30th. The Enemy abandoned all their exterior works, & the position they had taken without the Town; & retired within their Interior works of defence in the course of last Night—immediately upon which we possessed them, & made those on our left (with a little alteration) very serviceable to us.1 We also began two inclosed Works on the right of Pidgeon Hill2—between that & the ravine above Mores Mill.3
From this time till the 6th. of October nothing occurred of Importance—much deligence was used in debarking, & transporting the Stores—Cannon &ca. from Trebells Landing (distant 6 Miles) on James Riv., to Camp; which for want of Teams went on heavily and in preparing Fascines, Gabions, &ca. for the Siege—as also in reconnoitering the Enemys defences, & their situation as perfectly as possible, to form our parallels & mode of attack.
The Teams which were sent round from the head of Elk, having arrived about this time, we were enabled to bring forward our heavy Artillery & Stores with more convenience and dispatch and every thing being prepared for opening Trenches 1500 Fatiegue men & 2800 to cover them, were ordered for this Service.4
1. On the night of 29 Sept. the British abandoned the outer defenses in the area between Yorktown Creek and Wormley’s Pond and withdrew into positions within the town. The British decision to abandon the outlying works was prompted by a letter to Cornwallis from Clinton, 24 Sept. 1781, informing him that considerable reinforcements were to sail from New York by 5 Oct. (CORNWALLIS description begins Charles Ross, ed. Correspondence of Charles, First Marquis Cornwallis. 3 vols. London, 1859. description ends , 1:120). Cornwallis replied on the 29th that “I shall retire this night within the works, and have no doubt, if relief arrives in any reasonable time, York and Gloucester will be both in possession of his Majesty’s troops” (CORNWALLIS description begins Charles Ross, ed. Correspondence of Charles, First Marquis Cornwallis. 3 vols. London, 1859. description ends , 1:120–21).
2. Among the other defenses, the British had abandoned the redoubts at Pigeon Quarter and Pigeon Hill approximately two miles southwest of the town. Clermont-Crévecoeur’s journal notes that GW “immediately sent the grenadiers and chasseurs to take possession of them. We converted a redan they had also abandoned into a redoubt and built a fourth to tie them all together” (RICE description begins Howard C. Rice, Jr., and Anne S. K. Brown, eds. The American Campaigns of Rochambeau’s Army, 1780, 1781, 1782, 1783. 2 vols. Princeton, N.J., 1972. description ends , 1:57).
3. Moore’s Mill was on Wormley’s Pond at the head of Wormley Creek.
4. On 27 Sept., GW had received welcome news from de Grasse, suggesting that he had abandoned the prospect of cruising to intercept British Admirals Digby and Hood and was willing to commit his fleet to the investiture of Yorktown (de Grasse to GW, 25 Sept. 1781, WASHINGTON AND DE GRASSE description begins Institut Français de Washington. Correspondence of General Washington and Comte de Grasse, 1781, August 17–November 4. Washington, D.C., 1931. description ends , 51–52). GW also requested and received 600 to 800 marines from the French ships. On the 27th de Grasse had reluctantly agreed to GW’s request for the French troops, but added “I earnestly beseech Your Excellency to dispense in future with the necessity of demanding men from my vessels. I am mortified that I can not do all that I would wish, but there is no doing impossibilities” (WASHINGTON AND DE GRASSE description begins Institut Français de Washington. Correspondence of General Washington and Comte de Grasse, 1781, August 17–November 4. Washington, D.C., 1931. description ends , 56–57).
During this period GW also ordered construction and fortification of a trench commanding the main British defenses. He personally inspected the ground selected for this first parallel on 1 Oct., narrowly escaping fire from the British defenses 300 yards away. The parallel was not occupied until the siege guns could be transported from Trebell’s Landing on the James River six or seven miles from Yorktown. A minor contretemps was presented to GW by Lafayette when he requested command of the right wing of the siege army in place of Benjamin Lincoln, who held the position by right of seniority. GW refused as tactfully as possible (Lafayette to GW, 30 Sept. 1781, DLC:GW). On 3 Oct. the marquis de Choisy moved his troops in tighter formation about Gloucester Point. In the process the duc de Lauzun, one of his officers, encountered Banastre Tarleton’s Dragoons, resulting in an action also involving the Virginia militia which GW described somewhat excessively in General Orders as a “brilliant success.” On 5 Oct. the army rejoiced at the news of Nathanael Greene’s success at Eutaw Springs, S.C. Jonathan Trumbull, Jr., notes that during these days there was almost no fire from the British on the Americans busily digging in on the Yorktown perimeter. “A matter of Speculation. The General determined to return no fire upon the enemy till our batteries are all ready to play to some purpose” (TRUMBULL  description begins “Minutes of Occurrences respecting the Siege and Capture of York in Virginia, extracted from the Journal of Colonel Jonathan Trumbull, Secretary to the General, 1781.” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 14 (1875-76): 331–38. description ends , 335).