Lord Cornwallis having failed to defeat the Marquis de Lafayette in the campaign in Virginia, was marching from Williamsburg to position his army at a secure port, Yorktown. Lafayette was aggressively following, avoiding a general engagement, but expecting to attack the isolated British rear guard, after the bulk of the British army had been ferried at the Jamestown ferry to the South bank of the James river. He sent an advance guard under Wayne to attack in the afternoon after 3:00, accompanying him, and leaving the bulk of his Virginia militia forces at the Green Spring Plantation under von Steuben. The advanced guard consisted of the rifles corps of Call and Willis and a squadron of dragoons, followed by the Pennsylvania line under Wayne.
But Cornwallis laid a trap, concealing the bulk of his forces in the woods, while showing a small Jäger skirmish line astride the road. General Wayne with 800 men was unknowingly facing the entire British Army of 5,000 men under General Cornwallis.
The American riflemen pushed forward, supported by the battalions of Major Galvin, and Major Willis, of Connecticut, and Col. Stewart's Regt. and two other Pennsylvania Battalions. The Jagers retired, while the concealed British sprang on each flank, Lieutenant Colonel Yorke on the left, and Lieutenant Colonel Dundas on the right, with Dundas were the Forty-third, Seventy-sixth, and the Eightieth Regiments.
The American militia on the left retreated, while the Pennsylvania line on the right retired stubbornly. Wayne now perceived the dangerous trap. Wayne, recognizing that he would be overwhelmed before the rest of the American army could arrive, organized a bayonet charge. The British recoiled, and the British advance was temporarily halted, allowing Wayne to disengage and retreat from contact with the enemy. Lafayette hearing the sound of battle had drawn up some troops 1/2 mile behind Wayne, in support.
The British did not pursue the retreating Americans, and resumed...