Several songs were composed to commemorate the surrender of the royal army at Yorktown. The one subjoined was published a short time after the event, adapted to the air "Maggie Lauder," which was at that time a great favorite in both armies.
WHEN British troops first landed here,
With Howe commander o'er them,
They thought they'd make us quake for fear,
And carry all before them;
With thirty thousand men or more,
And she without assistance,
America must needs give oer,
And make no more resistance.
But Washington, her glorious son,
Of British hosts the terror,
Soon, by repeated overthrows,
Convinc'd them of their error;
Let Princeton, and let Trenton tell,
What gallant deeds he's done, sir,
And Monmouth's plains where hundreds fell,
And thousands more have run, sir.
Cornwallis, too,* when he approach'd
Virginia's old dominion,
Thought he would soon her conqu'ror be;
And so was North's opinion.
From State to State with rapid stride,
His troops had march'd before, sir,
Till quite elate with martial pride,
He thought all dangers o'er, sir.
But our allies, to his surprise,
The Chesapeake had enter'd;
And now too late, he curs'd his fate,
And wish'd he ne'er had ventur'd,
For Washington no sooner knew
The visit he had paid her,
Than to his parent State he flew,
To crush the bold invader.
When he sat down before the town,
His Lordship soon surrender'd **
His martial pride he laid aside,
And cas'd the British standard; ***
Gods! how this stroke will North provoke,
And all his thoughts confuse, sir !
And how the Peers will hang their ears,
When first they hear the news, sir.
Be peace, the glorious end of war,
By this event effected; ****
And be the name of Washington,
To latest times respected;
Then let us toast America,
And France in union with her,
And may Great Britain rue the day
Her hostile bands came hither.
*Cornwallis, too. Cornwallis was a distinguished warrior, intrepid and confident, and a zealous champion of his tyrannical master. "Had all the rebels in the states but one neck, his Lordship would glory in nothing more than an opportunity of severing the jugular vein."
**His Lordship soon surrender'd. The siege of Yorktown continued thirteen days, when Cornwallis requested a suspension of hostilities, during which time he made a desperate attempt to escape. On the morning of the day appointed for the laying clown of arms, the American and French troops were drawn up on either side of the road, in a line of more than a mile in length. At about two o'clock in the afternoon the captive army advanced through the line, led by General O'Harra, who Cornwallis had appointed as substitute, he pretending sickness. O'Harra, advancing to the head of the lines, approached General Washington, and taking off his hat, apologized for the non-appearance of Earl Cornwallis. With his usual dignity and politeness, his Excellency pointed to General Lincoln for directions; by whom the British army was conducted to the place where it was intended they should lay down their arms. It was here, when they came to the last act of the drama, that the spirit and pride of the British soldier was put to the severest test, and their mortification and disappointment could not be concealed. The subjoined epigram appeared a short time after the surrender:
The Earl Cornwallis, who ought to be civil,
Grows gouty and sore, and sends us the devil;
For who is the leader on us he doth parry,
But Brigadier-general and tory 'OHarra.
***And cas'd the British standard. The terms of capitulation were similar to those granted to General Lincoln, at Charleston, the preceding year. The troops marched out with shouldered arms, colors cased, and drums beating a British march. It was very gratifying to General Lincoln to have assigned him the duty of giving laws to the haughty army, which a few months before had obliged him to surrender, and of reflecting that the terms which were imposed on him, were adopted as a basis in the present instance.
****By this event effected. This event was looked upon as the closing scene of the Continental war in America.