Home > Back to Search Results > Report of Cornwallis's surrender, and Cornwallis' letter in which he admits being in a critical state...
Click image to enlarge 658843
Show image list »

Report of Cornwallis's surrender, and Cornwallis' letter in which he admits being in a critical state...

Item # 658843

February 26, 1782


* Lord Charles Cornwallis
* Surrender at Yorktown

The most historic content is on page 3 which begins with a letter from Sir Henry Clinton to Lord George Germain, dated October 19, 1781. It contains in part: "...sailed from Sandy Hook on the 16th instant and arrived off Cape Charles the 24th, when we had the mortification to hear that Lord Cornwallis had proposed terms of capitulation on the 17th...Comparing...the intelligence given by those people & several others...with the purport of Lord Cornwallis's letter, a copy of which I have the honor to enclose...we cannot entertain the least doubt of his Lordship's having capitulated and that we are unfortunately too late to relieve him, which being the only object of the expedition, the Admiral has determined upon returning with his fleet to Sandy Hook...".
What follows is Cornwallis's desperate and quite famous letter dated at Yorktown, October 13, 1781, which includes: "Last evening the enemy carried my two advanced redoubts on the left by storm...My situation now becomes very critical. We dare not show a gun to their old batteries & I expect new ones will be opened to-morrow morning. Experience has shewn that our fresh earthen works do not resist their powerful artillery so that we shall soon be exposed to an assault in ruined works, in a bad position, and with weakened numbers. The safety of the place is therefore so precarious I cannot recommend that the fleet and army should run any risque in endeavouring to save us." signed in type: Cornwallis.
The front page features a speech of the King if England, dated Nov. 27, 1781. In it he begins to accept the fate of the failures of England, noting in part: "...The war is still unhappily prolonged by that restless ambition which first excited our enemies to commence it, and which still continues to disappoint my earnest desire & diligent exertion to restore the public tranquility..." and further on: "...No endeavours have been wanting on my part to extinguish that spirit of rebellion which our enemies have found means to foment & maintain in the Colonies, and to restore to  my deluded subjects in America, that happy & prosperous condition which they formerly derived from a due obedience to the laws..." and more.
This is followed by the response of the House of Lords, carrying over to page 2, and then the response of the House of Commons which includes: "...We are fully persuaded that the principal view of the confederacy of our enemies was to foment & maintain the rebellion in North America, and under the specious delusion of the establishment of an independent empire to render your Majesty's colonies subservient to the power & influence of the crown of France..." with more.
Other war-related items as well, portions shown in the photos.
Four pages, very nice condition.

Category: American