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SOHUYLER HEARS OF THE AFFAIR OF ORISKANY-APPLIES FOR REINFORCEMENTS-HIS APPEAL TO THE PATRIOTISM OF STARK-SCHUYLER SUPERSEDED-HIS CONDUCT THEREUPON-RELIEF SENT TO FORT STANWIX-ARNOLD VOLUNTEERS TO CONDUCT IT-CHANGE OF ENCAMPMENT-PATRIOTIC DETERMINATION OF SCHUYLER-DETACHMENT OF THE ENEMY AGAINST BENNINGTON-GERMANS AND THEIR INDIAN ALLIES-BAUM, THE HESSIAN LEADER-STARK IN THE FIELD-MUSTERING OF THE MILITIA-A BELLIGERENT PARSON-BATTLE OF BENNINGTON-BREYMAN TO THE RESCUEROUTED-RECEPTION OF THE NEWS IN THE RIVAL CAMPS-WASHINGTON URGES NEW ENGLAND TO FOLLOW UP THE BLOW.
SCHUYLER Was in Albany in the early part of August, making stirring appeals in every direction for reinforcements. Burgoyne was advancing upon him; he had received news of the disastrous affair of Oriskany, and the death of General Herkimer, and Tryon County was crying to him for assistance. One of his appeals was to the veteran John Stark, the comrade of Putnam in the French war and the battle of Bunker's Hill. He had his farm in the Hampshire Grants, and his name was a tower of strength among the Green Mountain Boys. But Stark was soured with government, and had retired from service, his name having been omitted in the list of promotions. Hearing that he was on a visit to Lincoln's camp at Manchester, Schuyler wrote to that general, "Assure General Stark that I have acquainted Congress of his
situation, and that I trust and entreat he will, in the present alarming crisis, waive his right; the greater the sacrifice he makes to his feelings, the greater will be the honor due to him for not having suffered any consideration whatever, to come in competition with the weal of his country: entreat him to march immediately to our army."
Schuyler had instant call to practise the very virtue he was inculcating. He was about to mount his horse on the 10th, to return to the camp at Stillwater, when a despatch from Congress was put into his hand containing the resolves which recalled him to attend a court of inquiry about the affair of Ticonderoga, and requested Washington to appoint an officer to succeed him.
Schuyler felt deeply the indignity of being thus recalled at a time when an engagement was apparently at hand, but endeavored to console himself with the certainty that a thorough investigation of his conduct would prove how much he was entitled to the thanks of his country. He intimated the same in his reply to Congress; in the mean time, he considered it his duty to remain at his post until his successor should arrive, or some officer in the department be nominated to the command. Returning, therefore, to the camp at Stillwater, he continued to conduct the affairs of the army with unremitting zeal. "Until the country is in safety," said he, "I will stifle my resentment."
His first care was to send relief to Gansevoort and his beleaguered garrison. Eight hundred men were all that he could spare from his army in its present threatened state. A spirited and effective officer was wanted to lead them. Arnold was in camp; recently sent on as an efficient coadjutor, by Washington; he was in a state of exasperation against the government, having just learnt that the question of rank had been decided against
him in Congress. Indeed, he would have retired instantly from the service, had not Schuyler prevailed on him to remain until the impending danger was over. It was hardly to be expected, that in his irritated mood he would accept the command of the detachment, if offered to him. Arnold, however, was a combus tible character. The opportunity of an exploit flashed on his adventurous spirit. He stepped promptly forward and volunteered to lead the enterprise. "No public nor private injury or insult," said he, "shall prevail on me to forsake the cause of my injured and oppressed country, until I see peace and liberty restored to her, or nobly die in the attempt." *
After the departure of this detachment, it was unanimously determined in a council of war of Schuyler and his general officers, that the post at Stillwater was altogether untenable with their actual force; part of the army, therefore, retired to the islands at the fords on the mouth of the Mohawk River, where it empties into the Hudson, and a brigade was posted above the Falls of the Mohawk, called the Cohoes, to prevent the enemy from crossing there. It was considered a strong position, where they could not be attacked without great disadvantage to the assailant.
The feelings of Schuyler were more and more excited as the game of war appeared drawing to a crisis. "I am resolved," writes he to his friend Duane, "to make another sacrifice to my country, and risk the censure of Congress by remaining in this quarter after I am relieved, and bringing up the militia to the support of this weak army."
As yet he did not know who was to be his successor in the
*Letter to Gates. Gates's Papers
EXPEDITION AGAINST BENNINGTON.
A letter from Duane informed him that General Gates was the man.
Still the noble part of Schuyler's nature was in the ascendant. "Your fears may be up," writes he in reply, "lest the ill-treatment I have experienced at his hands, should so far get the better of my judgment as to embarrass him. Do not, my dear friend, be uneasy on that account. I am incapable of sacrificing my country to a resentment, however just; and I trust I shall give an example of what a good citizen ought to do when he is in my situation.”
We will now take a view of occurrences on the right and left of Burgoyne, and show the effect of Schuyler's measures, poorly seconded as they were, in crippling and straitening the invading army. And first, we will treat of the expedition against Bennington. This was a central place, whither the live stock was driven from various parts of the Hampshire Grants, and whence the American army derived its supplies. It was a great deposit, also, of grain of various kinds, and of wheel carriages; the usual guard was militia, varying from day to day. Bennington was to be surprised. The country was to be scoured from Rockingham to Otter Creek in quest of provisions for the army, horses and oxen for draft, and horses for the cavalry. All public magazines were to be sacked. All cattle belonging to royalists, and which could be spared by their owners, were to be paid for. All rebel flocks and herds were to be driven away.
Generals Phillips and Riedesel demurred strongly to the expedition, but their counsels were outweighed by those of Colonel Skene, the royalist. He knew, he said, all the country thereabout. The inhabitants were as five to one in favor of the royal cause, and would be prompt to turn out on the first appear
ance of a protecting army. He was to accompany the expedi tion, and much was expected from his personal influence and authority.
Lieutenant-colonel Baum was to command the detachment. He had under him, according to Burgoyne, two hundred dismounted dragoons of the regiment of Riedesel, Captain Fraser's marksmen, which were the only British, all the Canadian volunteers, a party of the provincials who perfectly knew the country, one hundred Indians, and two light pieces of cannon. The whole detachment amounted to about five hundred men. The dragoons, it was expected, would supply themselves with horses in the course of the foray; and a skeleton corps of royalists would be filled up by recruits.
The Germans had no great liking for the Indians as fellowcampaigners; especially those who had come from Upper Canada under St. Luc. "These savages are heathens, huge, warlike and enterprising, but wicked as Satan," writes a Hessian officer. "Some say they are cannibals, but I do not believe it; though in their fury they will tear the flesh off their enemies with their teeth. They have a martial air, and their wild ornaments become them."* St. Luc, who commanded them, had been a terror to the English colonists in the French war, and it was intimated that he possessed great treasures of "old English scalps." He and his warriors, however, had disappeared from camp since the affair of Miss McCrea. The present were Indians from Lower Canada.
The choice of German troops for this foray, was much sneered at by the British officers. "A corps could not have been found
* Schlözer's Briefwechsel, Th. iii. Heft xvii.