Slike strani

ET. 45.]



of the frigates, had overtaken and were firing | Anne, carrying with them a number of prisonupon the galleys. The latter defended them- ers, among whom were a captain and surgeon. selves for a while, but at length two struck, Supposing the troops under Colonel Hill an adand three were blown up. The fugitives from vance guard of Burgoyne's army, they set fire them brought word that the British ships not to the fort and pushed on to Fort Edward; being able to come up, troops and Indians were where they gave the alarm that the main force landing from them and scrambling up the hills; of the enemy was close after them, and that intending to get in the rear of the fort and no one knew what had become of General St. cut off all retreat. Clair and the troops who had retreated with him. We shall now clear up the mystery of his movements.

All now was consternation and confusion. The bateaux, the storehouses, the fort, the mill were all set on fire, and a general flight took place toward Fort Anne, about twelve miles distant. Some made their way in boats up Wood Creek, a winding stream. The main body under Colonel Long, retreated by a narrow defile cut through the woods; harassed all night by alarms that the Indians were close in pursuit. Both parties reached Fort Anne by daybreak. It was a small picketed fort, near the junction of Wood Creek and East Creek, about sixteen miles from Fort Edward. General Schuyler arrived at the latter place on the following day. The number of troops with him was inconsiderable, but, hearing of Colonel Long's situation, he immediately sent him a small reinforcement, with provisions and ammunition, and urged him to maintain his post resolutely.

His retreat through the woods from Mount Independence continued the first day until night, when he arrived at Castleton, thirty miles from Ticonderoga. His rear-guard halted about six miles short, at Hubbardton, to await the arrival of stragglers. It was composed of three regiments, under Colonels Seth Warner, Francis, and Hale; in all about thirteen hundred men.

Early the next morning, a sultry morning of July, while they were taking their breakfast, they were startled by the report of fire-arms. Their sentries had discharged their muskets, and came running in with word that the enemy were at hand.

It was General Fraser, with his advance of eight hundred and fifty men, who had pressed forward in the latter part of the night, and On the same day Colonel Long's scouts now attacked the Americans with great spirit, brought in word that there were British red- notwithstanding their superiority in numbers; coats approaching. They were in fact a regi- in fact, he expected to be promptly reinforced ment under Lieutenant-Colonel Hill, detached by Riedesel and his Germans. The Americans from Skenesborough by Burgoyne in pursuit met the British with great spirit; but at the of the fugitives. Long sallied forth to meet very commencement of the action Colonel Hale, them; posting himself at a rocky defile, where with a detachment placed under his command there was a narrow pathway along the border to protect the rear, gave way, leaving Warner of Wood Creek. As the enemy advanced he and Francis with but seven hundred men to opened a heavy fire upon them in front, while bear the brunt of the battle. These posted a part of his troops crossing and recrossing the themselves behind logs and trees in 'backcreek, and availing themselves of their knowl- wood' style, whence they kept up a destrucedge of the ground, kept up a shifting attack tive fire, and were evidently gaining the adfrom the woods in flank and rear. Apprehen- vantage, when General Riedesel came pressing sive of being surrounded, the British took post into the action with his German troops; drums upon a high hill to their right, where they beating and colors flying. There was now an were warmly besieged for nearly two hours, impetuous charge with the bayonet. Colonel and, according to their own account, would Francis was among the first who fell, gallantly certainly have been forced, had not some of fighting at the head of his men. The Ameritheir Indian allies arrived and set up the much- cans, thinking the whole German force upon dreaded war-whoop. It was answered with them, gave way and fled, leaving the ground three cheers by the British upon the hill. This changed the fortune of the day. The Americans had nearly expended their ammunition, and had not enough left to cope with this new enemy. They retreated, therefore, to Fort

covered with their dead and wounded. Many others who had been wounded perished in the woods, where they had taken refuge. Their whole loss in killed, wounded, and taken, was upwards of three hundred; that of the enemy




one hundred and eighty-three. Several officers were lost on both sides. Among those wounded of the British was Major Ackland of the grenadiers, of whose further fortunes in the war we shall have to speak hereafter.

The noise of the firing when the action commenced had reached General St. Clair at Castleton. He immediately sent orders to two militia regiments which were in his rear, and within two miles of the battle ground, to hasten to the assistance of his rear-guard. They refused to obey, and hurried forward to Castleton. At this juncture St. Clair received information of Burgoyne's arrival at Skenesborough, and the destruction of the American works there: fearing to be intercepted at Fort Anne, he immediately changed his route, struck into the woods on his left, and directed his march to Rutland, leaving word for Warner to follow him. The latter overtook him two days' afterwards, with his shattered force reduced to ninety men. As to Colonel Hale, who had pressed towards Castleton at the beginning of the action, he and his men were overtaken the same day by the enemy, and the whole party captured, without making any fight. It has been alleged in his excuse, with apparent justice, that he and a large portion of his men were in feeble health, and unfit for action; for his own part, he died while yet a prisoner, and never had the opportunity which he sought, to vindicate himself before a courtmartial.

On the 12th St. Clair reached Fort Edward, his troops haggard and exhausted by their long retreat through the woods. Such is the story of the catastrophe at Fort Ticonderoga, which caused so much surprise and concern to Washington, and of the seven days' mysterious disappearance of St. Clair, which kept every one in the most painful suspense.

The loss of artillery, ammunition, provisions, and stores, in consequence of the evacuation of these northern posts, was prodigious; but the


highly elated with their fortune, and deemed that and their prowess to be irresistible. They regarded their enemy with the greatest contempt, and considered their own toils to be nearly at an end, and Albany already in their hands."

In England, too, according to the same author, the joy and exultation were extreme; not only at court, but with all those who hoped or wished the unqualified subjugation and unconditional submission of the colonies. "The loss in reputation was greater to the Americans," adds he, "and capable of more fatal consequences, than that of ground, of posts, of artillery, or of men. All the contemptuous and most degrading charges which had been made by their enemies, of their wanting the resolution and abilities of men, even in the defence of what was dear to them, were now repeated and believed." * * * "It was not difficult to diffuse an opinion that the war, in effect, was over, and that any further resistance would render the terms of their submission worse. Such," he concludes, "were some of the immediate effects of the loss of those grand keys of North America, Ticonderoga and the lakes." *


A SPIRITED exploit to the eastward was performed during the prevalence of adverse news from the North. General Prescott had com

mand of the British forces in Rhode Island. His harsh treatment of Colonel Ethan Allen, and his haughty and arrogant conduct on various occasions, had rendered him peculiarly odious to the Americans. Lieutenant-Colonel Barton, who was stationed with a force of Rhode Island militia on the mainland, received word that Prescott was quartered at a country house near the western shore of the island, about four miles from Newport, totally unconscious

worst effect was the consternation spread of danger, though in a very exposed situation. throughout the country. A panic prevailed at Albany, the people running about as if dis- He determined, if possible, to surprise and captracted, sending off their goods and furniture.*ture him. Forty resolute men joined him in The great barriers of the North, it was said, were broken through, and there was nothing to check the triumphant career of the enemy. The invading army, both officers and men, according to a British writer of the time, "were

MS. Letter of Richard Varick to Schuyler.

boats at Warwick Neck, they pulled quietly the enterprise. Embarking at night in two across the bay with muffled oars, undiscovered by the ships of war and guard-boats; landed in silence; eluded the vigilance of the guard stationed near the house; captured the sentry

*Hist. Civil War in America, vol. i., p. 283.


had his promotion been regular, he would have been superior in command to General St. Clair, he assured Washington that, on the present occasion, his claim should create no dispute.

at the door, and surprised the general in his | was so tenacious, was yet unsettled, and though, bed. His aide-de-camp leaped from the window, but was likewise taken. Colonel Barton returned with equal silence and address, and arrived safe at Warwick with his prisoners. A sword was voted to him by Congress, and he received a colonel's commission in the regular


Schuyler, in the mean time, aided by Kosciuszko the Pole, who was engineer in his department, had selected two positions on Moses Creek, four miles below Fort Edward; where the troops which had retreated from Ticonderoga, and part of the militia, were throwing up works.

To impede the advance of the enemy, he had caused trees to be felled into Wood Creek, so as to render it unnavigable, and the roads between Fort Edward and Fort Anne to be broken up; the cattle in that direction to be brought away, and the forage destroyed. He had drawn off the garrison from Fort George, who left the buildings in flames. "Strength

Washington hailed the capture of Prescott as a peculiarly fortunate circumstance, furnishing him with an equivalent for General Lee. He accordingly wrote to Sir William Howe, proposing the exchange. "This proposition," writes he, "being agreeable to the letter and spirit of the agreement subsisting between us, will, I hope, have your approbation. I am the more induced to expect it, as it will not only remove one ground of controversy between us, but in its consequences effect the exchanges of Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell and the Hessian officers, for a like number of ours of equal rankened by that garrison, who are in good health,” in your possession." writes he, "and if the militia, who are here, No immediate reply was received to this or an equal number, can be prevailed on to letter, Sir William Howe being at sea; in the stay, and the enemy give me a few days more, mean time Prescott remained in durance. "I which I think they will be obliged to do, I would have him genteelly accommodated, but shall not be apprehensive that they will be strongly guarded," writes Washington. "I able to force the posts I am about to occupy." would not admit him to parole, as General Howe has not thought proper to grant General Lee that indulgence.” *

Washington continued his anxious exertions to counteract the operations of the enemy; forwarding artillery and ammunition to Schuyler with all the camp furniture that could be spared from his own encampment and from Peekskill. A part of Nixon's brigade was all the reinforcement he could afford in his present situation. "To weaken this army more than is prudent," writes he, "would perhaps bring destruction upon it, and I look upon the keeping it upon a respectable footing as the only means of preventing a junction of Howe's and Burgoyne's armies, which, if effected, may have the most fatal consequences."

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Washington cheered on his faithful coadjutor. His reply to Schuyler (July 22d) was full of that confident hope, founded on sagacious forecast, with which he was prone to animate his generals in time of doubt and difficulty. Though our affairs for some days past have worn a dark and gloomy aspect, I yet look forward to a fortunate and happy change. I trust General Burgoyne's army will meet sooner or later an effectual check, and, as I suggested before, that the success he has had will precipitate his ruin. From your accounts, he appears to be pursuing that line of conduct, which, of all others, is most favorable to us; I mean acting in detachment. This conduct will certainly give room for enterprise on Our part, and expose his parties to great hazard. Could we be so happy as to cut one of them off, supposing it should not exceed four, five, or six hundred men, it would inspirit the peo

Schuyler had earnestly desired the assistance of an active officer well acquainted with the country. Washington sent him Arnold. "I need not," writes he, " enlarge upon his well-ple, and do away much of their present anxiety. known activity, conduct, and bravery. The proofs he has given of all these have gained him the confidence of the public and of the army, the Eastern troops in particular."

The question of rank, about which Arnold Letter to Governor Trumbull. Correspondence of the Revolution, vol. 1., Sparks.

In such an event they would lose sight of past misfortunes, and, urged at the same time by a regard to their own security, they would fly to arms and afford every aid in their power."

While he thus suggested bold enterprises, he cautioned Schuyler not to repose too much confidence in the works he was projecting, so




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as to collect in them a large quantity of stores. "I begin to consider lines as a kind of trap; writes he, "and not to answer the valuable purposes expected from them, unless they are in passes which cannot be avoided by the enemy."

In circulars addressed to the brigadier-generals of militia in the western parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut, he warned them that the evacuation of Ticonderoga had opened a door by which the enemy, unless vigorously opposed, might penetrate the northern part of the State of New York, and the western parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and, forming a junction with General Howe, cut off the communication between the Eastern and Northern States. "It cannot be supposed,' adds he, "that the small number of Continental troops assembled at Fort Edward, is alone sufficient to check the progress of the enemy. To the militia, therefore, must we look for support in this time of trial; and I trust that you will immediately upon receipt of this, if you have not done it already, march with at least onethird of the militia under your command, and rendezvous at Saratoga, unless directed to some other place by General Schuyler or General Arnold."

Washington now ordered that all the vessels and river craft, not required at Albany, should be sent down to New Windsor and Fishkill, and kept in readiness; for he knew not how soon the movements of General Howe might render it suddenly necessary to transport part of his forces up the Hudson.

Further letters from Schuyler urged the increasing exigencies of his situation. It was harvest time. The militia, impatient at being detained from their rural labors, were leaving him in great numbers. In a council of general officers it had been thought advisable to give leave of absence to half, lest the whole should depart. He feared those who remained would do so but a few days. The enemy were steadily employed cutting a road toward him from Skenesborough. From the number of horse they were reported to have, and to expect, they might intend to bring their provisions on horseback. If so, they would be able to move with expedition. In this position of affairs, he urged to be reinforced as speedily as possible.

Washington, in reply, informed him that he had ordered a further reinforcement of General Glover's brigade, which was all he could pos


sibly furnish in his own exigencies. He trusted affairs with Schuyler would soon wear a more smiling aspect, that the Eastern States, who were so deeply concerned in the matter, would exert themselves, by effectual succors, to enable him to check the progress of the enemy, and repel a danger by which they were immediately threatened. From the information he had received, he supposed the force of the enemy to be little more than five thousand. "They seem," said he, "to be unprovided with waggons to transport the immense quantity of baggage and warlike apparatus, without which they cannot pretend to penetrate the country. You mention their having a great number of horses, but they must nevertheless require a considerable number of waggons, as there are many things which cannot be transported on horses. They can never think of advancing without securing their rear, and the force with which they can act against you, will be greatly reduced by detachments necessary for that purpose; and as they have to cut out their passage, and to remove the impediments you have thrown in their way, before they can proceed, this circumstance, with the encumbrance they must feel in their baggage, stores, &c., will inevitably retard their march, and give you leisure and opportunity to prepare a good reception for them. * * * * I have directed General Lincoln to repair to you as speedily as the state of his health, which is not very perfect, will permit; this gentleman has always supported the character of a judicious, brave, active officer, and he is exceedingly popular in the State of Massachusetts, to which he belongs; he will have a degree of influence over the militia which cannot fail of being highly advantageous. I have intended him more particularly for the command of the militia, and I promise myself it will have a powerful tendency to make them turn out with more cheerfulness, and to inspire them with perseverance to remain in the field, and with fortitude and spirit to do their duty while in it."*

Washington highly approved of a measure suggested by Schuyler, of stationing a body of troops somewhere about the Hampshire Grants (Vermont), so as to be in the rear or on the flank of Burgoyne, should he advance. It would make the latter, he said, very circumspect in his advances, if it did not entirely prevent them. It would keep him in continual


Schuyler's Letter-Book.

ET. 45.]


anxiety for his rear, and oblige him to leave the posts behind him inuch stronger than he would otherwise do. He advised that General Lincoln should have command of the corps thus posted, as no person could be more proper for it."

He recommended, moreover, that in case the enemy should make any formidable movement in the neighborhood of Fort Schuyler (Stanwix), on the Mohawk River, General Arnold, or some other sensible, spirited officer, should be sent to take charge of that post, keep up the spirits of the inhabitants, and cultivate and improve the favorable disposition of the Indians.

The reader will find in the sequel what a propitious effect all these measures had upon the fortunes of the Northern campaign, and with what admirable foresight Washington calculated all its chances. Due credit must also be given to the sagacious counsels and executive energy of Schuyler; who suggested some of the best moves in the campaign, and carried them vigorously into action. Never was Washington more ably and loyally seconded by any of his generals.


in the handwriting of Howe, and bore his signature. In it he informed Burgoyne, that, instead of any designs up the Hudson, he was bound to the east against Boston. "If," said he, "according to my expectations, we may succeed in getting possession of it, I shall, without loss of time, proceed to co-operate with you in the defeat of the rebel army opposed to you. Clinton is sufficiently strong to amuse Washington and Putnam. I am now making demonstrations to the southward, which I think will have the full effect in carrying our plan into execution."

Washington at once pronounced the letter a feint. "No stronger proof could be given," said he, "that Howe is not going to the eastward. The letter was evidently intended to fall into our hands. If there were not too great a risk of the dispersion of their fleet. I should think their putting to sea a mere manœuvre to deceive, and the North River still their object. I am persuaded, more than ever, that Philadelphia is the place of destination."

He now set out with his army for the Delaware, ordering Sullivan and Stirling with their divisions to cross the Hudson from Peekskill, and proceed towards Philadelphia. Every movement and order showed his doubt and perplexity, and the circumspection with which he had to proceed. On the 30th he writes from Coryell's Ferry, about thirty miles from Philadephia, to General Gates, who was in that

But now the attention of the commander-inchief is called to the seaboard. On the 23d of July, the fleet, so long the object of watchful solicitude, actually put to sea. The force embarked, according to subsequent accounts, consisted of thirty-six British and Hessian battalions, including the light infantry and grena-city: "As we are yet uncertain as to the real diers, with a powerful artillery; a New York corps of provincials, or royalists, called the Queen's Rangers, and a regiment of light-horse; between fifteen and eighteen thousand men in all. The force left with General Sir Henry Clinton for the protection of New York, consisted of seventeen battalions, a regiment of light-horse, and the remainder of the provincial corps.*

The destination of the fleet was still a matter of conjecture. Just after it had sailed, a young man presented himself at one of General Putnam's outposts. He had been a prisoner in New York, he said, but had received his liberty and a large reward on undertaking to be the bearer of a letter from General Howe to Burgoyne. This letter his feelings of patriotism prompted him to deliver up to General Putnam. The letter was immediately transmitted by the general to Washington. It was

* Civil War in America, vol. i., p. 250.

* * *

destination of the enemy, though the Delaware
seems the most probable, I have thought it
prudent to halt the army at this place, How-
ell's Ferry, and Trenton, at least till the fleet
actually enters the bay and puts the matter
beyond a doubt. From hence we can be on
the proper ground to oppose them before they
can possibly make their arrangements and dis-
positions for an attack.
That the
post in the Highlands may not be left too much
exposed, I have ordered General Sullivan's di-
vision to halt at Morristown, whence it will
march southward, if there should be occasion,
or northward upon the first advice that the
enemy should be throwing any force up the
North River. General Howe's in a manner
abandoning General Burgoyne, is so unac-
countable a matter, that, till I am fully assured
it is so, I cannot help casting my eyes continually
behind me. As I shall pay no regard to any
flying reports of the appearance of the fleet, I
shall expect an account of it from you, the mo-

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