HISTORY OF

SARATOGA COUNTY, NEW YORK.

by NATHANIEL BARTLETT SYLVESTER

1878

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CHAPTER XV.

THE SECOND PERIOD OF THE BURGOYNE CAMPAIGN.

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I. - JEANIE McCREA.

The second period of the Burgoyne campaign opens in the darkest hour of the American cause. The progress of the British army down along the old war-trail of the great northern valley had thus far been a series of triumphs. The Americans had been dislodged from their stronghold at Ticonderoga, where they had fondly hoped that the tide of invasion could be stayed, and, defeated in every action, and driven from post to post, had virtually abandoned the field of the upper Hudson. Not a single ray of light had yet illumined the gloom that had settled over every American home in the land.

It was in this dark hour of the deepest despondency that an event occurred on the banks of the Hudson, at Fort Edward, of itself of seeming insignificance, - simply the death of a single maiden caused by savage hands, - yet really one of those important events which, in the hands of a wise, overruling Providence, are destined to mark a turning-point, - the beginning of a new era, as it were, - in the world's destiny.

The defeat of Burgoyne in this campaign resulted in the final success of the American arms and in the independence of the colonies. Burgoyne could date the beginning of his disasters with the murder of the maiden, Jennie McCrea, near Fort Edward, by his savage allies, at noon on Sunday, July 27, 1777. It was but ten days after, on the 6th of August following, that Gen. Herkimer, on the bloody field of Oriskany, turned back St. Leger in his raid down the Mohawk valley, and it was only ten days after the last event, on August 16, that Gen. Stark captured, near Bennington, an important detachment sent from the left wing of the British army on a foraging expedition under Major Baum.

About the year 1768 two Scotch families - the McCreas and the Joneses - came from New Jersey and settled in the woods on the wild western bank of the Hudson, near and below Fort Edward.

The Widow Jones came with a family of six grown-up sons, whose names were Jonathan, John, Dunham, Daniel, David, and Solomon. The Joneses took up the farm now known as the Roger place, in Moreau, nearly opposite Fort Edward, being but a mile and a half or so below, and kept a ferry there, then called, and after the war long known, as the Jones' ferry.

The McCreas settled three or four miles farther down the river, not far from the line of Northumberland. Jeanie McCrea was the daughter of a Scotch Presbyterian minister, and her mother having died and her father married again, she came to reside with her brother, John McCrea, on the bank of the Hudson, and thus became a pioneer in the settlement of the old north wilderness. The McCrea brothers were strong adherents of the American cause, and men of standing and influence in the neighborhood. In 1773 her brother, Daniel McCrea, was the first clerk of the first court held in Charlotte county, by Judge Duer, at Fort Edward, and when the first two regiments - the Twelfth and Thirteenth of Albany county militia-men - were commissioned by the committee of safety, in 1775, her brother, John McCrea, was given the important post of colonel commanding in the Thirteenth or Saratoga Regiment.

But the Joneses adhered to the royal cause. One of them - John - was married, and when the war broke out was settled three miles north of Sandy Hill, at what is now called Moss street, near whose house General Fraser was encamped at the time of the tragedy.

In the fall of 1776, Jonathan and David Jones raised a company of fifty men under pretext of reinforcing the American garrison at Ticonderoga, but on their march they passed by the American ford and joined the British at Crown Point, fifteen miles farther down the lake.

In the winter following Jonathan and David Jones both went to Canada, and were commissioned in the British service, - Jonathan as captain and David as lieutenant in the same company, - and, at the time of the invasion, they accompanied the army of Burgoyne as pilots and guides against their own countrymen.

In the summer of 1777, Jeanie McCrea was about twenty-three years of age, of middling stature, finely formed, distinguished for the profuseness of her dark and shining hair, and celebrated for her more than common beauty. Tradition says that between her and young David Jones a tender intimacy had sprung up before they left New Jersey, which was continued after they settled on the Hudson, and rudely interrupted by the stern events of partisan warfare.

The reader will bear in mind that Burgoyne had broken up his headquarters at Whitehall on the 25th of July, and on the 26th his advanced corps was encamped on the "Pitch Pine Plains," four miles north of Fort Edward.

It should also be borne in mind that at that time all the inhabitants in the vicinity of Fort Edward had either moved down the river for a place of safety, or, if remaining, had sought protection of Burgoyne, and that there then was only a small garrison of American troops left at Fort Edward, who also moved down the river the morning after Jeanie's death.

But Jeanie, although admonished by her brother, Col. John, to go down the river, still remained near Fort Edward. Womanlike, her heart was with the young lieutenant in the ranks of the rapidly-advancing invaders, and woman-like she lingered to await his coming.

On the day before her death she proceeded up the river, and crossed over at Jones' ferry. The old ferryman, after the war, often spoke of how well she looked, dressed, as he expressed it, in her wedding clothes.

After crossing the river, Jeanie went to the house of Peter Freel (the old "Baldwin house"), which stood close under the walls of the fort, where she stayed overnight. After breakfast the next morning she went to the house of Mrs. McNiel, which stood about eighty rods north of the fort on the main road leading to Sandy Hill.

Mrs. McNiel had been a warm friend of Jeanie's father in New Jersey, and was a cousin of Gen. Fraser, of the British army, and was doubtless then about to seek his protection, otherwise she would have many days before gone clown the river.

On the fatal morning - Sunday, the 27th day of July - our people at the fort had sent out a scouting-party of fifty men, under command of Lieut. Palmer, to ascertain the position and watch the motions of the enemy. This party had followed the plain to a deep ravine about a mile north of the fort, where they fell into an ambuscade, or met a party of about two hundred Indians, who were on a maurauding excursion. The Americans at once turned and fled for their lives towards the fort. The Indians pursued, and shot down and scalped eighteen of their number, including the commander, Lieutenant Palmer. The Americans rushed off from the plain, down the hill, and across the marsh near the river, and such as escaped returned to the protecting walls of the fort. The Indians shot Lieut. Palmer near the brow of the hill, and killed the last private still nearer the fort.

At the foot of the hill the main body of the Indians halted, and six of them rushed forward across the low ground to the house of Mrs. McNiel. There the Indians found Mrs. McNiel and Jeanie, and seizing them both hurried them as captives across the low ground over which they had come to the foot of the hill, where they joined the main body of the savages. At the foot of the hill they placed Jeanie on a home, and began their march with the two captive women and the scalps of the eighteen soldiers towards Fraser's camp. All their motions were intently watched by the people at the fort, and the Indians had scarcely reached the hill when the report of some guns was heard and Jeanie was seen to fall from her horse. It was but the work of a moment for the scalping-knife, and the dark flowing locks of poor Jeanie were dangling all blood-stained at the belt of an Indian chief. Her body was stripped and dragged out of sight of the fort, and the Indians, with Mrs. McNiel, proceeded on their way to the British camp.

That day no one dared to leave the fort. The next morning the Americans evacuated Fort Edward and passed down the river. Before going, however, they sent a file of men in search of the body of Jeanie, and found it near the body of Lieut. Palmer, about twenty rods from where she had fallen the day before. The bodies were both taken to the fort, and then sent with a small detachment of men in advance of the main body of retreating Americans to the right bank of a small creek, about three miles below Fort Edward, where they were buried in rude and hasty graves.

It is but just to say that another version of the actual manner of Jeanie's death has come down to us, which finds advocates at the present day.

It should be remembered that at the time of Jeanie's death party spirit ran wild, and both parties did not scruple to exaggerate facts in their own favor. While Gen. Gates seized upon the incident of this tragedy to inflame the passions of the Whig, the Loyalists endeavored to make as light as possible of the matter. The other version of the matter above alluded to seems to have originated with those who, at the time, sympathized with the royal cause, and of course wished to extenuate the matter as much as possible. The other account is that the Indians were in turn, after they had taken the two women from the house, pursued by the American troops from the fort, and fired on; that Jeanie was struck by two or three balls from the American guns, and not shot by the Indians at all. That after she fell, pierced by American bullets, she was scalped by the Indian and left dead, as above related. But this account seems to lack the confirmation of eye-witnesses, especially eye-witnesses among the retreating party of savages themselves. Mrs. McNeil did not know that Jeanie was killed till after she had reached Fraser's camp. On their way to Fraser's camp the Indians stopped at William Griffin's, and, showing their scalps, said they had killed Jeanie.

But what seems the strongest evidence of the truth of the version first given above is the manner in which Gen. Burgoyne treated the subject. Upon hearing of the affair Burgoyne was very angry. He called a council of the Indians, and demanded that the Indian who had killed Jeanie should be given up, that he might be punished as his crime deserved. Now, if the Indians had not killed Jeanie, and she had been accidentally shot by the pursuing Americans, they, the Indians, would have said so. In truth there would have been no culprit among them to punish. They themselves were the only ones Burgoyne could learn the facts of the case from, and after hearing their version of the case, Burgoyne demanded a culprit to hang. But Burgoyne's officers, fearing the defection of the Indians, persuaded him to change his mind and let the culprit go.

In confirmation of what Gen. Burgoyne did on the occasion is the following extract; from the testimony of the Earl of Harrington, who was a witness before the committee of the British House of Commons during its inquiry into the failure of the Burgoyne campaign, at London, in the year 1779: {See Burgoyne's State of the Expedition, page 66.}

"Question. Does your lordship remember Gen. Burgoyne's receiving at Fort Anne the news of the murder of Miss McCrea?"

"Answer. I do."

"Q. Did Gen. Burgoyne repair immediately to the Indian camp and call them to council, assisted by Brig.-Gen. Fraser?"

"A. He did."

"Q. What passed at that council?"

"A. Gen. Burgoyne threatened the culprit with death, insisted that he should be delivered up, and there were many gentlemen of the army, and I own I was one of the number, who feared that he would put that threat in execution. Motives of policy, I believe, alone prevented him from it; and if he had not pardoned the man, which he did, I believe the total desertion of the Indians would have ensued, and the consequences, on their return through Canada, might have been dreadful, not to speak of the weight they would have thrown into the opposite scale had they gone over to the enemy, which I rather imagine would have been the case."

"Q. Do you remember Gen. Burgoyne's restraining the Indian parties from going out without a British officer or proper conductor, who were to be responsible for their behavior?"

"A. I do."

"Q. Do you remember Mr. St. Luc's reporting discontent among the Indians soon after our arrival at Fort Edward?"

"A. I do."

"Q. How long was that after enforcing the restraints above mentioned?"

"A. I can't exactly say; I should imagine about three weeks or a month."

"Q. Does your lordship recollect Gen. Burgoyne's telling Mr. St. Luc that he had rather lose every Indian than connive at their enormities, or using language to that effect?"

"A. I do."

"Q. Does your lordship remember what passed in council with the Indians at Fort Edward?"

"A. To the best of my recollection much the same exhortation to act with humanity, and much the same rewards were offered for saving their prisoners."

"Q. Do you recollect the circumstance of the Indians desiring to return home at that time?'*

"A. I do, perfectly well."

"Q. Do you remember that many quitted the army without leave?"

"A. I do, immediately after the council and the next morning."

"Q. Was it not the general opinion that the desertion of the Indians, then and afterwards, were caused by the restraint upon their cruelties and habits of plunder?"

"A. It was."

This testimony was given, it should be remembered, by the earl only two years after the affair occurred, and the matter could not have been otherwise than fresh in his mind.

Burgoyne's statement of the affair was that after Jeanie had been taken by one band of Indians, another band coming up claimed her, and to settle the dispute one of the Indians killed her on the spot. If this be true, of course there was a culprit in the case. This also was the belief of the family relatives of Jeanie ever after her death. {See Silliman's Jour., second edition, and Charles Neilson's Burgoyne's Campaign. As to the conflicting versions, see appendix to Wm. L. Stone's Burgoyne Campaign, published in 1877, and authorities there cited.}

To-day the modern village of Fort Edward stands on this classic ground, made famous by more than a century of forest warfare, and more than a hundred years of smiling peace have passed over the old "great carrying-place" of the wilderness.

The old fort at the mouth of the creek, the barracks on the island in mid-river, the royal block-house upon the south bank of the river, have crumbled into ruins, and for a hundred and one summers the sweet wild-flowers have bloomed over the grave of Jeanie McCrea, the one maiden martyr of the American cause, whose innocent blood, crying from the ground, aroused her almost despairing countrymen to renewed effort to vengeance, and to final victory over the invader at whose hands her young life was ended.

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II. - ORISKANY AND BENNINGTON.

The affair at Oriskany, which took place in the upper Mohawk valley, while it exerted great influence upon the fortunes of the campaign, was yet so far away from Saratoga, the subject of this work, that merely a passing notice seems appropriate to these pages.

It was at Oriskany, on the 6th day of August, that the gallant Herkimer, the Palatine general, while on his march to the relief of Fort Stanwix, which was already invested by the British forces under Col. St. Leger, fell into the ambuscade prepared for him by Brant and his Mohawks, and Butler with his Tory rangers, and where his men met their old neighbors with whom they had been reared together on the banks of the Mohawk in a hand-to-hand conflict, each dying in the other's arms in the terrible rage of battle. But the affair at Bennington, occurring as it did in an adjoining county, needs something more at our hands.

In the concerted instructions prepared for Baum for what was known as "a secret expedition to the Connecticut river," the name Bennington was not mentioned, yet there is no doubt that Bennington was the first objective point of the expedition. It was known to Burgoyne that the Americans had formed there "a considerable depot of cattle, cows, horses, and wheel carriages, most of which were drawn across the Connecticut river from the provinces of New England; and as it was understood to be guarded by a party of militia only, an attempt to surprise it seemed by no means unjustifiable." Some time after the battle, and after his return to England, Burgoyne was blamed because he had sent out Baum with instructions which did not apply to Bennington, and that the destination of the expedition had then been changed. To this charge Burgoyne replied as follows:

"But it still may be said the expedition was not originally designed against Bennington. I really do not see to what it would tend against me, if that supposition were in a great degree admitted. That some part of the force was designed to act there, will not be disputed by any who read Col. Baum's instructions and consult the map. The blame or merit of the design altogether must rest upon the motives of expediency; and it is of little consequence whether the first and principal direction was against Bennington or Arlington, or any other district, as my intelligence might have varied respecting the deposits of corn and cattle of the enemy. At the same time I must observe it is begging the question to argue that Bennington was not the real, original object, because Bennington was not mentioned in the draft of instructions. A man must indeed be void of military and political address to put upon a paper a critical design, where surprise was in question, and everything depended upon secrecy. Though it were true that I meant only Bennington, and thought of nothing less than the progress of the expedition in the extent of the order, I certainly would not now affirm it, because I could not prove it, and because it would seem that I searched for remote and obscure justification, not relying upon that which was manifest; but surely there is nothing new or improbable in the idea that a general should disguise his real intentions at the outset of an expedition, even from the officer whom he appointed to execute them, provided a communication with that officer was certain and not remote."

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INSTRUCTIONS TO BAUM.

The instructions to Baum commenced by stating that the object of the expedition was "to try the affections of the country; to disconcert the councils of the enemy; to mount the Riedesel's dragoons; to complete Peters' corps, and to obtain large supplies of cattle, horses, and carriages." He was ordered to proceed from Batten Kill to Arlington, and take post there till the detachment of the Provincials under Capt. Sherwood should join him. Then lie was to go to Manchester and secure the pass of the mountains on the road from Manchester to Rockingham, on the Connecticut river, and send the Indians of the party and the light troops towards Otter creek. On their return, in ease he should hear that there was no enemy in force on Connecticut river, he was to go by the road over the mountains to Rockingham, and there, at the most distant part of the expedition, take post. If prudent, the Indians and light troops were to be sent up the Connecticut, and on their return, the force was to descend the river to Brattleborough, and thence proceed by the quickest march "by the great road to Albany." They were to bring in all horses fit to mount the dragoons or to serve as bat-horses; also saddles, bridles, "wagons and other convenient carriages," draught oxen, all cattle fit for slaughter except milch cows, which were to be left for the use of the inhabitants. Receipts for articles taken for the use of the troops were to be given to such persons as had remained in their habitations and otherwise complied with the terms of Burgoyne's manifesto, but not to rebels.

Particular directions were also given as to the disposition of the force, and people were to be led to believe that the force was the advanced corps of the army on the read to Boston, and that the main army from Albany was to be joined at Springfield by a corps of troops from Rhode Island. A wholesome dread of Col. Warner doubtless led to the introduction of this passage in the instructions: "It is highly probable that the corps under Mr. Warner, now supposed to be at Manchester, will retreat before you; but should they, contrary to expectation, be able to collect in great force and post themselves advantageously, it is left to your discretion to attack them or not; always bearing in mind that your corps is too valuable to let any considerable loss be hazarded on this occasion."

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DEPARTURE FOR BENNINGTON.

Preparations having been thus completed, at five o'clock on the morning of August 12, Col. Baum set out from Saratoga with his command, which consisted of his two hundred dragoons, the Canadian rangers, a detachment of provincials, about one hundred Indians, and Capt. Fraser's marksmen, with two pieces of small cannon, numbering in all about five hundred men. He was also accompanied by Col. Philip Skene, who joined the expedition by the special request of Burgoyne, in order that he might give advice to Baum "upon all matters of intelligence." Having marched a mile, Baum received a dispatch from Burgoyne to post his force advantageously on the Battenkill till he should receive fresh instructions. Continuing his march, he reached the Battenkill at about four o'clock in the afternoon and encamped there. At about eleven o'clock the same night he was reinforced by a company of fifty chasseurs, sent forward by Gen. Burgoyne. By four o'clock the next morning the whole body were again in motion, and, after a march of sixteen miles, reached Cambridge at four o'clock in the evening, having had a few skirmishes with the Americans, and having taken some cattle, carts, wagons and horses, and having also received the disagreeable intelligence that the Americans were about eighteen hundred strong at Bennington. On the morning of the 14th the little army were on the march long before sunrise. As they approached the northern branch of the Hoosick river, a party of Americans were discovered in front of the farm of "Sankoick," who, on the approach of the British, took to the underwood, whence they fired on the British until they were dislodged. On their retreat they abandoned a mill which they previously fortified, and broke down the "bridge of Sankoick."

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BAUM AT "WALLOOMSCOICK."

A considerable quantity of provisions was left in the mill, and after the bridge had been repaired, Baum stationed a proper force to guard them both, and that night "bivouacked at the farm of Walmscott, about four miles from Sankoick and three from Bennington." This farm lay upon both banks of the Walloomsac, and was occupied at this time by six or eight log huts, scattered here and there over its narrow expanse of cultivated ground.

Heavy rains fell on the morning of the 15th, accompanied with a "perfect hurricane of wind;" which rendered the shelter of the farm-buildings very grateful to the forces of Baum. Soon, however, shooting was heard at the advanced sentry posts, whereupon Baum sent forth the provincials, supported by Fraser's marksmen, to assist the pickets. It was then discovered that the Indians were threatened by a body of American militia. On the approach of the British, the Indian allies uttered a yell, which seemed to have an effect upon the Americans, who soon after retired. The Americans advanced a number of times during the day, but the weather was so stormy, and the rain fell so incessantly, that no effective service could be performed by either party of an offensive nature.

During the remainder of the day Baum was engaged in strengthening the position he had taken. To the left of the "farm of Walmscott" was a height which he hastened to occupy. "He posted here the dragoons, with a portion of the marksmen on their right, in rear of a little zigzag breastwork composed of logs and loose earth. Such of the detached houses as came within the compass of his position he filled with Canadians, supporting them with detachments of chasseurs and grenadiers, likewise intrenched behind breastworks; and he kept the whole, with the exception of about a hundred men, on the north side of the stream, holding the woods upon his flanks in his front and rear by the Indians." Such was the situation of affairs when the night of the 15th of August closed around Baum and his faithful dragoons.

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THE BATTLE OF THE 16TH OF AUGUST.

We cannot give a better description of the battle of Bennington than is to be found in the following extract from the narrative of Glieh, one of Lieut.-Col. Baum's officers. Among other things it pays a decided compliment to the bravery and dash of Gen. Stark, who so distinguished himself on the occasion:

"The morning of the 16th rose beautifully serene. The storm of the preceding day having expended itself, not a cloud was left to darken the face of the heavens; whilst the very leaves hung motionless, and the long grass waved not, under the influence of a perfect calm. Every object around, too, appeared to peculiar advantage; for the fields looked green and refreshed, the river was swollen and tumultuous, and the branches were all loaded with dewdrops, which glittered in the sun's early rays like so many diamonds. Nor would it be easy to imagine any scene more rife with peaceful and even pastoral beauty. Looking down from the summit of the rising ground, I beheld immediately beneath me a wide sweep of stately forest, interrupted at remote intervals by green meadows or yellow corn-fields, whilst here and there a cottage, a shed, or some other primitive edifice reared its modest head as if for the purpose of reminding the spectator that man had begun his inroads upon nature, without, as yet, taking away from her simplicity and grandeur. I hardly recollect a scene which struck me at the moment more forcibly, or which has left a deeper or more lasting impression on my memory.

"I have said that the morning of the 16th rose beautifully serene, and it is not to the operations of the elements alone that my expression applies. All was perfectly quiet at the outposts, not an enemy having been seen, nor an alarming sound heard for several hours previous to sunrise, So peaceable, indeed, was the aspect which matters bore, that our leaders felt warmly disposed to resume the offensive, without waiting the arrival of the additional corps for which they had applied, and orders were already issued for the men to eat their breakfasts, preparatory to more active operations. But the arms were scarcely piled, and the haversacks unslung, when symptoms of a state of affairs different from that which had been anticipated began to show themselves, and our people were recalled to their ranks in all haste, almost as soon as they had quitted them. From more than one quarter scouts came in to report that columns of armed men were approaching; though whether with a friendly or hostile intention, neither their appearance nor actions enabled our informants to ascertain.

"It has been stated that during the last day's march our little corps was joined by many of the country people, most of whom demanded and obtained arms, as persons friendly to the royal cause. How Col. Baum became so completely duped as to place reliance on these men I know not; but having listened with complacency to their previous assurances that in Bennington a large majority of the populace were our friends, he was, somehow or other, persuaded to believe that the armed bands, of whose approach he was warned, were loyalists, on their way to make a tender of their services to the leader of the king's troop. Filled with this idea, he dispatched positive orders to the outposts that no molestation should be offered to the advancing columns; but that the pickets retiring before them should join the main body, where every disposition was made to receive either friend or foe. Unfortunately for us, these orders were but too faithfully obeyed. About half-past nine o'clock, I, who was not in the secret, beheld, to my utter amazement, our advanced parties withdraw without firing a shot from thickets which might have been maintained for hours against any superiority of numbers; and the same thickets quickly occupied by men whose whole demeanor, as well as their dress and style of equipment, plainly and incontestably pointed them out as Americans.

"I cannot pretend to describe the state of excitation and alarm into which our little band was now thrown. With the solitary exception of our leader, there was not a man amongst us who appeared otherwise than satisfied that those to whom he had listened were traitors; and, that unless some prompt and vigorous measures were adopted, their treachery would be crowned with its full reward. Capt. Fraser, in particular, seemed strongly imbued with the conviction that we were willfully deceived. He pointed out, in plain language, the extreme improbability of the story which these deserters had told, and warmly urged our chief to withdraw his confidence from them; but all his arguments proved fruitless. Col. Baum remained convinced of their fidelity. He saw no reason to doubt that the people, whose approach excited so much apprehension, were the same of whose arrival he had been forewarned; and he was prevented from placing himself entirely in their power only by the positive refusal of his followers to obey orders given to that effect, and the rash impetuosity of the enemy.

"We might have stood about half an hour under arms, watching the proceedings of a column of four or five hundred men, who, after dislodging the pickets, had halted just at the edge of the open country, when a sudden trampling of feet in the forest on our right, followed by the report of several muskets, attracted our attention. A patrol was instantly sent in the direction of the sound, but before the party composing it had proceeded many yards from the lines, a loud shout, followed by a rapid though straggling fire of musketry, warned us to prepare for a meeting the reverse of friendly. Instantly the Indians came pouring in, carrying dismay and confusion in their countenances and gestures. We were surrounded on all sides; columns were advancing everywhere against us, and those whom we had hitherto treated as friends had only waited till the arrival of their support might justify them in advancing. There was no falsehood in these reports, though made by men who spoke rather from their fears than their knowledge. The column in our front no sooner heard the shout than they replied cordially and loudly to it; then, firing a volley with deliberate and murderous aim, rushed furiously toward us. Now then at length our leader's dreams of security were dispelled. He found himself attacked in front and flank by thrice his numbers, who pressed forward with the confidence which our late proceedings were calculated to produce; whilst the very persons in whom he had trusted, and to whom he had given arms, lost no time in turning them against him. These fellows no sooner heard their comrades cry, than they deliberately discharged their muskets amongst Riedesel's dragoons, and dispersing before any steps could be taken to seize them, escaped, with the exception of one or two, to their friends.

"If Col. Baum had permitted himself to be duped into a great error, it is no more than justice to confess that he exerted himself manfully to remedy the evil and avert its consequences. Our little band, which had hitherto remained in column, was instantly ordered to extend, and the troops lining the breastworks replied to the fire of the Americans with extreme celerity and considerable effect. So close and destructive, indeed, was our first volley, that the assailants recoiled before it, and would have retreated, in all probability, within the woods; but ere we could take advantage of the confusion produced, fresh attacks developed themselves, and we were warmly engaged on every side, and from all quarters. It became evident that each of our detached posts was about to be assailed at the same instant. Not one of our dispositions had been concealed from the enemy, who, on the contrary, seemed to be aware of the exact number of men stationed at each point, and they were one and all threatened by a force perfectly adequate to bear down opposition, and yet by no means disproportionately large or such as to render the main body inefficient. All, moreover, was done with the sagacity and coolness of veterans, who perfectly understood the nature of the resistance to be expected and the difficulties to be overcome, and who having well considered and matured their plans, were resolved to carry them into execution at all hazards and at every expense of life.

"It was at this moment, when the heads of columns began to show themselves in rear of our right and left, that the Indians, who had hitherto acted with spirit and something like order, lost all confidence and fled. Alarmed at the prospect of having their retreat cut off, they stole away after their own fashion, in single files, in spite of the strenuous remonstrances of Baum and of their own officers, leaving us more than ever exposed by the abandonment of that angle of the intrenchment which they had been appointed to maintain. But even this spectacle, distressing as it doubtless was, failed in affecting our people with a feeling at all akin to despair. The vacancy which the retreat of the savages occasioned was promptly filled up by one of our two field-pieces, whilst the other poured destruction among the enemy in front as often as they showed themselves in the open country or threatened to advance.

"In this state things continued upwards of three-quarters of an hour. Though repeatedly assailed in front, flanks, and rear, we maintained ourselves with so much obstinacy as to inspire a hope that the enemy might even yet be kept at bay till the arrival of Breymann's corps, now momentarily expected, when an accident occurred which at once put an end to this expectation and exposed us almost defenseless to our fate. The solitary tumbril which contained the whole of our spare ammunition became ignited, and blew up with a violence which shook the very ground under our feet, and caused a momentary cessation in firing both on our side and that of the enemy. But the cessation was only for a moment. The American officers, guessing the extent of our calamity, cheered their men on to fresh exertions. They rushed up the ascent with redoubled ardor in spite of the heavy volley which we poured in to check them, and, finding our guns silent, they sprang over the parapet and dashed within our works. For a few seconds the scene which ensued defies all power of language to describe. The bayonet, the butt of the rifle, the sabre, the pike, were in full play, and men fell, as they rarely fall in modern war, under the direct blows of their enemies. But such a struggle could not, in the nature of things, be of long continuance. Outnumbered, broken, and somewhat disheartened by late events, our people wavered and fell back, or fought singly and unconnectedly, till they were either cut down at their posts, obstinately defending themselves, or compelled to surrender. Of Riedesel's dismounted dragoons, few survived to tell how nobly they had behaved. Col. Baum, shot through the body by a rifle-ball, fell mortally wounded, and all order and discipline being lost flight or submission was alone thought of. For my own part, whether the feeling arose from desperation or accident I cannot tell, but I resolved not to be taken. As yet I had escaped almost unhurt, a slight flesh wound in the left arm having alone fallen to my share, and, gathering around me about thirty of my comrades, we made a rush where the enemy's ranks appeared weakest, and burst through. This done, each man made haste to shift for himself without pausing to consider the fate of his neighbor; and, losing one-third of our number from the enemy's fire, the remainder took refuge in groups of two or three within the forest."

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SECOND DAY'S BATTLE.

Such was the condition of things when Col. Breymann received orders from Gen. Burgoyne on the morning of August 15, at 8 o'clock, to start at once with his company of yägers, a battalion of chasseurs and grenadiers, and two cannon to reinforce the corps of Baum. Each soldier carried with him forty cartridges. Breymann left an hour after receiving orders, but owing to the difficulty he experienced in crossing the Battenkill, - the men being compelled to wade through the water, - the great number of hills he was obliged to cross, "the bottomless roads," a severe and continuous rain-storm, the difficulty of moving the cannon, and losing the way through the ignorance of the guide: he was able to proceed that day only to a point about seven miles westerly from Cambridge, where he encamped for the night. Early on the morning of the 16th he again set out, his horses unfed, and over roads almost impassable, and proceeded very slowly on his way, but obtaining fresh horses, he advanced some distance beyond Cambridge and then halted for half an hour to collect his columns.

On again going forward, and at about two o'clock in the afternoon, Col. Skene, who had been with Baum, sent two men to Breymann with a request for him to detach an officer and twenty men, and send them forward to occupy the "mill at St. Coyk," as the Americans were showing signs of advancing on it. Instead of the force asked for, Breymann sent forward Capt. Gleisenberg with the advance guard, consisting of sixty grenadiers and chasseurs and twenty yägers. Breymann himself, with the rest of his men, reached the mill at half-past four, and found there the advance-guard in undisturbed possession and still unattacked by the enemy.

Col. Skene, who was at the mill when Breymann arrived, informed him that Baum was only two miles distant, but if he knew of the fact that Baum was already defeated did not communicate it to Breymann. Had Breymann known the real state of the case, he would not have risked the engagement that followed. Breymann, deeming it best to hasten forward to meet Baum's corps, and Skene being of the same opinion, both marched over the bridge in order to reach Baum's camp as soon as possible. They had gone scarcely six hundred paces from the bridge, when through the woods "a considerable number of armed men, some of whom wore blouses and some jackets," were seen hastening towards an eminence on Breymann's left flank. Breymann immediately called Skene's attention to the circumstance, and received from him the reply that these men were royalists. But when Skene rode up toward them and called to them the matter was soon explained, for, instead of returning an answer, they fired on Breymann's soldiers. Thereupon Breymann ordered Barner's battalion to move towards the height, while the yägers and grenadiers advanced on the right. Then it was that the second battle began, which lasted until nearly eight o'clock in the evening. The cannon posted on a road were trained on a log house occupied by some Americans, whence they were forced to retire, and as they came out they were repulsed on all sides, although reinforcements arrived to support them. After Breymann's ammunition was all expended, and his artillery had ceased firing, he, in anticipation of the renewal of the attack, attempted to take away the cannon. By this movement most of his men were severely wounded. The horses were either dead or in a condition which prevented them from moving from the spot. Not daring to take any further risks, and being unable to return the enemy's fire, he retreated on the approach of darkness, destroyed the bridge at "St. Coyk," brought thither as many of the wounded as possible that they might not be captured, and after the lapse of half an hour, in company with Col. Skene, pursued his march to Cambridge, which place he reached a little before midnight.

After the battle of Bennington nothing of great importance occurred to Burgoyne till his final crossing of the Hudson river, on the 13th and 14th days of August, closed the second period of his campaign.

During all this time he had been engaged in the tedious occupation of drawing his supplies from Lake George to the Hudson at Fort Edward.

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Transcribed from the original text and html prepared by Bill Carr, last updated 2/7/00.

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