THE CAPTURE OF REDOUBTS 9 AND 10
The plans prepared by the Commander in Chief of the allied armies for the attack on the two British redoubts, generally referred to as numbers 9 and 10, provided that the American Light Infantry under the Marquis de Lafayette should attack No. 10, situated on the edge of the bluff overlooking the river; and that a detachment of French grenadiers and chasseurs under Major General the Baron Viomesnil should attack No. 9, located less than 200 yards from the right of where the second parallel ended.
Lafayette designated the battalion of Lieutenant Colonel Gimat, supported by Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton's battalion, to make the assault on No. 10. A party of 80 men under Lieutenant Colonel Laurens was given the mission of turning the redoubt to prevent the escape of any of its defenders. The entire assaulting party was commanded by Lieut. Col. Alexander Hamilton. The troops advanced in two columns, Gimat's battalion in the lead of the column on the right, followed by Hamilton's battalion, under Major Fish. The detachment under Laurens formed the left column. Ahead of the right column was a vanguard of 20 men and a detachment of sappers and miners. All of Hamilton's troops marched to the assault with unloaded arms, in compliance with Lafayette's orders.
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 abattis, 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.
Not one gun was fired by the Americans, and the gallantry of the troops was such that time was not given the sappers in the van, guard to cut openings in the abatis.
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.
The troops selected to assault redoubt No. 9 were 400 grenadiers and chasseurs from the regiments of Gatinais and Royal Deux-Ponts, under the Viscount de Deux-Ponts of the latter regiment. In the course of the afternoon Viomesnil, Deux-Ponts, and the Baron de L'Estrade, lieutenant colonel of the Gatinais, reconnoitered the road which they were to follow during the night, and carefully arranged all the details for the attack. Shortly after nightfall Deux-Ponts left the cover of the trenches and formed his column in the order of attack.
The chasseurs of the regiment of Gatinais, formed in column by platoons, were at the head of the column. The first 50 men carried fascines; of the other 50 men in this group, 8 carried ladders. After them came the grenadiers of the regiment, ranged by files. Next were the grenadiers and chasseurs, of the regiment of Royal Deux-Ponts, formed in column by sections. The chasseurs of the regiments of Bourbonnais and Agénois were a hundred paces to the rear in support, and a battalion of Gatinais under the Count de Rostaing constituted the reserve. Before starting orders were given that no one should fire until the crest of the parapet of the redoubt was reached.
When the moment to advance arrived the signal battery fired six shells and the troops marched to the assault. Soon the line of abatis was reached, at about 25 paces from the redoubt. Here delay, occurred while passages were being cut, then "we threw ourselves into the ditch at once," Deux-Ponts says, "and each one sought to break through the fraises, and to mount the parapet." The defenders made a brief resistance lasting six or seven minutes, and just at the moment when Deux-Pontsó
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 out over the field the cry of "Vive le Roi," which was repeated by all the grenadiers and chasseurs, * * * 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.
The American loss in this action was 44 killed and wounded. The British killed and wounded in redoubt No. 10 did not exceed eight. All others were captured. Hamilton said in his report of the action:
Incapable of imitating examples of barbarity, and forgetting recent provocations, the soldiery spared every man that ceased to resist.
The loss amongst the French amounted to about 100 killed and wounded.
By daylight on the morning of the 15th the second parallel was completed to the river and connected with the first parallel by a communicating trench. The two captured redoubts were included in the line of the second parallel.
A few hours after the redoubts were lost Cornwallis wrote to Clinton:
Experience has shewn that our fresh earthen works do not resift their powerful artillery, so that we shall soon be exposed to an assault in ruined works, in a bad position, and with weakened numbers. The safety of the place is, therefore, so precarious, that I cannot recommend that the fleet and army should run great risque in endeavouring to save us.
page created 20 March 2000
Return to CMH Online