In an earlier post of the Battle of Great Bridge (
December 9, 1775), I wrote about the
first major land battle of the Revolutionary War in .
|General Lord Cornwallis|
As part of their southern strategy, the British forces, without much opposition occupied
and Portsmouth , giving them control
of critical ports at the juncture of the Norfolk Virginia Chesapeake Bay and the James River.
In the winter of 1781, Benedict Arnold, the American traitor and now a British general, arrived in Hampton Roads and sailed up the James to Westover. From there he marched on
By the summer of 1781, in an effort to squash the patriot resistance on the peninsula, General Lord Cornwallis departed
with about 6,000
British regulars and traveled east toward the city of Richmond , which he occupied
for ten days. While there, he received orders from General Henry Clinton to go
to Williamsburg and return to Portsmouth . New York City
So on July 4th he departed and headed south toward
with a troop
detachment. His intention was to cross the Jamestown James River via ferry and travel
southeast 48 miles to . As they began
the movement, Corwallis and his men were being shadowed by General Lafayette
and his men. Portsmouth
For about a month, General Lafayette, with only soldiers and militiamen, played a waiting game of evasions and skirmishes with Cornwallis until General Anthony Wayne and 1,000 reinforcements could bolster his Continental Army.
General Cornwallis, eager to defeat more colonials before departing for
, devised a plan to
trap General Lafayette’s forces at the Portsmouth James River ferry crossing near
Green Springs Plantation. Cornwallis sent a few deserters to infiltrate ’s army, with
information that most of the British army had already crossed the river. Lafayette
|General Anthony Wayne|
Lafayette and the Colonial Army returned to Green Spring Plantation and the British Army eventually crossed the
James River. Not long after that,
General Clinton ordered Cornwallis to remain in and form a naval
stronghold on the Virginia Peninsula which ultimately resulted in the Siege of
Yorktown in October of 1781, an American victory critical in ending the war and
leading to American independence.