwest approach to Yorktown. Apparently Corny, with his limited forces, has chosen to abandon these postions . We find an intercepted dispatch that indicates that the British will be sending relief, from New York. Btitish Gen. Clinton says the British fleet will be leaving New York on the 5th of Oct. Hmmmm, that should make things a bit dicey, methinks.

We have also learned that the French Wagon Train, taking the land route, had left Georgetown, crossing the Potomac River. ON about the 24th, we have learned that the wagon train has loaded on much hay, at Col. Daingerfield's plantation, near Belvidere, and are still coming southwards, they have yet to arrive and we trust, hope, pray that they are safe.

We have taken some trouble now, to list for you all the units that seem to be in place, for this coming event, for better or worse.....

General Washington, Commanding at his headquarters, has the 4th Continental Dragoons and Armand's Legion..

The American Artillery of the 1st Continental, 2nd Continental and 4th Continental Artillery as well as four companies of sappers and miners, is led by Brig. Gen. Henry Knox.

Maj. Gen Lafayette leads the 1st Division American Light Infantry with Brig. Gen. Muhlenberg's 1st. Brigade, made up of 8 Mass. Light Co. under Col. Vose, 5 Conn., 2 Mass., and 1 RI light companies under Col. Gimat and Col. Barber's battalion of 2 New Hampshire, 2 New Jersey and 1 Canadian Light Companies, as well as 3 New Jersey Line Companies

Brig. Gen Hazens Infantry Brigade is made of Col. Scammel's Battalion of 2 New Hampshire, 3 Mas. and 3 Conn. Light Companies,with Col. Hamilton's Battalion of 2 New York Light Companies, 2 New York and 2 Caonn. provisional light companies, and Hazens Canadian Regiment.

Maj. Gen Lincoln leads the American 2nd Division, with the 1st Brigade being made up of 1st and 2nd New York, led by Brig. Gen James Clinton, and the 2nd Brigade, Col. Dayton comanding, made up of 1st and 2nd New Jersey, and a Rhode Island Regiment.

The American 3rd Division is commanded by Maj. Gen. Baron von Steuben, a soldiers favorite. Under his command is Brig Gen. Anthony Wayne commanding the 1st. Brigade of 1st and 2nd Penns., and the 3rd Virginia.

The 2nd Brigade is commanded by Brig. Gen Gist commanding eht 3rd and 4th Marylanders

The Virginia militia is bing commanded by Gen. Thomas Nelson, with the Brig Gens. Weedon, commanding the 1st Brigade, Lawson commanding the 2nd Brigade and Stevens commanding the 3rd Bigade. They are joined by Dabney's State Legion......

Tis all I have the time to impart at the moment. Perhaps I will have time on the morow to list our allies, and then the British enemy. The situation here is very changing, and we are all on the proverbial pins and needles...... we are all on the look about for any intrusion, or serious troop movement by the enmy, yet all seems very still at this moment......... tis sure to change dramatically in the near future. I pray you receive these dispatches or else you may never learn what has become of us, should this all come to naught, or failure. Failure is not on our minds, but our families are. We are reminded of the those parting words of the Declaration of Independence, that said we have pledged our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. Tis do not needs to be a man of means to make that pledge, only a man of truth and substance.......we have pledged and are standing forward, into the face of the enmy.

I Remain,
At Your Service,
Richard Swartwout
For, 'AKtY'

September 28, 2006

1781, March Date, Thrusday, Sept. 28, Day 104

Ah, the Storm is A'gatherin'...........

Greetings Friends, Patriots all.....

Again, tis a tardy dispatch to you all. The lines of communication are getting longer, and the road grows more perilous the southward we go. Tis' been perhaps 10 days since our last dispatch to you.

I can report that all the troops are in good order, and humour, even if our shoes may have worn out. We find the leather to be tired, as are we. the exertion of a forced march beginning to be telling on the equipment. However, we travel as one mind, in pursuit of the prize, and that prize shall be Corny his'self.....

As I recall, I had sent a note saying that the Generals had left Mt. Vernon, on the 12th, and had arrived on the peninsula on the 15th, Sept. However, just a day before that, the Generals Washington and Rochambeau had arrived at Williamsburg and met up with Gen. Lafayette. Tis a good omen, we think........as they also learned that the British fleet had left the Chesapeake area, and that left Corny (British Gen. Cornwallis) on his own. tis perhaps but a large chess game, and we are the players, all.....

We also have heard that the French army that had marched overland, rather than embark at Head-of-Elk, were now meeting up with the rest of the troops at Annapolis. Some of those troops were delayed in moving more southward by the uncertain events of the French and British flee action off the Chesapeake. Well, tis mus be said, HUZZAH to the French fleet. Adm. de Grasse has carried the day and now the troops are starting to move from Annapolis, down to Williamsburg, via small boats supplied by the French. The ships are carrying both French and American soldiers to Williamsburg now, moving the entire army to the Virginias. That movement started on the 18th, Sept.

As it now stands, Corny is by himself and the British fleet has departed, leaving him no hope for rescue, at least not at the moment...

Also, on the 17th, it appears that both Washington, and Rochambeau met with Adm. de Grasse, aboard his flagship, the Ville de Paris. As best as we can tell, the good Admiral has yet to set his foot on land in North America. Seems he must be a tart of a salt that only trusts the sea under his foot, aye.....? But where would we be without that man and his fleet and his 3000 soldiers?

Ah, tis made the men happy a heart, for sure. The men in the camps are delighted to have a momentary rest, knowing that all is good in the world... the foods and siege guns have arrived here-abouts with the fleet of Adm. de Barris, and the Adm. de Grasse has run off the British Fleet. Now all we must needs to do is to keep to the southward and kick the bony arse of Corny........ah, the joy of it all. The talks about the campfires are animated, with joking, and playfulness....but under the eyes, there is steel.........

The Reville's continue to come early, and the army continues to march. We rest as we can, and try to spare the equipment, while all the while keeping it in good working order. Our minds are in Yorktown, our hearts are with our family and our feet are here, under us....... Tis, the drovers that must be at the job all of the day. They must kEep the caRriages in good order, and tend to the animals as well. Seems that they hardly rest at all, sometimes tis' easy just to be a marching soldier, with no responsibility but to put one foot in front of the other..... all day.

The dispatchers continue their feverish activity as I write this. They are coming and going, all day, all night. Tis a frightful pace it seems, all the coming and going, the trading for fresh horse, the men dashing about....the lamps and the fires low, the camps all a murmur....

We have heard that on the 21st, the last of the French troops left Annapolis, by ship. But many are still taking the overland route, we understand that some 1,500 horses, 800 men and some 220 or so wagons are on the overland trek.

We have just heard a report that Cornwallis tried to break out of the trap that seems to be encircling him and his Army....that happened on the 22nd, some 6 days ago. He tried to force the French Blockade, but failed. Perhaps we shall learn more of that manuveur, shortly, and I shall report as best I can.....we now nothing of that attempt but rumor.

And we are now hearing, just today, that the French and Ameican troops are dis-embarking from the ships, at Archer's Hope, at the mouth of College Creek, near Williamsburg. It has taken some two days for that to be accomplished. We think we must have some 16,000 troops all together now. Oh Corny, you will soon wish you were back in England and never heard of the Americas......!

As we all gather as much rumor, or truth, as we can, we are preparing to make a move against the British stronghold at the Village of York.

The good Generals Washington and Rochambeau have led us here, to the siege positions we now occupy. We have spent this day moving into seige position about the Town, and have had our first opportunity to see the defensive works, and the British forces there. The American Army is forming on the right, known as the position of honor. Tis been a long and arduos day, with much work, heavy work, having to be done. We are all tuckered but running on false energy it seems, with the excitement of the moment keeping our eyes open and out feet tapping. We now can see the forces all about and I shall endeavor, on the morow, to identify all the units that are assembled here. Tis very many I can tell you. Tis' the first time, perhaps since Saratoga, almost four years ago to the day, that we have seen overwhelming force on OUR side...... till the morrow.....soonest.

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

September 17, 2006

March Date, Sunday, Sept. 17th

Homestead Headquarters

Greetings all Friends and Patriots.......

Again, tis another tardy missive to be dispatched to you. We are over busy with moving along to the southward and now have a respite in the Town of Annapolis, in the Marylands. Tis a joy but to set a spell and try to catch up on all rumor and fact. The encryption code device has been giving us a bit of madness in this last week, but perhaps all is well now.

If memory serves, when last we wrote, on or about the 9th Sept., we had just heard of that turncoat bastard, Arnold, and his depredations at the Port of New London, and the Fort at Groton. The army has grumbled for some miles and days over that horrible event. The initial outrage has slowly, ever so slowly, turned to a seething rage, boiling just beneath the surface of the countinence of the men. It is talked of in low terms, and hateful language. Most of that not to be repeated here, lest it suffice, that action will not go un-answered.

So, while that event has steeled our resolve, we must needs to keep our feet movng to the southward, and thus we do. More dispatches have arrived in the camps, some we have heard of, some filled with rumor, some filled with dread, but southwards we go.

On or about Sept 6th, Washington arrived at Head of Elk, followed by the American Army, with the French army arriving two days later, on the 8th. Some 2,000 of the troops, half American, half French, embarked on boats there and were to be headed to Williamsburg. We are told that Lauzon's infantry, and companies of Chasseurs and Grenadiers took the water passage, with the rest of the army striking onward to Baltimore.

On the 9th Sept., the good Generals moved off to Washington's home at Mt. Vernon. Much to our surprise, we have learned that is not yet put to the torch. The General has not been there in some 7 years. General Rochambeau is a day behind Washington, and no doubt they will council there. We are informed (fact or fiction?), that the Generals have left Mt. Vernon, to continue on southward. All forces of the Universe seem to be converging in, on, or near the Chesapeake.

Apparently, on the 10th, de Barras arrived at Williamsburg, from Newport, with the siege guns and the food. Bless the food and ammo.........we would be naught without either. Also, the soldiers from Head of Elk, were told to wait at Annapolis, awaiting until the outcome of the de Grasse and Graves battle coud be determined

Now it seems that there are two British fleet operating in the area, leading to some confusuion in the telling about the camp fires. It seems that de Grasse, on Sept 12th established a blockade of the Chesapeake, that the fleet under British Admiral Graves did not, could not, or would not challenge. That was on the 13th Sept. It seems that de Grasse and Graves had been in a stalemated battle formation some days before that. Oh, the versions of this story are so many....... of course, the Generals were in a bit of a dither, not knowing just what was happening at seaward. Perhaps the entire army was in flux, as well, with the wondering of it all. None-the-less, tis' confirmed that the good Generals left Mt. Vernon, on this day, to continue their way to the southwards.

We have learned that the good Generals have reached the peninsula, just two days ago, on the 15th. We have also learned the de Grasse, and the fleet have also returned after turning back the British fleet.

The clouds are many, the storm gathers force, the winds are blowing.... the evening damps are falling as the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer, tis a chill coming in the air... who shall have the favor? Until again, soonest.....

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

September 09, 2006

March Date, Saturday, Sept. 9, Day 85

Homestead Headquarters, Historic Overview

Greetings Friends......

Please excuse the tardy posts. I am trying my best to gather all the information that I can, from about the camps, and the fires, and to pass them along to you. It has been a trial, trying to put all of this in proper order, not only for you, but for ourselves. The stories are circulating like wildfire here, the evening fires are full of story and rumor, fact and perhaps not fact.....some wishful thinking perhaps has also been making a mark.

Tis hard, with the communications and messages going to and fro with much alacrity, to try to keep sense and order of it all. I can tell you that the last week has just been so fitful, and surprising, that I can barely contain myself. Let me put to paper all that I know, or have at least heard about the camps and the fires, thus...... I trust that these missives are actually getting to you all.

There is some concern that maybe you have not received all that has been disclosed, but the communication often takes so long. It all depends on the riders, and the sloops of sea, and of the stragglers in the camps, and of the reports from the spies. Indeed, we have spies, as does the enemy. You may recall Nathan Hale, the poor lad executed so severely, and quickly, by the British in New York. You may also recall that we did the same to Major Andre, just a year ago now, when we found him in league with Arnold, that bloody treacherous bastard....

I think, when last I wrote, (I have but only time to write one of these missives at a time, without the luxury of making a copy, so my poor memory will have to suffice, for the moment), that we were approaching Philadelphia.....it was about to be September, if memory serves correctly, the last I wrote was the last of August, just a day after my birthday..... I was able to celebrate that occasion, with the help of my tent mates, who managed to get a double, maybe triple rum ration, that day....my spirit still trembles at the memory of the morning following..... but we were able to keep walking, and the foul weather gave me a reprieve, of sorts......so, let me continue, enough of my life, tis the coming events that are so fretful....

We had learned that the French Admiral de Barras had left Newport, with the siege guns and much food and provisions, on Aug. 31 or there abouts, headed for the Chesapeake, or so it is reported.....and about the same time, the British Admiral Hood left New York to try to perhaps cause some havoc, and mischief, among the French, either in the Atlantic, or at Chesapeake. The players in this game or more than I can fathom, almost.

The army was at Trenton at that time, very close to Philadelphia, and still progressing southwards......

About the 2nd of September, we learned that the Americans passed through Philadelphia, but not without some theatre, and major upheaval. The Americans soldiers, it seems, were very distressed about the lack of pay and made it known, apparently, in no uncertain terms. The details that have come to this camp are fleeting and without color, at best. We are aware, of course, that the American currency is useles, at the momnent... all paper, no back-up, no value... even the merchants would rather sell to the British, to get the Sterling rather than the American paper. But, the rumor is that Robert Morris, Superintendent of Finances for the Continental Congress, was able to convince Gen. Rochambeau to 'lend' to the Congress so that the Soldiers might be paid. We saw much activity in Officer's Country that day, tis must have been what it was all about. We gather that the agreement must have been made, the rumor saying that Rochambeau advanced the Americans some $20,000, to pay the troops. I guess the troops were then satisfied as the Americans then continued on.

We have also learned that on, September 5th, (tis when we got the word, so, it probably happened a couple of days before, maybe on the 2nd) or there abouts, the French Admiral de Grasse disembarked some 4,800 troops from his fleet, into the Virginias, under the command of the French General Saint-Simon....these troops, we are led to believe, (or so the rumor goes) will be with Gen. Lafayette, and General Wayne...thank Gawd for the French, what would we be about, without their help? Still sitting in New York, I suppose, counting the British heads about that Town.

We have also learned that the additional French troops are thus...... about 1,800 infantry that are the normal complement of the infantry provided to help defend the ships, or de Grasses own, also....the Regiment d"Agenais, with two regimetns under the Comte d'Autichamp... the Regiment de Dillon of mostly Irish volunteers, under Count Arthur Dillon....the Regiment de Gatinais under Marquis de Rostaing.......the Regiment de Touraine under Vicomte de Pondeux....and finally, two companies of the Regiment d'artillarie de Metz...we understand that Saint-simon has placed his command under General Lafayette, temporarily....

....ah, just a moment.....another rumor has made it's way to my tent, via my tent mates.... bless these lads for the rum and the news. Clinton, in New York, is now sure that we are marching to the Virginias, and has sent a missive to Corny, indicating that fact... I may have told you this earlier.

Our own line of march passed through Philadelpis on Sept 3rd and 4th. We are with the French, you see, just a very small detachment of Light Infantry, being used as guides and messengers. Tis how it is that I am able to relay to you what we think, or see, or hear, what is about. We act as a go between for Washington and Rochambeau..... of course we seem to only find all of this information some days after it occurs....we are are not privy to the inner council.

In any event, the French, in two divisions, marched through Philadelphia on the 3rd and 4th, in crisp Uniform and Style. Much more resplendent than the Americans, and just as determined.

Hmmmm, just a day later, on the 5th, or there about, it seems (how can all of this be going on, almost at the same time, tis hard to fathom of to even keep straight in our minds), the army reached Chester. Washington and Rochambeau received news that day that the British fleet had not encountered de Grasse, and had gone on to New York. Tis made the Generals very happy ...as well as the entire army, indeed!

It now being Sept. 9th, we have also heard that Hood had returned, from New York, to the Chesapeake, immediatley, to engage de Grasse. For once, in all history of the sea, it seems that the French Navy was equal to the task. I must say, we had not much faith in the French Navy being able to fight with the British, tis had not done so with much success in the past. But this day, the Sun and the Gods must be smiling upon us. The French, outnumbering the British, have inflicted damge on the British fleet, and sent them back to New York..... the rumors say this happened on the 5th Sept. The battle, apparently, took place off the Chesapeake Capes.......and, with the good luck continuing, the fleet of de Barras was not involved and seems safe, yet....ah, the guns and the food, still on the way...

General Wasington reached Head of Elk, on the 6th, we are told, he being a bit ahead of the army. We now hear that Washington, and Rochambeau, a day behind Wshington, have left camps and are going to Mt. Vernon. We are told that Washington has not been home in some seven years, or since he took comand of the Army, in 1775, at Cambridge........tis seems so long, long ago.....bless the man, bless them both....

........another alarm in the camp, tis a moment, I beg...

Oh, Gawd-damm it, gawd-damn it......tis that bastard Arnold. Was I not just mentioning his name but a few moments ago? Tis must be a curse to speak his name as he seems to appear whenever tis done... it seems, just a few days ago, the bloody bastard turncoat was in charge of a small British fleet off the Connecticut Coast. In fact, he sailed into his old hometown of the Port of New London....the reports are not clear, and so emotional, that the entire army is in uproar....we cannot believe what we have heard, we refuse to believe what we have heard, it just can't be true.......the story is thus.......the British were hard pressed to stamp out was was thought to be a piracy network in New London, probaly American privateers hoping to do their duty, and make a profit. Well, Arnold has burned the Town of New London to the ground......to the gawd-damn ground, every building in the Town...... to the ground.

But that pales to the extreme when I tell you the rest....gawd-damn it.. Across from New London, in the Town of Groton, is the local militia Fort Griswold. Of course, the Militia had been called out when the fleet was noticed in the morning... as New London was burning, a futile defense was attemped, but being vastly outnumbered the militia quickly moved across the river to the safety of the Fort. The British force, overwhelming in numbers, turned its attention to the Fort, and asked the Commander, Ledyard, to surrender. He refused........and a day of black infamy insued, for both the Americans and the British. I can barely control myself, the bastards.....

A battle, of course, with the British forcing the Fort. The defense was galant, if under-manned. A third or more of the Militia were wounded in the conflict, and finally the Fort was surrendered. As Ledyard turned his sword to his British commander counterpart, the man took the sword and ran it through the heart and soul of Ledyard, killing him on the spot. The British troops then bayonetted the remaining wounded, killing almost all of them, others were captured and probably taken to the infamous Prison ships in New York. Tis hard to believe that the British would be so cruel....tis not a day that the British will remember with honor, but t'will be a day that we will remember, forever... forever.......

We can only wait, and pray, for the chance to do the same.....beware Corny, we are coming after your ass and you better put on a steel coat......as for you, Arnold, tis best you never put your feet on American ground, ever again, you pig sucking son-of-a-bitchin' traiterous turncoat. Tis just what we needed to inspire the troops to kill the friggin' lot of you.....

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

September 07, 2006

1781, March Date, thursday, Sept. 7th, Day

Historic Overview

Greetings Friends........

I have but only a few moments to tell you of what we are. Tis been a gruelling week since last I wrote to you. We have passed some point that no longer considers an attack at New York Town. We moved into Pennsylvania the day after I last wrote to you, and have much intelligence, laced with rumor......hmmmm, perhaps it is rumor laced with intelligence, to share with you all. No matter, tis one thing seems to be the truth, we are marching on a southward track, no matter what our destination may be.

Our spy network has been abuzz with information, right or wrong, but these are some of the stories here in the Camps. Oh yes, the camps are rife with, story, adventure, danger, rumors and some small fact. It seems, if the information is correct, that the British Commander in New York, Gen. Clinton, has deduced that we are going to Yorktown. In fact, he has sent a missive to Corny, at Yorktown, telling him that we are heading toward him, but, that he should not worry as the British Fleet will be on hand shortly, to take him out of danger. Clinton is also sending some reinforcements as well, to buck-up the British spirit. Meanwhile, we march on........

On the 25th of August, or thereabouts, maybe later, de Barras left Newport, Rhode Island, and took the French Siege guns with him, heading for the Chesapeake. He also has ships loaded to the gunnels, we hear, with food stuffs. He had eight ships of the line, four frigates and six transports in his fleet. On that day we were in Pompton, New Jersey, marching on........

A fortnight or so ago, as previously reported to you, the British Admiral Hood, had gone to find the French fleet, and de Grasse, in the Chesapeake, but the French were not there. Hood then continued on to New York. That was about August 26th. The army was in Whippany, marching on.......

General Washington learned of this activity on the 27th, Aug. The army was at Liberty Corner, and marching southwards.... On the same day, Washington and Rochambeau learned that Adm. Hood ( a very rapid turn around indeed for the fleet, perhaops it was a day later)was now leaving New York with his fleet, and is acccmpanied by Admiral Graves and his small squadron of ships, as well...seems the sea pot may be stating to boil anytime now......we are still moving to the south....

On 28th August, we understand that Clinton learned of Adm. de Barras's departure from Newport, as well as the fact that the French/American Army was now passing toward Trenton......some of the dates are a bit mixed up in my mind and in the story telling in the camps, about the fires. I know the timing is close but perhaps not truly accurate, we could be hearing the stories as changed in the telling. Maybe the fleets are on the move a bit earlier than we know, or perhaps a day or so later....... however, we do know this, the fleets are on the move....as are we, going to the south......

The fleets continue to sail, the army continues to march, to what magnificient end, we know not.....

On August 30th, or thereabouts, we learn that Admiral de Grasse has finally anchored at the Chesapeake. He has some 28 ships at his command and is anchored in a line from Cape Henry, and extending across the mouth of the Chesapeake, at least that is the rumor. Oh joy, oh joy, the camp is alive with a spirit as yet unseen. The men are alive with eagerness, tis' hard to hold them in line, on the march, they are eager horses at the bit, seems to me.... the spirit is indeed racing trough the troops.....

On the 31st of August, much more activity is noticed in Officer Country, but it now seems that the rumors come into the camps shortly after the messages, and we can only hope, only wish, hopefully believe that what we we are hearing, is truth..... Gawd, the excitement of the moment is almost overwhelming, as we sit about the fires, scheming our battle plans, courting our courage, hoping for victory, to strike at those damned lobster backs, hard... also this day we know that Washington and Rochambeau have decided to go to Head-of-Elk, in Penns Colony. More news of the British, it seems that Cornwallis has sent a note to Clinton, informing him of the French fleet arrival in the Chesapeake. Gawd, would we just love to see the look on both of the bastards faces now!.......and we march on, southward....

The camp is being called to asssembly, will write again soonest as we are expecting to take a rest in Philadelphia, shortly, perhaps for a day or so........

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

September 01, 2006

1781, March Date, Friday, Sept. 1, Day 77

Greetings all, Friends...

Please excuse the delay in this missive to you. You see, all has changed so very much in the days since last I wrote. In fact, dispatches were not sent for some very important reasons, as you shall soon learn. The secrecy of the thing is all consuming.

When last we spoke, I was telling you that we had just crossed the Hudson. Most of us thought that perhaps we would be setting up for an attack against the British, here in New York. Even more so, after we learned that the Generals Washington and Rochambeau had visited the Fort at West Point.... down here in the rank and file, we thought it t'would be headquarters for the much awaited action. Messengers were to be seen, coming and going, with much alacrity. Officer's Country had become a beehive of activity, with not much word filtering down to the troops..... until now that is.

Of course, by now, even we were aware that something 'else' must have been brewing for some time now, but we know not how long. For weeks the French army had marched from Newport/Providence, RI, through Connecticut, and into New York. The French met up with General Washington and the Continentals, as well as a large force of Militia, at New Castle, NY. You may recall that we camped in that vicinity for some six weeks before moving out to take a place in the line, against the British positions at the Town of New York. At least that is what WE thought was going on......

But every day brought more marching........yet not all added up just quite right. You may remember, the Bakers were sent about to build the bread ovens about New York town, for the provisionong of the troops. Then there was the rumor that General Washington had sent a mesage to Admiral de Barras, at Newport, for him to join with Admiral de Grasse, at the Chesapeake. We thought that perhaps de Barras, de Grasse, Wayne and Lafayette would give Corny (Gen. Cornwallis) a good spot of trouble, in the Virginias, while we would attack Clinton, here in New York. You may also recall that the Map makers, and some Engineers, under Duportail, had been sent South? Much to our consternation......Geez, the Brits were here, in New York, weren't they? Well, that was then, some days ago..

On the 28th of August, Washington sent a strong force of Light Infantry toward Staten Island, however not much came of it. That same force was then sent to Sandy Hook, but again not much came of it.... that was two days ago, on the 30th of August. As we look back on all of that now, we now know that was a 'feint'. Tis' only wanting the British to think that we would attack them there.

But, all that time, the army (we) were marching AWAY from New York. We went through, and camped at Pompton, then Whippany, then at Bullion's Tavern, and then at Somerset Court House. Yesterday we were at Princeton, and today will be Trenton, all in the Jerseys. We gather that this march will take us through Philadelphia in the next day or so, at the General's command. For sure, New York is no longer the center of our attention.

We now think, as the rumor has finally come through the army, that Admiral de Barras, has taken the SEIGE guns, from Newport to the south, we suspect, going to the Chesapeake. Indeed, that is where he was asked to go. We never saw the seige guns about New York, now we know why. And we have yet to stop marching, more and more to the south, and it is now certain, that we shall meet with the Seige guns about the Virginias, probably at wherever Corny is encamped. That will probably be either Yorktown or Gloucester, we will not know for any certainlty until we get there.

This has all been a secret, even some of the Officers were not aware of the plan that Washington and Rochambeau had come up with. It now looks like we shall take the Gawd awful, long, hot walk, for some hundreds of miles, to the Virginias, here in the heat of the waning summer. I can't believe that they think we are able to do this....... not only do they think we can do it, they are convinced of it.

The army is absolutely aglow with anticipation. The length of the march, the suspected fruit at the end, has us firm in step and molded with purpose. Tis anything to get us on the move, to get us into the fight, any fight....my God, how long we have been awaiting.....

So, here we have it..... the French navy, with fleets under the Command of Admirals de Grasse and De Barrasapparently are on the way to the Chesapeake, as I write. The army, too, is on the way, also in that direction. Tis more activity in Officers Country, and dispatches are coming and going......will write more as we learn the truth of the matter......soonest.

Oh, just one more note, a quick word from the camp.....it seems our spys have noted that a British fleet, of 14 war ships, under Admiral Hood, had, a fortnight ago, gone to the Chesapeake, to engage Admiral de Grasse, and the French fleet. It seems he found nothing and has headed North to New york..... where can de Grasse be?

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

August 27, 2006

1781, March Date, Sunday, Aug. 26th, Day 71

From Homestead Headquarters

Greetings all, I wish you all the joy of the day. Tis been a tryin' time of late, what with trying to get the entire Army across the North River. It has taken two days, since last I wrote to you, to get the French Army across, and the Americans were at it for about 6 days, so has been said.

As I said earlier, both Generals Washington, and Rochambeau, took a vist to West Point, and we all figure that is where the headquarters will be for the action against the Brits, here in New York. We are sure that Clinton knows what we are about and must be making plans to deal with us, shortly. I suspect he thinks that the British Army and Fleet, can handle any eventuallity here in New York. He knows not that the French Admiral De Grasse has posted his fleet in the Chesapeake.

We were camping in Haverstraw and New Antrim the last couple of days, getting ready for what we know not. The General Rochambeau seems to have takin' lodging at John Suffern's New Antrim tavern.

Tis confusin' when we don't really know here we are going. Perhaps we will just be laying about the Town of New York and start the long awaited seige. But, we still see no siege guns, and Duportail, as I recall, spoke ill of the idea of trying to accomplish a siege here.... we are a bit flumoxed at the moment. Hmmmm, I was wondering, if De Barras took the seige guns from Newport, with him to the Chesapeake..........No, that can't be. Why would the Generals march an Army, in the heat of the summer, that far?? But we see no siege guns here...?? Even I can see that. Of course, we are but the Soldiers, not the decision makers.

But, a bit of real goods news has just come through the Camp. It seems that General Washington ordered the Light Companies into action, yesterday. They moved in a heavy force from Kakiat, NY to Paramus, NJ. We think that perhaps we might be making an attack at Staten Island. The force later on moved to Sandy Hook, seems like a feint to me, as we have no Fleet to connect with there. What can be going on in the mind of the good Generals?

At the same time, the American baggage train was moving from Kakiat, NY to New Antrim, NY, and was being escorted by a Regiment from Rhode Island. We have just found out which American forces are moving with Washington. It seems that there are some 2,500 troops made up of the following.......... two Regiments from the New Jersey Continentals, the First New York Continentals, Colonol Hazen's Regiment of Canadians, the Rhode Island Continentals under the command of Colonel Ulney, Colonel Lambs Regiment of New York Artillary, and finally, Colonel Scammel's Light Troops from New Hampshire....

We have moved on to Pompton today and look forward to moving on to Whippany, NJ on the morrow.....

The troops are restless, still hoping to tangle with the Brits here in New York, but tis now difficult to see just what the Generals have in store for us.... as always, it seems to take so long for word to get about the camps as well as to the far-flung units spotted here and there. We have not heard much from the Virginias in a week or so, now. We know not what transpires there..... of course, we hope that the French Admirals De Barras and De Grasse, along with the Troops of Wayne and Lafayette, can make short work of Corny. (Gen. Cornwallis, of course) But even so, it seems that Corny and his troops, by my count, outnumber all of them, and Clinton out-numbers us here, as well. It seems to be that way everywhere. Out-numbered both here and in the Virginia's, so, what to do....???

Most of our canvas seems to be dry again, and the horse teams are fresh and seemingly well fed. The Army? Well, the Army is anxious, again the not-knowing what shall be next..... perhaps we will know on the morrow. We3 trust the commanders but we still are a-wonderin', what, where, when...???

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

August 24, 2006

1781, March Date, Thursday, Aug. 24, day 69

Greetings friends, from Homestead Headquarters.......

It has been days of work, march, work, march, work, march..... When last I had the time to write to you, we were just leaving camp, in Philipsburg, NY, some days ago. The Americans went one way...and we, with the French, went in another direction, to New Castle. We gather it is to form a strike against the British here in New York.

We have spent the last two days camped near Verplank, along the North River. The march has been steady going, after the first day of very heavy rains. The Troop is in high spirits, as we move along. the talk among the men is high spirited, awaiing the word for some action against the British.

Some more word has been coming down out of Officer Country, not official of course, but it seems that word had gone back to Newport, to Admiral de Barras, to set sail from Newport, and to go to the Chesapeake to join up with Admiral de Grasse, there. Looks like the French are pretty serious about getting Corny (Gen. Cornwallis) down there. We hope that is as it shall be, so that they can then come back to New York and help us with the action here. With the combined French fleet, and the combined Amewrican/French army, it sems we would be a fair match against Gn. Clinton here.

But a more interesting piece of news is that the map makers have been sent south, by General Washington. None of us has any idea why... south? My goodness, what must that mean? I would think we need the map makers here, and the engineers, to help with the New York seige. Seems they left some days ago, but we are just now hearing about it, again, of course, unofficially. While the 'word' does semto travel through the Army, it is never 'official', all rumors at best. But the rumors, as any soldier can tell you, are usually accurate, we just can't seem to make head nor tails of all that we are hearing, we are just moving about New York. There is no doubt the the Brits know exactly what we are up to. they would have to be asleep, or dear, to miss the fact that the entire combined army is on the move. I suspect they are still quite confident of their defenses. For sure we have yet to be able to breach their line, anywhere. The Americans have started to cross the North River, some days ago, on the 20th., landing at Stony Point, the place of that famous, American, night time bayonet attack, some years ago. T'was that Mad Anthony Wayne leading that attack , in revenge for the similar British, under 'no flint' Grey, in Pennsylvania. The Americans are still crossing over, and have been for some days now.

We heard that yesterday, on the 23rd August, both Washington and Rochambeau visited the fortress at West Pint. We thinks that perhaps it will become the new headquarters in the action about the Town of New York. We have started to cross the great river, mostly in two large ferry boats, and a fine and small, varied fleet of flat boats and sailing craft......but once across, then what?

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

August 20, 2006

March Date, Friday, August 18th, Day 63

Greetings Friends, I wish you all the joy of the day.

When last I wrote you, seems only mnutes ago, but I know it was days ago, there was something afoot in the Camps. Indeed, the Generals Washington and Rochambeau had received a communication from via Newport, from Admiral De Grasse, in the Carribean, stating he would be in the Chesapeake in Mid-August. The Camp has been a bee-hive of activity since that moment. A dispatch was sent back to the French at Newport, I supose, as a messenger left the camp on the fly.....also, Duportail ( you remember, he was the one that suggested we could not hold a seige against the British, in this place ) was also sent out of the camp, on another apparent mission of some sort, but we know not where he is going, either. All seems very secret......

There was much commotion in Officer Country, with a lot of coming and going of dispatches and dispatchers, horses, wagons and much rank all about. Tis seems we can only wonder what tis all about. The Company Officers apparently are also not in the know, or if they are, they are being very quiet. But tis for sure, we will not be here much longer, methinks.

Indeed, as I state this, the Order has just come down to prepare to strike the Camp, and be ready to move on the morrow! Oh Gawd! Tis early in the day yet and we have much to do. The tents to be struck, the wagons loaded, the baggage train to be in place, the artillary to be prepared. All personal gear to be attended to, cartriges boxes filled, uniform and acoutrements to be inplace, and ready to go. This camp is but a blur of activity, the men all about, shouting, singing, happy, and yelling to the heavens. Tis finally something to do, and do we must. The Orders indicate that we will be moving from here early in the morning. We all have so much to do, to get ready. The Orders also seem to indicate that we will be going to the North a bit, toward the Hudson. Oh joy, oh joy, the fight looms near......

Further information coming down also indicates that all the French, some 5000 in all, will be on the move as well, but not all of the Americans. Hmmmmmm, this is a bit confusing......? It is starting to look like a lot of the Continentals, and the local Militia, all under the command of General Heath will be staying. Huh..? We can only guess that we will be doing a pincer movement, or something, against the British here in New York, somehow. I guess if the troops that are staying, can mount a front from this direction, then we can do so from ta' other, and squeeze the Brits from two sides. Also, I now remember that the bakers have left the Camp with orders to build some bread ovens about the line around New York, so, it looks like a New York fight to us. Finally.......

Then, of course, it seems that Lafayette and Wayne, with Admiral De Grasse in the Chesapeake, will be able to be a hornet in the British nest. This means we will be engaging our foe on two fronts, at last. So, as it now seems that the French really are going to help us, at least in the short term, we can make a difference here. We can engage with the enemy both in New York, and in the Virginias. I can only pray we are strong enough to carry the fight in both places...At last, we make a move to strike the British..... oh, how long we have waited. Sharpen your Bayonets lads, tis some Brit blood to be flowing soon.... on to New York !

Will write more as soon as I get a moment....light the candle Momma, and get the Good Book out........say some words for us.

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

August 19, 2006

March Date, Saturday, August 19, Day 64

Historical Overview from Homestread Headquarters..

AUGUST 19, 1781

Greetings Friends

The Armies have left camp at Philipsburg, this day. Both the American and French Armies have mobilized and are on the move. Those of us with the French are heading back toward North Castle, (now Mt. Kisco) where we had camped the day before arriving at Philipsburg, some six weeks ago.

The Americans, or I should say, perhaps, half of them, have also mobilized and headed out of camp. A large remainder, along with the local militias, are being left behind, with General Heath in command. As we spoke of in my last dispatch to you, on the yesterday, maybe we are to be attacking the Brits, in New York, along two fronts, perhaps to divide and conquer?

T'was a day of many extremes. The reville' came earlier than usual, of course, it is now back to the road. Tis early and tis a foggy morning, heavy dew having fallen in the overnight. The tents were struck and stowed, the baggage train ordered up, the draft animals fed and watered early, certainly before the troops.

All the troops had to be accounted for before we began, rolls are called, company reports handed up, the Colors unfurled, the Musicians to strike the musick.......The Platoons, then the Companies, then the Regiments all eventually forming in line of march, and the word given.........'To the Front, March',

We are told that the French line of march will be different than the American line of March. Apparently, the Americans are heading for Verplank, via a route along the North (Hudson) River, perhaps for a crossing, We know not as nothing has been told to us........ the French line of march is along familiar ground, as I said.... we are going back to North Castle, where once we camped some fortnights ago... the French line of March is in two parts, with about half of the French troops traveling a different road but in the same general direction.

Also, on this day, early this morning, we heard that Louis-Alexander Berthier, set out from Pine's Bridge, with a column of field artillary (no seige guns in sight, why?). His column is mostly drawn by oxen, those huge, lumbering beasts of muscle, that take the army everywhere, it seems. This Column of artillary is being escorted by the French Hussar Cavalry of Lauzun's Legion.

Tis almighty Gawd heavy rain this late day and evening, and we hope to try to rest and be dry, perhaps will be better on the morrow.......no sign of the enemy....

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

August 16, 2006

March Day, Tuesday, August 15, Day 60

Greetings all, and the joy of the day to you all.

May the grace of our Gods give us the strength in this time. The camp is undone by the word of the messages received yesterday, from Newport.

As I wrote yesterday, the French frigate Concorde, arrived in Newport on the 11th of August, with messages from Admiral De Grasse, for the Generals Rochambeau and Washington. Apparently he, De Grasse, plans on being in North American waters... the Chesapeake, to be exact. It seems he shall arrive, mid to late August, at the Chesapeake, and will stay until mid October, but we know of nothing else planned. He has as his fleet some 28 ships of the line, and some 3000 soldiers. It seems he has ducked into the Chesapeake to perhaps avoid the storm season, and will leave in October for the same reason, and to avoid the northern winter.

Hmmmm, we were sitting about the fire last evening thinking about all of this....that perhaps De Gasse, with Lafayette and Wayne, may be able to keep Corny bottled up in the Virginias, aye? Everybody has some ideas.....Gawd, the fire lit up our eyes and our minds......what to do? We are not sure if any of this is good or bad. If Corny stays in the Virginias, and doesn't come north to New York, will Clinton attack us here? Will Corny be able to fight off Lafayette and Wayne?...and De Grasse too?....... will he be able to defeat them?....

We just don't really have any idea what to do.... guess that is why we are not the Generals......but this is for sure, we now have the French, here in New York and, also soon, in the Virginias.. can this be good, for us, for the country? What do they really want...?

Seems we Americans are now outnumbered by everybody else, there are more British soldiers, and more French soldiers, than there are American soldiers. I would be remiss if I did not say that we are starting to feel just a bit uneasy.....

We all remember the war of 20 years ago, when the French and the British did their best to carve up the North Americas, seems to this soldier that they may just be planning to do it again.... We are not strong enough, really, to fight either one of them off at this point......tis a throw of the crow, fight one, fight the other, or do we have to fight them both? Tis a damn un-easy moment here, we are straining to look about us and are not sure what we see, friend or foe, friend or foe, friend or foe.....things could get pretty sticky, in a moment.

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

August 15, 2006

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

August 12, 2006

March Date, Thursday, August 10th, Day 55

Greetings Friends

It has been a fortnight or so since last I was able to write to you. My apologies for the long delay, but tis seems to be a symptom of the times. Mostly, it has been quiet here in the camps these last weeks.

As last I reported to you, the good Generals Washington and Rochambeau had, with their retinue, conducted an extensive reconnoiter of the environs about the Town of New York. It was a recconnaisance-in-force, conducted with the help of the Huzzar troops of Luzaun's Legion (Cavalry and dismounted troops and combined American-French Infantry). Now that the operation is complete perhaps I can give you a few more details of that. The reconnaisance was conducted in the Kingsbridge-Morrisania area. A small number of British outposts were taken, but tis all.

I can say it did give excitement to the encamped Armies, as we are just waiting about, really wanting to get on with it (kicking the Brits out of New York) However, the reports indicated that the French and American troops fell to pillaging, a bit. Added to that is the fact that this was but a reconnaisance force, not an Army thrust. The troops broke off, and returned to their respective camps, a bit wiser for the intelligence gathered, but not satisfied with the battle action (tis a soldiers plight, I suppose, to be dissappointed). All of that occured about July 21-23rd.

We also learned that Corny (the Brit Gen. Cornwallis) had moved his troops into Yorktown and Glouster, Virginia. Apparently, the Brits will be taking him off from there and back here to New York. At least, that is the conjecture here in the allied camps about New York. The Brits already outnumber us here in New York, and are so well entrenched that it appears, even from my small point of view, that they are im-movable. What to do if Corny returns here? We, here in the line, have not the slightest idea of what comes next.

The Engineer Corps, has submitted a report, by Duportail, to the Generals Washington and Rochambeau, of the British positions about the Island of Manhattan. According to the latest camp rumors, that report indicated that the allies (French/American) had insufficient strength to conduct a successful seige of the British about the Town of New York. This was on, or about July 27th.

On July 30th, we have heard, General Washington sent a note to Gen. Lafayette, suggesting that he thought that perhaps the allied force was incapable of a seige of New York. That piece of news has set the camps on its ear. What? We can't conduct a seige? What are we doing here? And certainly, how could we possibly conduct a seige without the seige guns? Why aren't they here? For days the camp has been in mild disbelief and incredulity.

We also heard that on Aug. 1st, Genral Washington, realizing the validity of the Duportail report, was now considering an operation in the south. This idea had been ventured by Rochambeau when they both met on July 19th, or so it has been reported in the camps, unofficially of course.

A couple of days ago, Gen. Washington received a note from General Lafayette, indicating that indeed, Corny had moved his troops into the small town of York, in the Virginias.

The Virginia's? Here we are in New York, some hundreds of miles from Virginia. I would think that perhaps the Generals Lafayette and Wayne can give some trouble to Corny as he tries to disembark his troops back to New York, but what are we, here, do to?

Will write again soonest....

I Remain,
At Your SErvice,
Richard Swartwout
Camped, New York
www.marchtoyorktown.org

August 01, 2006

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

July 22, 2006

March Date, Saturday, July 22, Day 36

Campfire stories or intrigue in high places........

Greetings Friends, I give you all the joy of the day. Tis a soup day here, soggy, damp, foggy even, with the sun nowhere in sight. The last number of days have been going by in a rather mind-numbing way. The New England weather makes us pine to be somewhere else, almost anywhere else, in fact. But, we are here, there is no doubting that.

The camp duties have become killingly familiar, take this here, do that there, clean this thing, burn that thing...yes, Sergeant, yes, Sergeant. Dig he latrine, fill the latrine, get firewood....Gawd, the men are but bored out of their minds, but at the same time almost witless about what is to be, or shall be.....

The patrols keep coming and going. We have heard of one piece of news. Apparently, General Clnton, on yesterday, July 20th, has ordered General Cornwallis to keep his Army in Virginia. It has been suggested that Cornwallis should hold a naval station in order that the British fleet could relieve them and perhaps return them to New York. As we look at the maps, it seems that Yorktown, or Portsmouth would be ideal. The rumor is that should that happen, we might attack the Brits here in New York while the Fleet is elsewhere. Oh Lord, perhaps something will happen soon.....

While about the camp fire last evening, the general discussion was about what has got us all here, at this point. The small talk of the soldiers, about a campfire, is a thing that invigorates the mind, gets up the curiosities, and settles friendships. The talk goes on for hours... you know, what about this or that....do you remember when?.... where you there too?.....what do you think will happen now? We only know what has happened of course, not what will happen, but, as I recall, the talk was more about what has happened, and this we are right confident about........of course, tis only soldiers stories,, but some of the lads were there, at other times and places. Let me take a moment to tell you what we have heard...

We know that the French arrived in Newport in May 1780, some 5500 of them. After a period of time, some joint operations were attempted with the Continentals, but most came to naught. It seems there was a distinct lack of workability among the Officers. The French wintered in Newport, and Lauzon, with his Cavalry, wintered in Lebanon, Ct. To the French, it seemed like another Siberia. The good Generals, Washington and Rochambeau, had a couple of meetings over that winter, trying to figure out what to do and how to do it, against the common enemy, the British.

The British, strong in New York, had a very successful Carolina campaign, in 1780. Washington, with about 3500 Continentals, had a ring about New York but was not strong enough to do anything but watch. The French were trapped in Newport. Our friend Lafayette, was harrassing the British in Virginia.

In May 1780, we heard that Clinton, then in the Carolinas, with Cornwallis, captured Charleston. Clinton then returned north, leaving Cornwallis to do what he must do..... to go into the country, bringing the war to the people, while protecting the new British ports of Charleston and Savannah. The Brtish were very strong then, and Cornwallis absolutely routed the Continentals, under Gates, at Camden (you may remember this man, the supposed Hero of Saratoga), in August of 1780, less than a year ago.

Cornwallis seemed unbeatable then, and the Southern American Army was in dissaray. T'was just about then that the almighty God Damn bloody red tide lurched out of control. First, one of his screening forces was well bloodied at King's Mountain (hmmm, seems a fit epitath, if you ask me). Militia, and some Continentals, led by Clarke, Marion, Pickens and Sumter, put a right quick stop to the Brits, then and there. I think that was in October, if I got me story straight. Those fellers continued to harrass the high and mighty until it just seemed to frustrate him.

It got worser and worser for the Brits, after that. General Nathanial Greene was given command of the Southern Army in December, 1780, I think it was. Shortly after that, in January, Morgan kicked the crap out of the Brits at Cowpens, sending the dirty bastard Benaste Tarelton, off the field with his tail between his legs. And Col. Washington and his cavalry, Cousin to his Excellency, was a big help in that, as was the Militia... geez, I wish I'd a been there.....

Cornwallis was fired up now, and tried to catch Greene at the Dan River, but failed, but not by much, sometimes a yard is as good as a rod......they finally had it out at Guilford Courthouse, in May, just two months ago. Apparently Cornwallis held the field, but the losses he sustained in doing so,(we heard that he had to fire into his own lines when hard pressed by the Americans) made him set his sights on some place a little more hospitable.... two months of struggle finally convinced him to move into Virginia, maybe hook up with Clinton in New York, so that they could attack Washington and the Continentals there.....

So, while Washington and Rochambeau were trying to figure out what and when to do something, Cornwallis moved into Petersburg, Virginia. We just found that out a couple of days ago, and we have only been in conjoined camps for about two weeks. Seems Cornwallis got there on May 20, 1781. Things seem to be getting close, if you know what I mean....

I'll bet that makes the Generals stand up and pay attention. Will the Brit Fleet go get Corny and bring him back? We sure hope so cause we would like the opportunity to beat the bloody back of General Clinton.......... of course, tis not our decision, which is why we are sitting around the Campfire.

Lot of commotion around the General's tent this day, seems they are all up and about, with the Engineers and some of the Sappers and Artillery folk. Hmmm, something is in the wind.......

I Remain,
At Your Service,
Richard Swartwout
Camp in New York
For, 'AMTY'
www.marchtoyorktown.com

July 19, 2006

March Day 32, In Camp at Philipsburg, July 18th

Camp scuttlebut, the lay of the land since our arrival here...

The weather is a wee bit oppressive in the Camp, these days. Please excuse this very tardy letter. The setting of camp has been an arduous task and just now we are starting to get some free time for ourselves. The Engineers are out, looking at possible roads, bridges and other potential, and suitable, camp grounds. We have some 9000 combined French and American Troops encamped about the Town of New York. Daily patrols have been set about in the countryside, probing the defenses of the British Forces here. Most of our advances have been well noticed, and blocked by our adversaries, in fact, most successfully so, to our chagrin.

We continue our camp duties, the cleaning of clothes, repair of the carriages, cleaning of the weapons, cleaning and policing of the camp area itself. MIlitary drill is the order of the day, with the lights being unusually trained in field manuvers.

The Artillary has arrived as well, but we notice only cannon, and no seige guns. What can that possibly mean? How do we conduct a seige without the seige guns? Cannon fires in a line, while the seige guns are designed to fire over obstacles (like Fort walls) rather than through them, as cannon try to do. Ah well, tis all in the hand of the Generals, I suspect......

A fortnight ago, shortly after our arrival, we learned that the entire French Army was in Camp at, or near, North Castle (Mt Kisco). This was accomplished by July 3rd. We are pleased that we are all here, with our brethren. We continue to stay with the advance Troops, and the American Liason contingent and the Count Rochambeau, at Odell Homestead.

On July 8th, General Washington reviewed the French Forces encamped near Philipsburg.

On that same day, we learned a bit later, the British Commander at New York, (and Commander in North America) General Clinton, concerned about the large, but not overwhelming French/American Army (9,000 French/American vs 14,000 British, according to reports), asked that General Cornwallis send some 3,000 of his troops to Philadelphia. We understand that General Cornwallis did, in response to this request, move some 3,000 of his troops toward Portsmouth, Virginia.

On the following day, July 9th, the French Officers were invited to observe as the American Army presented arms (a military salute). The co-operation between French and American Forces seems to be easy, with not much lamentation in the Camps. We understand that we will soon, perhaps, be moving together against the enemy, here in New York. The camp is alert to the prospect, and the training is serious. We have heard that the British have been able to wound, and kill, some of our advancing scout patrols. Tis' dangerous business, that. We can only wonder where the first advances shall be made, and by whom....... But we notice that reconnaissance parties are always coming and going, coming and going. The men are in a bit of a dither about the meaning of all this moving about.

Then again, word came, albeit slow, and more by rumor than official decree, that General Clinton had, on July 12th, asked that Cornwallis send his troops to New York. Methinks that perhaps that man is getting a bit of the case of the nerves, or some such....seems they outnumber us already.....

I trust that all is well there, and I look forward to when we can all be together again.......... As suggested a storm is brewing, but tis now a storm of rain, thunder and lighting. I must needs to get about the camp and help the men make sure all is well

Tis all for now, friends. Will write again when time allows....

I Remain,
At Your Service,
Richard Swartwout
Camp somewhere in New York
For, 'AMtY'
www.marchtoyorktown.com