George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 23 July 1781]

23d. Went upon Frogs Neck, to see what communication could be had with Long Isld. The Engineers attending with Instrumts. to measure the distance across found it to be [ ] Yards.1

Having finished the reconnoitre without damage—a few harmless shot only being fired at us—we Marched back about Six o’clock by the same routs we went down & a reversed order of March and arrived in Camp about Midnight.

This day letters from Genls. Greene and the Marqs. de la Fayette came to hand, the first informing of his having taken all the Enemy’s posts in Georgia except Savanna and all those in So. Carolina except Charles Town & Ninety Six—the last of wch. he was obliged to abandon the siege of, on acct. of the relief which was marching to it, consequent of the late reinforcemt. received at Charles Town. The second, that Waynes affair with Lord Cornwallis on the 6th. Instt. was partial on our side, as a part of our force was opposed to the enemys whole Army—that on our Side the loss in killed, wounded & missing, amounted to 5 Capt. 1 Captn. Lieutt. 4 Lieutts. 11 Sergts. & 118 R. & file—that the enemys loss was computed at 300 at least—that our loss of two field pieces proceeded, from the horses belonging to them being killed and that Lord Cornwallis had retreated to the South side of James River from the Peninsula at James Town.

1Rochambeau described this incident in his memoirs: “While our engineers carried out this geometrical operation, we slept, worn out by fatigue, at the foot of a hedge, under fire from the cannon of the enemy’s ships, who wished to hinder the work. Waking first, I called General Washington, and remarked to him that we had forgotten the hour of the tide. We hurried to the causeway of the mill on which we had crossed this small arm of the sea which separated us from the mainland; we found it covered with water. We were brought two little boats, in which we embarked, with the saddles and trappings of the horses; they then sent back two American dragoons, who drew by the bridle two horses, good swimmers. These were followed by all the others, urged on by the lashes of some dragoons remaining on the other shore, and for whom we sent back the boats. This maneuver was made in less than an hour, but happily our embarrassment was unnoticed by the enemy” (ROCHAMBEAU description begins Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau. Mémoires, Militaires, Historiques, et Politiques. 2 vols. Paris, 1809. description ends , 1:283–84).

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