After a detachment of the Marquis de Lafayette's army defeated Maj. John G. Simcoe's cavalry at Spencer's Ordinary near Williamsburg on 26 June 1781, Lafayette shadowed the British army encamped at the colonial capital. He made his headquarters just north of here at Tyree's plantation, 28 June-5 July 1781, while he waited for the British commander, Gen. Charles Cornwallis, to tip his hand. Early in July, Maj. Gen. Henry Clinton, commander of British forces, ordered Cornwallis to send 3,000 of his men to New York. On 4 July, Cornwallis began marching to Portsmouth to embark, and Lafayette pursued him the next day.
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