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Affairs in Virginia

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

October 1.—A gentleman who left the American army in Virginia, on the afternoon of the 30th of September, gives the following account of transactions in that quarter: —”On Friday, September 28th, the whole army marched from Williamsburg to within one mile of the enemy’s works at York, and formed the first line of circumvallation without any loss. On the 29th the Americans had a few skirmishes with the enemy, but little damage done on either side. In the night the British evacuated Pigeon Quarter, and three other redoubts, which are so high as to be able to command the town. These were taken possession of on Sunday morning at sunrise, under a heavy cannonade from Yorktown. The enemy next fled from a stockade, when the French grenadiers had advanced within fifteen yards of it, and retreated under cover of their shipping with the loss of ten taken prisoners. It was expected our troops would break ground on the 1st instant. Cornwallis’s forces in York are supposed to be six thousand troops, including refugees, besides one thousand armed negroes. He has possession of the river and Gloucester, strongly fortified and garrisoned by about one thousand men. These are hemmed in by General Weedon with fifteen hundred men, the Duke de Lauzun with his legion, and two thousand mariners from the fleet to prevent any escape that way. One ship of forty-four guns, two frigates, and a twenty-gun packet lie at Burwell’s Landing, in James River; one of fifty, one of forty, two frigates and a storeship in the month of that river; five ships of the line off Cape Henry; thirty-two ships of the line and several frigates are drawn up across the mouth of York River, and three ships of considerable force are in that river below the town, which were to proceed onward with the first fair wind. General Washington sent in a flag to Lord Cornwallis, directing him not to destroy his shipping or warlike stores, as he would answer it at his peril. The easy capture of the outposts will greatly accelerate the future operations of our army. Lieutenant-Colonel John Conolly was taken near Yorktown, by two militia men, and is paroled to Hanover in Virginia.1


1 Pennsylvania Packet, October 9.