Slike strani

ET. 45.]



he received it his ire had cooled and he had changed his mind. He determined to remain in camp and abide the anticipated battle.

non thundered a feu de joie. News had been wrote a note to Gates, requesting the proffered received from General Lincoln, that a detach-permit to depart for Philadelphia; by the time ment of New England troops under Colonel Brown had surprised the carrying-place, mills, and French lines at Ticonderoga, captured an armed sloop, gunboats, and bateaux, made three hundred prisoners, besides releasing one hundred American captives, and were laying siege to Fort Independence.*

Fortunately for Burgoyne, while affairs were darkening in the North, a ray of hope dawned from the South. While the shouts from the American camp were yet ringing in his ears, came a letter in cypher from Sir Henry Clinton, dated the 12th of September, announcing his intention in about ten days to attack the forts in the Highlands of the Hudson.

Burgoyne sent back the messenger the same night, and despatched, moreover, two officers in disguise, by different routes, all bearing messages informing Sir Henry of his perilous situation, and urging a diversion that might oblige General Gates to detach a part of his army; adding, that he would endeavor to maintain his present position, and await favorable events until the 12th of October.t

The jealousy of Gates had been intensely excited at finding the whole credit of the late affair given by the army to Arnold: in his despatches to government he made no mention of him. This increased the schism between them. Wilkinson, the adjutant-general, who was a sycophantic adherent of Gates, pandered to his pique by withdrawing from Arnold's division Morgan's rifle corps and Dearborn's light infantry, its arm of strength, which had done such brilliant service in the late affair: they were henceforth to be subject to no order but those from head-quarters.

Arnold called on Gates on the evening of the 22d, to remonstrate. High words passed between them, and matters came to an open rupture. Gates, in his heat, told Arnold that he did not consider him a major-general, he having sent his resignation to Congress-that he had never given him the command of any division of the army-that General Lincoln would arrive in a day or two, and then he would have no further occasion for him, and would give him a pass to go to Philadelphia, whenever he chose.t

Lincoln, in the mean time, arrived in advance of his troops; which soon followed to the amount of two thousand. Part of the troops, detached by him under Colonel Brown, were besieging Ticonderoga and Fort Independence.

Colonel Brown himself, with part of his detachment, had embarked on Lake George in an armed schooner and a squadron of captured gunboats and bateaux, and was threatening the enemy's deposit of baggage and heavy artillery at Diamond Island. The toils so skilfully spread were encompassing Burgoyne more and more; the gates of Canada were closing behind him.

A morning or two after Lincoln's arrival, Arnold observed him giving some directions in the left division, and quickly inquired whether he was doing so by order of General Gates; being answered in the negative, he observed. that the left division belonged to him; and that he believed his (Lincoln's) proper station was on the right, and that of General Gates ought to be in the centre. He requested him to mention this to General Gates, and have the matter adjusted.

"He is determined," writes Varick, "not to suffer any one to interfere in his division, and says it will be death to any officer who does so in action." Arnold, in fact, was in a bellicose vein, and rather blustered about the camp. Gates, he said, could not refuse him his command, and he would not yield it now that a battle was expected.

Some of the general officers and colonels of his division proposed to make him an address, thanking him for his past services, particularly in the late action, and entreating him to stay. Others suggested that the general officers should endeavor to procure a reconciliation between the jarring parties. Lincoln was inclined to do so; but, in the end, neither measure was taken through fear of offending General Gates. In the mean time Arnold remained in camp, treated, he said, as a cypher, and never consulted; though when Congress had sent him to that department, at the request of General Washington, they expected the commander

Arnold returned to his quarters in a rage, and would at least have taken his opinion on public

* Colonel Varick to Schuyler. Schuyler Papers.

↑ Burgoyne to Lord George Germain.

+ Col. Livingston to Schuyler. Schuyler Papers


On the 30th, he gave vent to his feelings in an indignant letter to Gates. "Notwithstanding





I have reason to think your treatment proceeds | of ships of war, armed galleys, and flat-bottomed from a spirit of jealousy," writes he, "and that boats. A southern destination was given out, I have every thing to fear from the malice of but shrewd observers surmised the real one. my enemies, conscious of my own innocency and integrity, I am determined to sacrifice my feelings, present peace, and quiet, to the public good, and continue in the army at this critical juncture, when my country needs every support.

"I hope," concludes he, "you will not impute this hint to a wish to command the army, or to outshine you, when I assure you it proceeds from my zeal for the cause of my country, in which I expect to rise or fall.” *

All this time the Americans were harassing the British camp with frequent night alarms and attacks on its pickets and outposts.

"From the 20th of September to the 7th of October," writes Burgoyne, "the armies were so near, that not a night passed without firing, and sometimes concerted attacks upon our advanced pickets. I do not believe either officer or soldier ever slept in that interval without his clothes; or that any general officer or commander of a regiment passed a single night, without being upon his legs occasionally at different hours, and constantly an hour before daylight." +

Still Burgoyne kept up a resolute mien, telling his soldiers, in a harangue, that he was determined to leave his bones on the field, or force his way to Albany. He yet clung to the hope, that Sir Henry Clinton might operate in time to relieve him from his perilous position.

We will now cast a look toward New York, and ascertain the cause of Sir Henry's delay in his anxiously expected operations on the Hud



THE expedition of Sir Henry Clinton had awaited the arrival of reinforcements from Europe, which were slowly crossing the ocean in Dutch bottoms. At length they arrived, after a three months' voyage, and now there was a stir of warlike preparation at New York; the streets were full of soldiery, the bay full of ships; and water craft of all kinds were plying about the harbor. Between three and four thousand men were to be embarked on board

*Gates's Papers, N. Y. Hist. Lib.
† Burgoyne's Expedition, p. 166.

The defences of the Highlands, on which the security of the Hudson depended, were at this time weakly garrisoned; some of the troops having been sent off to reinforce the armies on the Delaware and in the North. Putnam, who had the general command of the Highlands, had but eleven hundred Continental and four hundred militia troops with him at Peekskill, his head-quarters. There was a feeble garrison at Fort Independence in the vicinity of Peekskill, to guard the public stores and workshops at Continental Village.

The Highland forts, Clinton, Montgomery, and Constitution, situated among the mountains and forming their main defence, were no better garrisoned, and George Clinton, who had the command of them, and who was in a manner the champion of the Highlands, was absent from his post, attending the State Legislature at Kingston (Esopus), in Ulster County, in his capacity of governor.

There were patriot eyes in New York to watch the course of events, and patriot boats on the river to act as swift messengers. On the 29th of September Putnam writes to his coadjutor the governor: "I have received intelligence on which I can fully depend, that the enemy had received a reinforcement at New York last Thursday, of about three thousand British and foreign troops; that General Clinton has called in guides who belong about Croton River; has ordered hard bread to be baked; that the troops are called from Paulus Hook to King's Bridge, and the whole troops are now under marching orders. I think it highly probable the designs of the enemy are against the posts of the Highlands, or of some part of the counties of Westchester or Dutchess." Under these circumstances he begged a reinforcement of the militia to enable him to

maintain his post, and intimated a wish for the personal assistance and counsel of the governor. In a postscript, he adds: "The ships are drawn up in the river, and I believe nothing prevents them from paying us an immediate visit, but a contrary wind."

On receiving this letter the governor forthwith hastened to his post in the Highlands, with such militia force as he could collect. We have heretofore spoken of his Highland citadel, Fort Montgomery, and of the obstructions of chain, boom, and chevaux-de-frise between it

ET. 45.]



and the opposite promontory of Anthony's | Henry landed with three thousand men about Nose, with which it had been hoped to barri- eight miles below Peekskill. cade the Hudson. The chain had repeatedly given way under the pressure of the tide, but the obstructions were still considered efficient, and were protected by the guns of the fort, and of two frigates and two armed galleys anchored above.

Fort Clinton had subsequently been erected within rifle-shot of Fort Montgomery, to occupy ground which commanded it. A deep ravine and stream called Peploep's Kill, intervened between the two forts, across which there was a bridge. The governor had his head-quarters in Fort Montgomery, which was the northern and largest fort, but its works were unfinished. His brother Jaines had charge of Fort Clinton, which was complete. The whole force to garrison the associate forts did not exceed six hundred men, chiefly militia, but they had the veteran Colonel Lamb of the artillery with them, who had served in Canada, and a company of his artillerists was distributed in the two forts.

Putnam drew back to the hills in the rear of the village to prepare for the expected attack, and sent off to Governor Clinton for all the troops he could spare. So far the mancuvres of Sir Henry Clinton had been successful. It was his plan to threaten an attack on Peeks. kill and Fort Independence, and, when he had drawn the attention of the American commanders to that quarter, to land troops on the western shore of the Hudson, below the Dunderberg (Thunder Hill), make a rapid march through the defiles behind that mountain to the rear of Forts Montgomery and Clinton, come down on them by surprise, and carry them by a coup de main.

Accordingly at an early hour of the following morning, taking advantage of a thick fog, he crossed with two thousand men to Stony Point, on the west shore of the river, leaving about a thousand men, chiefly royalists, at Verplanck's Point, to keep up a threatening aspect towards Peekskill. Three frigates, also, were to stand up what is called the Devil's Horse Race into Peekskill Bay, and station themselves within cannon-shot of Fort Inde

The crossing of the troops had been dimly descried from Peekskill, but they were supposed to be a mere detachment from the main body on a maraud.

The armament of Sir Henry Clinton, which had been waiting for a wind, set sail in the course of a day or two and stood up the Hudson, dogged by American swift-rowing whale-pendence. boats. Late at night of the 4th of October, came a barge across the river, from Peekskill to Fort Montgomery, bearing a letter from Putnam to the governor. "This morning," writes he, "" we had information from our guard boats, that there were two ships of war, three tenders, and a large number of flat-bottomed boats, coming up the river. They proceeded up as far as Tarrytown, where they landed their men. This evening they were followed by one large man-of-war, five topsail vessels, and a large number of small craft. I have sent off parties to examine their route and harass their march, if prudent. By information from several different quarters, we have reason to believe they intend for this post. They are now making up, as we hear, for the Croton Bridge." *

The landing of troops at Tarrytown was a mere feint on the part of Sir Henry to distract the attention of the Americans; after marching a few miles into the country, they returned and re-embarked; the armament continued across the Tappan Sea and Haverstraw Bay to Verplanck's Point, where, on the 5th, Sir

*Correspondence of the Revolution. Sparks, il. 537.

Having accomplished his landing, Sir Henry, conducted by a tory guide, set out on a forced and circuitous march of several miles by rugged defiles, round the western base of the Dunderberg. At the entrance of the pass he left a small force to guard it, and keep up his communication with the ships. By eight o'clock in the morning he had effected his march round the Dunderberg, and halted on the northern side in a ravine, between it and a conical mount called Bear Hill. The possibility of an enemy's approach by this pass had been noticed by Washington in reconnoitring the Highlands, and he had mentioned it in his instructions to Generals Greene and Knox, when they were sent to make their military survey, but they considered it impracticable, from the extreme difficulty of the mountain passes. It is in defiance of difficulties, however, that surprises are apt to be attempted, and the most signal have been achieved in the face of seeming impossibilities.

In the ravine between the Dunderberg and




The British troops then filed off on

Bear Hill, Sir Henry divided his forces. One | defile. division, nine hundred strong, led by Lieuten- each side into the woods, to surround the ant-Colonel Campbell, was to make a circuit Americans. The latter, finding it impossible to through the forest round the western side of extricate their field-piece in the rugged pass, Bear Hill, so as to gain the rear of Fort Mont- spiked it, and retreated into the fort, under gomery. After Sir Henry had allowed suffi- cover of the fire of a twelve-pounder, with cient time for them to make the circuit, he which Lamb had posted himself on the crest was to proceed with the other division down of a hill. the ravine, towards the river, turn to the left along a narrow strip of land between the Hud-stinate opposition in his approach to Fort son and a small lake called Sinipink Pond, which lay at the foot of Bear Hill, and advance upon Fort Clinton. Both forts were to be attacked at the same time.

Sir Henry Clinton had met with equally ob

Clinton; the narrow strip of land between Lake Sinipink and the Hudson, along which he advanced, being fortified by an abatis. By four o'clock, the Americans were driven within their works, and both forts were assailed. The defence was desperate; for Governor Clinton was a hard fighter, and he was still in hopes of reinforcements from Putnam; not knowing that the messenger he sent to him had turned traitor, and deserted to the enemy.

The detachment under Campbell set off in high spirits; it was composed partly of royalists, led by Colonel Beverly Robinson of New York, partly of Emerick's chasseurs, and partly of grenadiers, under Lord Rawdon, then about twenty-four years of age, who had already seen service at Bunker's Hill. With him went About five o'clock, he was summoned to Count Gabrouski, a Polish nobleman, aide-de- surrender in five minutes, to prevent the effucamp to Sir Henry Clinton, but who had sion of blood: the reply was a refusal. About sought to accompany his friend, Lord Rawdon, ten minutes afterwards there was a general in this wild mountain scramble. Every thing attack upon both forts. It was resisted with thus far had been conducted with celerity and obstinate spirit. The action continued until apparent secrecy, and complete surprise of both dusk. The ships under Commodore Hotham forts was anticipated. Sir Henry had, indeed, approached near enough to open an irregular outwitted one of the guardians of the High-fire upon the forts, and upon the vessels anlands, but the other was aware of his designs. Governor Clinton, on receiving intelligence of ships of war coming up the Hudson, had sent scouts beyond the Dunderberg to watch their movements. Early on the present morning, word had been brought him that forty boats were landing a large force at Stony Point. He now, in his turn, apprehended an attack, and sent to Putnam for reinforcements, preparing, in the mean time, to make such defence as his scanty means afforded.

A lieutenant was sent out with thirty men from Fort Clinton, to proceed along the riverroad and reconnoitre. He fell in with the advance guard of Sir Henry Clinton's division, and retreated skirmishing to the fort. A larger detachment was sent out to check the approach of the enemy on this side; while sixty men, afterwards increased to a hundred, took post with a brass field-piece in the Bear Hill defile.

It was a narrow and ruggea pass, bordered by shagged forests. As Campbell and his division came pressing forward, they were checked by the discharge of fire-arms and of the brass field-piece, which swept the steep

chored above the chevaux-de-frise. The latter returned the fire; and the flash and roar of their cannonry in the gathering darkness and among the echoes of the mountains increased the terrors of the strife. The works, however, were too extensive to be manned by the scanty garrisons; they were entered by different places and carried at the point of the bayonet; the Americans fought desperately from one redoubt to another; some were slain, some taken prisoners, and some escaped under cover of the night to the river or the mountains. "The garrison," writes Clinton, significantly, "had to fight their way out as many as could, as we determined not to surrender."

His brother James was saved from a deadly thrust of a bayonet, by a garrison orderly-book in his pocket; but he received a flesh-wound in the thigh. He slid down a precipice, one hundred feet high, into the ravine between the forts, and escaped to the woods. The governor leaped down the rocks to the river side, where a boat was putting off with a number of the fugitives. They turned back to receive him, but he generously refused to endanger their safety, as the boat was already loaded to the

ET. 45.]



gunwhale. It was only on receiving assurance | Lord Rawdon, who led the grenadiers in stormof its being capable of bearing his additional ing Fort Montgomery. The count received his weight, that he consented to enter. The boat crossed the Hudson in safety, and before midnight the governor was with Putnam, at Continental Village, concerting further measures.

death wound at the foot of the ramparts. Giving his sword to a grenadier: "Take this sword to Lord Rawdon," said he, "and tell him the owner died like a soldier." *

Putnam had been completely outmanœuvred On the capture of the forts, the American by Sir Henry Clinton. He had continued until frigates and galleys stationed for the protection late in the morning, in the belief that Peekskill of the chevaux-de-frise slipped their cables, and Fort Independence were to be the objects made all sail, and endeavored to escape up the of attack. His pickets and scouts could not river. The wind, however, proved adverse; ascertain the number of the enemy remaining there was danger of their falling into the hands on the east side of the river; a large fire near of the enemy; the crews, therefore, set them Stony Point made him think the troops which on fire and abandoned them. As every sail had crossed were merely burning storehouses; was set, the vessels, we are told, were soon while ships, galleys, and flat-bottomed boats "magnificent pyramids of fire; " the surrounding seemed preparing to land forces at Fort Inde- mountains were lit up by the glare, and a train pendence and Peekskill. In the course of the of ruddy light gleamed along the river. They morning he sallied forth with Brigadier-General were in a part of the Highlands famous for its Parsons, to reconnoitre the ground near the echoes: as the flames gradually reached the enemy. After their return they were alarmed, loaded cannon, their thundering reports were he says, by "a very heavy and hot firing both multiplied and prolonged along the rocky of sinall arms and cannon, at Fort Montgomery," shores. The vessels at length blew up with which must have made a tremendous uproar tremendous explosions, and all again was darkamong the echoes of the Dunderberg. Awareness.t of the real point of danger, he immediately detached five hundred men to reinforce the garrison. They had six miles to march along the eastern shore, and then to cross the river; before they could do so the fate of the forts was decided.

British historians acknowledge, that the valor and resolution displayed by the Americans in the defence of these forts were in no instance exceeded during the war; their loss in killed, wounded, and missing, was stated at two hundred and fifty, a large proportion of the number engaged. Their gallant defence awakened no generous sentiment in the victors. "As the soldiers," observes the British writer, were much irritated, as well by the fatigue they had undergone and the opposition they met, as by the loss of some brave and favorite officers, the slaughter of the enemy was considerable."*

[ocr errors]

Among the officers thus deplored, and bloodily revenged, was Colonel Campbell, who commanded the detachment. At his fall the command devolved on Colonel Beverly Robinson of the American loyalists. Another officer slain was Major Grant, of the New York volunteers. Count Gabrouski, the Polish aidede-camp of Sir Henry Clinton, had gallantly signalized himself by the side of his friend,

* Civil War in America, vol. 1., p. 311.

On the following morning, the chevaux-defrise and other obstructions between Fort Montgomery and Anthony's Nose were cleared away: the Americans evacuated Forts Independence and Constitution, and a free passage up the Hudson was open for the British ships. Sir Henry Clinton proceeded no further in person, but left the rest of the enterprise to be accomplished by Sir James Wallace and General Vaughan, with a flying squadron of light frigates, and a considerable detachment of troops.

Putnam had retreated to a pass in the mountains, on the east side of the river near Fishkill, having removed as much of the stores and baggage as possible from the post he had abandoned. The old general was somewhat mortified at having been outwitted by the enemy, but endeavored to shift the responsibility. In a letter to Washington (Oct. 8th), he writes: "I have repeatedly informed your Excellency of the enemy's design against this post; but, from some motive or other, you always differed from me in opinion. As this conjecture of mine has for once proved right, I cannot omit informing you, that my real and sincere opinion is, that they now mean to join General Burgoyne with the utmost despatch. Governor Clinton is ex

[blocks in formation]
« PrejšnjaNaprej »