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The man who would one day be accused of losing America was born on New Years Eve 1738 the eldest of a titled and highly respectable family The Cornwallis tribe had established itself in Suffolk which occupies the easternmost knob of the British Isles Though not fabulously wealthy they had the kind of connections through blood and marriage that meant everything in British society Young Charless grandfather was awarded a baronetcy for faithful service to King Charles II his father also named Charles was the first Earl Cornwallis his uncle served as Archbishop of Canterbury his mother was a daughter of Lord Townshend and a niece of Robert Walpole one of Englands great Prime Ministers None of this means much to us today of course but the young Cornwallis was born with his world at his feet His formal education took place at Eton academy which marked him for life--not least by the blow from a hockey stick that pitched his left eye at a permanent tilt Eton was a rough place in those days underclassmen were routinely beat up by seniors and the law of the jungle ruled Nevertheless Cornwallis retained fond memories of his school years all his life and credited Eton with shaping much of his character Since he was tall and physically strong we can presume he learned to look after himself Most young men in his privileged position went on to Oxford thence to a life of leisure and general uselessness But Cornwallis possessed a strong sense of duty from an early age which probably figured in his choosing the military as a career After purchasing an ensigns commission in 1756 he took another unusual step and studied for the job Since England had no military academies at the time he attended Turin a highly respected school in northern Italy Only a few months after his enrollment however the Seven Years War broke out in Europe and it was time
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