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without opposition. Thus was the metropolis of Virginia exposed to the insult and depredation of a traitor; her stores and archives plundered, and her governor compelled to seek security by immediate flight. From Richmond, Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe was dispatched to Westham, where he destroyed the only cannon foundry in the state. At this place they also destroyed the military stores, which had, on the alarm caused by Arnold's approach, been removed from Richmond. After two days spent in pillaging public and private property, General Arnold returned to Westover, where on the 10th he re-embarked his men, and descended the river. On his way he landed detachments at Mackay's mill, and at Smithfield, where they destroyed some public stores, and on the 20th, arrived at Portsmouth.
Major-General Steuben, assisted by General Nelson, having collected a considerable force, marched in pursuit of Arnold. But the movements of the latter were too rapid to be interrupted by the tardy advances of undisciplined militia. They were, however, able to prevent similar incursions, and by remaining in the vicinity of Portsmouth, they confined the enemy to their entrenchments. On hearing of the invasion of Virginia by the traitor Arnold, and bis encampment at Portsmouth, General Washington formed a plan to cut off his retreat. He intimated to Count Rochambeau and Admiral D'Estouches, the importance of an immediate movement of the French fleet to the Chesapeake; and at the same time detached the Marquis De la Fayette, with twelve hundred men, to Virginia. The French admiral, not entering fully into the views of Washington, detached only a small part of his squadron, who, from their inability to effect the desired purpose, returned to the fleet at Rhode Island. The situation of Arnold had induced Sir H. Clinton to detach to his aid Major-General Phillips, to whom the command of the British forces in Virginia was committed. The united detachments under Arnold and Phillips formed a body of about three thousand five hundred men. Being able to act on the offensive, General Phillips left one thousand men in Portsmouth, and proceeded with the remainder up James River, for the purpose of completing the destruction of the internal strength and resources of the state. Opposite to Williamsburg he landed, and from thence sent to Yorktown a detachment, who destroyed the naval stores in that place. Re-embarking, they ascended the river to City Point, where James River receives the waters of the Appamattox. At this place Phillips landed, and directed his march to Petersburg, which stands on the bank of the last-mentioned stream, about twelve miles from its junction with the former.
“ Virginia was at this time in a defenceless situation ; all the regular force of the state was under Greene, in South Carolina, and her whole reliance was upon militia, of whom about two thousand were now in the field. This force, half of which was stationed on each side of James River, was under the command of Baron Steuben and General Nelson. Steuben directed the southern divi
sion, on whom the defence of Petersburg devolved, and from which place he was compelled to retreat by the superior force of Phillips. During his stay in Petersburg, General Phillips destroyed the warehouses, and spread terror and devastation, the constant attendants of British invasion, through the town. Leaving Petersburg, he crossed the Appamattox into Chesterfield, and detaching Arnold to Osborne's to destroy the tobacco at that place, he proceeded himself to Chesterfield court-house, where he destroyed the barracks and stores which had been formed there for the accommodation of recruits designed for the southern army. The two divisions of the army uniting again, marched into Manchester, where was renewed the scene of pillage and devastation transacted in Petersburg and Chesterfield. The fortunate arrival of the Marquis De la Fayette at Richmond, with a body of regular troops, saved the metropolis from a similar fate. From Manchester, General Phillips proceeded down the river to Bermuda hundred, opposite City Point, where his fleet remained during his incursion. Here he re-embarked his troops, and fell down the river, while the marquis followed on the north side to watch his movements. He soon learned that Phillips, instead of returning to Portsmouth, had suddenly relanded his army on the south side of the river, one division at Brandon, and the other at City Point, and was on his march to Petersburg. It immediately occurred to the marquis, that a junction with Cornwallis, who was then approaching Virginia, was the object which Phillips had in view, and to prevent which he determined to throw himself, by forced marches, into Petersburg before the arrival of that general. Phillips, however, reached that place first, and Lafayette halting, recrossed the river, and posted himself a few miles below Richmond. The death of General Phillips, soon after his arrival in Petersburg, devolved the command of the army again on General Arnold.
“ Cornwallis was now on his way to Petersburg, and having crossed the Roanoke, he detached Colonel Tarleton to secure the fords of the Meherrin, while Colonel Simcoe, with the rangers, was sent for the same purpose to the Nottoway. The enemy effected his
passage over these rivers without interruption, and on the 20th of May entered Petersburg. In addition to this united force, which seemed fully sufficient to crush every germ of opposition in Virginia, General Leslie had again made his appearance on the coast, with a reinforcement of two regiments and two battalions, part of which was stationed in Portsmouth, under the command of that officer. The Marquis De la Fayette continued near Richmond, with a force of about four thousand men, nearly three-fourths of whom were militia. Steuben, who was on the south side of James River, proceeding with about six hundred levies to reinforce General Greene, was suddenly recalled, and ordered to take a position at the Point of Fork, where were deposited some military stores. General Weedon was requested to collect a force near Fredericksburg, for the purpose of protecting an important manufactory of
arms at Falmouth. In addition to these different forces, General Wayne was on his way to Virginia, with a detachment from the northern army of about nine hundred men. The strength of the enemy was, however, too great for any force Virginia could bring into the field, and her fate, as far as superior numbers and discipline could influence it, seemed now to be decided.
Cornwallis, after resting four days in Petersburg, proceeded down the south side of Appamattox and James rivers, until he came opposite Westover, where he determined to cross. Lafayette, informed of the enemy's movement, left his encampment below Richmond, and retreated behind the Chickahomony River, keeping the direction towards Fredericksburg. The enemy pursued him across that stream, anxious to bring him to battle before his junction with Wayne. Lafayette, however, escaped the impending blow, and hastening across the Pamunky and Mattapony, the confluence of whose streams form York River, he endeavored to gain the road on which Wayne was approaching. The British commander, failing in his project of bringing the marquis to battle, thought proper to change his course, and determined to penetrate with his detachments the interior of the state. Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe was directed to attack Baron Steuben at Point of Fork, (a point of land formed by the junction of the Rivanna and Fluvanna rivers,) and destroy the stores at that place; while Colonel Tarleton advanced to Charlottesville, where the General Assembly was then convened.
“Simcoe succeeded in driving Steuben from his post, and destroying the magazines under his protection ; while Tarleton pushed on to Charlottesville, eager to add to his numerous exploits the capture of a corps of republican legislators. His approach, however, was discovered by the Assembly in time for the members to make their escape. Mr. Jefferson, the governor, on hearing of their approach, sought an asylum in the wilds of the mountain adjacent to his house. After destroying some military stores, which had been deposited in Charlottesville as a place of safety, Tarleton proceeded down the Rivanna, towards the Point of Fork, near to which Cornwallis had arrived with the main body of the army. Uniting with his army the different detachments, the British commander marched to Richmond, which he entered on the 16th of June. Meanwhile Lafayette had formed a junction with Wayne, and was watching with a cautious eye the movements of the foe.
“ After halting a few days in Richmond, Cornwallis resumed his march towards the coast, and on the 25th of the month arrived in Williamsburg, while the marquis, with a force of between four and five thousand men, followed close on his rear. From that place the British commander detached Colonel Simcoe to the Chickahomony, for the purpose of destroying some boats and stores on that river. Colonel Butler, with a detachment from the American camp, was immediately sent against this party, and a severe conflict ensued, in which each side claimed the victory. After remain
ing about a week in Williamsburg, the British commander prepared to cross the river, and selected James City island as the most eligible place to effect a passage. In the mean time, Lafayette and the intrepid General Wayne pressed close on his rear, with a view to strike as soon as the enemy should be weakened by the van having crossed the river. Under a mistaken belief that the separation of the enemy's force had actually taken place, an attack was made on the whole strength of the British army drawn up in order of battle. The approach of night saved the American army, who effected a retreat after losing, in killed, wounded and prisoners, upwards of a hundred men. From a belief that a grand attack was intended on New York by the combined army, Sir H. Clinton had ordered Cornwallis to take a position near Portsmouth or Williamsburg, on tide-water, with a view to facilitate the transportation of his forces to New York, or such aid as might be deemed necessary.
In obedience to this command, Cornwallis selected York and Gloucester as the most eligible situations, where he immediately concentrated his army. The bold and discerning mind of Washington soon formed a plan to strike his lordship while encamped at York—a plan no less wisely devised than successfully executed. The arrival of the French fleet in the Chesapeake, at this juncture, contributed essentially to the completion of his designs. Count De Grasse, on obtaining intelligence from Lafayette of the situation of the enemy, immediately detached four ships of the line to block up York River. Washington, fearful that Cornwallis might attempt to retreat to the south, sent orders to Lafayette to take effective measures to prevent his escape ; and also wrote to Mr. Jefferson, who was still governor of Virginia, urging him to yield every aid which his situation could afford, and which the importance of the object required. On the 14th of September, General Washington arrived in Williamsburg, which was now the head-quarters of Lafayette, and proceeding to Hampton, the plan of siege was concerted with the Count De Grasse. About the 25th of the month the troops of the north arrived, and formed a junction with those under De la Fayette. The whole regular force thus combined, consisted of about twelve thousand men. In addition to these, there was a body of Virginia militia under the command of the brave and patriotic General Nelson. The trenches were opened by the combined forces on the 6th of October, at the distance of six hundred yards from the enemy's works. On the 19th the posts of York and Gloucester were surrendered to the combined forces of America and France.”
The news of the surrender of Cornwallis spread universal joy throughout the country. The termination of the war was evidently near,—a war for constitutional liberty. In its trying scenes, Virginia was among the foremost. When the colonies had gone too far to allow a hope for an honorable submission, she was the first to adopt a perfectly independent constitution—the first to recommend the Declaration of Independence : her great son was the first
among the leaders of the armies of the nation, and her officers and soldiers, whether in the shock of battle, or marching half-clad, ill-fed, and barefooted, amid the snows of the north, through pestilential marshes, and under a burning sun at the far south, evinced a bravery and fortitude unsurpassed.
FROM THE CLOSE OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION TO THE PRESENT TIME.
End of the war.Action of the Virginia Convention upon the Federal Constitution.Origin of the Federal
and Democratic parties.-Opposition to the Alien and Sedition Laws in Virginia.—Report of Mr. Madison thereon.- War of 1812.- Revision of the State Constitution in 1829-30.-Action of Virginia upon the subject of Slavery in, 1831-2.—Policy of the state in reference to Internal Improvement and Education.
Although active military operations were prolonged in various parts of the country, especially at the south, after the capture o Cornwallis's army, it may be said that the war was effectually extinguished in Virginia by that memorable event. ost of the troops which had been raised for the defence of the state were in a short time disbanded, and although the negotiations for peace between the two countries were rather slow in their progress, yet the conviction soon became general, that the signal defeat of the enemy at Yorktown would lead to that happy result. The statesmen of Virginia took an active part in the discussions which followed the treaty of peace, growing out of the acknowledged incompetency of the articles of confederation to bind the states together by ties sufficiently strong. The firmest patriots were alarmed at the symptoms of approaching dissolution, and none were more conspicuous in their efforts to avert that catastrophe than the great man who led the armies of the Republic, and achieved its independence. The Convention which assembled in Richmond, in June, 1788, to ratify the federal constitution, was composed of some of the most illustrious men in the state. The names of Marshall,* Madison,* Monroe, * Mason,t Nicholas,f Henry,s Ran
* Chief-Justice Marshall, and Presidents Madison and Monroe. ** † There were two Masons in the convention : George Mason, a man of transcendent talents, and an active participator in the formation of the first Constitution of Virginia, in 1776 ; and Stevens Thompson Mason, who was also a man of fine abilities, and a Senator in Congress during Washington's administration.
1 There were two gentlemen of the name of Nicholas; Wilson Carey Nicholas, afterwards governor of Virginia, aud George Nicholas, his brother, who removed to Ken. tucky, and was a prominent man in that state. They have an only surviving brother, Judge Philip N. Nicholas, of Richmond.
The celebrated Patrick Henry.