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Climax of the Revolution
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Under cover of the fire of their heavy guns, the allies moved forward on the night of October 11 to a second parallel, halfway to the main British line. At the right, nearest the river, the completion of this entrenchment was delayed by the fire of two advanced redoubts held by the British. It was determined to storm them. Early on the evening of October 14 French troops prepared to attack one of the redoubts, while picked American units from Lafayette's Light Infantry assaulted the other. Count William de Deux-Ponts led the French attack, while Lt. Col. Alexander Hamilton was at the head of the American column.


The six shells were fired at last; and I advanced in the greatest silence; at a hundred and twenty or thirty paces, we were discovered; and the Hessian soldier who was stationed as a sentinel on the parapet, cried out "Werda?" (Who comes there?) to which we did not reply, but hastened our steps. The enemy opened fire the instant after the "Werda." We lost not a moment in reaching the abatis, which being strong and well preserved, at about twenty-five paces from the redoubt, cost us many men, and stopped us for some minutes, but was cleared away with brave determination; we threw ourselves into the ditch at once, and each one sought to break through the fraises, and to mount the parapet.

We reached there at first in small numbers, and I gave the order to fire; the enemy kept up a sharp fire, and charged us at the point of the bayonet; but no one was driven back. The carpenters, who had worked hard on their part, had made some breaches in the palisades, which helped the main body of the troops in mounting. The parapet was becoming manned visibly. Our fire was increasing, and making terrible havoc among the enemy, who had placed themselves behind a kind of intrenchment of barrels, where they were well massed, and where all our shots told. We succeeded at the moment when I wished to give the order to leap into the redoubt and charge upon the enemy with the bayonet; then they laid down their arms, and we leaped in with more tranquillity and less risk. I shouted immediately the cry of Vive le Roi, which was repeated by all the grenadiers and chasseurs who were in good condition, by all the troops in the trenches, and to which the enemy replied by a general discharge of artillery and musketry. I never saw a sight more beautiful or more majestic. I did not stop to look at it: I had to give attention to the wounded, and directions to be observed towards the prisoners.

Ar the same rime, the Baron de Viomesnil came to give me orders to be prepared for a vigorous defence, as it would be important for the enemy to attempt to retake this work. An active enemy would not have failed, and the Baron de Viomesnil judged the English general by himself. I made my dispositions to the best of my ability; the enemy showered bullets upon us. I did not doubt that the idea of the Baron de Viomesnil would be fulfilled. Finally, when all was over, a sentinel charged with observing the movements without, called me, and said that some of the enemy were appearing. I raised my head above the parapet, and at the same time a ball, which ricochetted in the parapet, and passed very near my head, covered my face with sand and gravel. I suffered much, and was obliged to leave the place, and to be conducted to the ambulance.

My Campaigns in America.

painting: storming of redoubt

THIS IS A REPRODUCTION of the painting made about 1840 by Louis Eugene Lami, the original of which is in the old Senate Chamber of the Capitol in Richmond, Va. It shows the detachment of Lafayette's Light Infantry swarming into the British redoubt. Bitter hand-to-hand fighting is going on, the Americans using only the bayonet.



I have the honour to render you an account of the corps under my command, in your attack of last night upon the redoubt of the enemy's lines.

Agreeable to your orders, we advanced in two columns with unloaded arms, the right composed of Lieutenant-colonel Gimat's battalion and my own, commanded by Major Fish. The left of a detachment commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Laurens, destined to take the enemy of reverse, and intercept their retreat. The column on the right hand was preceded by a van guard of twenty men, led by Lieutenant Mansfield; and a detachment of sappers and miners, commanded by Captain Gilliland, for the purpose of removing obstructions.

The redoubt was commanded by Major Campbell, with a detachment of British and German troops, and was completely in a state of defence.

The rapidity and immediate success of the assault, are the best comment on the behaviour of the troops. Lieutenant-colonel Laurens distinguished himself by an exact and vigourous execution of his part of the plan, by entering the enemy's work with his corps among the foremost, and making prisoner of the commanding officer of the redoubt. Lieutenant-colonel Gimat's battalion, which formed the van of the right attack, and which fell under my immediate observation, encouraged by the decisive and animated example of their leader, advanced with an order and resolution superior to every obstacle. They were well seconded by Major Fish, with the battalion under his command, who, when the front of the column reached the abbatis, unlocking his corps to the left, as he had been directed, advanced with such celerity, as to arrive in time to participate in the assault.

Lieutenant Mansfield deserves particular commendation, for the coolness, firmness, and punctuality, with which he conducted the van guard, Captain Olney who commanded the first platoon of Gimat's battalion, is entitled to peculiar applause. He led his platoon into the work with exemplary intrepidity, and received two bayonet wounds. Captain Gilliland, with the detachment of sappers and miners, acquitted themselves in a manner that did them great honour.

I do but justice to the several corps when I have the pleasure to assure you, there was not an officer nor soldier whose behaviour if it could be particularized, would not have a claim to the warmest approbation. As it would have been attended with delay and loss to wait for the removal of the abbatis and pallisades, the ardour of the troops was indulged in passing over them.

There was a happy coincidence of movements. The redoubt was in the same moment inveloped and carried on every part. The enemy are entitled to the acknowledgment of an honourable defence.



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