PICTORIAL FIELD BOOK OF THE REVOLUTION.
BY BENSON J. LOSSING
Present Peacefulness at Saratoga. – Curious Meteorological Phenomena. – Departure for Schuylerville. – Approach of a Tempest. – A violent Gale. – Misfortunes of an Irish Way-passenger. – Fraser’s Grove. – Do-ve-gat or Coveville. – Colonel Van Vechten. – Origin of "Whig" and "Tory." – Arrival at Schuylerville. – Beautiful Evening Scene. – Commencement of Burgoyne’s Retreat toward Saratoga. – His Retreat anticipated by Gates. – Melancholy Condition of the British Army. – Gates’s Kindness to the Invalids. – Destruction of Schuyler’s Mills and Mansion. – Situation of Fellows’s Detachment. – Conduct of the American Militia. – Burgoyne’s Attempt to Retreat. – Unsuccessful Stratagem of Burgoyne. – Perilous Situation of two American Brigades. – Deserters from the British Army. – Retreat of the Americans to their Camp. – Perplexity of Burgoyne. – A scattered Retreat proposed. – Relative Position of the two Camps. – Exposed Condition of the British Camp. – Burgoyne determines to Surrender. – Proposition of Burgoyne to surrender his Troops. – Terms proposed by Gates. – Terms finally agreed upon. – Message to Burgoyne from General Clinton. – Disposition of Burgoyne to withhold his Signature. – Laying down of Arms. –Courtesy of General Gates. – The Place of Surrender. – First personal Meeting of Gates and Burgoyne. - Humiliating Review of the British Prisoners. – Burgoyne’s Surrender of his Sword. – The Spoils of Victory. – Yankee Doodle. – The Germans and Hessians. – Their Arrival at Cambridge and wretched Appearance. – Kindness of the People. – Relative Condition and Prospect of the Americans before the Capture of Burgoyne. – Effect of that Event. – Wilkinson before Congress. – Gold Medal awarded to Gates. – Proceedings of the British Parliament. – Speech of Chatham. – The Opposition in the House of Commons. – Policy of Lord North. – Exalted Position of the American Commissioners at Paris. – Our relative Position to the Governments of Europe. – Policy of Vergennes. – Beaumarchais's Commercial Operations. – Unmasking of the French King. – Independence of the United States acknowledged by France. – Letter of Louis XVI.
Burgoyne and his army are at Wilbur’s Basin, prepared to retreat toward Lake Champlain, but lingering to pay a last sad tribute of affectionate regard to the remains of the accomplished Fraser. Night has drawn its veil over the scene, and we will turn away for a moment from the sorrowful contemplation of war and its horrid retinue, to glance at a picture lovely to the eye, ennobling to the spirit, and fruitful of pleasant impressions upon the heart and memory.
Like a "dissolving view," the smoking ruins, the sodden field, the trailing banner, the tent and breast-work and abatis, and slaughtered hundreds, and wailing families, painted in gore by the hand of human discord; and the roar of cannon, the rattle of musketry, the roll of drums, the hiss and detonation of bombs, the savage yell, the loud huzza, the shriek and groan, the prayer and curse made audible by the boastful voice of physical strength, have all passed away with the darkness, and a bright summer’s sunlight is upon the landscape. Turning the eye northward from the American camp, there are the same gentle slopes, and deep ravines, and clustering hills, and flowing river; and the heights of Saratoga in the far distance loom up as of yore. But herds are grazing upon the lowlands, and flocks are dotting the hills; the ring of the mower’s scythe is heard in the meadow, and the merry laugh goes up from the russet harvest-field. Art, with its strong arm of industry, has dug another river along the plain for the use of commerce; the forest has been reaped by agriculture, habitations of prosperity are on every hand, and the white wing of peace is spread out over all. It is a pleasant sight; therefore let us enjoy it, and, for a while, forget the dark picture of the past which we have been contemplating.
I spent nearly the whole of the day[July 27, 1848.] rambling and sketching upon the camp and battle grounds of Stillwater. It was excessively warm, although a strong breeze from the south constantly prevailed. As early as ten o’clock dark clouds began to rise in the west, and the rumbling of distant thunder was audible. All day long, shower after shower arose threateningly, sometimes approaching so near that sharp claps of thunder would startle us; but they all swept along the horizon west and north, and disappeared behind the eastern hills. Not a drop of rain fell at Bemis’s. I remarked the phenomenon, and was told that showers never reached there from the west. Their birth-place seems to be Saratoga Lake, about six miles westward from the Hudson, and the summer rain-clouds which rise there generally pass up the lake to its outlet, the Fish Creek, and, traversing that stream until it falls into the Hudson, cross the valley and pass on to the Green Mountains, or spend their treasures upon the intervening country.
About half past three in the afternoon a canal packet arrived from the south, and we embarked for Schuylerville, nine miles above Bemis’s. As usual, the boat was crowded to excess, and, the sun being veiled by the clouds in the west, the passengers covered the deck. As we passed quietly along the base of the hills whereupon was Gates’s camp, crossed Mill Creek or Middle Ravine, and approached Wilbur’s Basin, it required but small exercise of the imagination, while listening to the constant roll of thunder beyond the heights, to realize the appalling sounds of that strife of armies which shook those hills seventy years before, as it fell upon the eager ears of wives, and sisters, and children whose cherished ones were in the midst of the storm.
Proceeding northward, we approached the track of the showers, and, just before we reached Wilbur’s Basin, a cloud, black as Erebus, and so low that it seemed to rest upon the hill-tops, spread out above us like the wings of a monster bird; and in its wake huge masses of vapor, wheeling like the eddies of a whirlpool, came hastening on. The experienced boatmen understood these portents, and covering the baggage with strong canvas, lashed it tightly to the vessel. The breeze was still, and a hot, suffocating calm ensued. The passengers, warned by the helmsman, retreated into the cabin, and the windows were closed. The cattle in the fields huddled in groups, and every bird and fowl, conscious of impending danger, sought shelter. A flash of lightning, followed instantly by a crashing thunder-peal, broke over the valley, and seemed to sever the fetters of the wind. A sullen roar was heard in the distance, like the rush of great waters; the trees of the forest began to rock, and from the roads behind us clouds of dust arose and filled the air. In a few moments a tornado was upon us in its strength. It lasted only two minutes, but in its track the results of the labor of the farmer for many days were destroyed. Hay-cocks and wheat sheaves were scattered like thistle-down, and the standing grain was laid upon the earth as by the tread of a giant footstep. As the wind passed by, the rain came down gently, and continued to fall until we reached Schuylerville.
There came on the boat at Bemis’s "a poor exile from Erin," with a patched coat and pair of thin pantaloons hanging over one arm. He was immediately introduced to the captain by the attentive steward, when he pleaded poverty, and declared that he hadn’t a "cint in the world." He was ordered ashore, and the boat was guided accommodatingly near the bank. The poor fellow urged fatigue, and the weight of his brogans testified to the truth of the appeal, if he had walked a mile. It was cruel to doubt the honesty of that hard-favored face, and fifty cents were soon collected for him as a peace-offering to the captain. When the gust came on, he refused to go into the cabin. He had been in a three days’ gale upon the Atlantic, and was not to be frightened by a squall on land. The first blast of the hurricane wheeled him several times around upon deck, and came very near putting him ashore, willing or not willing. While he was endeavoring to seize a support, the wind grasped his extra pantaloons, and, in utter dismay, he saw them gyrating, like a spread eagle, high in air, and becoming "small by degrees and beautifully less" in the distance. The loss distressed him greatly – far more than the helmsman thought necessary, and he ordered him to be quiet. "Indade," said the poor fellow, "do ye think a man can be quiet when the wind is rolling him like a bag o’ feathers tied fast at one end, and all he has in the world snatched from him by the blackguard gale?" and he looked agonizingly toward the point where his pantaloons had vanished.
"Precious small estate," answered the amused helmsman, "if a pair of old pantaloons is all you have in the world. I’ll give you a better pair that that if you’ll stop your noise."
"An’ wid three Vickeys sowed up in the waistbands?" eagerly inquired the exile.
His cautiousness was here at fault. He hadn’t a "cint in the world," but he had three sovereigns sewed up in the waistbands which had gone a-ballooning. As soon as the gale passed by, a child of the Green Isle was a foot-passenger upon the tow-path, bearing sorrowful testimony to the truth of the ethical maxim, that retributive justice is always swift to punish offenders against truth and honesty. No doubt his thoughts were all with his absconded sub-treasurer, and the prose of Holmes’s poem evidently engrossed his mind.
"I saw them straddling through the air,
It was about four o’clock when we passed the burial-place of General Fraser. It had been my intention to stop there for an hour, and visit the last earth-home of the illustrious dead. But the rain fell fast, and the day was so far consumed that I was obliged to forego the melancholy pleasure. The canal is so near the base of the hill, that I easily made the sketch of it (printed on page 67) from the cabin-window. Many years ago a distant relative of the general proposed to remove his remains to Scotland, and lay them beside those of his mother; but they are still undisturbed where his sorrowing comrades laid them.
We reached the little settlement of Coveville at half past four, the rain still falling gently. This was formerly Do-ve-gat, or Van Vechten’s Cove, as it was sometimes called, the place where the British tarried from the 15th till the 17th of September[1777.], while a working party repaired the roads and bridges in advance to Wilbur’s Basin. Here was the residence of Colonel Van Vechten, of the Saratoga militia, one of General Gates’s staff. He was a zealous Whig, and the active Tories, whose plans his vigilance often frustrated, were greatly imbittered against him politically, while they honored him as a brave man and good neighbor. 1 Burgoyne, on his retreat to Saratoga after the battle of the 7th of October [1777.], ordered the dwellings of several Whigs to be destroyed; and at Do-ve-gat the buildings of Colonel Van Vechten were the first to which the torch of the invader was laid. His family fled to Albany on the approach of Burgoyne from Fort Edward; and when they returned, late in October, their fine estate was a perfect wreck, and they had no shelter for their heads.
Colonel Van Vechten was at Albany, on public business, at the time of the first battle on Bemis’s Heights. He had received an order from the Committee of Safety at that city, when Burgoyne marched from Fort Edward, to remove every Tory or disaffected person from his vicinage into Connecticut. This order touched his excellent heart with grief, for many of those included in the proscription were his neighbors, and some were his personal friends, who honestly differed from him in relation to the momentous political questions at issue. Within six hours after receiving the order he was in Albany, and procured its recall. The humanity, policy, and sound wisdom of that step were soon illustrated by the firm support which some of these disaffected ones gave to the American cause.
We landed at Schuylerville in the midst of "sun and shower," for the sky was clear in the west, yet the rain-drops came glittering down profusely. The Fish Creek, which here has a succession of falls and rapids for nearly a mile, affording fine water-power for several mills, was brimful with the showers of the day, and poured its flood, roaring and foaming, under the canal viaduct with such force as to shake the solid masonry. It empties its waters into the Hudson about one hundred rods east of the canal, at the southeast angle of Old Fort Hardy, now among the buried things of the past. Upon the plain north of the creek, near the old fort, the forces of Burgoyne laid down their arms; and on every side of that pleasant village scenes of historic interest lie scattered. The earth was too wet to invite a sunset ramble, and we contented ourselves with viewing the beauty of the scene that spread out before us eastward while loitering upon the upper piazza of the Schuylerville House.
It was, indeed, a charming scene, enhanced by the associations of the vicinity. The face of nature was washed clean by the drenching showers; the trees and shrubs were brilliant green; and from the clustering knolls or loftier hills beyond the Hudson, once bristling with bayonets or wreathed by the smoke of cannon, the evening sunlight was reflected back by the myriad rain-drops lying upon trees, and grass, and blooming corn. Nor was this all. Upon the dark background of the hills was Iris,
Springing from the plain, its double arch spanned the whole ground where British pride was humbled and American valor acknowledged. I never gazed upon the "bow of promise" with so much interest, for though unconsciously bridged over the chasm of seventy buried years, and it seemed for a moment as if the dark hours of our rebellious conflict had returned, and that in the covenant seal before me the eye of hope read prophetically the history of the happy present. As the sun went down and the bow faded, the Spirit of Beauty left traces of its pencil on my thoughts, and I felt, with "AMELIA," that
"There are moments, bright moments, when the spirit receives
Whole volumes of thought on its unwritten leaves,
When the folds of the heart in a moment unclose,
Like the innermost leaves from the heart of the rose;
And thus, when the rainbow had passed from the sky,
The thoughts it awoke were too deep to pass by;
It left my full soul like the wings of a dove,
All flutt’ring with pleasure, and flutt’ring with love."
In the evening I visited the son of Colonel Van Vechten just named, a man of three score and ten years. His memory is unclouded, and extends back to the closing scenes of the Revolution. His father stored that memory with the verbal history of his times, and every noteworthy locality of Saratoga is as familiar to him as the flower-beds of his beautiful garden. He kindly offered to be my guide in the morning to all places here made memorable by the events connected with the surrender of Burgoyne.
While awaiting the dawn, let us turn to the past, and view occurrences from the burial of Fraser to the closing scenes of the drama.
As soon as the funeral ceremonies at Fraser’s burial were ended on the evening of the 8th [October, 1777.], Burgoyne, fearing that the Americans (whose forces constantly increased, and whose activity denoted preparations for some bold movement) might succeed in turning his right and surrounding him, commenced a night march toward Saratoga. A retreat was anticipated by General Gates, and, previous to the action of the 7th, he sent General Fellows with a detachment of fourteen hundred men to occupy the high grounds east of the Hudson, opposite the Saratoga ford, intending, in case the enemy retreated, to follow so closely in pursuit as to be able to re-enforce that officer from the ranks of the main army. He also sent another detachment, after the action, to occupy ground higher up near Fort Miller, and ordered a selected corps of two thousand men to push forward and occupy the heights beyond Saratoga, in the direction of Lake George. But the retreat of Burgoyne was at a time when Gates least expected it. The troops of the former had been in motion all the night before, and under arms all day on the 8th, and he supposed that they would tarry for rest until the morning of the 9th.
At sunset on the 8th a lurid haziness in the west indicated an approaching storm, and before midnight the rain began to fall. The enemy felt that this situation was too perilous to be maintained, and the whole British army commenced its march at nine o’clock in the evening. The loss of Fraser was now severely felt, for he had always showed as consummate skill in managing a retreat as bravery in leading to an attack. General Reidesel commanded the van-guard and General Phillips the rear-guard. The night was so dark, the rain so incessant in the morning, and the roads were so bad, that the royal army did not reach Saratoga until the evening of the 9th. They made a halt about six o’clock in the morning, and General Reidesel, exhausted by fatigue, went into the caleche in which his wife and children were, and slept soundly for about three hours. Wet and weary, and harassed by the Americans all the way, the poor soldiers were too much exhausted even to cut wood for fires, and they lay down upon the cold, wet ground and slept. The generals reposed in the open air, upon mattresses, with no other covering than oil-cloth. The Baroness Reidesel and other women of the British camp were obliged to submit to these privations. "My dress," the former says, " was wet through and through with rain, and in this state I had to remain the whole night, having no place to change it; I, however, got close to a large fire, and at last lay down on some straw. At this moment General Phillips came up to me, and I asked him why he had not continued our retreat, as my husband had promised to cover it and bring the army through. ‘Poor dear woman,’ he said, ‘I wonder how, drenched as you are, you have the courage still to persevere, and venture further in this kind of weather. I wish,’ he continued, ‘ you were our commanding general; General Burgoyne is tired, and means to halt here to-night and give us our supper.’ " 2 No doubt there was more sincerity than compliment in General Phillips’s wish, for the frequent halts and great delays of Burgoyne had dissatisfied his officers, and were, doubtless, chief causes of his misfortunes. His ambition and his love of ease were often wrestling, and the latter too frequently gained the mastery.
The retreat of Burgoyne was so sudden, that he left all his sick and wounded in the hospital behind him, together with a great number of wheel carriages and other things collected at Wilbur’s Basin. The invalids, amounting to about three hundred, were treated by General Gates with the utmost humanity, which Burgoyne afterward gratefully acknowledged. On retiring, the English burned the houses they had occupied, and many other things which they could not carry away with them. They also wantonly set fire to several buildings on the way, by order of Burgoyne himself; and among others, when they crossed the Fish Creek, the mansion of General Schuyler, his mills and other property, amounting in value to twenty thousand dollars, were destroyed by them.
SCHUYLER’S MILLS, SARATOGA.
The house of General Schuyler was elegant for the times, and was very pleasantly situated upon the south bank of the Fish Kill or Fish Creek. It was rebuilt after the war, but in a style much inferior in beauty and expense. It is still standing, and in the present possession of George Strover, Esq. The broad lawn in front is beautifully shaded with venerable trees; and the falls of the Fish Creek close by contribute, by their music and wild beauty, much to the interest of the scene. The mill was also rebuilt in the same style. In the engraving is given a correct representation of it. Many of the logs in the dam are the same that curbed the stream in the time of the Revolution; and I was told that little was wanted to make the whole appear as at that period, but that the surrounding hills should be covered with dense woods.
GENERAL SCHUYLER’S MANSION.
The rain was so heavy on the 9th, that General Gates did not commence his pursuit until nearly noon on the tenth. The detachment under Fellows was unconsciously in a perilous situation for want of re-enforcements. Resting in supposed security on the night of the 9th, his camp was left so entirely unguarded that an officer, who had been sent forward to reconnoiter, marched all around it without meeting a sentinel! This neglect would have been fatal if Burgoyne had known the exact position of his enemies around him. The officer urged him to allow him to surprise Fellows, but misfortune had made the British general wary and suspicious, and, fortunately for the Americans, the request was denied.
The main army of Gates reached the high ridge between Saratoga Church and the Fish Creek at about four in the afternoon of the 10th. The British had crossed over the creek, and were encamped upon the high grounds on the slope of which Schuylerville is now built.3 The two armies were within the sound of each other’s music. The boats of Burgoyne, with his baggage and provisions, were at the mouth of the creek. A fatigue party began to carry the stores from the boats to the heights, but Fellows constantly played upon them with two field pieces stationed on the flats beyond the river, and they were obliged to retreat to the camp. Several of the bateaux of the enemy, with their provisions, were captured, and immediately became objects of plunder for the raw militia and motley followers of the army. Even the Continental troops were implicated in taking "pay and rations" for services, directly from the enemy, instead of receiving them through the paymaster. These irregularities became so extensive that General Gates issued an order on the 12th, in which he declared that he "saw so many scandalous and mean transactions committed by persons who sought more after plunder than the honor of doing their duty, that it was his unalterable resolution to have the first person who should thereafter be detected in pillaging the baggage and stores taken from the enemy, tried and punished with the utmost severity of the military law." 4
Finding the ford across the Hudson strongly guarded by the Americans, Burgoyne resolved to continue his retreat up the right bank of the river to the front of Fort Edward, force his way across, and take possession of that fortress. He sent forward a working party, consisting chiefly of loyalists, guarded by Fraser’s marksmen, to repair the bridges and open the roads, and also a detachment of troops to take possession of the fort. The Americans, who were spreading out in small detachments upon every height, on all sides, soon drove the workmen back into the camp; and the British troops found the fort in the possession of two hundred Americans, under Colonel Cochrane. The militia were flocking to the fort to strengthen the garrison, and the enemy, believing the Americans to be as numerous in front as in rear, hastily retreated back to their lines.5
Thus the cloud of perils thickened around Burgoyne. He now abandoned all idea of saving his artillery and baggage, and saw no other mode of escape than a precipitate retreat. The provisions and other stores in his bateaux were captured or destroyed by the republicans, and from every direction he was galled by a desultory fire from cannon and small arms. So overwhelming was the number of the Americans, that to fight would be madness, and Burgoyne lost all hope of saving his doomed army.
But in the midst of all these perils and despondencies, a stratagem of the British commander, suggested by an erring apprehension on the part of General Gates, aided by the occurrence of a natural phenomenon, came very near being successful, and for a time greatly cheered the drooping spirits of the enemy. Rumor reached General Gates that the whole British army had moved toward Fort Edward, leaving only a small detachment, as a rear-guard, in defense of the camp. This rumor originated from the march of the detachment already mentioned, which was sent forward to Fort Edward. General Gates, therefore, determined to cross the Fish Creek on the morning of the 11th, fall in full force upon and crush the British rear-guard, and make a vigorous pursuit after the main body.
By some means this determination of Gates’s became known to Burgoyne, and he resolved to profit by the false rumor. He left a strong guard at the battery on the creek, and concealed his troops in the thicket, a few rods in the rear. In the morning the sky was cloudless, but a thick fog rested upon the whole country and obscured every object. This was hailed as a favorable event by both generals, Gates supposing that it would veil his movements from the British rear-guard, and Burgoyne confidently believing that it would conceal his ambush, and that victory was now certain.
The brigades of Generals Nixon and Glover, and Morgan’s corps, were ordered to cross the creek and fall upon the enemy’s camp. Morgan advanced at about daylight, the fog being so thick that he could see but a few rods around him. He at once fell in with the British pickets, who poured in a volley upon him and killed a lieutenant and several privates. Morgan instantly conceived that the rumor was false, and that the enemy was in force near. At that moment Deputy Adjutant-general Wilkinson, who had been sent by Gates to reconnoiter, rode up, and, coinciding in opinion with Morgan, hastened to report to his commander the supposed peril of his corps. Nixon and Glover were at the same time pressing forward to attack the camp, while the whole army advanced to the heights immediately south of the creek. Nixon crossed the creek to the plain, and surprised a picket guard at Fort Hardy; and Glover was about to follow him, when a British soldier was seen hastily fording the stream. He was captured, and professed to be a deserter. Glover questioned him, and was informed that the entire British army were in their camp, drawn up in order of battle. The general suspected him of untruth, and threatened him with instant death if he should deceive him. The soldier declared that he was an honest deserter, and solemnly affirmed the truth of his tale, which was soon confirmed by a German deserter, and by the capture of a reconnoitering party, consisting of a subaltern and thirty-five men, by the advance guard, under Captain Goodale, of Putnam’s regiment. The deserter was immediately sent with one of Glover’s aids to General Gates, and information was forwarded to General Nixon, with urgent advice to halt. Satisfied of the deserter’s truth, Gates revoked all the orders of the evening previous, and directed the troops to return to their respective positions.
GENERAL GATES’S HEADQUARTERS AT SARATOGA.6
His headquarters were nearly a mile in the rear of his army, and his order came almost too late to save the troops, who had already crossed the creek, from destruction, for the fog soon passed away and discovered them to the enemy, then in full view, and under arms upon the heights. Nixon, however, had retreated, and the cannonade opened upon him by the British took effect only upon the rear of his brigade.7
General Learned, in the mean while, with his own and Patterson’s brigades, had reached Morgan’s corps, and was pressing on rapidly to the attack when Wilkinson came up, not with a counter order from Gates, but with the intelligence that the right wing of the Americans had given way. The brave veteran disliked the idea of retreating, preferring to carry out the standing order of the previous day to the very letter;8 but, on counseling with Colonels Brooks and Tupper, and some other officers, a retreat was deemed advisable. As they turned, the British, who were awaiting an attack, opened fire upon them; but the Americans were soon masked by the woods, and Morgan took post upon the flank and rear of the enemy.
Thus, by the providential circumstance of a deserter flying to our camp, our army was saved from a terrible, perhaps fatal, loss; for, had the several brigades of Nixon, Glover, Learned, and Patterson been cut off, Burgoyne might have so much weakened the American army, and strengthened his own by the adherence of the now wavering loyalists and Indians, as to scatter the remainder of the Continental forces and reach Albany, the darling object of all his efforts. But the breath of the deserter blasted all his hopes, and the incident was, to use his own words, "one of the most adverse strokes of fortune during the campaign."9
Burgoyne now saw no way of escape. He sent out scouts toward the north, who reported the roads impassable and the woods swarming with republicans. The few Indians who had remained now left him, utterly disheartened; and the loyalists, feeling that their personal security would be jeopardized in case of a surrender, left the army every hour. It was proposed to make a scattered retreat, each soldier carrying in his knapsack provisions enough for two or three days, Fort George being the place of rendezvous; but such a step would be perilous in the extreme, for the Americans, apparently as numerous as the leaves upon the trees, and ever on the alert, would cut them off in detail. In battle, a fortunate circumstance might occur in their favor; but General Gates, assured that he had his enemy in his power, could not be induced to jeopard the lives of his troops by an engagement. Burgoyne’s only hope rested upon aid from Clinton below. Not a word, however, could he get from that general; yet, clinging with desperation to every hope, however feeble, he resolved to await that succor quietly in his strong camp as long as his exhausted stores and a powerful enemy would allow.
Burgoyne’s camp, upon the heights near the Fish Creek, was fortified, and, extending more than half a mile in the rear, was strengthened by artillery. On an elevated plain, northwest of the village of Schuylerville, his heavy guns were chiefly posted. Directly in his rear Morgan and his corps were stationed. In front, on the east side of the Hudson, Fellows, with three thousand troops, was strongly intrenched. The main body of the American army, under Gates, was on the south side of the Fish Creek; and in every direction small detachments of Continentals or republican militia were vigorously watching the enemy at bay.10 Fort Edward was in possession of the Americans, and upon high ground in the vicinity of Glenn’s Falls they had a fortified camp.
Burgoyne was completely environed, and every part of the royal camp was exposed to the fire of cannon and musketry. The soldiers slept under arms continually. There was not a place of safety for the sick, wounded, and dying, or for the women and children of the officers and soldiers. There was no secure place for a council. None dared go to the river for water, and thirst began to distress the camp.11 The desertions of the Indians and Canadians, the cowardice and disaffection of the loyalists, and the losses in killed and wounded, had so thinned Burgoyne’s ranks, that his army was reduced one half, and a large proportion of those who remained were not Englishmen. There was not bread for three days in store, and of course none could be obtained. Not a word came from General Clinton, and Burgoyne was totally ignorant of his having made any movement up the Hudson. The last ray of hope faded away, and toward the evening of the 12th the British commander held a council with Generals Reidesel, Phillips, and Hamilton. It was decided to retreat before morning, if possible; but returning scouts brought only hopeless intelligence respecting the roads and the strength of the enemy.
On the morning of the 13th Burgoyne called a general council of all officers, including captains of companies. Their deliberations were held in a large tent, which was several times perforated by musket-balls from the Americans. Several grape-shot struck near the tent, and an eighteen pound cannon-ball swept across the table at which sat Burgoyne and the other generals. Their deliberations were short, as might be expected, and it was unanimously resolved to open a treaty with General Gates for an honorable surrender. It was a bitter pill for the proud lieutenant general, but there was no alternative.
Toward evening a flag was sent to General Gates, with a note, intimating that General Burgoyne was desirous of sending a field officer to him upon a matter of great moment to both armies, and wishing to know at what hour the next morning it would suit General Gates to receive him. The reply was, "At ten o’clock, at the advanced post of the army of the United States." Accordingly, Lieutenant Kingston, Burgoyne’s adjutant general, appeared at the appointed hour and delivered the following note from his commander: "After having fought you twice, Lieutenant-general Burgoyne has waited some days in his present position, determined to try a third conflict against any force you could bring against him. He is apprized of your superiority of numbers, and the disposition of your troops to impede his supplies, and render his retreat a scene of carnage on both sides. In this situation, he is impelled by humanity, and thinks himself justified by established principles and precedents of state and war, to spare the lives of brave men upon honorable terms. Should Major-general Gates be inclined to treat upon that idea, General Burgoyne would propose a cessation of arms during the time necessary to communicate the preliminary terms by which, in any extremity, he and his army mean to abide."
General Gates had already prepared a schedule of terms upon which he was willing to treat. It enumerated the distresses of the British army, and declared that they could only be allowed to surrender as prisoners of war, and that they must lay down their arms in their camp. Burgoyne replied, with spirit, that he would not admit that the retreat of his army was cut off while they had arms in their hands, and that the degrading act of laying down their arms within their own camp would not be submitted to. The latter condition was waived, and in the afternoon General Gates ordered a cessation of hostilities till sunset. Negotiations continued until the 16th, when every thing was agreed upon and adjusted, ready for the signatures of the contracting parties. This last act was to be performed on the morning of the 17th.
The substance of the "Convention between Lieutenant-general Burgoyne and Major-general Gates," as the British commander superscribed it, was, 1st. That Burgoyne’s troops were to march out of their camp with all the honors of war, the artillery to be moved to the verge of the Hudson, and there left, together with the soldiers’ arms – the said arms to be piled by word of command from their own officers; 2d. That a free passage should be granted the troops to Great Britain, on condition of their not serving again during the war; 3d. That if any cartel should take place by which Burgoyne’s army, or any part of it, should be exchanged, the foregoing article should be void as far as such exchange should extend; 4th. That the army should march to the neighborhood of Boston by the most expeditious and convenient route, and not be delayed when transports should arrive to receive them; 5th. That every care should be taken for the proper subsistence of the troops till they should be embarked; 6th. That all officers should retain their carriages, horses, bat-horses, &c., and their baggage, and be exempt from molestation or search; 7th. That on the march, officers should not be separated from their men; 8th. That all corps whatsoever, whether composed of sailors, bateaux-men, artificers, drivers, independent companies, or followers of the army, of whatever country they might be, should be included in the fullest sense and to the utmost extent of the articles, and comprehended in every respect as British subjects, whose general had capitulated for them;12 9th. That all Canadians and persons belonging to the Canadian establishment should be permitted a free return to Canada, should be conducted by the shortest route to the British posts on Lake George, should be treated in all respects like the rest of the army, and should be bound by the same conditions not to serve during the war, unless exchanged; 10th. That passports should be immediately granted for three officers, to carry Burgoyne’s dispatches to General Howe at Philadelphia, to Sir Guy Carleton in Canada, and to the government of Great Britain by way of New York; 11th. That all officers, during their stay in Boston, should be admitted to parole, and from first to last be permitted to wear their side-arms; 12th. That if the army found it necessary to send for their clothing and other baggage from Canada, they should be permitted to do so, and have the necessary passports granted them; 13th. That these articles should be signed and exchanged on the following morning [October 17.] at nine o’clock, the troops to march out of their intrenchments at three o’clock in the afternoon. Appended to these articles was an addendum or postscript, signed by General Gates, declaring that General Burgoyne, whose name was not mentioned in the above treaty, was fully comprehended in it. 13
FAC-SIMILE OF THE SIGNATURES OF BURGOYNE AND GATES TO THE "CONVENTION."
During the night of the 16th Captain Campbell succeeded in eluding the American sentinels, and reached the British camp with dispatches from Sir Henry Clinton announcing his capture of the forts among the Hudson Highlands and the expedition of Vaughan and Wallace as far up the river as Esopus. Here was a ray of hope, and Burgoyne felt disposed to withhold his signature from the "convention." General Gates was apprized of this, and of the cause which had excited new hopes in the British commander. He was better acquainted, too, with the threatening aspect below than Burgoyne, and he knew that "delays are dangerous." He drew up his army on the morning of the 17th in order of battle, and then sent a peremptory message to Burgoyne, that if the articles were not signed by him immediately, he should open fire upon him. Under the circumstances, the terms were exceedingly humane and honorable; far more so than might be expected if the negotiation should be here broken off and again commenced. With reluctance Burgoyne subscribed his name, and preparations were immediately made for the ceremonies of surrender.
The British army left their camp upon the hills, and marched sorrowfully down upon the "green" or level plain in front of old Fort Hardy,14 where the different companies were drawn up in parallel lines, and, by order of their several commanders, grounded their arms and emptied their cartridge-boxes. They were not subject to the mortification of thus submitting under the gaze of an exulting foe, for General Gates, with a delicacy and magnanimity of feeling which drew forth the expressed admiration of Burgoyne and his officers, had ordered all his army within his camp, out of sight of the vanquished Britons. 15 Colonel Wilkinson, who had been sent to the British camp, and, in company with Burgoyne, selected the place where the troops were to lay down their arms, was the only American officer present at the scene. 16
VIEW OF THE PLACE WHERE THE BRITISH LAID DOWN THEIR ARMS.
The sketch here presented, of the place where the British army surrendered, was made from one of the canal bridges at Schuylerville, looking east-northeast. The stream of water in the fore-ground is Fish Creek, and the level ground seen between it and the distant hills on the left is the place where the humiliation of the Britons occurred. The tree by the fence, in the center of the picture, designates the northwest angle of Fort Hardy, and the other trees on the right stand nearly on the line of the northern breast-works. The row of small trees, apparently at the foot of the distant hills, marks the course of the Hudson; and the hills that bound the view are those on which the Americans were posted. This plain is directly in front of Schuylerville, between that village and the Hudson. General Fellows was stationed on the high ground seen over the barn on the right, and the eminence on the extreme left is the place whence the American cannon played upon the house wherein the Baroness Reidesel and other ladies sought refuge.
As soon as the troops had laid down their arms, General Burgoyne proposed to be introduced to General Gates. They crossed Fish Creek, and proceeded toward headquarters, Burgoyne in front with his adjutant general, Kingston, and his aids-de-camp, Captain Lord Petersham and Lieutenant Wilford, behind him. Then followed Generals Phillips, Reidesel, and Hamilton, and other officers and suites, according to rank. General Gates was informed of the approach of Burgoyne, and with his staff met him at the head of his camp, about a mile south of the Fish Creek, Burgoyne in a rich uniform of scarlet and gold, and Gates in a plain blue frock-coat. When within about a sword’s length, they reined up and halted. Colonel Wilkinson then named the gentlemen, and General Burgoyne, raising his hat gracefully, said, "The fortune of war, General Gates, has made me your prisoner." The victor promptly replied, "I shall always be ready to bear testimony that it has not been through any fault of your excellency." The other officers were introduced in turn, and the whole party repaired to Gates’s headquarters, where a sumptuous dinner was served.17
SITE OF THE FIRST INTERVIEW BETWEEN GATES AND BURGOYNE.18
After dinner the American army was drawn up in parallel lines on each side of the road, extending nearly a mile. Between these victorious troops the British army, with light infantry in front, and escorted by a company of light dragoons, preceded by two mounted officers carrying the American flag, marched to the lively tune of Yankee Doodle.19 Just as they passed, the two commanding generals, who were in Gates’s marquee, came out together, and, fronting the procession, gazed upon it in silence a few moments. What a contrast, in every particular, did the two present! Burgoyne, though possessed of coarse features, had a large and commanding person; Gates was smaller and far less dignified in appearance. Burgoyne was arrayed in the splendid military trappings of his rank; Gates was clad in a plain and unassuming dress. Burgoyne was the victim of disappointed hopes and foiled ambition, and looked upon the scene with exceeding sorrow; Gates was buoyant with the first flush of a great victory. Without exchanging a word, Burgoyne, according to previous understanding, stepped back, drew his sword, and, in the presence of the two armies, presented it to General Gates. He received it with a courteous inclination of the head, and instantly returned it to the vanquished general. They then retired to the marquee together, the British army filed off and took up their line of march for Boston, and thus ended the drama upon the heights of Saratoga.
The whole number of prisoners surrendered was five thousand seven hundred and ninety-one, of whom two thousand four hundred and twelve were Germans and Hessians. The force of the Americans, at the time of the surrender, was, according to a statement which General Gates furnished to Burgoyne, thirteen thousand two hundred and twenty-two, of which number nine thousand and ninety-three were Continentals, or regular soldiers, and four thousand one hundred and twenty-nine were militia. The arms and ammunition which came into the possession of the Americans were, a fine train of brass artillery, consisting of 2 twenty-four pounders, 4 twelve pounders, 20 sixes, 6 threes, 2 eight inch howitzers, 5 five and a half inch royal howitzers, and 3 five and a half inch royal mortars;20 in all forty-two pieces of ordnance. There were four thousand six hundred and forty-seven muskets, and six thousand dozens of cartridges, besides shot, carcasses, cases, shells, &c. Among the English prisoners were six members of Parliament. 21
Cotemporary writers represent the appearance of the poor German and Hessian troops as extremely miserable and ludicrous. They deserved commiseration, but they received none. They came not here voluntarily to fight our people; they were sent as slaves by their masters, who received the price of their hire. They were caught, it is said, while congregated in their churches and elsewhere, and forced into the service. Most of them were torn reluctantly from their families and friends; hundreds of them deserted here before the close of the war; and many of their descendants are now living among us. Many had their wives with them, and these helped to make up the pitiable procession through the country. Their advent into Cambridge, near Boston, is thus noticed by the lady of Dr. Winthrop of that town, in a letter to Mrs. Mercy Warren, an early historian of our Revolution: "On Friday we heard the Hessians were to make a procession on the same route. We thought we should have nothing to do but view them as they passed. To be sure, the sight was truly astonishing. I never had the least idea that the creation produced such a sordid set of creatures in human figure – poor, dirty, emaciated men. Great numbers of women, who seemed to be the beasts of burden, having bushel baskets on their backs, by which they were bent double. The contents seemed to be pots and kettles, various sorts of furniture, children peeping through gridirons and other utensils. Some very young infants, who were born on the road; the women barefooted, clothed in dirty rags. Such effluvia filled the air while they were passing, that, had they not been smoking all the time, I should have been apprehensive of being contaminated."22
The whole view of the vanquished army, as it marched through the country from Saratoga to Boston, a distance of three hundred miles, escorted by two or three American officers and a handful of soldiers, was a spectacle of extraordinary interest. Generals of the first order of talent; young gentlemen of noble and wealthy families, aspiring to military renown; legislators of the British realm, and a vast concourse of other men, lately confident of victory and of freedom to plunder and destroy, were led captive through the pleasant land they had coveted, to be gazed at with mingled joy and scorn by those whose homes they came to make desolate. "Their march was solemn, sullen, and silent; but they were every where treated with such humanity, and even delicacy, that they were overwhelmed with astonishment and gratitude. Not one insult was offered, not an opprobrious reflection cast;"23 and in all their long captivity 24 they experienced the generous kindness of a people warring only to be free.
The surrender of Burgoyne was an event of infinite importance to the struggling republicans. Hitherto the preponderance of success had been on the side of the English, and only a few partial victories had been won by the Americans. The defeat on Long Island had eclipsed the glory of the siege of Boston; the capture of Fort Washington and its garrison had overmatched the brilliant defense of Charleston; the defeat at Brandywine had balanced the victory at Trenton; White Plains and Princeton were in fair juxtaposition in the account current; and at the very time when the hostile armies at the north were fighting for the mastery, Washington was suffering defeats in Pennsylvania, and Forts Clinton, Montgomery, and Constitution were passing into the hands of the royal forces. Congress had fled from Philadelphia to York, and its sittings were in the midst of loyalists, ready to attack or betray. Its treasury was nearly exhausted; its credit utterly so. Its bills to the amount of forty millions of dollars were scattered over the country. Its frequent issues were inadequate to the demands of the commissariat; and distrust was rapidly depreciating their value in the public mind. Loyalists rejoiced; the middlemen were in a dilemma; the patriots trembled. Thick clouds of doubt and dismay were gathering in every part of the political horizon, and the acclamations which had followed the Declaration of Independence, the year before, died away like mere whispers upon the wind.
MEDAL STRUCK IN HONOR OF GENERAL GATES AND HIS ARMY.25
All eyes were turned anxiously to the army of the north, and upon that strong arm of Congress, wielded, for the time, by Gates, the hopes of the patriots leaned. How eagerly they listened to every breath of rumor from Saratoga! How enraptured were they when the cry of victory fell upon their ears! All over the land a shout of triumph went up, and from the furrows, and workshops, and marts of commerce; from the pulpit, from provincial halls of legislation, from partisan camps, and from the shattered ranks of the chief at White Marsh, it was echoed and re-echoed; the bills of Congress rose twenty per cent. in value; capital came forth from its hiding-places; the militia readily obeyed the summons to the camp, and the great patriot heart of America beat strongly with pulsations of hope. Amid the joy of the moment, Gates was apotheosized in the hearts of his countrymen, and they generously overlooked the indignity offered by him to the commander-in-chief when he refused, in the haughty pride of his heart in that hour of victory, to report, as in duty bound, his success to the national council through him. Congress, too, overjoyed at the result, forgot its own dignity, and allowed Colonel Wilkinson,26 the messenger of the glad tiding, to stand upon their floor and proclaim, "The whole British army have laid down their arms at Saratoga; our own, full of vigor and courage, expect your orders." Congress voted thanks to General Gates and his army, and decreed that he should be presented with a medal of gold, to be struck expressly in commemoration of so glorious a victory.
This victory was also of infinite importance to the republicans on account of its effects beyond the Atlantic. The highest hopes of the British nation, and the most sanguine expectations of the king and his ministers, rested on the success of this campaign. It had been a favorite object with the administration, and the people were confidently assured that, with the undoubted success of Burgoyne, the turbulent spirit of rebellion would be quelled, and the insurgents would be forced to return to their allegiance.
Parliament was in session[December 3, 1777.] when the intelligence of Burgoyne’s defeat reached England; and when the mournful tidings were communicated to that body, it instantly aroused all the fire of opposing parties. 27 The opposition opened anew their eloquent batteries upon the ministers. For several days misfortune had been suspected. The last arrival from America brought tidings of gloom. The Earl of Chatham, with far-reaching comprehension, and thorough knowledge of American affairs, had denounced the mode of warfare and the material used against the Americans. He refused to vote for the laudatory address to the king. Leaning upon his crutch, he poured forth his vigorous denunciations against the course of the ministers like a mountain torrent. "This, my lords," he said, "is a perilous and tremendous moment! It is no time for adulation. The smoothness of flattery cannot now avail – can not save us in this rugged and awful crisis. It is now necessary to instruct the throne in the language of truth. . . . . . . . . You can not, I venture to say it, you can not conquer America. What is your present situation there? We do not know the worst, but we know that in three campaigns we have suffered much and gained nothing, and perhaps at this moment the northern army (Burgoyne’s) may be a total loss. . . . . . . . . You may swell every expense, and every effort, still more extravagantly; pile and accumulate every assistance you can buy or borrow; traffic and barter with every little pitiful German prince that sells and sends his subjects to the shambles of a foreign power; your efforts are forever vain and impotent; doubly so from this mercenary aid on which you rely, for it irritates to an incurable resentment in the minds of your enemies. To overrun with the mercenary sons of rapine and plunder, devoting them and their possessions to the rapacity of hireling cruelty! If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I never would lay down my arms – never, never, never!" 28
The Earl of Coventry, Earl Temple Chatham’s brother-in-law, and the Duke of Richmond, all spoke in coincidence with Chatham. Lord Suffolk, one of the Secretaries of State, undertook the defense of ministers for the employment of Indians, and concluded by saying, "It is perfectly justifiable to use all the means that God and nature have put into our hands." This sentiment brought Chatham upon the floor. "That God and nature put into our hands!" he reiterated, with bitter scorn. "I know not what idea that lord may entertain of God and nature, but I know that such abominable principles are equally abhorrent to religion and humanity. What! attribute the sacred sanction of God and nature to the massacres of the Indian scalping-knife, to the cannibal and savage, torturing, murdering, roasting, and eating – literally, my lords, eating – the mangled victims of his barbarous battles. . . . . . . . . These abominable principles, and this most abominable avowal of them, demand most decisive indignation. I call upon that right reverend bench (pointing to the bishops), those holy ministers of the Gospel and pious pastors of the Church – I conjure them to join in the holy work, and to vindicate the religion of their God."
In the Lower House, Burke, Fox, and Barré were equally severe upon the ministers; and on the 3d of December, when the news of Burgoyne’s defeat reached London, the latter arose in his place in the Commons, and, with a severe and solemn countenance, asked Lord George Germain, the Secretary of War, what news he had received by his last expresses from Quebec, and to say, upon his word of honor, what had become of Burgoyne and his brave army. The haughty secretary was irritated by the cool irony of the question, but he was obliged to unbend and to confess that the unhappy intelligence had reached him, but added it was not yet authenticated.29
Lord North, the premier, with his usual adroitness, admitted that misfortune had befallen the British arms, but denied that any blame could be imputed to ministers themselves, and proposed an adjournment of Parliament on the 11th[December, 1777.] (which was carried) until the 20th of January. 30 It was a clever trick of the premier to escape the castigations which he knew the opposition would inflict while the nation was smarting under the goadings of mortified pride.
The victory over Burgoyne, unassisted as our troops were by foreign aid, placed the prowess of the United States in the most favorable light upon the Continent. Our urgent solicitations for aid, hitherto but little noticed except by France, were now listened to with respect, and the American commissioners at Paris, Dr. Franklin, Silas Deane,31 and Arthur Lee, 32 occupied a commanding position among the diplomatists of Europe. France, Spain, the States General of Holland, the Prince of Orange, and even Catharine of Russia and Pope Clement XIV. (Ganganelli), all of whom feared and hated England because of her increasing potency in arms, commerce, diplomacy, and the Protestant faith, thought kindly of us and spoke kindly to us. We were loved because England was hated; we were respected because we could injure England by dividing her realm and impairing her growing strength beyond the seas. There was a perfect reciprocity of service; and when peace was ordained by treaty, and our independence was established, the balance-sheet showed nothing against us, so far as the governments of continental Europe were concerned.
In the autumn of 1776[November], Franklin and Lee were appointed, jointly with Deane, resident commissioners at the court of Versailles, to negotiate a treaty of amity and commerce with the French king. They opened negotiations early in December with the Count De Vergennes, the premier of Louis XVI. He was distinguished for sound wisdom, extensive political knowledge, remarkable sagacity, and true greatness of mind. He foresaw that generous dealings with the insurgent colonists at the outset would be the surest means of perpetuating the rebellion until a total separation from the parent state would be accomplished – an event eagerly coveted by the French government. France had hated England cordially, and feared her power. She had no special love for the Anglo-American colonies, but she was ready to aid them in reducing, by disunion, the puissance of the British empire. To widen the breach was the chief aim of Vergennes. A haughty reserve, he knew, would discourage the Americans, while an open reception, or even countenance, of their deputies might alarm the rulers of Great Britain, and dispose them to a compromise with the colonies, or bring on an immediate rupture between France and England. A middle line was, therefore, pursued by him. 33
While the French government was thus vacillating during the first three quarters of 1777, secret aid was given to the republicans, and great quantities of arms and ammunition were sent to this country, by an agent of the French government, toward the close of the year, ostensibly through the channel of commercial operations.34 But when the capture of Burgoyne and his army (intelligence of which arrived at Paris by express on the 4th of December) reached Versailles, and the ultimate success of the Americans was hardly problematical, Louis cast off all disguise, and informed the American commissioners, through M. Gerard, one of his Secretaries of State, that the treaty of alliance and commerce, already negotiated, would be ratified, and "that it was decided to acknowledge the independence of the United States." He wrote to his uncle, Charles IV. of Spain, urging his co-operation; for, according to the family compact of the Bourbons, made in 1761, the King of Spain was to be consulted before such a treaty could be ratified. 35 Charles refused to co-operate, but Louis persevered, and in February, 1778 [February 6.], he acknowledged the independence of the United States, and entered into treaties of alliance and commerce with them on a footing of perfect equality and reciprocity. War against England was to be made a common cause, and it was agreed that neither contracting party should conclude peace with Great Britain without the formal consent of the other first obtained; and it was mutually covenanted not to lay down their arms until the independence of the United States should be formally or tacitly assured by the treaty or treaties that should terminate the war. 36 Thus allied, by treaty, with the ancient and powerful French nation, the Americans felt certain of success.
1 I have already had occasion to use the terms Whig and Tory, and shall do so often in the course of this work. They were copied by us from the political vocabulary of Great Britain, and were first used here, to distinguish the opposing parties in the Revolution, about 1770. The term originated during the reign of Charles II., or about that time. Bishop Burnet, in his History of his own Times, gives the following explanation: "The southwest counties of Scotland have seldom corn enough to serve them round the year; and the northern parts producing more than they need, those in the west come in the summer to buy at Leith the stores that come from the north; and, from a word, whiggam, used in driving their horses, all that drove were called whiggamores, and shorter, whiggs. Now in that year, after the news came down of Duke Hamilton’s defeat, the ministers animated their people to rise and march to Edinburgh, and then came up marching at the head of their parishes, with unheard-of fury, praying and preaching all the way as they came. The Marquis of Argyle and his party came and headed them, they being about six thousand. This was called the Whiggamore’s inroad, and ever after that all that opposed the courts came, in contempt, to be called Whigg; and from Scotland the word was brought into England, where it is now one of our unhappy terms of distinction." Subsequently all whose party bias was democratic were called Whigs. The origin of the word Tory is not so well attested. The Irish malcontents, half robbers and half insurgents, who harassed the English in Ireland at the time of the massacre in 1640, were the first to whom this epithet was applied. It was also applied to the court party as a term of reproach. – See, also, Macaulay’s History of England, i., 240.
2 Letters of the Baroness Reidesel.
3 The village of Schuylerville is on the north bank of the Fish Creek. Old Saratoga, with its church, was on the south side. The church was about eight hundred yards south of the creek, on the road to Albany.
4 It is said that when Burgoyne proposed in council, on the 13th, to retreat precipitately, he mildly reproached Major Skene, a staunch loyalist, with having brought him into this difficulty by injudicious advice, particularly with regard to the expedition to Bennington. "You have brought me into this difficulty," he said; "now advise me how to get out of it." "Scatter your baggage, stores, and every thing else that can be spared, at proper distances," replied the major, "and the militia will be so engaged in collecting and securing the same, that the troops will have an opportunity of getting clear off."
5 The two victories on Bemis’s Heights greatly inspirited the Americans, and when, after the last battle, General Gates, in order to make victory secure, applied to the Legislature of New Hampshire for more troops, the militia turned out with alacrity. The speaker of the Assembly, John Langdon, Esq., upon receiving the application, immediately proposed an adjournment, and that as many members as could should set off directly as volunteers for the cause, taking with them all the men they could collect. It was agreed to, and done by himself and others. – Gordon, ii., 262.
6 This house is still standing. The view is taken from the road, a few rods southwest of the building. It is of wood, and has been somewhat enlarged since the Revolution. It was used by General Gates for his quarters from the 10th of October until after the surrender of Burgoyne on the 17th. It belonged to a Widow Kershaw, and General Gates amply compensated her for all he had, on leaving it. It is now well preserved. It stands on the east side of the Albany and Whitehall turnpike, about a mile and a half south of the Fish Creek. The Champlain Canal passes immediately in the rear of it; and nearly half a mile eastward is the Hudson River.
7 John Nixon was born at Framingham, Massachusetts, March 4th, 1725. He was at the siege of Louisburg in 1745, was captain in the provincial troops under Abercrombie at Ticonderoga, and was esteemed a valiant soldier during the whole of the French and Indian war. He took the patriot side when our Revolution broke out. He was one of the minute men at the Lexington battle, was at the head of a regiment in the battle of Bunker Hill, and was made a brigadier in the Continental army in August, 1776. He was then placed in command at Governor’s Island, near New York. In the battle of Bemis’s Heights a cannon-ball passed so near his head it impaired the sight of one eye and the hearing of one ear. On account of ill health, he resigned his commission in 1780. He died March 24th, 1815, aged 90 years.
8 The standing order was, "In case of an attack against any point, whether front, flank, or rear, the troops are to fall on the enemy at all quarters."
9 Letter to Lord George Germain, dated Albany 20th, 1777.
10 By reference to the above map, the position of the two armies at this juncture will be more clearly understood. They held the same relative position until the surrender on the 17th.
11 The consideration of Americans for women was conspicuously displayed at this time. While every man who went to the river for water became a target for the sure marksmen of the Americans, a soldier’s wife went back and forth as often as she pleased, and not a gun was pointed at her.
12 This was to afford protection to the loyalists or Tories.
13 A copy of these articles, said to be in the handwriting of General Gates, and signed by the two commanders, is in the possession of the New York Historical Society, from which the above fac-similes were taken.
14 Fort Hardy was situated at the junction of the Fish Creek with the Hudson River, on the north side of the former. It was built of earth and logs, and was thrown up by the French, under Baron Dieskau, in 1755, when Sir William Johnson was making preparations at Albany to march against the French on Lakes Champlain and George. It was abandoned by the French, and named by the English Fort Hardy, in honor of Sir Charles Hardy, who was that year appointed Governor of New York. The lines of the intrenchments inclosed about fifteen acres, bounded south by the Fish Creek and east by the Hudson River. This fort was a ruin at the time of the Revolution; yet, when I visited it (July, 1848), many traces of its outworks were still visible. Its form may be seen by reference to themap, page 77. Many military relics have been found near the fort, and I was told that, in excavating for the Champlain Canal, a great number of human skeletons were found. The workmen had, doubtless, struck upon the burial-place of the garrison.
15 Letter of Burgoyne to the Earl of Derby. Stedman, i., 352. Botta, ii., 21.
16 See Wilkinson.
17 See Wilkinson.
18 This view is taken from the turnpike, looking south. The old road was where the canal now is, and the place of meeting was about at the point where the bridge is seen.
19 Thatcher, in his Military Journal (p. 19), gives the following account of the origin of the word Yankee and of Yankee Doodle: "A farmer of Cambridge, Massachusetts, named Jonathan Hastings, who lived about the year 1713, used it as a favorite cant word to express excellence, as a yankee good horse or yankee good cider. The students of the college, hearing him use it a great deal, adopted it, and called him Yankee Jonathan; and as he was a rather weak man, the students, when they wished to denote a character of that kind, would call him Yankee Jonathan. Like other cant words, it spread, and came finally to be applied to the New Englanders as a term of reproach. Some suppose the term to be the Indian corruption of the word English – Yenglees, Yangles, Yankles, and finally Yankee.
"A song, called Yankee Doodle, was written by a British sergeant at Boston, in 1775, to ridicule the people there, when the American army, under Washington, was encamped at Cambridge and Roxbury." The original song will be found in another part of this work.
20Two of these, drawings of which will be found on page 700, are now in the court of the laboratory of the West Point Military Academy, on the Hudson.
21 Gordon, ii., 267.
22 Women of the Revolution, i., 97.
23 Mercy Warren, ii., 40.
24 Although Congress ratified the generous terms entered into by Gates with Burgoyne in the convention at Saratoga, circumstances made them suspicious that the terms would not be strictly complied with. They feared that the Britons would break their parole, and Burgoyne was required to furnish a complete roll of his army, the name and rank of every officer, and the name, former place of abode, occupation, age, and size of every non-commissioned officer and private soldier. Burgoyne murmured and hesitated. General Howe, at the same time, was very illiberal in the exchange of prisoners, and exhibited considerable duplicity. Congress became alarmed, and resolved not to allow the army of Burgoyne to leave our shores until a formal ratification of the convention should be made by the British government. Burgoyne alone was allowed to go home on parole, and the other officers, with the army, were marched into the interior of Virginia, to await the future action of the two governments. The British ministry charged Congress with positive perfidy, and Congress justified their acts by charging the ministers with meditated perfidy. That this suspicion was well founded is proved by subsequent events. In the autumn of 1778, Isaac Ogden, a prominent loyalist of New Jersey, and then a refugee in New York thus wrote to Joseph Galloway, an American Tory in London, respecting an expedition of four thousand British troops which Sir Henry Clinton sent up the Hudson a week previous: "Another object of this expedition was to open the country for many of Burgoyne’s troops that had escaped the vigilance of their guard, to come in. About forty of these have got safe in. If this expedition had been a week sooner, greater part of Burgoyne’s troops probably would have arrived here, as a disposition of rising on their guard strongly prevailed, and all they wanted to effect it was some support near at hand."
25 The engraving exhibits a view of both sides of the medal, drawn the size of the original. On one side is a bust of General Gates, with the Latin inscription, "HORATIO GATES DUCI STRENUO COMITIA AMERICANA;" literal English, Horatio Gates, brave leader of the American forces. On the other side, or reverse, Burgoyne is represented in the attitude of delivering up his sword; and in the background, on either side of them, are seen the two armies of England and America, the former laying down their arms. At the top is the Latin inscription, "SALUS REGIONUM SEPTENRIONAL;" literal English, Safety of the northern region or department. Below is the inscription, "HOSTE AD SARATOGUM IN DEDITION, ACCEPTO DIE XVII. OCT., MDCCLXXVII.; English, Enemy at Saratoga surrendered October 17th, 1777.
26 James Wilkinson was born in Maryland about 1757, and, by education, was prepared for the practice of medicine. He repaired to Cambridge as a volunteer in 1775. He was captain of a company in a regiment that went to Canada in 1776. He was appointed deputy adjutant general by Gates, and, after the surrender of Burgoyne, Congress made him a brigadier general by brevet. At the conclusion of the war he settled in Kentucky, but entered the army in 1806, and had the command on the Mississippi. He commanded on the northern frontier during our last war with Great Britain. At the age of 56 he married a young lady of 26. He died of diarrhea, in Mexico, December 28th, 1825, aged 68 years.
27 Pitkin, i., 399.
28 Parliamentary Debates.
29 History of the Reign of George III., i., 326.
30 Pitkin, i., 397. Annual Register, 1778, p. 74.
31 Silas Deane was a native of Groton, Connecticut. He graduated at Yale College, 1758, and was a member of the first Congress, 1774. He was sent to France in June, 1776, as political and commercial agent for the United Colonies, and in the autumn of that year was associated with Franklin and Lee as commissioner. He seems to have been unfit, in a great degree, for the station he held, and his defective judgment and extravagant promises greatly embarrassed Congress. He was recalled at the close of 1777, and John Adams appointed in his place. He published a defense of his character in 1778, and charged Thomas Paine and others connected with public affairs with using their official influence for purposes of private gain. This was the charge made against himself, and he never fully wiped out all suspicion. He went to England toward the close of 1784, and died in extreme poverty at Deal, 1789.
32 Dr. Lee was born in Virginia in 1740 – a brother to the celebrated Richard Henry Lee. He was educated at Edinburgh, and, on returning to America, practiced medicine at Williamsburgh about five years. He went to London in 1766, and studied law in the Temple. He kept his brother and other patriots of the Revolution fully informed of all political matters of importance abroad, and particularly the movement of the British ministry. He wrote a great deal, and stood high as an essayist and political pamphleteer. He was colonial agent for Virginia in 1775. In 1776 he was associated with Franklin and Deane, as minister at the court of Versailles. He and John Adams were recalled in 1779. On returning to the United States, he was appointed to offices of trust. He died of pleurisy, December 14th, 1782, aged nearly 42.
33 Ramsay, ii., 62, 63.
34 In the summer of 1776, Arthur Lee, agent of the Secret Committee of Congress, made an arrangement by which the French king provided money and arms secretly for the Americans. An agent named Beaumarchais was sent to London to confer with Lee, and it was arranged that two hundred thousand Louis d’ors, in arms, ammunition, and specie, should be sent to the Americans, but in a manner to make it appear as a commercial transaction. Mr. Lee assumed the name of Mary Johnson, and Beaumarchais that of Roderique, Hortales, & Co. Lee, fearing discovery if he should send a written notice to Congress of the arrangement, communicated the fact verbally through Captain Thomas Story, who had been upon the continent in the service of the Secret Committee. Yet, after all the arrangements were made, there was hesitation, and it was not until the autumn of 1777 that the articles were sent to the Americans. They were shipped on board Le Henreux, in the fictitious name of Hortales, by the way of Cape François, and arrived at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the 1st of November of that year. The brave and efficient Baron Steuben was a passenger in that ship.
This arrangement, under the disguise of a mercantile operation, subsequently produced a great deal of trouble,a more minute account of which will be given in the Supplement to this work.
Beaumarchais was one of the most active business men of his time, and became quite distinguished in the literary and political world by his "Marriage of Figaro," and his connection with the French Revolution in 1793. Börne, in one of his charming Letters from Paris, after describing his visit to the house where Beaumarchais had lived, where "they now sell kitchen salt," thus speaks of him: "By his bold and fortunate commercial undertakings, he had become one of the richest men in France. In the war of American liberty, he furnished, through an understanding with the French government, supplies of arms to the insurgents. As in all such undertakings, there were captures, shipwrecks, payments deferred or refused, yet Beaumarchais, by his dexterity, succeeded in extricating himself with personal advantage from all these difficulties.
"Yet this same Beaumarchais showed himself, in the (French) revolution, as inexperienced as a child and as timid as a German closet-scholar. He contracted to furnish weapons to the revolutionary government, and not only lost his money, but was near losing his head into the bargain. Formerly he had to deal with the ministers of an absolute monarchy. The doors of great men’s cabinets open and close softly and easily to him who knows how to oil the locks and hinges. Afterward Beaumarchais had to do with honest, in other words with dangerous people; he had not learned to make the distinction, and accordingly he was ruined." He died in 1799, in his 70th year, and his death, his friends suppose, was voluntary.
35 This letter of Louis was brought to light during the Revolution of 1793. It is a curious document, and illustrates the consummate duplicity practiced by that monarch and his ministers. Disclosing, as it does, the policy which governed the action of the French court, and the reasons which induced the king to accede to the wishes of the Americans, its insertion here will doubtless be acceptable to the reader. It was dated January 8th, 1778.
"The sincere desire," said Louis, " which I feel of maintaining the true harmony and unity of our system of alliance, which must always have an imposing character for our enemies, induces me to state to your majesty my way of thinking on the present condition of affairs. England, our common and inveterate enemy, has been engaged for three years in a war with her American colonies. We had agreed not to intermeddle with it, and, viewing both sides as English, we made our trade free to the one that found most advantage in commercial intercourse. In this manner America provided herself with arms and ammunition, of which she was destitute; I do not speak of the succors of money and other kinds which we have given her, the whole ostensibly on the score of trade. England has taken umbrage at the succors, and has not concealed from us that she will be revenged sooner or later. She has already, indeed, seized several of our merchant vessels, and refused restitution. We have lost no time on our part. We have fortified our most exposed colonies, and placed our fleets upon a respectable footing, which has continued to aggravate the ill humor of England.
"Such was the posture of affairs in November last. The destruction of the army of Burgoyne and the straitened condition of Howe have lately changed the face of things. America is triumphant and England cast down; but the latter has still a great, unbroken maritime force, and the hope of forming a beneficial alliance with the colonies, the impossibility of their being subdued by arms being now demonstrated. All the English parties agree on this point. Lord North has himself announced in full Parliament a plan of pacification for the first session, and all sides are now assiduously employed upon it. Thus it is the same to us whether this minister or any other be in power. From different motives they join against us, and do not forget our bad offices. They will fall upon us in as great strength as if the war had not existed. This being understood, and our grievances against England notorious, I have thought, after taking the advice of my council, and particularly that of M. D’Ossune, and having consulted upon the propositions which the insurgents make, to treat with them, to prevent their reunion with the mother country. I lay before your majesty my views of the subject. I have ordered a memorial to be submitted to you, in which they are presented in more detail. I desire eagerly that they should meet your approbation. Knowing the weight of your probity, your majesty will not doubt the lively and sincere friendship with which I am yours," &c. – Quoted by Pitkin (i., 399) from Histoire, &c., de la Diplomatic Français, vol. vii.
36 Spark’s Life of Franklin, 430, 433.
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