French and British Armies
Lt. General Comte de Rochambeau was comprised of four 900-man regiments that
had come from Newport, Rhode Island and three 1000-man regiments that Admiral
de Grasse had brought from the West Indies for a total of 6600 infantry. He
also had 600 artillerymen, 600 horse and foot from Lauzun's Legion and 600 marines
for operations against Gloucester. British Lt.
General Charles Cornwallis had the 1,500 men that had been with him
in the Carolinas, which included infantry under Brig.
General Charles O'Hara and Lt.
Colonel Banastre Tarleton's British Legion. His remaining troops and
come south with Benedict Arnold and Maj. General William Phillips, which numbered
about 5,500 men. They included the Queen's Rangers commanded by Lt. Colonel
John Simcoe, Captain John Ewald's Jäger Company, 200 artillerymen and 800
The Allied Army Arrives and Action At Gloucester: September-October 1781
As late as September 5, 1781, General Cornwallis still had a chance to retreat
to Richmond and then south back into the Carolinas, but Cornwallis did little
more than probe the Marquis de Lafayette's blocking forces. He was still expecting
General Henry Clinton to send his reinforcements, so he was content
to continue to fortify his positions at Yorktown and Gloucester. On September
28, the combined Continental and French allied force left Williamsburg, Virginia
at around 5:00 A.M. and moved to with a mile of Cornwallis' Yorktown defenses
by dark. On the British right, Lt. Colonel Robert Abercromby withdrew as the
French Wing adavnced there, while Lt. Colonel Tarleton withdrew as the American
Wing moved to the southeast of Yorktown.
On September 29, General Washington inspected the British position while the
army continued to surround Yorktown. Artillery and siege equipment and stores
were also brought to the front. On September 30, the allies discovered that
the British had abandoned three outposts that had covered the southwest approach
to Yorktown. General Cornwallis had chosen to withdraw from those positions
to maximize defenses with his limited forces after he had received word from
General Clinton that a relief fleet would be departing New York on October 5.
Across the York River at Gloucester, Virginia, General George Weedon and his
1,500 Virginia militia had been opposing the British garrison commanded by Lt.
Colonel Thomas Dundas. On September 28, 1781, Weedon was reinforced by 600 men
of the French Lauzun's Legion. On October 1, General de Choisy assumed allied
command of these operations while 800 marines were detached to Gloucester as
well. On October 2, Lt. Colonel Tarleton's British Legion arrived to support
Dundas bringing the British garrison's strength to nearly 1,000 men.
On October 3, 1781, Lt. Colonel Dundas was returning to camp after leading a
foraging expedition when General de Choisy pushed forward. Dragoons from Lauzun's
Legion formed an advance for de Choisy, while Lt. Colonel Tarleton's cavarly
formed a rear screen for the British. Tarleton was nearly captured by Lauzun
when he was pinned under his horse, but some of his men rode in and saved him.
Tarleton reassembled his men, but John Mercer held the allied line and Tarleton
withdrew. He would not see any more action on the American continent. For the
remainder of the campaign, Choisy kept the British garrison at Gloucester pinned.
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