Slike strani

ET. 45.]



received intelligence that the enemy were advancing in great force on his left. It was, in

Heights, rises abruptly from the narrow flat bordering the west side of the river. Kosciuszko had fortified the camp with intrench-fact, their right wing, composed of the British ments three-quarters of a mile in extent, having redoubts and batteries, which commanded the valley, and even the hills on the opposite side of the river; for the Hudson, in this upper part, is comparatively a narrow stream. From the foot of the height, an intrenchment extended to the river, ending with a battery at the water edge, commanding a floating bridge.

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

line and led by Burgoyne in person. It was covered by the grenadiers and light-infantry under General Fraser and Colonel Breyman, who kept along the high grounds on the right; while they, in turn, were covered in front and on the flanks by Indians, provincial royalists, and Canadians. The left wing and artillery 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 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, impetuous 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 succeeding 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 intrenchinents 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,

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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

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ET. 45.]


non thundered a feu de joie. News had been
received from General Lincoln, that a detach-
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 hun-
dred 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.‡


wrote a note to Gates, requesting the proffered permit to depart for Philadelphia; by the time he received it his ire had cooled and he had changed his mind. He determined to remain in camp and abide the anticipated battle.

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 from a spirit of jealousy," writes he, "and that I have every thing to fear from the malice of 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 cominander 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.

of ships of war, armed galleys, and flat-bottomed boats. A southern destination was given out, but shrewd observers surmised the real one.

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 James 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 manoeuvres of Sir Henry Clinton had been successful. It was his plan to threaten an attack on Pecks. 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, แ 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, ii. 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

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