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Burgoyne's Invasion of 1777 - With an outline sketch of the American Invasion of Canada, 1775-76.
by Samuel Adams Drake
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Now, at the eleventh hour, Breyman was marching on the field to the sound of the firing. He had taken thirty-two hours to get over twenty-four miles. Supposing the day won, Stark's men were scattered about in disorder. Not even Stark himself seems to have thought of a rescuing force. Some were guarding the prisoners, some caring for the wounded, and some gathering up the booty. All had yielded to the demoralization of victory, or to the temptation to plunder. Most opportunely, Warner's men now came fresh into the fight. This gallant little band flung itself boldly in the path of the advancing foe, thus giving Stark the time to rally those nearest him, and lead them into action again.

At first Breyman gained ground. With steady tread his veterans fired and moved on, pushing the Americans back, toward the scene of the first encounter; but Baum was no longer there to assist, the scattered militiamen were fast closing in round Breyman's flanks, and Stark had now brought one of Baum's cannon to bear, with destructive effect, upon the head of the enemy's advancing column.

In no long time the deadly fire, poured in on all sides, began to tell upon Breyman's solid battalions. Our marksmen harassed his flanks. His front was hard pressed, and there were no signs of Baum. Enraged by the thought of having victory torn from their grasp, the Americans gave ground foot by foot, and inch by inch. At last the combatants were firing in each other's faces; so close was the encounter, so deadly the strife, that Breyman's men were falling round him by scores, under the close and accurate aim of their assailants. Darkness was closing in. His artillery horses were shot down in their traces, his flanks driven in, his advance stopped.

As soon as they perceived their advantage, the Americans redoubled their efforts. The firing grew tremendous. It was now Breyman who was forced back. Soon all order was lost. Favored by the darkness, he began a disorderly retreat. In an instant his guns were taken. Exhausted by fighting two battles in one afternoon, no longer able in the darkness to tell friend from foe, the Americans soon gave over the pursuit. But, for the second time, they stood victors on the hard-fought field. All felt it to be a narrow escape from defeat, for if Breyman had loitered by the way, he had fought like a lion in the toils of the hunter.

Thus Washington's sagacity had been vindicated, Stark's insubordination nobly atoned for, Schuyler's worst fears set at rest, by the fortunes of a single day.

Four cannon, one thousand stand of arms, and seven hundred prisoners, were the trophies of this victory. The enemy left two hundred of his dead on the field. Baum's corps was virtually destroyed, Breyman's badly cut up, Burgoyne's well-laid plans scattered to the winds.

FOOTNOTES:

[33] BATTLE OF BENNINGTON. Both actions actually occurred in the town of Hoosic, N.Y. (we cannot be held responsible for the absurd variations in spelling this name), though the troops were formed for the attack within the limits of Bennington, and Stark's despatch announcing his victory is dated at this place. A battle monument, designed to be three hundred and one feet high, is now being built on a commanding site at Bennington Centre, which is the old village. No more beautiful spot than this hill-environed valley, overlooked by Mount Anthony, could possibly commemorate to future centuries one of the decisive conflicts of the War for Independence.



IX.

AFTER BENNINGTON.

Stark had, indeed, dealt Burgoyne a stunning blow. In a moment all his combinations were overthrown. Efforts were made to keep the disaster a secret from the army, but the movements made in consequence of it told the story but too plainly.

[Sidenote: Aug. 17.]

In the first place, the whole army was hurried up to Batten-Kill in order to cover Breyman's and Frazer's retreat,[34] for Frazer had been ordered to recross the Hudson at once. Frazer's position was most critical; his bridge had been broken by a freshet, and for one whole day he was cut off from the main army.

[Sidenote: Aug. 18.]

As soon as Breyman's worn-out men had straggled into camp, Burgoyne's fell back to Duer's again. Meantime, Frazer had repaired his bridge and hastily recrossed the Hudson. Riedesel's corps was sent back to Fort Edward. The whole army had thus made a retrograde movement in consequence of the defeat at Bennington, and now lay in echelon[35] from Fort Edward to Batten-Kill, in the camps it had occupied before the advance was begun; it had retreated upon its communications; it was put on the defensive.

Burgoyne had now no choice left but to hold fast his communication with the lakes, and these could not be called safe while a victorious enemy was threatening his flank. From this time forward, he grew wary and circumspect. His councils began to be divided. The prestige of the army was lowered, confidence in its leaders visibly shaken. Even the soldiers began to grumble, criticise, and reflect. Burgoyne's vain boast that this army would not retreat, no longer met the conditions in which it stood. It had retreated.

As if to prove the truth of the adage that misfortunes never come singly, most of Burgoyne's Indians now deserted him. So far from intimidating, their atrocities had served to arouse the Americans as nothing else could. As soldiers, they had usually run away at the first fire. As scouts, their minds were wholly fixed upon plundering. Burgoyne had sharply rebuked them for it. Ever sullen and intractable under restraint, their answer was at least explicit, "No plunder, no Indians;" and they were as good as their word.

We find, then, that the battle of Bennington had cost Burgoyne not far from two thousand men, whether soldiers or Indians. More than this, it had thrown him back upon his second alternative, which, we remember, was to halt until supplies could be brought from Canada. This was easily equivalent to a month's delay. Thirty days of inaction were thus forced upon Burgoyne at a time when every one of them was worth five hundred men to the Americans. Such were some of the substantial results of the victory at Bennington.

To the Americans, the moral and material gains were no less striking or important. At once confidence was restored. Men no longer hesitated to turn out, or feared for the result. A most hopeful sign was the alacrity with which the well-to-do farmers went into the ranks. There was general appreciation of the fact that Burgoyne had seriously compromised himself by advancing as far as he had; in short, the re-action was quite as decisive as that which had followed the victory at Trenton.

FOOTNOTES:

[34] BREYMAN'S RETREAT. The express from Baum arrived at headquarters at 5 A.M. of the fifteenth. Orders were immediately given Breyman to march. News of Baum's defeat reached Burgoyne during the night of the sixteenth. The 20th regiment, British, was immediately marched to Breyman's support. Burgoyne's anxiety was so great, that he followed it until Breyman's corps was met on the road.

[35] ECHELON, the French word for step-ladder, by adoption a universal military term, well describes the posting of troops, belonging to one army, at stated intervals apart, so as to be moved forward or backward step by step, always keeping the same relative distances between the separate bodies. In marking out such positions on the map, the columns would look like the rounds of a ladder, hence the term.



X.

ST. LEGER'S EXPEDITION.

Burgoyne's hopes now chiefly turned upon the promised cooeperation of St. Leger from Oswego, and of Sir William Howe from New York.

[Sidenote: Refer to "Plan of Campaign."]

Convinced that the enemy would shortly invade the Mohawk Valley, Schuyler had sent Colonel Gansevoort[36] to put Fort Stanwix,[37] the key to this valley, in a state of defence, before it should be attacked.



St. Leger's force was the counterpart of Burgoyne's, in that it consisted of regular troops, loyalists, and Indians. Many of the loyalists, and most of the Indians, had lived in this valley, so that St. Leger had no want of guides, who knew every foot of ground, or of spies acquainted with the sentiments of every settler.

[Sidenote: Aug. 3.]

A scanty supply of provisions had just been brought into the fort when St. Leger's scouts opened fire upon it. The garrison shut the gates and returned the fire. Instead of finding Fort Stanwix defenceless, St. Leger was compelled to lay siege to it.

The news of St. Leger's appearance in the valley roused the settlers in arms. Near a thousand men, all brave, but without discipline, promptly marched, under General Herkimer,[38] to the relief of Fort Stanwix. Gansevoort was notified, and was to aid the movement by making a sortie from the fort, at the proper moment.

St. Leger's spies soon discovered Herkimer's men coming. All the rangers, and most of the Indians, went out to waylay them in the thick forests. Not far from Oriskany, Brant,[39] the Mohawk chief, and Johnson,[40] the loyalist leader, hid their men in a ravine, through which the Americans would have to pass, in a thin line, over a causeway of logs.

[Sidenote: Aug. 6.]

Meantime, the Americans were heedlessly pressing on, without order, to the rescue of their comrades. In their impatience, even ordinary precautions were neglected. When the van entered the ravine, a terrible fire mowed down the front ranks by scores; those in the rear fled in a panic from the field. It was downright butchery.

After the firing had continued some time, those Americans whom panic had not seized, threw themselves into a posture of defence, and resolved to sell their lives dearly. Herkimer, their leader, had been struck down by a bullet, among the first; but, notwithstanding his wound was a disabling one, he continued to direct his men, and encourage them by his firm demeanor to fight on. In the face of overwhelming odds they gallantly stood their ground, until the enemy was alarmed by hearing firing in its rear, and drew off, leaving Herkimer's little band of heroes to retire unmolested from the field.

The firing had been heard at Fort Stanwix, and the cause easily guessed. While the battle was raging at Oriskany, the garrison of the fort sallied out upon the besiegers' camps. They met with little opposition, as most of the defenders had gone out to fight Herkimer. The firing, however, had called off the savages from Herkimer, to the defence of their own camps. The sortie was gallantly made, and entirely successful; but the attack on Herkimer rendered it of so little avail, that the battle of Oriskany left Gansevoort hardly better off than before.

Two hundred of Herkimer's men were killed. He, too, soon died of his wounds.

Though this attempt to relieve Fort Stanwix had so signally failed, Schuyler was much too sensible of the importance of holding it, not to make another effort to raise the siege. He could ill afford to spare the troops necessary for the undertaking, since Burgoyne was now manoeuvring in his front; but the gravity of the situation could not be overlooked. He therefore sent Arnold, with Learned's brigade, to retrieve Herkimer's disaster in the valley.

[Sidenote: Aug. 22.]

Gansevoort was still holding out against St. Leger as stubbornly as ever. His situation was, however, growing desperate, when, one day, without apparent cause, the besiegers suddenly decamped in headlong haste, leaving their tents standing, their baggage in their tents, and their artillery in the trenches.

This inglorious and unlooked-for flight was brought about by emissaries from Arnold, who spread the report among St. Leger's Indians, that the Americans were coming with forces as numerous as leaves on the trees. Arnold, whom no one will accuse of want of courage, was really undecided about advancing farther with his small force. His stratagem, however, took effect. Grown weary of the siege, the Indians now made no scruple of deserting their allies on the spot. In vain St. Leger stormed and entreated by turns; stay they would not. He therefore had no choice but to follow them, in mortification and disgust, back to Oswego. In the belief that Arnold was close upon them, everything was left behind that could impede the march. The siege was abandoned in disgrace, and Fort Stanwix saved by a simple stratagem.

[Sidenote: Aug. 28.]

Six days later, Burgoyne was informed of St. Leger's retreat. He had now no other resource than in the promised advance up the Hudson, and in the strength of his artillery. By acting in detachments, his immediate force had been so seriously weakened that a forward movement on his part, without full assurance of active support from New York, savored far more of recklessness than sound military judgment.

FOOTNOTES:

[36] COLONEL PETER GANSEVOORT, born at Albany, 1749, had fought with Montgomery at Quebec.

[37] FORT STANWIX, also called Schuyler, built by General Stanwix of Abercromby's army in 1758.

[38] GENERAL NICHOLAS HERKIMER, a leading settler of the Mohawk Valley.

[39] JOSEPH BRANT, or Thayandanega, sometime pupil of Dr. Wheelock's school (since Dartmouth College), was by all odds the most active, intelligent, and implacable enemy to the Americans that the war produced among his people. With Johnson, he held most of the Six Nations at enmity with us during the Revolution. (See Note 5.)

[40] SIR JOHN JOHNSON was the son of Sir William, who gained wealth and a title by his victory over Dieskau at Lake George, 1755. He was also the king's superintendent over the Six Nations, and had his residence at Caughnawaga, since called Johnstown in his honor. Sir John succeeded to his father's title and estates. He took sides with the Royalists, raised a body of Tory followers, and with them fled to Canada. Out of these refugees, he raised a corps of rangers called Royal Greens, with whom he joined St. Leger, in the hope of crushing out his enemies in the valley.



XI.

OUR ARMY ADVANCES.

[Sidenote: Refer to Chapter V., "Facing Disaster."]

[Sidenote: Aug. 4.]

We remember that the united voice of the army and people had demanded the recall of those generals whose want of foresight or energy, or both, had caused the disasters with which the campaign had opened. Congress chose General Gates[41] to command in room of Schuyler, who, with St. Clair, was ordered to report at headquarters. With the methods of travel then in use, Gates was nearly two weeks in getting from Philadelphia to Albany. This fact will sufficiently illustrate the difficulties which attended the movement of reenforcements from one army to another, before the day of railways and steamboats.

All that lay in the power of man to do, Washington had done for the Northern army. Though fronting an enemy greatly superior to himself, he had still found time to so direct operations in the North, that his hand may almost be said to have guided the course of events in that quarter. He had soothed Schuyler's wounded self-love, commended his efforts, strengthened his hands in the field, and nobly stood between him and his detractors in Congress. When Congress had suspended all the generals of the Northern army from command, it was Washington who interposed to save them and the army from the consequences of such blindness and folly. To Schuyler he had said, "Burgoyne is doing just what we could wish; let him but continue to scatter his army about, and his ruin is only a question of time." Schuyler urgently called for more troops. Brigade after brigade had gone from Washington's own army to swell Schuyler's ranks. "I care not where the victory is won, so we do but gain it," Washington said. Schuyler again pleaded his want of general officers. Washington sent him Arnold, the dare-devil of the army, and Lincoln, a man of sound head, steady hand, and even temper, as a counterpoise to Arnold's over-confident and impetuous nature. Thanks to these efforts, we had created a new army on the ruins of the old.

Schuyler's deportment toward the Massachusetts authorities at this time was neither conciliatory nor conducive to the interests of the service. He knew their feelings of distrust toward him, and in making application to them for reenforcements showed his resentment in a way that called forth an acrimonious response. He upbraided them for their shortcomings; they entreated him to look nearer home. Thus we find General Schuyler and the Massachusetts Council engaged in an exchange of sarcasms at a time when the exigency called for something besides a war of words between the commander of an army and the executive head of a powerful State.

[Sidenote: Aug. 19.]

Gates took command just after the Battle of Bennington was won. He found the army in much disorder, but pleased with the change of commanders. Gates was a thorough disciplinarian and organizer. In his hands, the efficiency of the army daily increased. Old jealousies were silenced, and confidence restored. Letters from the soldiers show the change in temper and spirit to have been instant and marked. One of them says, "When we came to Albany, things looked very dark for our side, for there were officers in town who had left camp, and would not go back as long as Schuyler had the command. Both officers and soldiers were determined not to fight under him, and would tell him so to his head. But General Gates came to town, and then the tune was turned, and every face showed a merry heart."

The hostile armies now lay, quietly gathering up their strength for the decisive struggle, within sound of each other's evening guns.

[Sidenote: Sept. 9.]

Gates was the first to act. Having been joined by Morgan's rifle corps,[42] and by large numbers of militia, the whole army now moved up to Stillwater, within a dozen miles of the enemy, who still remained intrenched behind the Batten-Kill. This movement put new life into our soldiers, and was not without its effect upon the enemy, whose spirit was aroused at finding the antagonist it had been pursuing suddenly become the aggressor. The Americans had a well-served though not numerous artillery, but the presence of Morgan's corps more than made good any deficiency in this respect. The great drawback to the efficiency of the army was the want of cordiality between Gates and Arnold. The breach between them was daily widening that was presently to become an impassable gulf.

Gates purposed taking up a strong position, and awaiting Burgoyne's attack behind his intrenchments. Either Burgoyne must risk an assault, under conditions most favorable to the Americans, or retire discomfited under conditions highly unfavorable to a successful retreat.

The country between Saratoga and Stillwater, covered with woods and intersected by ravines, was wholly unsuited to the free movement of troops. All the shore of the Hudson is high ground, rising to a nearly uniform level next the river, but gradually ascending, as the river is left, to the summit of the streams falling into it. Long slopes or terraces are thus formed, furrowed here and there by the ravines, which serve to drain off the water from above into the river below. Puny rivulets where they begin, these watercourses cut deeper as they run on, until, at the river, they become impassable gulches. The old military road skirts the foot of the heights, which sometimes abut closely upon the river, and sometimes draw back far enough to leave a strip of meadow between it and them.

[Sidenote: Sept. 12.]

[Sidenote: Bemis' Heights.]

Kosciusko,[43] Gates's engineer, chose the ground on which to receive Burgoyne's attack, at one of these places where the heights crowd upon the river, thus forming a narrow defile, which a handful of men could easily defend against an army. At this place the house of a settler named Bemis stood by the roadside. Our army filed off the road here, to the left, scaled the heights, and encamped along a ridge of land, running west as far as some high, rough, and woody ground, which formed the summit.

[Sidenote: Freeman's Farm.]

[Sidenote: Sept. 13.]

Except two or three clearings, all the ground in Gates's front was thickly wooded. One settler, called Freeman, had cleared and planted quite a large field in front of the American centre and left, though at some distance beyond, and hid from view by intervening woods. This field of Freeman's was one of the few spots of ground lying between the two armies, on which troops could be manoeuvred or artillery used with advantage. The farm-house stood at the upper edge of it, at a distance of a mile back from the river. Our pickets immediately took post there, as no one could enter the clearing without being seen from the house. Accident has thus made this spot of ground, Freeman's Farm,[44] famous. The Americans were at work like beavers, strengthening their line with redoubts, felled trees, and batteries, when the enemy was discovered marching against them.

FOOTNOTES:

[41] GENERAL GATES had resigned his command at Ticonderoga, rather than serve under Schuyler. There was no good feeling between them.

[42] MORGAN'S RIFLEMEN was the most celebrated corps of the Continental Army. The men were unerring marksmen, and on that account greatly feared by the British. All were expert woodsmen, devoted to their leader, who held them under strict discipline.

[43] THADDEUS KOSCIUSKO came to this country to offer his services to Congress. "What can you do?" asked Washington. "Try me," was the laconic reply. In course of time, he was sent to Schuyler as engineer of his army.

[44] FREEMAN'S HOUSE was made use of by Burgoyne, during the battle of September 9, as his headquarters. After this battle it was included within the British lines.



XII.

BATTLE OF BEMIS' HEIGHTS.[45]

(September 19, 1777.)

Burgoyne, at Batten-Kill, had only a choice of evils to make. Either he could save his army by retreating to Fort Edward, and thus give up all hope of seeing the ends of the campaign fulfilled, or he might still make a bold push for Albany, and so put everything at the hazard of battle.

But to fall back when he had promised to go forward, when the doing so meant ruin to his reputation, and possibly to the cause of his king, was not only a bitter alternative, but a responsibility heavier than he was prepared to take.

On the other hand, should he now cross the Hudson, with intent to bring on a decisive battle,—and his crossing meant just this,—Burgoyne knew that he must drop his communications with Canada, because he could not afford the guards necessary to keep them open. Already he had been weakened by the loss of more than fifteen hundred men, without counting the Indians who had so basely deserted him; St. Leger had failed him in his utmost need. On his left, the Americans were watching their chance to strike a blow in his rear. Burgoyne therefore felt that, from the moment he should put the Hudson between his army and its only way of retreat, all must be staked on the doubtful issue of battle. He decided to make the gambler's last throw.

Burgoyne himself has said that his orders left him no choice but to go on. It is evident he construed them to his own wishes. He still believed his six thousand excellent soldiers, with their superb artillery, would prove themselves more than a match for twice their own number of undisciplined yeomanry. He would not admit even the possibility of defeat. He felt confident of beating Gates with ease.

In choosing to fight, rather than retreat, Burgoyne, perhaps, acted from the impulse of a brave nature, rather than the promptings of his sober judgment, as he was bound to do; since he had known for some time that Sir William Howe had gone to Pennsylvania, without making any definite preparations to come to his assistance. Notwithstanding this assurance, that a most important part of the plan of campaign had failed, through no fault of his, Burgoyne seems to have put his trust in the chapter of accidents, rather than remain inactive until it was certain he would be supported from New York. Not one solitary circumstance, except faith in the valor of his troops, favored a further advance at this time. But his gallant little army was ready to follow him, the enemy was within striking distance, and so Burgoyne marched on, bemoaning his ill luck, but with the pluck characteristic of the man.

On the thirteenth the British army crossed the Hudson, by a bridge of boats, to Saratoga. Burgoyne took with him provisions for five weeks, which were loaded in bateaux and floated down the river as he advanced. As yet he knew comparatively nothing of what preparations the Americans were making to receive him, and but little about the country he was in. But he did know that the patriot army had at last faced about, and that was enough to rouse the spirit of his soldiers to the highest pitch.



A, The Line Formed. B, The Columns in March.]

[Sidenote: Sept. 15.]

On the fifteenth the British Army began its march southward in three divisions. The only road had to be given up to the baggage and artillery. To protect it, the left, or German division, marched along the meadows, next the river. The centre, or British division, kept the heights above; while Frazer's corps moved at some distance, on the right of it, with Breyman's following just behind in support. Two divisions were therefore marching on the heights, and one underneath them.

[Sidenote: Sept. 17.]

What with the delays caused by broken bridges on the road, bridging the ravines on the heights, or forcing a way through thick woods, which it was necessary always to reconnoitre with care,—the royal army could get over but six miles in two days. Being then near the enemy, a halt was made to prepare for battle.

[Sidenote: Sept. 19.]

On this day, Burgoyne continued his march in the same order as before, with skirmishers thrown out well in advance of each column. The centre, which he directed in person, would, in following the direction it was taking, very shortly find itself at Freeman's Farm.

On his part, Gates had sent out Morgan's rifle corps to feel the enemy, in order to learn what they were doing or intending to do. Morgan had advanced as far as our outpost at Freeman's house, when the British skirmishers came out of the woods into the clearing. They were instantly fired upon and returned the fire. It was therefore here that the action of September 19 began.

Morgan's hot fire soon drove the enemy back to cover again, with loss. Our riflemen dashed into the woods after them, got into disorder, and, before they were aware, fell upon the supporting battalions, by whom they were defeated and scattered, in their turn. This division then advanced into the clearing, from which by this time the Americans had decamped. Burgoyne thus gained the ground about Freeman's house, whence his pickets were first attacked and driven in.

At this place, Burgoyne formed his line, facing towards the woods into which Morgan's men had retreated. He rightly judged the enemy to be there, though threats failed to extort any information from the prisoners he had taken. When Frazer told one of Morgan's captains he would hang him up to the nearest tree, unless he would point out the place where his comrades were posted, the man undauntedly replied, "You may, if you please."

Knowing that Gates could not be attacked on his right, Burgoyne meant to make the trial on the left. If that wing could be turned, Gates would have to retreat from his works, or be driven into the river. This was all the simple plan of attack, but as yet, Burgoyne did not know where the American left was posted. The woods effectually masked the American position, and all was now quiet.

Burgoyne now prepared to go forward again. From what had just taken place, he supposed the troops now with him would strike the American line first. It was therefore arranged that when he became fully engaged, Frazer was to charge the American flank, and crush it, making the centre division his pivot. With his right, Burgoyne meant to turn the American left.

Burgoyne had with him four battalions of the line, and four guns. He would have brought more guns if more could have been used with effect in the woods, as he greatly relied upon this arm. Frazer had twenty companies of grenadiers and light infantry, the 24th British regiment, Breyman's Germans, and all the Canadians, loyalists, and Indians now left with the army; he also had four pieces of artillery. About four thousand men were thus in readiness to engage. The left wing was now in motion along the river road, under the heights, but was too far off to be of much use in reenforcing the right. It was, however, of service in preventing Gates from sending troops away from his right, to fight Burgoyne on the left.

Though Burgoyne did not know the American position, which thick woods everywhere masked from his view, he had disclosed his own very clearly to Morgan, who sent an urgent request for reenforcements.

Gates wished to receive the attack in his works, not make one himself. He therefore ordered only one or two battalions from his left to go to Morgan's assistance, and withstood the entreaties of his officers to be allowed to meet the enemy in the open field.

At between two and three o'clock, as Burgoyne had just finished his dispositions for attacking, a heavy fire broke from the woods in Frazer's front. This came from Morgan and the troops sent to his support. Making no impression on Frazer, whose cannon held them in check, the assailants suddenly shifted their attack over to the left, where Burgoyne commanded in person. And thus it was that, instead of attacking, Burgoyne found himself assaulted; instead of turning Gates's left, his own was being assailed, with the purpose of separating the two wings of his army.

On finding a battle actually in progress, Gates reenforced the troops who were fighting against odds, with driblets of a regiment at a time. Instead of going on the field himself, or letting Arnold go,[46] he pretended to believe that his own right was the real object of attack, and kept in his quarters. This day's battle was therefore fought wholly by his subordinates, against the British general-in-chief, seconded by his ablest lieutenants.

Having found the enemy's left, the Americans chiefly turned their attention to that flank, as has just been said. The 62d British regiment was posted here with two guns. This flank was crushed, and its artillery silenced by a superior fire. Its defeat caused the whole British line to give way, leaving part of their artillery in our hands.



A, Americans Attacking. B, British Positions.]

So far the battle had gone in our favor. Any demonstration from our right, upon the enemy's left, would, unquestionably, have rendered the victory complete. As nothing of the kind was attempted, the British were able to bring up reenforcements from that wing, without opposition, and the golden opportunity was lost.

From the river road, Riedesel, by making a roundabout march, brought two of his regiments into action. Phillips hurried with four guns taken from the reserve artillery to the front. Frazer turned part of his force upon the American flank, thus relieving Burgoyne from the pressure laid upon him, and enabling him to form a second line. When this was done, the whole British force advanced again as far as their first position, while the Americans, for want of fresh troops to meet them, were compelled to fall back under cover of the woods again. The combat had now lasted four hours. Darkness put an end to it, nearly on the spot where it had begun. The British were indeed masters of the field; but instead of attacking, they had always been attacked, and instead of advancing, they had been everywhere stopped; their artillery alone had saved them from defeat. Our army lost three hundred and nineteen killed and wounded; the British, more than five hundred,—the difference being due to superior marksmanship. Our losses could easily be made good; the British could not. All the real advantages, therefore, were clearly on the side of the Americans.

FOOTNOTES:

[45] BATTLE OF BEMIS' HEIGHTS. Bemis' Heights formed part of the American position, but not of the battle-ground. Freeman's Farm would have been a more accurate designation. Stillwater locates it anywhere within a township of many miles in extent.

[46] ARNOLD'S PART in this battle has been long a matter of dispute. Gates was jealous of him because he was the idol of his soldiers. Arnold had no high opinion of Gates. After Arnold turned traitor, every one seems to have thought it a duty to give him a kick. This feeling is unfortunately conspicuous in the only detailed account from the American side we have of this battle, which was written by Wilkinson, Gates's adjutant-general, and given to the world nearly forty years (1816) afterwards. Wilkinson seems to have fully shared his commander's likes and dislikes, and has treated Arnold shabbily. The battle was almost wholly fought by Arnold's division, and it is equally incompatible with his duty and temper to suppose he would have remained in camp when his troops were engaged, though he was probably held back until a late hour in the day.



XIII.

LINCOLN'S RAID IN BURGOYNE'S REAR.

Much to Burgoyne's chagrin, he had been obliged to garrison Ticonderoga with troops taken from his own army, instead of being allowed to draw upon those left in Canada, under command of General Carleton. About a thousand men were thus deducted from the force now operating on the Hudson.

Ever since the battle of Bennington, Lincoln had been most industriously gathering in, and organizing the militia, at Manchester. All New England was now up, and her sons were flocking in such numbers to his camp, that Lincoln soon found himself at the head of about two thousand excellent militia.

Guided by the spirit of Washington's instructions, he now determined on making an effort to break up Burgoyne's communications, capture his magazines, harass his outposts, and, perhaps, even throw himself on the British line of retreat. There is a refreshing boldness and vigor about the conception, something akin to real generalship and enterprise. It was a good plan, undertaken without Gates's knowledge or consent.

[Sidenote: Sept. 13.]

On the same day that Burgoyne was crossing the Hudson, Lincoln sent five hundred men to the head of Lake George, with orders to destroy the stores there; five hundred more to attack Ticonderoga; and another five hundred to Skenesborough, to support them in case of need. Unknown to Lincoln, Burgoyne had now wholly dropped his communications with the lakes, but these movements were no less productive of good results on that account.

The first detachment, under command of Colonel Brown,[47] reached Lake George landing undiscovered. The blockhouse and mills there were instantly taken. Mount Defiance and the French lines at Ticonderoga[48] were next carried without difficulty. In these operations, Brown took three hundred prisoners, released over one hundred Americans from captivity, and destroyed a great quantity of stores.

The second detachment having, meantime, come up before Mount Independence, Ticonderoga was cannonaded, for some time, without effect. Unlike St. Clair, the British commander would neither surrender nor retreat, even when the guns of Mount Defiance were turned against him.

Failing here, the Americans next went up Lake George, to attack Burgoyne's artillery depot, at Diamond Island. They were not more successful in this attempt, as the enemy was strongly fortified and made a vigorous defence. After burning the enemy's boats on the lake, Brown returned to Skenesborough.

General Lincoln was about to march from Skenesborough to Fort Edward, with seven hundred men, when he received a pressing request from Gates, dated on the morning of the battle, to join him at once.

Abandoning, therefore, his own plans, Lincoln retraced his steps with so much speed, that he arrived in Gates's camp[49] on the twenty-second. Gates immediately gave him command of the right wing[50] of the army.

The road between Skenesborough and Fort Edward was now constantly patrolled by parties of American militia; so that it was truly said of Burgoyne, that the gates of retreat were fast closing behind him.

FOOTNOTES:

[47] COLONEL JOHN BROWN, of Pittsfield, Mass.,—who had been with Allen at the taking of Ticonderoga in 1775, and with Montgomery at Quebec,—Colonels Warner, Woodbridge, and Johnson cooeperated in this expedition.

[48] TICONDEROGA was garrisoned at this time by one British and one German battalion, under command of General Powell.

[49] GATES'S CAMP. By this time, Gates also had connected his camp with the east bank of the Hudson, by a floating bridge, to facilitate the crossing of reenforcements to him.

[50] THE RIGHT WING was composed of Nixon's, Glover's, and Patterson's Continental brigades, with a certain proportion of militia. The left wing of Poor's and Learned's brigades, Dearborn's Light Infantry, and Morgan's corps, with a like proportion of militia.



XIV.

SECOND BATTLE OF FREEMAN'S FARM.

(October, 1777.)

Convinced that another such victory would be his ruin, Burgoyne now thought only of defending himself until the wished-for help should come. To this end, he began intrenching the ground on which he stood. The action of September 19 had, therefore, changed the relative situation of the antagonists, in that from being the assailant, Burgoyne was now driven to act wholly on the defensive.

On the day following the battle, a courier brought Burgoyne the welcome news that forces from New York would soon be on the way to his relief. Word was instantly sent back that his army could hold its ground until the 12th of October, by which time it was not doubted that the relieving force would be near enough at hand to crush Gates between two fires.

[Sidenote: At Wilber's Basin.]

Burgoyne, therefore, now threw his bridge across the Hudson again, posted a guard on the farther side, made his camp as strong as possible, and waited with growing impatience for the sound of Sir Henry Clinton's[51] cannon to be heard in the distance. But Clinton did not move to Burgoyne's assistance until too late. The blundering of the War

[Sidenote: Oct. 4.]

Office had worked its inevitable results. By the time Clinton reached Tarrytown, thirty miles above New York, Burgoyne's army had been put on short rations. With the utmost economy the provisions could not be made to last much beyond the day fixed in Burgoyne's despatch. Foraging was out of the question. Nothing could be learned about Clinton's progress. All between the two British armies was such perilous ground, that several officers had returned unsuccessful, after making heroic efforts to reach Clinton's camp.

While Burgoyne was thus anxiously looking forward to Clinton's energetic cooeperation, that officer supposed he was only making a diversion in Burgoyne's favor, a feint to call off the enemy's attention from him; and thus it happened that in the decisive hour of the war, and after the signal had been given, only one arm was raised to strike, because two British commanders acted without unison; either through misconception of the orders they had received, or of what was expected of them in just such an emergency as the one that now presented itself.

Perhaps two armies have seldom remained so near together for so long a time without coming to blows, as the two now facing each other on the heights of Stillwater. The camps being little more than a mile apart, brought the hostile pickets so close together, that men strayed into the opposite lines unawares. Day and night there was incessant firing from the outposts, every hour threatened to bring on a battle. Half Burgoyne's soldiers were constantly under arms to repel the attack, which—in view of the desperate condition they found themselves placed in, of the steady progress from bad to worse—was rather hoped for than feared.

Two weeks passed thus without news of Clinton. Burgoyne's provisions were now getting alarmingly low. If he staid where he was, in a few days, at most, he would be starved into surrendering. Again the ominous word "retreat" was heard around the camp-fires. The hospital was filled with wounded men. Hard duty and scant food were telling on those fit for duty. Lincoln's raid announced a new and dangerous complication. It was necessary to try something, for Gates's do-nothing policy was grinding them to powder.

A council was therefore called. It is a maxim, as old as history, that councils of war never fight. Some of Burgoyne's generals advised putting the Hudson between themselves and Gates, as the only means now left of saving the army; none, it is believed, advocated risking another battle.

Burgoyne could not bring himself to order a retreat without first making one more effort for victory. He dwelt strongly upon the difficulty of withdrawing the army in the face of so vigilant and powerful an enemy. He maintained his own opinion that even in order to secure an honorable retreat it would be necessary to fight, and it was so determined.

It is evident that Burgoyne nourished a secret hope that fortune might yet take a turn favorable to him; otherwise, it is impossible to account for his making this last and most desperate effort, under conditions even less favorable than had attended his attack of the 19th of September.

Fifteen hundred men and ten guns were chosen for the attempt. In plain language, Burgoyne started out to provoke a combat with an enemy greatly his superior in numbers, with less than half the force his former demonstration had been made with. His idea seems to have been to take up a position from which his cannon would reach the American works. After intrenching, it was his intention to bring up his heavy artillery, and open a cannonade which he was confident the enemy could not withstand, as their defensive works were chiefly built of logs. And out of this state of things, Burgoyne hoped to derive some substantial benefit.

This plan differed from that of the 19th of September, in that it looked chiefly to obtaining a more advantageous position; while on the former occasion it was attempted to force a way through or around the American left. The lesson of that day had not been lost on Burgoyne, who now meant to utilize his artillery to the utmost, rather than risk the inevitable slaughter that must ensue from an attempt to carry the American lines by storm.

Everything depended upon gaining the desired position before the Americans could make their dispositions to thwart the attempt.

The importance to the army of this movement induced Burgoyne to call his three best generals to his aid; so that nothing that experience could suggest, or skill attempt, should be left undone. It was kept a profound secret till the troops who were going out to fight were actually under arms. The rest of the army was to remain in the works; so that, if worst came to worst, the enemy might not reap any decided advantage from a victory gained over the fighting corps.

[Sidenote: Oct. 7.]

It was near one o'clock, on the afternoon of the seventh, when Burgoyne marched out from his own right, toward the American left. He had reached an eminence rising at the right of the late battle-ground, and not far removed from Frazer's position on that day, when the pickets of Arnold's division discovered his approach, and gave the alarm. Having gained a favorable position for using his guns, Burgoyne halted, and formed his line.

Upon hearing that the British had advanced to within half a mile of his left, and were offering battle, Gates decided to accept the challenge, as he now felt strong enough to do so without fear for the result, and the behavior of his own troops in the previous battle had been such as to put an end to his doubts about their ability to cope with British soldiers. Morgan was therefore ordered to make a detour through the woods, and fall on the British right flank, while other troops were attacking on its left.

These movements were gallantly executed. At three o'clock, Burgoyne's artillery opened the battle; at four, the Americans charged the British position under a heavy fire of cannon and musketry. Again and again, the Continentals met the British bayonet without flinching. Never was a battle more manfully fought. Burgoyne faced death like the meanest soldier in the ranks. After some discharges, the British cannoneers were shot down at their pieces, and the hill on which they stood was carried at the point of the bayonet.

On his part, Morgan grappled with the British right, overthrew it after a fierce struggle, and drove it back upon the centre. In vain Frazer[52] tried to stem the tide of defeat by throwing himself into the thickest of the fight. "That man," said Morgan, pointing him out to his marksmen, "must die." A rifle bullet soon gave the gallant Scot his death wound, and he was led from the field.

The combat had lasted scarce an hour. All Burgoyne's guns were taken. Of the fifteen hundred soldiers he had led into action, four hundred lay dead or dying around him. Frazer's fall had carried dismay among those who were still stubbornly yielding the ground to the victorious Americans. A retreat was sounded. The Americans followed on with loud shouts. For a few moments a rearguard fight was kept up, then the retreat became a rout, the rout a race, to see who should first reach the British lines.

Thus far the action had been maintained on our part, by the same troops who had fought the battle of September 19, and in part on the same ground. It was now to be transferred to the enemy's own camp.

Hardly had the British gained the shelter of their works, when the Americans, led on by Arnold, stormed them with reckless bravery. Gates had held Arnold back from the field from motives of envy and dislike; but Arnold, to whom the sound of battle was like the spur to the mettled courser, at last broke through all restraint. Leaping into the saddle, he spurred into the thickest of the fight before Gates could stop him.

The point of attack was strongly defended by artillery, and the Americans here suffered their first repulse. Other troops came up. The assault soon began again all along the British line. Beaten off in one place, Arnold spurred over to the enemy's extreme right, where Breyman was posted behind a breastwork of logs and rails, that formed a right angle with the rest of the line. Calling on the nearest battalion to follow him, Arnold leaped his horse over the parapet. The Germans fired one volley and fled. Our troops took guns and prisoners. By this success they had gained an opening on Burgoyne's right and rear, precisely as he had meant to do by them. In this last assault Breyman was killed, and Arnold wounded.

The day was now too far spent for further efforts to be made on either side. Little by little, the angry roll of musketry sunk into silence. The battle was over.

FOOTNOTES:

[51] SIR HENRY CLINTON then commanded at New York, under the orders of Sir William Howe. Not having received orders to assist Burgoyne in any event, until he was about to engage with Washington for the possession of Philadelphia, Howe turned over the matter of assisting Burgoyne to Clinton, who was compelled to wait for the arrival of fresh troops, then on the way from England, before he could organize an expedition to attack our posts in the Highlands of the Hudson. See Introduction; also Note 1, "Facing Disaster" (p. 60).

[52] GENERAL SIMON FRAZER was of Scotch birth, younger son of Frazer of Balnain. His actual rank on joining Burgoyne was lieutenant-colonel, 24th foot. With other field officers assigned to command brigades, he was made acting brigadier, and is therefore known as General Frazer, though Burgoyne was notified that this local rank would cease when his army joined Sir William Howe. Frazer's remains were disinterred and taken to England. The spot where he was wounded is marked by a monument, and indicates where he endeavored to make a stand after being driven from his first position. Anburey and Madame Riedesel give graphic accounts of his death and burial.



XV.

RETREAT AND SURRENDER.

Burgoyne had been everywhere foiled by the battle of the seventh. Instead of turning Gates's flank his own had been turned. Instead of thrusting Gates back upon the river, he would surely be forced there himself, in a few hours, at most. Instead, even, of dealing Gates such a blow as would favor a retreat, Burgoyne's situation was now more precarious than ever: it was more than precarious; it was next to hopeless.

It is again but too plain that Burgoyne had not taken defeat—such a defeat—seriously into account, or he would never have led out that gallant little column of fifteen hundred men; first, for victory, then, for an honorable retreat. His army was now like the wounded lion, whose expiring struggles the hunter watches at a distance, without fear, and without danger. All had been lost but honor.

The first and only thing to be done now was promptly to form a new line of defence, behind which the army could mask its retreat. This was skilfully and quietly done on the night after the battle, our troops not attempting to do more than hold the ground already won. In the morning they occupied the deserted works.



Burgoyne's new position stretched along the heights next the river, so as to cover the road to Saratoga. He had merely drawn back his centre and right, while his left wing remained stationary; and he now stood facing west, instead of south, as before the battle.

[Sidenote: Oct. 8.]

The day passed in skirmishing, reconnoitring, and artillery firing. The Americans were feeling their way along the enemy's new front, while Burgoyne's every effort was limited to keeping them at a distance, with his superior artillery, till night. On our side, his intentions were rather guessed than certainly known. His great problem was how to get his army over the Hudson undiscovered. It was supposed that he would attempt to retreat across his bridge as soon as it was dark. Our artillery, therefore, tried to destroy it with shot. Moreover, fourteen hundred men were crossed over to the east bank, and now stood ready to dispute Burgoyne's passage from that side of the river.

At sunset, General Frazer was buried[53] inside a battery, on the brow of the heights, according to his dying wish. Chaplain Brudenell read the burial service, with our balls ploughing up the earth around him, and our cannon thundering the soldier's requiem from camp to camp.

At nine o'clock, the British army began its retreat along the river road, leaving its camp-fires burning behind it; profound silence was enjoined. To avoid confusion, the different corps simply moved off in the order in which they stood on the lines, or by their right. Upon finding that his crossing would be opposed by the troops who had passed over to the east bank, Burgoyne had decided to go back the way he came as far as Saratoga, and on fording the river at that place. Orders were therefore given to destroy the bridge. Just before day, his rearguard set fire to it, and marched off without interference. All the sick and wounded were left behind.

In view of the fact that all of the enemy's movements announced a rapid retreat, the Americans seem to have shown a want of vigor in pushing the advantages they had won by the late battles. This hesitation may be in part accounted for by the other fact that both Arnold and Lincoln were disabled. Lincoln had been wounded while reconnoitring the enemy's right, on the eighth, with a view of passing a force round in his rear. Gates was thus deprived of his most efficient lieutenants at the moment when they were most needed. The British army could hardly have been placed in a more critical position; but, by keeping up a bold front, it managed to extricate itself without the loss of a man.

[Sidenote: Oct. 9.]

[Sidenote: Dovegat, now Coveville.]

Rain began falling early the next morning. Burgoyne had marched but six miles, yet dallied till afternoon on the spot where he had halted early in the day. He then saw, to his inexpressible dismay, the same body of Americans[54] whom he had seen opposite his encampment at Stillwater, now marching abreast of him, with the evident design of seizing the Saratoga ford before he could get to it. The road he meant to take was, therefore, already as good as in the enemy's hands.

The discovery that he was being everywhere hemmed in hastened Burgoyne's departure. Much baggage and many wagons and tents were burned, in order that the army might march the faster. Like a ship, laboring with the gale, it was relieving itself of all unnecessary burdens.

Pelted by the storm, in silence, and with downcast looks, the soldiers plodded wearily on, through mud and water, ankle deep. No tap of drum or bugle-call put life into their heavy tread. The sense of defeat and disgrace brooded over the minds of officers and men, as they stole away in darkness and gloom from an enemy for whom they had but lately felt such high disdain. Grief, shame, and indignation were the common lot of high and low. No word was spoken, except when the curt "Forward" of the officers passed along the ranks. All knew instinctively, that this retreat was but the prelude to greater disaster, which, perchance, was not far off.

The same evening, the bedraggled and footsore soldiers waded the Fishkill[55] where the bridge had been, but was now destroyed, and bivouacked on the heights of Saratoga.[56] Too weary even to light fires, to dry their clothing, or cook their suppers, they threw themselves on the wet ground to snatch a few hours' sleep; for, dark as it was, and though rain fell in torrents, the firing heard at intervals throughout the night told them that the Americans were dogging their footsteps, and would soon be up with them. It seemed as if the foe were never to be shaken off.

[Sidenote: Oct. 10.]

It was not till after daylight that the British artillery could ford the Fishkill with safety. The guns were then dragged up the heights and once more pointed toward the advancing enemy. Numbness and torpor seem to have pervaded the whole movement thus far. Now it was that Frazer's loss was most bitterly deplored, for he had often pledged himself to bring off the army in safety, should a retreat become necessary. He had marked out, and intrenched this very position, in which the army now found its last retreat. Almost twenty-four hours had been consumed in marching not quite ten miles, or at a much slower rate of progress than Burgoyne had censured Breyman for making to Baum's relief, at Bennington. Burgoyne seemed to find satisfaction in showing that he would not be hurried.

The army took up its old positions along the heights into which the Fishkill cuts deeply, as it runs to the Hudson. Being threatened in front, flank, and rear, Burgoyne had to form three separate camps, facing as many different ways. One fronted the Fishkill and commanded the usual fording-place. A second looked east at the enemy posted across the Hudson; a third faced the west, where the ground rose above the camps, and hid itself in a thick forest.

Though he secured his camps as well as he could, Burgoyne meant to make no delay here. But it was no longer in his power to control his own acts. The want of energy shown in the retreat had given the Americans time to close every avenue of escape against him.

Let us note how the fate of armies is decided. Active pursuit did not begin until the morning of the ninth, when the retreat was first discovered. A start of ten hours had thus been gained by the British. Their artillery had so cut up the roads as to render them next to impassable for our troops. Frequent halts had to be made to mend broken bridges. From these causes, even so late as the morning of the tenth, our army had advanced but three miles from the battle-ground. But Burgoyne had marched, when he marched at all, like a general who means to be overtaken. Four thousand men were being pushed around his right; an equal number followed in his rear; while fourteen hundred more menaced with destruction any attempt he might make to ford the river.

No choice being left but to continue the retreat by the west bank, pioneers were sent out, under a strong escort, to make the road passable.

But the golden moment had already flown. By this time Gates's van had come up with Burgoyne. Morgan's corps had crossed the Fishkill at a point above the British camps, had taken post within rifle-shot, and had thus fastened upon the enemy a grip never more to be shaken off.

As a last resort, the British general decided to attempt a night retreat, leaving behind the artillery he had so persistently dragged after him when the fate of his army was hanging on its speed alone. Before this desperate venture could be put to trial, worse news came to hand. It was learned that Stark, with two thousand men, was in possession of Fort Edward, and of all the fords below it. Turn what way he would, Burgoyne found a foe in his path.

[Sidenote: Oct. 13.]

Even General Burgoyne now saw no way open but surrender; either he must do this, or let his soldiers be slaughtered where they stood. Cannon and rifle shot were searching every corner of his camp; retreat was cut off; his provisions could be made to last but a day or two longer at most; the bateaux were destroyed; his animals were dying of starvation, and their dead bodies tainting the air his soldiers breathed; water could only be had at the risk of life or limb, as the American sharpshooters picked off every one who attempted to fetch it from the river; and no more than thirty-five hundred men could be mustered to repel an assault;—a crisis had now been reached which loudly called on the British general, in the name of humanity, to desist from further efforts to maintain so hopeless a struggle.

Burgoyne called his officers together in council. The absence of such men as Frazer, Baum, Breyman, Ackland, Clarke, and others from the meeting, must have brought home to the commanding general, as nothing else could, a sense of the calamities that had befallen him; while the faces of the survivors no less ominously prefigured those to come. A heavy cannonade was in progress. Even while the council was deliberating, a cannon-ball crashed through the room among them, as if to enjoin haste in bringing the proceedings to a close. The council listened to what was already but too well known. Already the finger of fate pointed undeviatingly to the inevitable result. A general lassitude had fallen upon the spirits of the soldiers. The situation was manifestly hopeless to all.

There could be but one opinion. Enough had been done for honor. All were agreed that only a surrender could save the army.

[Sidenote: Oct. 14.]

Without more delay, an officer was sent to General Gates. At first he would listen only to an unconditional surrender. This was indignantly rejected. Two days of suspense followed to both armies. Indeed, the vanquished seemed dictating terms to the conqueror. But if the British dreaded a renewal of hostilities, the Americans knew that Clinton's forces[57] were nearing Albany from below. Gates lowered his demands. The British army was allowed the honors of war, with liberty to return to England, on condition of not serving against the United States during the war. These terms were agreed to, and the treaty was duly signed on the seventeenth.

Burgoyne's situation when gathering up his trophies, and issuing his presumptuous proclamation at Ticonderoga, compared with the straits to which his reverses had now brought him—a failure before his king and country, a captain stripped of his laurels by the hand he professed to despise, a petitioner for the clemency of his conqueror—affords a striking example of the uncertain chances of war. It really seemed as if fortune had only raised Burgoyne the higher in order that his fall might be the more destructive at last.



FOOTNOTES:

[53] FRAZER'S BURIAL would not have been molested had our artillerists known what was going forward. Seeing so many persons collected in the redoubt, they naturally directed their fire upon it.

[54] THIS BODY OF AMERICANS was led by Colonel John Fellows, whom Gates had ordered to seize the fords as high up as Fort Edward.

[55] FISHKILL, or Fish Creek, is the outlet of Saratoga Lake. Though a rapid mill-stream, there were several fords. The precipitous banks were a greater obstacle to troops than the stream itself.

[56] HEIGHTS OF SARATOGA are in what is now called Schuylerville, a village owing its prosperity to the water-power of the Fishkill. At the time of the surrender, there were only a few houses strung along the river road. Schuyler's house stood in the angle formed by the entrance of the Fishkill into the Hudson. On arriving at Saratoga, Burgoyne occupied this house as his headquarters, but burned it to the ground immediately on the appearance of the Americans. On the opposite (north) bank of the Fishkill was old Fort Hardy, built during the French War, to cover the ford of the Hudson at this place. Within this fort, Burgoyne's army laid down its arms, October 17, 1777. On the heights back of the river a granite obelisk, one hundred and fifty-four feet high, has been built to commemorate the event.

[57] CLINTON'S FORCES carried Forts Montgomery and Clinton, in the Highlands, by assault on the sixth. Having thus broken down all opposition to their advance up the Hudson, they reached Kingston (Esopus) on the thirteenth, burned it, and were within a few hours' sail of Albany when news of Burgoyne's surrender caused them to retreat down the river.



XVI.

THE SEVENTEENTH OF OCTOBER, 1777.

The closing scene of this most memorable campaign is thus described by one of the actors in it. He says,—

"About ten o'clock we marched out, according to treaty, with drums beating, and the honors of war; but the drums seemed to have lost their former inspiriting sounds, and though we beat the Grenadiers' March, which not long before was so animating, yet now it seemed by its last feeble effort as if almost ashamed to be heard on such an occasion.

"I shall never forget the appearance of the American troops on our marching past them. A dead silence reigned through their numerous columns. I must say their decent behavior to us, so greatly fallen, merited the utmost praise.... Not one of them was uniformly clad. Each had on the clothes he wore in the fields, the church, or the tavern; they stood, however, like soldiers, well arranged, and with a military air, in which there was but little to find fault with. All the muskets had bayonets, and the sharpshooters had rifles. The men all stood so still that we were filled with wonder. Not one of them made a single motion as if he would speak with his neighbor. Nay, more, all the lads that stood there in rank and file, kind nature had formed so trim, so slender, so nervous, that it was a pleasure to look at them, and we were all surprised at the sight of such a handsome, well-formed race. The whole nation has a natural turn for war and a soldier's life.

"The generals wore uniforms, and belts which designated their rank, but most of the colonels were in their ordinary clothes, with a musket and bayonet in hand, and a cartridge-box or powder-horn slung over the shoulder. There were regular regiments which, for want of time or cloth, were not yet equipped in uniform. These had standards, with various emblems and mottoes, some of which had a very satirical meaning for us."

The number of regular troops, British and German, who laid down their arms at Saratoga was 5,591. The camp-followers amounted to two hundred more. Forty-two pieces of artillery, nearly five thousand muskets, with ammunition for both, fell into the victors' hands.



XVII.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF DEFEAT.

We come now to the reasons why Burgoyne's surrender proved decisive to the cause of American independence.

Our opening chapter states that England took Canada from France in 1759, and annexed it to her own dominions in 1763. This conquest came about through what is known in history as the Seven Years' War, which had not only raised all Europe in arms, but had lighted the flames of war throughout our own continent also. The great battle was fought on the plains of Quebec. Victory decided for England. Defeated France had, at last, to give up Canada to her ancient enemy.

France came out of this conflict sorely humbled. She was brooding over her defeat, when the American colonies took up arms. The colonists at once turned with confidence to France; now was her chance to cripple England, to get back what she had lost, to gain the friendship of a grateful people, and make them her debtor for all time. But France would not go to war unless assured that her doing so would turn the scale against England. The memory of her humiliation was too recent, the chances of the contest too doubtful, to admit of any other course of conduct on her part. Meanwhile, she gave us much secret help, but none openly. The course of events was, however, closely watched, and when Burgoyne's surrender was known in Paris, it was seen that the day of revenge had come at last. Doubt and hesitation gave way before the general demand for war. Franklin was openly received at Versailles. Within three months, the French court had acknowledged our independence. Her armies and fleets prepared to give us active aid, and it was not doubted that her example would soon be followed by Spain and Holland.

Thus, Burgoyne's surrender gained for us at once recognition as a nation, and the alliance of the first military power of Europe.

The effect of the surrender in England is thus described by Gibbon, the historian, who was then sitting in Parliament: "Dreadful news indeed! An English army of nearly ten thousand men laid down their arms, and surrendered, prisoners of war, on condition of being sent to England, and of never serving against America. They had fought bravely, and were three days without eating. Burgoyne is said to have received three wounds; General Frazer, with two thousand men, killed; Colonel Ackland likewise killed. A general cry for peace."

England now gave up the colonies for lost. In truth, it needed no prophet to foretell that what England could not do before, she could do still less now, with France against her. From this time forward, the war was carried on more to save the nation's pride than with any hope of success. The military policy underwent an instant change; it now looked rather to destroying our commerce and ports, than to marching large armies into the interior of the country, to meet with a like fate to Burgoyne's. Howe was ordered to evacuate Philadelphia. In Parliament, a plan was hurriedly put forth to grant everything the Americans had asked for, except independence. As Gibbon well said, the two greatest countries of Europe were fairly running a race for the favor of America.

The movements taking place on the continent showed everywhere a feeling hostile to England. No nation was ever so friendless as she, none had so richly deserved the coldness with which the other powers now treated her. Spain and Holland were getting ready to follow the lead of France. It was well known that England could not carry on the war without the aid of mercenaries. The King of Prussia and the Empress of Austria now refused to permit any more German soldiers to go to America. In the threatening condition of affairs at home, England could not spare another army for so distant a field. Whichever way England looked, she saw either open enemies or half friends. Everywhere the sky was dark for her, and bright for us.

At home the surrender of Burgoyne thrilled the whole land, for all felt it to be the harbinger of final triumph. The people went wild with joy; salvos of artillery, toasts, bonfires, illuminations, everywhere testified to the general exultation. The name of France was hailed with acclamations. At once a sense of national dignity and solidity took the place of uncertainty and isolation. Now and henceforth, the flag of the United States was known and respected; abroad as at home, on the sea as on the land.

Burgoyne's disaster has been charged to the grossest carelessness on the part of some under official of the British War Office. It is said that the orders for Sir William Howe were never put in the despatch bag at all, but lay forgotten until the catastrophe at Saratoga brought them to light. On such trifles does the fate of nations sometimes hang. Certainly, greater unity of purpose in the two generals might have given the history of the campaign a different reading. But all such conjectures must fall before the inexorable logic of accomplished results. The world has long since passed upon the merits of the great conflict which set America free. Its verdict is recorded. The actors are but as dust in the balance.



INDEX.

ALLEN, ETHAN, takes Ticonderoga, 17; goes before Montgomery, 19.

ARNOLD, BENEDICT, marches to Canada, 19; takes command of our flotilla, and fights the enemy, 22; 25, note; sent to relieve Fort Stanwix, and does it by a stratagem, 92; part at Bemis' Heights, 112; storms the enemy's intrenchments, 121, 122; wounded, 122.

BATTEN-KILL, British take post at, 70, 87.

BAUM, FREDERIC, commands British expedition to Bennington, and marches, 70; composition of his force, 70; hears the Americans are waiting for him, 75; notifies Burgoyne, and goes on, 75; discovers Stark, and intrenches himself on the Walloomsac, 78, 81; defeated, 83, 132.

BENNINGTON, VT.; Burgoyne's plan to seize stores at, 68; Baum marches for, 72; Battle of Bennington, 83, 84, 85; trophies of, 85; 86, note; results of the battle, 88, 89.

BEMIS' HEIGHTS; position of the army described, 99; battle of September 19, 106, 107, 108, 111; 112, note.

BOUQUET RIVER; Burgoyne halts at, 37.

BRANT, JOSEPH, at Oriskany, 91; 94, note.

BREYMAN, HEINRICH C., posted in support of Baum, 70; marches to Baum's aid, 81; his slowness fatal to Baum, 84; defeated, and badly cut up, 85; his retreat to camp, 89; part in Battle of Bemis' Heights, 105; killed, 122.

BROWN, JOHN, attacks Ticonderoga, 114; 115, note.

BURGOYNE'S ARMY, composition of, 33, 34; passes Lake Champlain, 35; 36, notes 1 and 2; invests Ticonderoga, 40, 43; fights at Hubbardton, 47, 48; at Fort Anne, 52; joined by loyalists, 61; concentrated, and leaves Skenesborough, 66; arrives at Fort Edward, 66; joined by savages, 66; compelled to halt for provisions, 66, 69; is moved forward to support the expedition to Bennington, 70; falls back after the defeat of Baum, 87; its losses, 88; crosses the Hudson, 102; order of march from Saratoga to Bemis' Heights, 105; slow advance, 105; gives battle to Gates, 106; troops in action, 107; on the defensive, 116; on short rations, 117; inactivity of, 117; ordered to fight Gates again, 118; troops selected, 119; meets defeat, 121; camp assaulted and turned, 122; forms new line, 124; retreats, 127; soldiers dispirited, 129; reaches Saratoga, 129; makes a last stand, 130; its camps, 130; compelled to surrender, 133; numbers at this time, 138.

BURGOYNE'S CAMPAIGN discussed, 10-14; demand for re-enforcements, 11; deficiency of transportation service, 12; cause of failure, 13; plan of, 26-32; results in surrender, 133; effect of it in Europe, especially in France, 140; effect at home, 141; said to have failed through blundering in the War Office, 142.

BURGOYNE, JOHN; his personal traits, 9; his plan of campaign, 26 et seq.; his army, 33; his proclamation, 38; aims to cut off St. Clair from Schuyler, 45; takes Skenesborough, 51; follows up his successes, 52; resume of his campaign thus far, 52; sends Riedesel to Castleton, 61; chooses the Fort Anne route to Albany, 61; his reasons, 62; march obstructed, 65; reaches Fort Edward, 66; plans how to provide for his army, 68; desire to strike New England, 68; orders the expedition to Bennington, 70; how composed, 70; combinations overthrown by Baum's defeat, 87; his losses up to this time, 88; his Indians desert him, 88; compelled to halt again, 90; hears of St. Leger's retreat, 93; his choice of evils, 101; decides to cross the Hudson, 102; marches in search of Gates, 105; order of march, 105; gives battle, 106 et seq.; troops in action, 107; holds his position, but makes no advance, 113; brings on another battle, 118, 119; calls his three best generals to his aid, and commands in person, 119; is defeated, and driven into his works, 121; orders a retreat, 127; finds a force confronting him on the east bank of the Hudson, 128; loses valuable time, 128; burns his baggage, 129; arrives at Saratoga, 129; finds retreat cut off, 131; his camp untenable, 132; surrenders his army, 133; scene described by eyewitnesses, 135, 138.

CANADA'S alliance desired, 15; invasion of begun, 19; attitude toward the colonies, 25, note.

CARLETON, GUY; attitude toward Burgoyne, 11, 12; gains a naval victory over Arnold, 22, 25.

CASTLETON, VT.; Riedesel posted there by Burgoyne, 61.

CHAMBLY, FORT; position of, 16; taken by Americans, 19; burnt, 20.

CLINTON, SIR HENRY, notifies Burgoyne that he is coming to his relief, 116; thinks he is only to make a diversion, 117; 122, note; is near Albany when Burgoyne surrenders, 133; 134, note.

CROWN POINT, position of, 16; when built, 18, note; Americans fall back to, 20; evacuated, 20; naval battle near, 22.

DIAMOND ISLAND, unsuccessful attack upon, 114.

DUER'S HOUSE, Frazer's corps at, 68; British army posted at, 70, 87.

FELLOWS, JOHN, commands a detachment to watch Burgoyne, 134.

FISHKILL CREEK, 129; 134, note.

FORT ANNE, N. Y.; Americans retreat to, from Skenesborough, 51; Schuyler re-enforces them, 52; combat at, 52; burnt and abandoned, 52; described, 55, note; importance to Burgoyne, 62; neighborhood described, 62, 63.

FORT EDWARD, position of, 16; Schuyler at, 51; is joined by St. Clair, after Ticonderoga falls, 51; Burgoyne arrives at, 66; Schuyler evacuates it, 66; described, 66, note.

FORT GEORGE, position of, 16; Americans evacuate it, 66; and British occupy it, 66.

FORT OSWEGO, position of, 30.

FORT STANWIX, position of, 30; St. Leger's force, 35; garrisoned and defended, 90, 91; attempt to relieve fails, 91; garrison makes a sally, 92; siege raised, 93; 94, note.

FRANCIS, EBENEZER, covers retreat from Ticonderoga, fights Frazer at Hubbardton, but is killed, 51; 55, note.

FRAZER, SIMON, commands a corps under Burgoyne, 34, 35; takes Mt. Hope, 40; pursues St. Clair, 46; comes up with the Americans at Hubbardton, and fights them, 47; on the point of defeat is re-enforced, and gains the day, 48; crosses the Hudson, and takes post at Saratoga, 70; recrosses the Hudson, 87; is posted on the right at Bemis' Heights, 105; his force, 107; killed, 121; 123, note; buried, 127; 134, note.

FREEMAN'S FARM, position of, 99; 100, note, 105; first collision at (Sept. 19), 106; second battle at, 120-122.

GANSEVOORT, PETER, at Fort Stanwix, 90; sallies out upon besiegers, 91; 94, note.

GATES, HORATIO, takes command of the Northern Army, 20; his rank, 25, note; supersedes Schuyler, 95; good effect on the army, 97; orders an advance to Stillwater, 97; want of confidence in Arnold a drawback to success, 98; posts the army on Bemis' Heights, 98; note, 99; sends Morgan to feel the enemy, 106; re-enforces in driblets, 108; his camp and army, 115, notes 1 and 2; accepts battle again, 120; is victorious, 121, 122; dilatory pursuit of the enemy, 131; comes up with Burgoyne, 131; dispositions for attacking, 131; receives Burgoyne's surrender, 133.

HERKIMER, NICHOLAS, marches to relieve Fort Stanwix, 91; is waylaid and defeated, 91, 92; dies of his wounds, 92; 94, note.

HESSIAN MERCENARIES, 36, note.

HOWE, SIR WILLIAM, participation in the campaign discussed, 14; driven from Boston, 29; George III. disappointed in him, 29; gets his orders too late, 31.

HUBBARDTON, VT., garrison of Ticonderoga retreats to, 44; St. Clair's rearguard overtaken at, 47; battle of, 47, 48, 49.

JOHNSON, SIR JOHN, at Oriskany, 91; 94, note.

KOSCIUSKO, THADDEUS, marks out the lines on Bemis' Heights, 98; 100, note.

LAKE CHAMPLAIN, the gateway of the north, 16; naval battle on, 22; Burgoyne's advance, 35; shores of, 37; Americans driven from, 51.

LINCOLN, BENJAMIN, sent to Manchester, 74; sketch of, 76, note; makes a raid in Burgoyne's rear, 113; joins Gates, 115; wounded, 128.

LYMAN, PHINEAS, builds Fort Edward, 66.

MANCHESTER, VT., Warner posted at, 57; rendezvous for militia, 73; Lincoln and Stark at, 74.

MOHAWK VALLEY, plan for invading it, 30, 35.

MONTGOMERY, RICHARD, leads an army to Canada, 19; killed, 20; sketch of, 25, note.

MORGAN'S RIFLEMEN, 99, note; attack Burgoyne, 106; part in the battle of October 7, 120, 121.

MOUNT INDEPENDENCE described, 16; named, 21; Americans retreat from Ticonderoga to, 44.

MOUNT DEFIANCE, the key of Ticonderoga, 43; seized by Burgoyne's engineers, 43; compels the evacuation of Ticonderoga, 43; retaken by the Americans, 114; 115, note.

NEWPORT, R. I., held by the enemy, 30; Howe's strategy, 60, note.

NEW YORK, plans for its invasion, 26, 29, 30; resources of for resisting Burgoyne, 58, 59.

ORISKANY, N. Y., Americans marching to Fort Stanwix are defeated at, 91.

PHILLIPS, WILLIAM, commands Burgoyne's artillery, 34; brings up artillery at Bemis' Heights, 111.

RIEDESEL, BARON VON, commands Burgoyne's German contingent, 34; at Ticonderoga, 40; pursues the retreating Americans, 46; turns defeat to victory at Hubbardton, 48; is posted at Castleton, Vt., 61; falls back to Fort Edward, 86; supports Burgoyne at Bemis' Heights, 111.

SARATOGA, occupied by Burgoyne, 70; country below described, 98; Burgoyne's army crosses over to, 102; falls back to, after being defeated, 129; 134, note.

ST. CLAIR, ARTHUR, commands at Ticonderoga, 39; evacuates it, 43; military record of, 44, note 2; also note 5; marches for Skenesborough, 45; halts at Hubbardton, 46; hears Burgoyne has occupied his proposed line of retreat, and now marches for Bennington, 51; joins Schuyler at Fort Edward, 51; accused of treachery, 58; and ordered to Philadelphia, 60.

ST. JOHN'S, FORT, position of, 16; taken by Americans, 19; burnt, 20; British build a fleet at, 21.

ST. LEGER, BARRY, combination with Burgoyne, 13; his part, 30, 31; his force, 35, 90; lays siege to Fort Stanwix, 91; Arnold's stratagem compels him to raise the siege, 93; and retreat to Oswego, 93.

SCHUYLER, PHILIP, at Fort Edward, 51; St. Clair joins him, 51; sends a force to Fort Anne, 52; military record of, 55, note; holds Warner at Manchester, 57; evacuates Fort Edward on Burgoyne's approach, 66; state of his army, 66; urges Stark to join him, 77; sends Gansevoort to Fort Stanwix, 90; then Arnold, 93; superseded by Gates, 95.

SECOND BATTLE OF FREEMAN'S FARM, 120-122.

SKENESBOROUGH taken by Americans, 17; described, 18, note; made a dockyard, 21; Americans retreat to, from Ticonderoga, 44; set fire to, and abandoned, 51.

STARK, JOHN, appointed to sole command over New Hampshire militia, 74; musters his brigade at Manchester, 74; refuses to join Schuyler, 74; his perplexity, 75; marches to Bennington, 75; sketch of, 76, note; decides to join Schuyler, 77; but hears of the enemy's approach, and sends out scouts, 77; sends for Warner, 78; re-enforced, 81; his force, 82; gains the victory of Bennington, 83; and defeats Breyman also, 84, 85; at Fort Edward, 132.

STILLWATER, position of the American army described, 98.

TICONDEROGA, position of described, 16; taken by Americans, 17; 18, note; Montgomery there, 19; Burgoyne's landing, 39; garrison of, 40; invested by Burgoyne, 40, 43; evacuated, 44; effects of its fall, 56, 57; Americans attack it unsuccessfully, 114.

TRENTON, N. J., victory at, 32, note.

VALCOUR ISLAND, naval battle at, 22.

VERMONT, people of addressed by Burgoyne, 38; state of settlements in, 44, note; critical situation of after the fall of Ticonderoga, 57.

WARNER, SETH, in command at Hubbardton, 47; 55, note; surprised there, 48; retreats to Bennington, 51; posted at Manchester, 57; his Green Mountain Boys, 57; Stark calls on him for assistance, 77; gets to Bennington in time, 81; attacks Breyman, 84.

WASHINGTON, GEORGE, sets about retrieving the disaster at Ticonderoga, 60; his views how to retard Burgoyne's march, 73; sends Lincoln to carry them out, 74; his policy vindicated, 85; efforts to strengthen the northern army, 95, 96; considerate treatment of Schuyler, 96.



- Transcriber's Note: Inconsistent hyphenation and spelling in the original document have been preserved. Typographical errors corrected in the text: Page 5 126 changed to 124 Page 5 143 changed to 139 Page 143 followes changed to follows Page 144 Fellow's changed to Fellows -

THE END

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