Washington at Yorktown
During the assault Washington stood
embrasure of the grand battery, watching the
advance of the men. He was always given to
exposing himself recklessly when there was
fighting to be done, but not when he was only an
This night, however, he was much
exposed to the enemy's fire. One of his aides, anxious
and disturbed for his safety, told him that the place
"If you think so,'' was the quiet
answer, "you are at liberty to step back.''
The moment was too exciting,
too fraught with meaning, to think of peril. The old
fighting spirit of Braddock's field was unchained for
the last time. He would have liked to head the American
assault, sword in hand, and as he could not do that,
he stood as near his troops as he could, utterly regardless
of the bullets whistling in the
air about him. Who can wonder at his intense
excitement at that moment?
Others saw a brilliant storming
of two out- works, but to Washington the whole Revolution
and all the labor and thought and conflict of six years
were culminating in the smoke and din on those redoubts,
while out of the dust and heat of the sharp, quick fight
success was coming.
He had waited long, and worked
hard, and his whole soul went out as he watched the troops
cross the abatis and scale the works. He could have no
thought of danger then, and when all was over, he turned
to Knox and said:
"The work is done, and well done.
Bring me my horse.''