restricted access Chapter 22. "The Total Incompetency of the Political System"; Victory at Yorktown (May to December 1781)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

GW_251-300.indd 257 5/2/12 7:48 AM CHAPTER 22 "The Total Incompetency of the Political System"; Victory at Yorktown (May to December 1781) State ofa.lfoirs in the beginningofJ78I. -Measures ofMr. Morris.- Designs ofGeneral Washington againstNew York. - Rochambeau marches to the North River.-Intelligence from the Count de Grasse.-Plan ofoperations against Lord Cornwallis.-Naval engagement .- The combined armies march for the Chesapeake.- Yorktown invested.Surrender ofLord Cornwallis. THE TOTAL incompetency ofthe political system which had been adopted 1781 by the United States, to their own preservation, became every day more apparent. Each state seemed fearful ofdoing too much, and oftaking upon itselfalarger portion ofthe common burden than was borne byits neighbor. The requisitions ofCongress for men were made too late, and were never completely executed by the states. The regular force drawn, from Pennsylvania to Georgia inclusive, at no time, during this active and interesting campaign, amounted to three thousand effective men. That drawn from New Hampshire to NewJersey inclusive, exhibited, in the month of May, a total ofnot quite seven thousand, ofwhom rather more than four thousand might be relied on for action. The prospects for the campaign were rendered still more unpromising by the failure of supplies. The requisitions made on the states had been neglected to such a degree, as to excite fears that the soldiers must be disbanded from the want of food. The Quartermaster Department was destitute of funds, and unable to transport provisions or other stores from place to place, but by means of impressment, supported by a military force. This measure had been repeated , especially in New York, until it excited so much irritation, that 257 GW_251-300.indd 258 5/2/12 7:48 AM -« COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE REVOLUTION M>the commander-in-chiefwas seriously apprehensive ofresistance to his authority . While in this state ofdeplorable imbecility, intelligence from every quarter announced increasing dangers. Information was received, that an expedition was preparing in Canada against Fort Pitt; and it was understood that many, in the country threatened with invasion, were ready to join the British standard. The Indians, too, had entered into formidable combinations, endangering the western frontier in its whole extent. A correspondence ofa criminal naturewas discovered between some persons in Albany and in Canada. A letter intercepted by Generals Schuyler and Clinton, stated the disaffection ofparticular settlements, the provision made in them for an invading army, and their readiness to join it. This intelligence derived increased interest from the ambiguous conduct ofthat countrywhich now constitutesVermont. Early in the war, its inhabitants had declared themselves independent, and had exercised the powers ofself-government. The state of New York, however, still continued to assert her claim of sovereignty, and the controversy had become so violent as to justifY the most serious apprehensions. The declaration was openly made that, if not admitted into the Union as an independent state, they held themselves at liberty to make a separate peace; and some negotiations for carrying this threat into execution, had been commenced. Early in May, the Count de Barras,1 who had been appointed to the command of the French fleet on the American coast, arrived in Boston, and brought the long-expected information respecting the naval armament designed to act in the American seas. Twenty ships of the line, to be commanded by the Count de Grasse,2 were destined for the West Indies, twelve ofwhich were to proceed to the continent ofAmerica in the month ofJuly. An interview between General Washington and the Count de Rochambeau immediatelytook place, in which it was determined to unite the troops r. Jacques-Melchior Saint-Laurent, Comte de Barras (d. r8oo), French admiral in command of the squadron at Newport. 2. Franqois Joseph Paul, Comte de Grasse (1722-88), Rear Admiral in the French navy, commander ofthe French expeditionary fleet in the West Indies and America in 1781-82. GW_251-300.indd 259 5/2/12 7:48 AM ~ "The Total Incompetency ofthe Political System" *' of France to those ofAmerica on the Hudson, and to proceed against New York. Though the prospect now opening roused the northern states from that apathy into which they appeared to be sinking, yet, in the month ofJune when the army took the field at Peekskill, its effective numbers did not exceed five thousand men. To supply even this army with provisions required greater exertions than had been made. The hope ofterminating the war produced these exertions. The legislatures of the New England states took up...


pdf

Subject Headings

  • Washington, George, -- 1732-1799.
  • Presidents -- United States -- Biography.
  • Generals -- United States -- Biography.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1775-1783.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1783-1809.
  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Campaigns.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access