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Burning of Norfolk

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

January 2. –Yesterday, at about quarter after three o’clock, the British fleet lying off Norfolk, Virginia, commenced a cannonade against that town, from upwards of one hundred pieces of cannon, and continued till nearly ten o’clock at night, without intermission. It then abated a little, and continued till two this morning. Under cover of their guns, the regulars landed and set fire to the town in several places near the water, though our men strove all in their power to prevent them. The houses being chiefly of wood, took fire immediately, and the fire spread with amazing rapidity. It is now become general, and the whole town. will probably be consumed in a day or two. Expecting that the fire would throw the Americans into confusion, the enemy frequently landed, but were every time repulsed. The burning of the town has made several avenues through which the enemy may now fire with greater effect. The tide is now rising, and we expect, at high water, another cannonade. May it be as ineffectual as the last, for we have not one man killed, and but a few wounded. 1


1 New York Packet, January 25, and Pennsylvania Evening Post, January 16

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