Written while on his first leave from America, Cornwallis assures his correspondent "that my American Campaigns have not disagreed with me" this, after his success at the Battle of Brandywine (11 September 1777).
He returned to London in December of that year and apart from time spent with his family, attended some gatherings of the House of Lords, including the 17 March 1778 meeting where the Treaty of Alliance between the United States and France was discussed and war declared on France. In the letter, written three days later, he remarks "at present we look on an immediate French War as inevitable, I was ordered to return to America, but probably this event will make some alteration." He was, of course, mistaken and set sail for America on 21 April.
He notes that "Lord Amherst is appointed Commander in Chief of the Army" referring to Jeffrey Amherst (1717–1797) who having refused the American command in 1774 and again in 1777 after the American victory at Saratoga, became commander of the home forces in charge of preparing for a possible Franco-Spanish invasion.
Cornwallis closes by referring to the American war, and the unprofitable policy of trying to engage General Washington in open battle, which after Brooklyn, Washington refused to do: "I conclude more reg[ula]rs must be raised, but I hope on a different plan from the last." The new plan, yet to be formulated, was to occupy ports where the French might land, and to support southern loyalists.
Based on the impersonal military and diplomatic topics and their brief allusive treatment in this letter, it is possible that the recipient was a fellow officer, possibly Alexander Stewart (c. 1741–1794), lieutenant-colonel of the 3rd Regiment of Foot ("The Buffs") who was sent to America in 1781, serving as senior field army commander in the Carolinas, where he achieved a victory at Eutaw Springs (May 1781).
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale