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ring a supply for his army from a different quarter. It was well known that the American army received live cattle from New England, which were collected at Bennington, twenty-four miles east from the Hudson, where a large deposite of carriages, corn, flour, and other necessaries, had been made. For this purpose he moved down the east side of the Hudson, and encamped nearly opposite Saratoga, which place the American army left on the 15th of August, and retreated to the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson rivers. He sent his van across the river by a bridge of boats; and at the same time despatched Colonel Baume, a German officer, with 500 men, partly cavalry, two pieces of artillery, and 100 Indians, to surprise Bennington.
General Stark, with the New Hampshire militia, 400 strong, happened to be in that vicinity, on his way to join General Schuyler. He heard first of the approach of the Indians, and soon afterward was informed that they were supported by a regular force. He collected his brigade, sent expresses to the neighboring militia to join him, and also to Colonel Warner's regiment at Manchester. On the morning of the 14th of August, he marched against the enemy, at the head of 700 men ; and sent Colonel Gregg, with 200 men, to skirmish in their front and retard their progress. He drew up his men in order of battle : but, on coming in sight of him, Baume halted on advantageous ground; sent an express to General Burgoyne, informing him of his situation; and fortified himself as well as circumstances would permit.
Some small skirmishing parties of the Americans killed several Germans, and two Indian chiefs, without sustaining any loss; and this slight success not a little elated them. In a council of war, it was resolved to attack Baume next day ; but next day it rained incessantly, and the attack could not be made, although there was some skirmishing.
On the morning of the 16th, Stark, having received some reinforcements, sent detachments by the right and left of the enemy, with orders to unite in their rear, and begin the attack in that quarter. But before they met the Indians retreated between the columns, and receiving a fire as they passed, sustained some loss. The detachments, according to orders, began the attack on the rear of the enemy, and were assisted by Stark, who instantly advanced to the charge in front. Baume made a brave defence; the battle lasted two hours, during which he was furiously assailed on every side by an incessant discharge of musketry. He was mortally wounded ; his troops were overpowered ; a few of them escaped into the woods and fled, pursued by the Americans ; the rest were killed or taken prisoners. Thus, without artillery, with old rusty firelocks, and with scarcely å bayonet, these militia entirely defeated 500 veterans, well armed, provided with two pieces of artillery, and defended by breastworks.
After the victory, the greater part of the militia dispersed in quest of booty, and their avidity for spoil nearly proved fatal to them; for, on receiving Baume's express, General Burgoyne ordered Colonel Brehman, who had before been sent forward to Batten hill for the purpose, to march to the assistance of his countrymen with the Brunswick grenadiers, light infantry, and chasseurs, amounting to 500 men. Colonel Brehman set out at eight in the morning of the 15th ; but the roads were rendered almost impassable by incessant rains; and, although he marched with the utmost diligence, yet it was four the next afternoon before he reached the vicinity of the place where his countrymen had been defeated. The first notice which he received of Baume's disaster was from the fugitives whom he met He easily repulsed the few militia who were in pursuit of them; and, from the scattered state of Stark's troops, had the prospect of being able to make himself master of the stores, which were the great object of the expedition. But at that critical moment Colonel Warner's regiment of continentals arrived, and instantly engaged Brehman. The firing reassembled the scattered militia, who joined in the battle as they came up Colonel Brehman maintained the conflict till dark; when, abandoning his artil lery and baggage, he retreated, and, escaping under cover of night, with the shattered remnant of his detachment, regained the camp.
In those engagements the Americans took four brass field-pieces, about 1,000 muskets (a most seasonable supply to the ill-armed militia), 900 swords, and four baggage-wagons. Exclusive of Canadians and other loyalists, the loss of the royal army could not be less than 700 men in killed, wounded, and prisoners, although General Burgoyne stated it at only about 400. The Americans admitted the loss of about 100 in killed and wounded.
This was the first check which General Burgoyne's army had met with, and it was a severe one, and had a fatal influence on the campaign. The loss of a few hundred men was nothing compared with the effects which it produced upon the minds of the people : it greatly elated them, and gave the militia, who had been much dispirited by the late defeats, confidence in themselves, and encouraged them to hasten to the army in great numbers, in order to consummate the work which they had begun. Before the events in the vicinity of Bennington, dejection and alarm pervaded the northern provinces; but those events dispelled the gloom, infused spirit and vigor into the militia, and gave a new aspect to affairs on the Hudson.
The failure of the attempt on Bennington had arisen from a concurrence of circumstances which could not be foreseen. The presence of Stark was purely accidental; and the seasonable arrival of Warner saved both the stores and the disorderly militia from the hands of Brehman. But the defeat at Bennington was not the only misfortune which General Burgoyne met with : before reaching Crown Point he had despatched Colonel St. Leger, as already mentioned, with a detachment of regular troops, Canadians, loyalists, and Indians, by the way of Oswego, to make a diversion on the upper part of the Mohawk river, and afterward join him on his way to Albany.
On the 2d of August, St. Leger approached Fort Stanwix or Schuyler, a log fortification, situated on rising ground near the source of the Mohawk river, and garrisoned by about 600 continentals under the command of Colonel Gansevoort. Next day he invested the place with an army of sixteen or seventeen hundred men, nearly one half of whom were Indians, and the rest British, Germans, Canadians, and loyal Americans. On being summoned to surrender, Gansevoort answered that he would defend the place to the last.
On the approach of St. Leger to Fort Schuyler, General Herkimer, who commanded the militia of 'Tryon county, assembled about 700 of them and marched to the assistance of the garrison. On the forenoon of the 6th of August, a messenger from Herkimer found means to enter the fort, and gave notice that he was only eight miles distant, and intended that day to force a passage into the fort and join the garrison. Gansevoort resolved to aid the attempt by a vigorous sally, and appointed Colonel Willet with upward of 200 men to that service.
St. Leger received information of the approach of Herkimer, and placed a large body of regulars and Indians in ambush on the road by which he was to advance. Herkimer fell into the snare. The first notice which he received of the presence of an enemy was from a heavy discharge of musketry on his troops, which was instantly followed by the war-whoop of the Indians, who attacked the militia with their tomahawks. Though disconcerted by the suddenness of the attack, many of the militia behaved with spirit, and a scene of unutterable confusion and carnage ensued. The royal troops and the militia became so closely crowded together that they had not room to use their firearms, but pushed and pulled each other, and, using their daggers, fell pierced by mutual wounds. Some of the militia fled at the first onset, others made their escape afterward; about 100 of them retreated to a rising ground, where they bravely defended themselves, till Sir John Johnstone, who commanded the ambuscade, found it necessary to call off his men for the defence of their own camp. In the absence of the party against Herkimer, Colonel Willet made a successful sally, killed a number of the enemy, destroyed their provisions, carried off some spoil, and returned to the fort without the loss of a man.
The loss of Herkimer's party was computed to amount to 400 men; the general himself was among the slain. Many of the most active political characters in that part of the country were killed, wounded, or made prisoners ; so that St. Leger was secured from any further trouble from the militia. St. Leger again summoned the fort to surrender, but again met with a steady refusal.
General Schuyler, deeming it a matter of importance to prevent the junction of St. Leger with General Burgoyne, despatched Arnold with a considerablc body of regular troops to relieve Fort Schuyler. Arnold apprehended an American of some wealth and influence, who, he believed, had been acting the part of a traitor, but promised to spare his life and fortune on condition of his going into the British camp before Fort Schuyler, and alarming the Indians and others by magnifying the force which was marching against them. This the person undertook and executed. Some Indians, who were friendly to the Americans, communicated similar information, and even spread a report of the total defeat of General Burgoyne's army, founded, probably, on the disaster of the party sent against Bennington.
Fort Schuyler was better constructed, and defended with more courage than St. Leger had expected ; and his light artillery made little impression on it. His Indians, who liked better to take scalps and plunder than to besiege fortresses, became very unmanageable. The loss which they had sustained in the encounters with Herkimer and Willet deeply affected them; they had expected to be witnesses of the triumphs of the British, and to share with them the plunder. Hard service and little reward caused bitter disappointment; and when they heard that a strong detachment of continentals was marching against them, they resolved to seek safety in flight. St. Leger employed every argument and artifice to detain them, but in vain ; part of them went off, and all the rest threatened to follow if the siege were persevered in. Therefore, on the 22d of August, St. Leger raised the siege, and retreated with circumstances indicating great alarm: the tents were left standing, the artillery was abandoned, and a great part of the baggage, ammunition, and provisions, fell into the hands of the garrison, a detachment from which pursued the retreating enemy. St. Leger retired to Montreal, whence he proceeded to Ticonderoga, with the intention of joining General Burgoyne.
General Arnold reached Fort Schuyler two days after the retreat of the besiegers; but, finding no occasion for his services, he soon returned to camp. The successful defence of Fort Stanwix or Schuyler powerfully co-operated with the defeat of the royal troops at Bennington in raising the spirits and invigorating the activity of the Americans. The loyalists became timid ; the wavering began to doubt the success of the royal arms; and the great body of the people was convinced that nothing but steady exertion on their part was necessary, to ruin that army which a short time before had appeared irresistible.
General Schuyler, at this critical period of the campaign, when by unwearied exertion he had brought the northern army into a respectable condition, and had the fair prospect of gaining the laurels due to his industry and talents, was superseded, and General Gates appointed to the command of the arm;. General Schuyler keenly felt the indignity offered him, by depriving him of the command at that critical juncture; but he faithfully discharged his duty, till the arrival in
camp of his successor, on the 19th of August. The late events had greatly changed the aspect of affairs; and General Gates found the army in a far more promising state than he had expected. The harvest was over; and many of the militia, who had been kept at home by it, were arriving in camp, where there was now a respectable force, much encouraged by the recent success of the American arms.
Soon after General Gates entered on the command of the northern army, an epistolary correspondence was opened between him and General Burgoyne, not of the most pleasant or courteous kind. On the 30th of August, the British general complained of the harsh treatment experienced by the loyalists who had been made prisoners at Bennington, and hinted at retaliation. On the 2d of September the American general answered his letter, and recriminated by expatiating on the horrid atrocities perpetrated by the Indians who accompanied the armies of General Burgoyne and Colonel St. Leger, and imputed them to General Burgoyne. One barbarous act committed by an Indian attached to General Burgoyne's army, although it involved only a case of individual suffering, yet made a deep impression on the public mind, and roused indignation to the highest pitch.
Mr. Jones, an officer of the British army, had gained the affections of Miss McCrea, a lovely young lady of amiable character and spotless reputation, daughter of a gentleman attached to the royal cause, residing near Fort Edward ; and they had agreed to be married. In the course of service, the officer was removed to some distance from his bride ; and became anxious for her safety and desirous of her company. He engaged some Indians, of two different tribes, to bring her to camp, and promised a keg of rum to the person who should deliver her safe to him. She dressed to meet her bridegroom, and accompanied her Indian conductors ; but by the way, the two chiefs, each being desirous of receiving the promised reward, disputed which of them should deliver her to her lover. The dispute rose to a quarrel ; and, according to their usual method of disposing of a disputed prisoner, one of them instantly cleft the head of the lady with his tomahawk. This simple story, tragical and affecting in itself, contributed in no slight degree to embitter the minds of the people against those who could degrade themselves by the aid of such allies. The impulse given to the public mind by such atrocities more than counterbalanced any advantages which the British derived from the assistance of the Indians.
In reference to this, General Gates said: “ That the savages of America should, in their warfare, mangle and scalp the unhappy prisoners who fall into their hands is neither new nor extraordinary ; but that the famous LieutenantGeneral Burgoyne, in whom the fine gentleman is united with the soldier and scholar, should hire the savages of America to scalp Europeans and descendants of Europeans, nay more, that he should pay a price for each scalp so barbarously taken, is more than will be believed in Europe, until authenticated facts shall, in every gazette, confirm the truth of the horrid tale. ." Miss McCrea, a young lady lovely to the sight, of virtuous character and amiable disposition, engaged to an officer of your army, was, with other women and children, taken out of a house near Fort Edward, carried into the woods, and then scalped and mangled in a most shocking manner. Two parents with their six children were all treated with the same inhumanity, while quietly residing in their once happy and peaceful dwelling. The miserable fate of Miss McCrea was particularly aggravated by her being dressed to meet her promised husband ; but she met her murderer employed by you. Upward of one hundred men, women, and children, have perished by the hands of the ruffians, to whom, it is asserted, you have paid the price of blood !”
Although General Burgoyne, defeated in his attempt against Bennington, and