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cannon, at Fort Montgomery," which must have made a tremendous uproar among the echoes of the Dunderberg. Aware of the real point of danger, he immediately detached five hundred men to re-enforce 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 defense 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 defense 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." *
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 aid-de-camp of Sir Henry Clinton, had gallantly signalized himself by the side of his friend, Lord Rawdon, who led the grenadiers in storming Fort Montgomery. The count received his 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." +
*Civil War in America, vol. i., p. 311.
On the capture of the forts, the American frigates and galleys stationed for the protection of the chevaux-de-frise slipped their cables, made all sail, and endeavored to escape up the river. The wind, however, proved adverse; there was danger of their falling into the hands of the enemy; the crews, therefore, set them on fire and abandoned them As every sail was set, the vessels, we are told, were soon "magnificent pyramids of fire"; the surrounding mountains were lit up by the glare, and a train of ruddy light gleamed along the river. They were in a part of the Highlands famous for its echoes: as the flames gradually reached the loaded cannon, their thundering reports were multiplied and prolonged along the rocky shores. The vessels at length blew up with tremendous explosions, and all again was darkness.*
On the following morning, the chevaux-de-frise 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
* Stedman, vol. i., p. 364.
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 dispatch. Governor Clinton is exerting himself in collecting the militia of this State. Brigadier-general Parsons I have sent off to forward in the Connecticut militia, which are now arriving in great numbers. I therefore hope and trust, that, in the course of a few days, I shall be able to oppose the progress of the enemy.'
He had concerted with Governor Clinton that they should move to the northward with their forces, along the opposite shores of the Hudson, endeavoring to keep pace with the enemy's ships and cover the country from their attacks.
The governor was in the neighborhood of New Windsor, just above the Highlands, where he had posted himself to rally what he termed his "broken but brave troops," and to call out the militia of Ulster and Orange. "I am persuaded," writes he, "if the militia will join me, we can save the country from destruction, and defeat the enemy's design of assisting their Northern army." The militia, however, were not as prompt as usual in answering to the call of their popular and brave-hearted governor. "They are well disposed," writes he, "but anxious about the immediate safety of their respective families (who, for many miles, are yet moving further from the river); they come in the morning and return in the evening, and I never know when I have them, or what my strength is."*
*Letter to the Council of Safety. Jour. of Provincial Congress, vol. i., p. 1064.
On the 9th, two persons coming from Fort Montgomery were arrested by his guards and brought before him for examination. One was much agitated, and was observed to put something hastily into his mouth and swallow it. An emetic was administered and brought up a small silver bullet. Before he could be prevented he swallowed it again. On his refusing a second emetic, the governor threatened to have him hanged and his body opened. The threat produced the bullet in the preceding manner. It was oval in form and hollow, with a screw in the center, and contained a note from Sir Henry Clinton to Burgoyne, written on a slip of thin paper, and dated (Oct. 8th) from Fort Montgomery. "Nous y voici (here we are), and nothing between us and Gates. I sincerely hope this little success of ours will facilitate your operations."*
The bearer of the letter was tried and convicted as a spy, and sentenced to be hanged.
The enemy's light-armed vessels were now making their way up the river; landing marauding parties occasionally to make depredations.
As soon as the governor could collect a little force, he pressed forward to protect Kingston (Esopus), the seat of the State Legislature. The enemy in the meantime landed from their ships, routed about one hundred and fifty militia collected to oppose them, marched to the village, set fire to it in every part, consuming great quantities of stores collected there, and then retreated to their ships.
Governor Clinton was two hours too late. He beheld the flames from a distance; and having brought with him the
* Governor Clinton to the N. Y. Council of Safety. Journal of Prov. Congress.
spy, the bearer of the silver bullet, he hanged him on an apple-tree in sight of the burning village.
Having laid Kingston, the seat of the State government, in ashes, the enemy proceeded in their ravages, destroying the residences of conspicuous patriots at Rhinebeck, Livingston Manor, and elsewhere, and among others the mansion of the widow of the brave General Montgomery: trusting to close their desolating career by a triumphant junction with Burgoyne at Albany.
BND OF VOLUME THIRTEEN