Slike strani




too far on his way to be overtaken by har- | brown linen hunting-frock, and decorate their assed, barefooted troops, worn out by constant caps with a sprig of evergreen.

marching. Feeling the necessity of immediate reinforcements, he wrote on the same day to Putnam at Peekskill: "The situation of our affairs in this quarter calls for every aid and for every effort. I therefore desire that, without a moment's loss of time, you will detach as many effective rank and file, under proper generals and officers, as will make the whole number, including those with General McDougall, amount to twenty-five hundred privates and non-commissioned fit for duty.

"I must urge you, by every motive, to send this detachment without the least possible delay. No considerations are to prevent it. It is our first object to defeat, if possible, the army now opposed to us here."

In this way the British took possession of the city, so long the object of their awkward attempts, and regarded by them as a triumphant acquisition; having been the seat of the general government; the capital of the confederacy. Washington maintained his characteristic equanimity. "This is an event," writes he to Governor Trumbull, "which we have reason to wish had not happened, and which will be attended with several ill consequences; but I hope it will not be so detrimental as many apprehend, and that a little time and perseverance will give us some favorable opportunity of recovering our loss, and of putting our affairs in a more flourishing condition."

[ocr errors]

we shall soon hear

He had heard of the prosperous situation of On the next day (24th) he wrote also to affairs in the Northern Departinent, and the General Gates. "This army has not been able repeated checks given to the enemy. "I flatto oppose General Howe's with the success ter myself," writes he, that was wished, and needs a reinforcement. that they have been succeeded by other fortuI therefore request, if you have been so fortunate and interesting events, as the two armies, nate as to oblige General Burgoyne to retreat by General Gates's letter, were encamped near to Ticonderoga, or if you have not, and cir- each other." cumstances will admit, that you will order Colonel Morgan to join me again with his corps. I sent him up when I thought you materially wanted him; and, if his services can be dispensed with now, you will direct his im

mediate return."

Having called a council of officers and taken their opinions, which concurred with his own, Washington determined to remain some days at Pott's Grove, to give repose to his troops,

and await the arrival of reinforcements.

We will now revert to the course of the campaign in that quarter, the success of which he trusted would have a beneficial influence on the operations in which he was personally engaged. Indeed, the operations in the Northern Department formed, as we have shown, but a part of his general scheme, and were constantly present to his thoughts. His generals had each his own individual enterprise, or his own department to think about; Washington had

to think for the whole.


Sir William Howe halted at Germantown, within a short distance of Philadelphia, and encamped the main body of his army in and about that village; detaching Lord Cornwallis with a large force and a number of officers of distinction, to take formal possession of the THE checks which Burgoyne had received city. That general marched into Philadelphia on right and left, and, in a great measure, on the 26th, with a brilliant staff and escort, through the spontaneous rising of the country, and followed by splendid legions of British and had opened his eyes to the difficulties of his Hessian grenadiers, long trains of artillery, and situation, and the errors as to public feeling squadrons of light dragoons, the finest troops into which he had been led by his tory counsel

in the army all in their best array; stepping to lors.

"The great bulk of the country is unthe swelling music of the band playing God doubtedly with the Congress in principle and save the King, and presenting with their scar-zeal," writes he, "and their measures are enot

let uniforms, their glittering arms and flaunting cuted with a secrecy and despatch that are not feathers, a striking contrast to the poor patriot to be equalled. Wherever the king's forces troops, who had recently passed through the point, militia, to the amount of three or four same streets, weary and way-worn, and happy thousand, assemble in twenty-four hours: they if they could cover their raggedness with a bring with them their subsistence, &c., and, the

[ocr errors]


alarm over, they return to their farms. The Hampshire Grants, in particular, a country unpeopled and almost unknown last war, now abounds in the most active and most rebellious race of the continent, and hangs like a gathering storm upon my left." What a picture this gives of a patriotic and warlike yeomanry. He complains, too, that no operation had yet been undertaken in his favor; the Highlands of the Hudson had not even been threatened; the consequence was that two brigades had been detached from them to strengthen the army of Gates, strongly posted near the mouth of the Mohawk River, with a superior force of Continental troops, and as many militia as he pleased.

Crossing the whole length of Lake Champlain, she found him in a sick bed at Skenesborough. After his recovery, she refused to leave him, but had continued with the army ever since. Her example had been imitated by the Baroness De Riedesel, who had joined the army at Fort Edward, bringing with her her three small children. The friendship and sympathy of these two ladies in all scenes of trial and suffering, and their devoted attachment to their husbands, afford touching episodes in the story of the campaign. When the army was on the march, they followed a little distance in the rear, Lady Harriet in a two-wheeled tumbril, the Baroness in a calash, capable of holding herself, her children, and two servants. The latter has left a journal of her campaigning, which we may occasionally cite. "They moved," she says, "in the midst of soldiery, who were full of animation, singing camp songs, and panting for action. They had to travel

Burgoyne declared, that had he any latitude in his orders, he would remain where he was, or perhaps fall back to Fort Edward, where his communication with Lake George would be secure, and wait for some event that might assist his movement forward; his orders, how-through almost impassable woods; in a picever, were positive to force a junction with Sir William Howe. He did not feel at liberty, therefore, to remain inactive longer than would be necessary to receive the reinforcements of the additional companies, the Gerinan drafts and recruits actually on Lake Champlain, and to collect provisions enough for twenty-five days. These reinforcements were indispensable, because, from the hour he should pass the Hudson River and proceed towards Albany, all safety of communication would cease.

"I yet do not despair," adds he, manfully. "Should I succeed in forcing my way to Albany, and find that country in a state to subsist my army, I shall think no more of a retreat, but, at the worst, fortify there, and await Sir William's operations.'

A feature of peculiar interest is given to this wild and rugged expedition, by the presence of two ladies of rank and refinement, involed in its perils and hardships One was Lady Harriet Ackland, daughter of the Earl of Пlchester, and wife of Major Ackland of the grenadiers; the other was the Baroness De Riedesel, wife of the Hessian major-general. Both of these ladies had been left behind in Canada. Lady Harriet, however, on hearing that her husband was wounded in the affair at Hubbardton, instantly set out to rejoin him, regardless of danger, and of her being in a condition before long to become a mother.

* Letter to Lord George Germain.

turesque and beautiful region; but which was almost abandoned by its inhabitants, who had hastened to join the American army." "They added much to its strength," observes she, "as they were all good marksmen, and the love of their country inspired them with more than ordinary courage.'

[ocr errors]

The American army had received various reinforcements: the most efficient was Morgan's corps of riflemen, sent by Washington. He had also furnished it with artillery. It was now about ten thousand strong. Schuyler finding himself and his proffered services slighted by Gates, had returned to Albany. His patriotism was superior to personal resentments. He still continued to promote the success of the campaign, exerting his influence over the Indian tribes, to win them from the enemy. At Albany, he held talks and war-feasts with deputations of Oneida, Tuscarora, and Onondaga warriors; and procured scouting parties of them, which he sent to the camp, and which proved of great service. His former aidede-camp, Colonel Brockholst Livingston, and his secretary, Colonel Varick, remained in camp, and kept him informed by letter of passing occurrences. They were much about the person of General Arnold, who, since his return from relieving Fort Stanwix, commanded the left wing of the army. Livingston, in fact, was with him as aide-de-camp. The jealousy

* Riedesel's Memoirs.





of Gates was awakened by these circumstan- | off with a small party to ascend the high hills ces. He knew their attachment to Schuyler, on the east side of the Hudson, and watch the and suspected they were prejudicing the mind movements of the enemy with glasses from of Arnold against him; and this suspicion their summits, or from the tops of the trees. may have been the origin of a coolness and For three days he kept thus on the look-out, neglect which he soon evinced toward Arnold sending word from time to time to camp of all himself. These young officers, however, though that he espied. devotedly attached to Schuyler from a knowl- On the 11th there were the first signs of edge of his generous character, were above any movement among Burgoyne's troops. On the camp intrigue. Livingston was again looking | 13th and 14th, they slowly passed over a bridge forward with youthful ardor to a brush with the enemy; but regretted that his former chief I would not be there to lead it. "Burgoyne," writes he to Schuyler exultingly, "is in such a situation, that he can neither advance nor retire without fighting. A capital battle must soon be fought. I am chagrined to the soul when I think that another person will reap the fruits of your labors."*

Colonel Varick, equally eager, was afraid Burgoyne might be decamping. "His evening guns," writes he, are seldom heard, and when heard, are very low in sound." +

[ocr errors]

The dense forests, in fact, which covered the country between the hostile armies, concealed their movements, and as Gates threw out no harassing parties, his information concerning the enemy was vague. Burgoyne, however, was diligently collecting all his forces from Skenesborough, Fort Anne, and Fort George, and collecting provisions; he had completed a bridge by which he intended to pass the Hudson, and force his way to Albany, where he expected co-operation from below. Every thing was conducted with as much silence and caution as possible. His troops paraded without beat of drum, and evening guns were discontinued. So stood matters on the 11th of September, when a report was circulated in the American camp, that Burgoyne was in motion, and that he had made a speech to his soldiers, telling them that the fleet had returned to Cannada, and their only safety was to fight their way to New York.

As General Gates was to receive an attack, it was thought he ought to choose the ground where to receive it; Arnold, therefore, in company with Kosciuszko, the Polish engineer, reconnoitred the neighborhood in quest of a good camping-ground, and at length fixed upon a ridge of hills called Bemis's Heights, which Kosciuszko proceeded to fortify.

of boats, which they had thrown across the Hudson, and encamped near Fish Creek. Colburn counted eight hundred tents, including marquees. A mile in advance were fourteen more tents. The Hessians remained encamped on the eastern side of the river, but intervening woods concealed the number of their tents. There was not the usual stir of military animation in the camps. There were no evening nor morning guns.

On the 15th, both English and Hessian camps struck their tents, and loaded their baggage waggons. By twelve o'clock both began to march. Colburn neglected to notice the route taken by the Hessians; his attention was absorbed by the British, who made their way slowly and laboriously down the western side of the river, along a wretched road intersected by brooks and rivulets, the bridges over which Schuyler had broken down. The division had with it eighty-five baggage waggons and a great train of artillery; with two unwieldy twenty-four pounders, acting like drag-anchors. It was a silent, dogged march, without beat of drum, or spirit-stirring bray of trumpet. A body of light troops, new levies, and Indians, painted and decorated for war, struck off from the rest and disappeared in the forest, up Fish Creek. From the great silence observed by Burgoyne in his movements, and the care he took in keeping his men together, and allowing no straggling parties, Colonel Colburn apprehended that he meditated an attack. Having seen the army advance two miles on its march, therefore, he descended from the heights, and hastened to the American camp to make his report. A British prisoner, brought in soon afterwards, stated that Burgoyne had come to a halt about four miles distant.

On the following morning, the army was under arms at daylight; the enemy, however, remained encamped, repairing bridges in front,

In the mean time, Colonel Colburn was sent and sending down guard boats to reconnoitre;

MS. Letter to Schuyler.

† Ibid.

the Americans, therefore, went on to fortify their position. The ridge of hills called Bemis's

ET. 45.]



Heights, rises abruptly from the narrow flat | received intelligence that the enemy were adbordering the west side of the river. Kosci- vancing in great force on his left. It was, in uszko had fortified the camp with intrench- fact, their right wing, composed of the British ments three-quarters of a mile in extent, having line and led by Burgoyne in person. It was redoubts and batteries, which commanded the covered by the grenadiers and light-infantry valley, and even the hills on the opposite side under General Fraser and Colonel Breyman, of the river; for the Hudson, in this upper who kept along the high grounds on the right; part, is comparatively a narrow stream. From while they, in turn, were covered in front and the foot of the height, an intrenchment ex- on the flanks by Indians, provincial royalists, tended to the river, ending with a battery at and Canadians. The left wing and artillery the water edge, commanding a floating bridge. were advancing at the same time, under MajorGenerals Phillips and Riedesel, along the great road and meadows by the river side, but they were retarded by the necessity of repairing broken bridges. It was the plan of Burgoyne, that the Canadians and Indians should attack the central outposts of the Americans, and draw their attention in that direction, while he and Fraser, making a circuit through the woods, should join forces and fall upon the rear of the American camp. As the dense forests hid them from each other, signal guns were to regulate their movements. Three, fired in succession, were to denote that all was ready, and be the signal for an attack in front, flank and rear.

The right wing of the army, under the immediate command of Gates, and composed of Glover's, Nixon's, and Patterson's brigades, occupied the brow of the hill nearest to the river, with the flats below.

The left wing, commanded by Arnold, was on the side of the camp furthest from the river, and distant from the latter about three-quarters of a mile. It was composed of the New Hampshire brigade of General Poor, Pierre Van Courtlandt's and James Livingston's regiments of New York militia, the Connecticut militia, Morgan's riflemen, and Dearborn's infantry. The centre was composed of Massachusetts and New York troops.

Burgoyne gradually drew nearer to the camp, throwing out large parties of pioneers and workmen. The Americans disputed every step. A Hessian officer observes: "The enemy bristled up his hair, as we attempted to repair more bridges. At last, we had to do him the honor of sending out whole regiments to protect our workmen."*

It was Arnold who provoked this honor. At the head of fifteen hundred men he skirmished bravely with the superior force sent out against him, and retired with several prisoners.

Burgoyne now encamped about two miles from General Gates, disposing his army in two lines; the left on the river, the right extending at right angles to it, about six hundred yards, across the low grounds to a range of steep and rocky hills, occupied by the élite; a ravine formed by a rivulet from the hills passed in front of the camp. The low ground between the armies was cultivated; the hills were covered with woods, excepting three or four small openings and deserted farms. Beside the ravines which fronted each camp there was a third one, midway between them, also at right angles to the river.t


The American pickets, stationed along the ravine of Mill Creek, sent repeated accounts to General Gates of the movements of the enemy; but he remained quiet in his camp as if determined to await an attack. The American officers grew impatient. Arnold especially, petuous by nature, urged repeatedly that a detachment should be sent forth to check the enemy in their advance, and drive the Indians out of the woods. At length he succeeded in getting permission, about noon, to detach Morgan with his riflemen and Dearborn with his infantry from his division. They soon fell in with the Canadians and Indians, which formed the advance guard of the enemy's right, and attacking them with spirit, drove them in, or rather dispersed them. Morgan's riflemen, following up their advantage with too much eagerness, became likewise scattered, and a strong reinforcement of royalists arriving on the scene of action, the Americans, in their turn, were obliged to give way.

Other detachınents now arrived from the American camp, led by Arnold, who attacked Fraser on his right, to check his attempt to get in the rear of the camp. Finding the position

On the morning of the 19th, General Gates of Fraser too strong to be forced, he sent to

Schlözer's Briefwechsel.

† Wilkinson's Memoirs, i. 236.

head-quarters for reinforcements, but they were refused by Gates, who declared that no more




should go; "he would not suffer his camp to be exposed."* The reason he gave was that it might be attacked by the enemy's left wing. Arnold now made a rapid counter-march, and, his movement being masked by the woods, suddenly attempted to turn Fraser's left. Here he came in full conflict with the British line, and threw himself upon it with a boldness and impetuosity that for a time threatened to break it, and cut the wings of the army asunder. The grenadiers and Breyman's riflemen hastened to its support. General Phillips broke his way through the woods with four pieces of artillery, and Riedesel came on with his heavy dragoons. Reinforcements came likewise to Arnold's assistance; his force, however, never exceeded three thousand men, and with these, for nearly four hours, he kept up a conflict almost hand to hand, with the whole right wing of the British army. Part of the time the Americans had the advantage of fighting under the cover of a wood, so favorable to their militia and sharpshooters. Burgoyne ordered the woods to be cleared by the bayonet. His troops rushed forward in columns with a hurra! The Americans kept within their intrenchments, and repeatedly repulsed them; but, if they pursued their advantage, and advanced into open field, they were in their turn driven back. Night alone put an end to a conflict, which the British acknowledged to have been the most obstinate and hardly fought they had ever experienced in America. Both parties claimed the victory. But, though the British remained on the field of battle, where they lay all night upon their arms, they had failed in their object; they had been assailed instead of being the assailants; while the American troops had accomplished the purpose for which they had sallied forth; had checked the advance of the enemy, frustrated their plan of attack, and returned exulting to their camp. Their loss, in killed and wounded, was between three and four hundred, including several officers; that of the enemy upwards of five hundred.

Burgoyne gives an affecting picture of the situation of the ladies of rank already mentioned, during the action. Lady Harriet had been directed by her husband, Major Ackland, to follow the route of the artillery and baggage, which was not exposed. "At the time the action began," writes Burgoyne, "she found

* Colonel Varick to Schuyler. Schuyler Papers.


herself near a small uninhabited hut, where she alighted. When it was found the action was becoming general and bloody, the surgeons of the hospital took possession of the same place, as the most convenient for the first care of the wounded. Thus was the lady in hearing of one continued fire of cannon and musketry for four hours together, with the presumption, from the post of her husband, at the head of the grenadiers, that he was in the most exposed part of the action. She had three female companions, the Baroness of Riedesel, and the wives of two British officers, Major Harnage and Lieutenant Reynell; but in the event their presence served but little for comfort. Major Harnage was soon brought to the surgeons very badly wounded; and in a little time after came intelligence that Lieutenant Reynell was shot dead. Imagination wants no helps to figure the state of the whole group."

Arnold was excessively indignant at Gates's withholding the reinforcements he had required in the heat of the action; had they been furnished, he said, he might have severed the line of the enemy and gained a complete victory. He was urgent to resume the action on the suc ceeding morning, and follow up the advantage he had gained, but Gates declined, to his additional annoyance. He attributed the refusal to pique or jealousy, but Gates subsequently gave as a reason the great deficiency of powder and ball in the camp, which was known only to himself, and which he kept secret until a supply was sent from Albany.

Burgoyne now strengthened his position with intrenchments and batteries, part of them across the meadows which bordered the river, part on the brow of the heights which commanded them. The Americans likewise extended and strengthened their line of breastworks on the left of the camp; the right was already unassailable. The camps were within gunshot, but with ravines and woods between them.

Washington's predictions of the effect to be produced by Morgan's riflemen approached fulfilment. The Indians, dismayed at the severe treatment experienced from these veteran bushfighters, were disappearing from the British camp. The Canadians and royal provincials, "mere trimmers," as Burgoyne called them, were deserting in great numbers, and he had no confidence in those who remained.

His situation was growing more and more critical. On the 21st, he heard shouts in the American camp, and in a little while their can

« PrejšnjaNaprej »