Heros Of The American Revolution
Collectors Series

General Charles,
first Marquis and second Earl Cornwallis

Werner Willis
Limited Edition


Paper Lithograph
S/N Edition of 1500
Size: 8" X 10"
Price $30





All images copyright © by Artist Werner Willis. All rights reserved


General Charles,
first Marquis and second Earl Cornwallis
Commander of all British Forces in the South.

A brave and aggressive commander, Cornwallis was outwitted by the American leaders during the Revolutionary War costing the British their effort to win the war through a southern campaign. After the Revolution, he won the reputation as one of the greatest generals of British history.

Born in London on December 31, 1738, he was educated at Eton and commissioned as ensign in the 1st Foot Guards. He served with distinction in the British army in Germany. Elected to Parliament, he took his place in the House of Lords following his father's death, where he supported the cause of the American colonists. He continued to advance his military career by serving as aide-de-camp to King George ill, colonel of the 33rd Foot, and constable of the Tower of London.

Promoted to major general, Cornwallis did not allow his pro-American sentiments nor his wife's appeal to the King to deter him from his duty. He arrived in America with Sir Henry Clinton's expedition in time to distinguish himself at Long Island, modern day Isle of Palms, near Charleston, South Carolina, in August, 1776. He followed Clinton north serving at Princeton and Brandywine, New Jersey, was promoted to lieutenant general and became second in command to Clinton.

Cornwallis returned to Britain to be with his dying wife. He returned to America in time to playa major role as British strategy shifted to focus on the Southern colonies. Cornwallis was left in command of British forces in the South when Clinton returned to New York.

Cornwallis dealt a major blow to patriot hopes by defeating General Horatio Gates' army at Camden, South Carolina, on August 16, 1780. British efforts to break further rebel resistance were frustrated as the British army was drawn further into the interior away from Charleston and naval supply lines.

Cornwallis' army was scattered at isolated outposts across South Carolina where they were constantly ambushed and harassed by partisan forces led by outstanding guerilla leaders with colorful nicknames like "Swamp Fox" Francis Marion, "Gamecock" Thomas Sumter, and "Wizard Owl" Andrew Pickens.
Cornwallis invaded North Carolina in the summer of 1780, as he continued his campaign to subjugate the South. His efforts met with fierce resistance. Patriot forces led by William R. Davie, another outstanding partisan leader, were outnumbered ten to one, but were still able to repel three assaults by Cornwallis' seasoned regulars at the Mecklenburg Courthouse in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 26, 1780, before finally yielding to the superior British force.

Cornwallis was forced to withdraw to Winnsboro, South Carolina, after the American victory at Kings Mountain on October 7, 1780, which destroyed the western flank of his army and resulted in the death or capture of his entire valuable light infantry corps led by Major Patrick Ferguson. The defeat of Banastre Tarleton's legion by Daniel Morgan at Cowpens on January 27, 1781, led Cornwallis to stage a second invasion of North Carolina as he set off in hot pursuit of Morgan in hopes of catching up with and destroying the American army in the South.

Cornwallis took the drastic action of burning his wagons, stores and baggage to enable his army to move even faster. Morgan was able to link up with Nathanael Greene near Charlotte, North Carolina. Gathering all the boats along the way and transporting them in wagons, the outnumbered American army stayed just a step away from Cornwallis and disaster as they made a superb withdrawal across the flood-swollen Catawba, Yadkin, Deep and Dan Rivers before retreating to safety in Virginia.

The American army reentered North Carolina and Cornwallis engaged them in battle at Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1781. Cornwallis defeated the Americans at a cost of almost one third of his army killed or wounded. The British army could ill afford another such victory.

In violation of Clinton's orders, Cornwallis now chose to invade Virginia where he was eventually bottled up at Yorktown and forced to surrender on October 19, 1781. Cornwallis received little blame for the defeat from either the British press or public.

Cornwallis' career following the American Revolution revealed his real talent for civil administration and conciliation. After initially declining, he accepted the governor-generalship of India acquiring a reputation as a fair and just administrator. The old campaigner returned to the field to invade Mysore and storm Bangalore.

On his return to Britain, Cornwallis was appointed commander in chief and governor- general of Ireland where he suppressed an Irish rebellion and repulsed a French invasion. Acquiring a reputation for treating the Irish with leniency, he resigned when King George ill refused to grant Catholic emancipation. He returned to India as governor-general and died at Ghazipur on October 5., 1805.

Research and text by W. Hugh Harkey, author and historian