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Lot 1024: Henry Clinton

American Revolutionary War Collection of Richard Newell

by RR Auction

December 15, 2012

Amherst, NH, USA

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Description: British General (1730-1795) who served as Commander-in-Chief in North America (1778-1782). Important war-dated manuscript LS, signed "Henry Clinton," one page, 7.75 x 12.5, September 8, 1781, New York, to Admiral Thomas Graves. Unaware of Graves' defeat at the Battle of Virginia Capes only three days earlier (September 5), Clinton announces that reinforcements bound for Cornwallis at Yorktown were ready to depart New York. Clinton writes, in full, "I have the Honor to inclose you and Lord Cornwallis of the 2n Instant sent by the Pegasus, and of my Letter to Lord Cornwallis of the 6th by a runner. By this last You will find that the Troops are embarked and ready for moving to the Chesapeake the Instant I hear from you. I am persuaded therefore that I need not mention to You, Sir, how anxious I am for that Honor, or how necessary it is to lose no time in reinforcing the Army at York the first moment if becomes possible." Light show-through from three old mounting remnants along extreme top edge, and a small area of edge paper loss at bottom border, otherwise clean, fine condition.Cornwallis arrived in Yorktown in early August 1781 intending to use the small Virginia town as a base for resupply. The following week, Washington, who had been planning a joint Franco-American operation against British-held New York, learned that a French fleet was soon to arrive off the Chesapeake. Washington and Rochambeau quickly altered their plans and began moving their armies to Virginia to take advantage of the situation. On September 5, 1781, De Grasse's fleet battled a British fleet under Admirals Graves and Hood at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. The fight proved inconclusive, but inflicted enough damage to induce the British to withdraw to New York a week later. The French fleet now controlled the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay cutting off Cornwallis' army at Yorktown and sealing his fate.Clinton's promised reinforcements would have to wait days before they realized they would not be going anywhere. Ironically, it was the promise of reinforcements from New York that may have convinced Cornwallis to remain in Yorktown rather than fight his way out when he still had a chance to do so. After a siege lasting several weeks. Cornwallis surrendered to Washington and Rochambeau on October 19, 1781 effectively ending the Revolutionary War.

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