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paign against Cornwallis by beginning a movement against Clinton. The troops were massed above the city, and an effort was made to surprise the upper posts and destroy Delancey's partisan corps. The attempt, although well planned, failed of its immediate purpose, giving Washington opportunity only for an effective reconnoissance of the enemy's positions. But the move was perfectly successful in its real and indirect object. Clinton was alarmed. He began to write to Cornwallis that troops should be returned to New York, and he gave up absolutely the idea of sending more men to Virginia. Having thus convinced Clinton that New York was menaced, Washington then set to work to familiarize skilfully the minds of his allies and of Congress with the idea of a southern campaign. With this end in view, he wrote on August 2d that, if more troops arrived from Virginia, New York would be impracticable, and that the next point was the south. The only contingency, as he set forth, was the all-important one of obtaining naval superiority. August 15th this essential condition gave promise of fulfilment, for on that day definite news arrived that De Grasse with his fleet was on his way to the Chesapeake. Without a moment's hesitation, Washington began to move, and at the same time he sent an urgent letter to the New England governors, demanding troops with an earnestness which he had never surpassed.
In Virginia, meanwhile, during these long midsummer days, while Washington was waiting and
planning, Cornwallis had been going up and down, harrying, burning, and plundering. His cavalry had scattered the legislature, and driven Governor Jefferson in headlong flight over the hills, while property to the value of more than three millions had been destroyed. Lafayette, sent by Washington to maintain the American cause, had been too . weak to act decisively, but he had been true to his general's teaching, and, refusing battle, had hung upon the flanks of the British and harassed and checked them. Joined by Wayne, he had fought an unsuccessful engagement at Green Springs, but brought off his army, and with steady pertinacity followed the enemy to the coast, gathering strength as he moved. Now, when all was at last ready, Washington began to draw his net about Cornwallis, whom he had been keenly watching during the victorious marauding of the summer. On the news of the coming of the French fleet, he wrote to Lafayette to be prepared to join him when he reached Virginia, to retain Wayne, who intended to join Greene, and to stop Cornwallis at all hazards, if he attempted to go southward.
Cornwallis, however, had no intention of moving. He had seen the peril of his position, and had wished to withdraw to Charleston ; but the ministry, highly pleased with his performances, wished him to remain on the Chesapeake, and decisive orders came to him to take a permanent post in that region. Clinton, moreover, was jealous of Cornwallis, and, impressed and deceived by Wash
ington's movements, he not only sent no reinforcements, but detained three thousand Hessians, who had lately arrived. Cornwallis, therefore, had no choice, and with much writing for aid, and some protesting, he obeyed his orders, planted himself at Yorktown and Gloucester, and proceeded to fortify, while Lafayette kept close watch upon him. Cornwallis was a good soldier and a clever man, suffering, as Burgoyne did, from a stupid ministry and a dull and jealous commander-in-chief. Thus hampered and burdened, he was ready to fall a victim to the operations of a really great general, whom his official superiors in England undervalued and despised.
August 17th, as soon as he had set his own machinery in motion, Washington wrote to De Grasse to meet him in the Chesapeake. He was working now more anxiously and earnestly than at any time in the Revolution, not merely because he felt that success depended on the blow, but because he descried a new and alarming danger. He had perceived it in June, and the idea pursued him until all was over, and kept recurring in his letters during this strained and eager summer. To Washington's eyes, watching campaigns and government at home and the politics of Europe abroad, the signs of exhaustion, of mediation, and of coming peace across the Atlantic were plainly visible. If peace should come as things then were, America would get independence, and be shorn of many of her most valuable possessions. The sprawling
British campaign of maraud and plunder, so bad in a military point of view, and about to prove fatal to Cornwallis, would, in case of sudden cessation of hostilities, be capable of the worst construction, Time, therefore, had become of the last importance. The decisive blow must be given at once, and before the slow political movements could come to a head. On July 14th, Washington had his plan mapped out. He wrote in his diary:
“ Matters having now come to a crisis, and a decided plan to be determined on, I was obliged from the shortness of Count De Grasse's promised stay on this coast, the apparent disinclination of their naval officers to force the harbor of New York, and the feeble compliance of the States with my requisitions for men hitherto, and the little prospect of greater exertions in future - to give up all ideas of attacking New York, and instead thereof to remove the French troops and a detachment from the American army to the Head of Elk, to be transported to Virginia for the purpose of coöperating with the force from the West Indies against the troops in that State.”
Like most of Washington's plans, this one was clear-cut and direct, and looks now simple enough, but at the moment it was hedged with almost inconceivable difficulties at every step. The ever-present and ever-growing obstacles at home were there as usual. Appeals to Morris for money were met by the most discouraging responses, and the States seemed more lethargic than ever. Neither men nor
supplies could be obtained; neither transportation nor provision for the march could be promised. Then, too, in addition to all this, came a wholly new set of stumbling-blocks arising among the allies. Everything hinged on the naval force. Washington needed it for a short time only; but for that crucial moment he must have not only superiority but supremacy at sea. Every French ship that could be reached must be in the Chesapeake, and Washington had had too many French fleets slip away from him at the last moment and bring everything to naught to take any chances in this direction. To bring about his naval supremacy required the utmost tact and good management, and that he succeeded is one of the chief triumphs of the campaign. In fact, at the very outset he was threatened in this quarter with a serious defection. De Barras, with the American squadron, was at Boston, and it was essential that he should be united with De Grasse at Yorktown. But De Barras was nettled by the favoritism which had made De Grasse, his junior in service, his superior in command. He determined therefore to take advantage of his orders and sail away to the north to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, and leave De Grasse to fight it out alone. It is a hard thing to beat an opposing army, but it is equally hard to bring human jealousies and ambitions into the narrow path of self-sacrifice and subordination. Alarmed beyond measure at the suggested departure of the Boston squadron, Washington wrote a