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An unexpected and glorious victory page 5

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Date published: 5/24/2003

By Gwen Woolf


The column marched to Fairfax Courthouse, where it divided for its two destinations. About 2,500 men proceeded on to Winchester; the rest were met by the Maryland militia and escorted to Frederick.

The militia guarding the division destined for Winchester "proved particularly kind," according to the British diarist who accompanied them. The column of men crossed at Ashby's Gap on Sunday morning, Nov. 4. The following day, marching westward on the Millwood Pike, it passed within a few miles of the Lewis family residence. There was ample time for Fielding Lewis to be informed; and if his health permitted, he was surely driven to view the spectacle.

At Winchester in the bitter winter cold, the quarters proved both wretched and inadequate. (The prisoners were moved to a barrack on the Susquehanna River and were finally dismissed in 1783.)

Meanwhile, orders had been given to move the sick and wounded who were ambulatory from Yorktown to Fredericksburg. Gen. Weedon was instructed to have "suitable Houses provided in that place for their reception."

The "convalescents," numbering almost 500, immediately began their journey, which did not go smoothly. In Fredericksburg, a camp was established for them at the Alum Springs, and they were tended by Dr. John Julian as well as their own doctor.

Information is scanty on the experiences of the sick prisoners at Fredericksburg. According to a deposition of Edward Herndon, who worked in the issuing department of the quartermaster's operation, Dr. Julian "attended upon the sick in the Hospital to the end of the war, or as long as rations were called for, and until all the stores both of the Commissary and Quarter Master in Fredsburg. were ordered to be sold."

Virginia was no longer a battleground, but the war effort continued to the south, where the Continental Army operated under Gen. Nathanael Greene. Charles Dick's burdensome responsibilities as the sole manager of the gun factory did not ease.

The French troops passed a pleasant winter in the Yorktown area before marching to Boston in July. Eventually, the prisoners at Charleston were exchanged, the worthless currency was replaced (at a still devalued 1,000-to-1 ratio); and the state's government slowly began to function.

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