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the wounded, as said, by order of their officers, and set the wage: gon off from the top of the hill, which is long and very steep :: the waggon went a considerable, distance with great force, titl it was suddenly stopt by an apple tree, which gave the faint and bleeding men so terrible a shock, that part of them died instantly. About 15 vessels with effects of the inhabitants retreated up the river, notwithstanding the reduction of the fort ; and four others. remained in the harbour unhurt: a number were burnt by the fire's communicating from the stores when in flames. Sixty dwelling houses and 84 stores were burned, including those on both sides the harbour and in New-London. The burning of the town was intentional, and not accidental. The loss that the Americans sustained in this destruction was very great; for there were large quantities of naval stores, of Europcan goods, of East and West India commodities, and of provisions in the several stores. The British had two commissioned officers and 46 privates killed; eight officers (some of whom are since dead) with 135 non-coinmis.. sioned and privates wounded.
We now proceed to the relation of more capital and decisive operations.
The destination of count de Grasse to a co-operation with the Americans was known by the British ministry time enough for sending orders to Sir George Rodney to counteract him. The count in prosecuting the fixed resolve of the French court to give effectual assistance to the United States, sailed with his whole fleet and a large convoy from Martinico on the 5th of July, and arrive ed at Cape Francois by the middle of the nionth, where he was reinforced by five ships of the line. In the beginning of Augusthe. sailed from the Cape with a prodigious convoy, which having seen out of danger, beside touching at the Havannah for money, he. directed his course for the Chesapeak with 23 sail of the line and several frigates. Admiral Rodney, designing to return to Great Britain, concluded upon sending Sir Samuel Hood with only 14 sail of the line, some frigates, and a fire-ship, to the Chesapeak;: and forwarded dispatches to New York, to acquaint the British commanders with de Grasse's motions and Hood's destination, which however were not received in time. Sir Henry Clinton discovered by intercepted letters, that Rochambeau had marched with the French troops from Rhode-island ; that their battering train and stores for a new siege were left at Providence under little more than a militia guard; and that their fleet remained in Rhode: Island. He upon that planned an expedition against them, and proposed it to Adm. Graves. Graves however sailed on a cruise before Boston. When he returned on the 16th of August, the propo
sal was renewed ; but it was now become necessary to refit one of his ships and to repair others, so that his fleet could not be ready in season. Mr. de Barras sailed with the train and stores from Rhode Island on the 25th ; concluding froin de Grasse's own dispatches, that he must be then at the Chesapeake. De Barras was at liberty to have undertaken any other service; but though he was an older officer than de Grasse, he voluntarily chose to put himself under his command, to insure an object, the attainment of which was of such immense consequence to the allied arms of France and America. On the day of his sailing Sir Samuel Hood arrived off the Chesapeake, where he expected to have met Graves, with the squadron from New-York; but being disappointed, he sent a frigate to that cominander, with the news of his arrival. Had they formed a junction at this period and place, they might have secured the Chesapeake, and have prevented de Grasse's entering it a few days after. Sir Sa. muel having examined the bay, proceeded to the Capes of Dela. ware, and not seeing or hearing any thing of de Grasse, made the best of his way to Sandy-Hook, where he arrived on the 28th. On that day the commanders at New-York received intelligence that Barras had sailed three days before to the Southward. Not- withstanding the hope of intercepting his squadron before it could join de Grasse, must have been a new incentive for exertions, it was three days before Graves could be in readiness to proceed from New York,with five ships of the line and a fifty gun ship, to the Hook, and from thence with the whole fleet under his command to the southward. The day before he sailed, de Grasse arrived in the Chesapeake. On his passage the count fell in with and took a packet from Charleston, having on board lord Rawdon, who was on his return to Great-Britain.
The French admiral, after blocking up York river, took possession of James's, in order to cover the boats of the feet, which were to convey the marquis de St. Simon, with 3300 land forces from the West-Indies, eighteen leagues up the river, to form a junction with Fayette. Graves received no intelligence of the French fleet (nor they of his approach) till they were discovered early in the morning of September the 5th, lying atanchor, to the number of 24 sail of the line, just within Cape Henry, and consequently the mouth of the Chesapeake. The French immediatciy slipped their cables, and turning out from the anchorage ground, de Grasse threw out a signal for the ships severally to form the line as they could come up, without regarding particular stations. The British feet amounted to nineteen ships of the line, and one or more of 50 guns. Through various delays the action did not commence till four o'clock, and then was partial only the van and a part of the British centre being able to come. near enough to engage with effect. De Grasse did notaim so much at aclose engagementasat keeping possession of the Chesapeake, and saving his ships forthatand allitscorrespondent purposes. The absence of 1800 of his seamen and 90 officers, employed in conveying Simons's troops up James river, confirmed him in his avoidance of a hazardous action. Drake, with the rear divison, in consequence of the last tack, becoming the van of the British fleet, treated the French van so roughly that they bore away, while de Grasse, with the centre, edged up in order to cover their retreat. The weighit of the action fell principally upon the British van, the centre coming in for a more moderate share, and -seven sail never being able to get within a proper gun-shot distance of the French ; from these circumstances Drake's division suffered se. verely. The engagementended about sun-set. The slain on board the British amounted to 90, and the wounded to 230. The Shrews. bury and Intrepid bore more than a proportionable share of this loss. Capt. Robinson, of the former lost a leg, and capt. Molloy, of the latter, gained great honor by the gallantry with which he succoured and covered the Shrewsbury when overborne and sura : rounded by the French. . According to the French accounts, no more than 15 ships on each side were engaged, Admiral Graves used all measures to keep up the line during the night, with the design of renewing the action in the norning. But he discover, ed that several ships of the van, and the Montague of the centre, had suffered so much in their masts, that they were in 110 condi. tion for renewing the action till the same were secured. The Terrible was so leaky as to keep all her pumps going, and the Ajax was in little better condition. The hostile fleets continued for five successive days, partly repairing their damages and partly manæuvring in sight of each other; and at times were very near. The British were so mutilated that they had not speed enough to attack the French; and these showed no inclination to renew the action, though they had it often in their power, as they gene. rally maintained the wind of Graves. De Grasse fearing lest by some favorable change of it, the British should get before him to the Chesapeake, returned thither on the 10th of Sept. The Richmond and Iris, of 32 guns each, which had been sent to cut away the buoys of the French anchors, fell into his hands. His putting to sea, and continuing there after fighting the British, was probably the saving of de Barras; for during deGrasse's absence,* the other arrived in the bay with eight French line of bat
* See count de Grafle's letter to the chevalier de Luzerde, Sept. 13, and the Baltimore news-paper of Sept. 18, 1781.
battle ships, beside frigates,transports and victuallers, bringing with him the artillery and stores indispensably necessary for the siege of York-Town. The American officers were in great pain about him, when they heard of Graves's having put to sea, lest he should fall in with the latter, be overpowered, and thereby all their hopes of capturing lord Cornwallis be disappointed. De Barras had taken a wide circuitous course to avoid being intercepted; but that very precaution might have. proved his suin, had not de Grasse left the Chesapeake on the 5th, and engaged and manceuvred with Graves. In the mean time, a fresh. gale and a head sea so increased the damage and danger of the Terrible, that it was found necessary to evacuate and then burn her. This was done on the ilth, and about nine at night, Graves bore up for the Chesapeake; but upon information being brought him; that the French fleet were all anchored within the Cape, so as to block the passage, it was determined by a council of war, to return to New York, where the fleet arrived the 20th of September.
One great object of the British force in: Virginia,.was the establishment of a strong post and place of arms, which by embracing some good harbour, or commanding one of the great navigable rivers, should equally facilitate future hostile operations, whether by sea or land; and which, beside giving an opportunity for distressing the country, if the reduction of it could not be effected, should afford such a station for the British fleets and cruisers, as would render them entirely masters of Chesapeake-bay. But the utility of such a post was necessarily founded on the confidence of a constant naval superiority, as well as of its being defensible by a moderate force on the land side. Upon a personal examination of Portsmouth, lord Cornwallis discovered it to be totally incompetent to the purpose of the intended post. Point-Comfort was thought to be no less defective. York-Town, lying on the river of that name, and on the narrowest part of the peninsula between York and James rivers, where it is about five miles over; and Gloucester Point, on the north and opposite side, and projecting so far into the river, that the distance between both is not much above a mile, afforded. the only remaining choice. They entirely commanded the navigation of the river, which is so deep at this place, as to admit of ships of great sizc and burden; but then they required the whole force that Cornwallis possessed, to render them effective. His lordship gave the preferrence to them, and repaired with his army io August to the peninsula. He applied himself with the utmost diligence to fortify these posts, and to render them equally respectable by land
and water. His whole force amounted to about 7000 excellent troops. Before his lordship had fixed himself and army in these posts, a series of manæuvres had taken place between hiny and the marquis de la Fayette; in which the British general displayed the boldness of enterprise, and the marquis the judgment of age blended with the ardor of youth.' Fayette, under various pretences, sent the Pennsylvania troops to the south side of James river; collected a force in Gloucester county; and made sundry excellent arrangements, which he early communicated to de Grasse by an officer. .
The French and American arinies continued their máreh from the northward, till they arrived at the Head of Elk; within an hour after, they received an express from count de Grasse, with the joyful account of his arrival and situation. This circumstance will appear the more remarkable when we consider the original distance of the parties, as well from the scene of action às from each other, and the various accidents, difficulties and delays, to which they were all liable. The greatest harmony subsisted between Washington and Rochambeau, which lessened some of the difficulties attending their joint operations. The foriner being without a sufficiency of money to supply his troops, applied to the count for a loan, which was instantly granted. In order to hiasten the arrival of the allied troops, de Grasse selected seven vossels drawing the least water, to transport them down Chesapeakebay. But the moment they were ready to sail on this service, the count was obliged to prepare for repelling the British feet. When Mr. de Barras arrived, he sent up those transports he brought with him, to the troops; de Grasse after that added to them as many frigates as he could. * By the 25th of September all the troops were arrived and landed at Williamsburgh, and preparations were made with all possible dispatch, for putting the army in a situation to move down toward York-Town. Geð. Washington and count de Rochambeau, with their suites and other officers, had reached Williamsburgh by hard travelling, on the 14th, eleven days sooner. Here the general found a vessel waiting to convey him to the Capes of Virginia, sent by count de Grasse, as he could not with propriety leave his feet. The commander in chief and the count de Rochambeau, aceonipanied by generals Chastellux, du Portail and Knox, immediately proceeded to visit the count, on board the Ville de Paris. A council was held, and de Grasse detailed his engagements to be in the West-Indies at the latter end of October or beginning of
* Count de Graffe's letter of Sep:ember 13, 1781... - Sori