JOURNAL of BRUNSWICK TROOPS IN AMERICA
DIARY Of the BRUNSWICK TROOPS IN NORTH AMERICA
Under the command of
Major-General von RIEDESEL
Location, Saratoga NHP
Precisely at 3 o’clock in the morning General v.Riedesel set out from his post, and after covering 4 English miles he came to the place where Brigadier Fraser had spent the night. Brigadier Fraser had left Captain McKay there, who was to notify to Major-General v.Riedesel, that the brigadier had set out at 2 o’clock that morning, and would await General v.Riedesel at a house called Hubert-Town. So General v.Riedesel hastened on with the vanguard, so as to catch up the Fraser Corps again. The battalions, however, continued to march as usual. Half an hour had hardly elapsed since General v.Riedesel left Brigadier Fraser’s rendezvous, when a loud discharge of musketry was heard, from which it was concluded that Brigadier Fraser must be engaged with the enemy. So General v.Riedesel advanced with his vanguard almost en carriere, and sent Captain v.Pollnitz back to Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann with the order, that he was to hasten his march with the 3 battalions as much as possible, Brigadier Fraser sent an officer to General v.Riedesel with the report, that he was at close quarters with the enemy, and that the enemy were so numerous, that he feared he was not equal to them with his 20 companies, so he asked for reinforcements. General v.Riedesel sent him the answer, that he would do his best to support him as soon as possible. In less than quarter of an hour General v.Riedesel came to a hill with his vanguard, from whence he could plainly survey the two corps that were engaged. He noticed that the enemy always moved to the right, so as to reach Brigadier Fraser’s left wing. So he order the Jager Company to form the attack on the enemy’s right wing from his position on the hill, and the detachment from Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann’s Corps consisting of 1 captain and 80 men was to endeavour to turn the enemy’s right flank on the left hand of the Jagers. In order to frighten the enemy still more the whole vanguard was ordered to advance with drums beating. Just as the said attack was commencing Brigadier Fraser sent the report, that he feared his left flank wold be surrounded, whereupon General v.Riedesel let him know, that he was just attacking the enemy’s right wing, and this would no doubt make it easier for him. Hardly had the Jagers advanced, when they found themselves confronted by 400 rebels, who welcomed them with a terrible fire, but the Jagers withstood it with great fortitude and replied to it with a fire that was well kept up. The vanguard which Captain Geisau commanded advanced beating a march, and attacked the enemy on the right flank. In less that 12 minutes the rebels were overthrown, and the Jagers and the detachment brought about 50 prisoners in.
Brigadier Fraser could not sufficiently express his thanks for the prompt and successful assistance that had been given him. General v.Riedesel cannot sufficiently praise the dauntlessness and valour displayed by the Jager Company and the detachment of 80 men, and Captain Schottelins as well as Captain v.Geisau and all the officers who were present led their men with much bravery and good judgement. Although General v.Riedesel despatched all his aides-de-camp, the one after the other, to hasten the regiments’ advance, they could not arrive until the moment when the firing was over owing to the great distance. General v.Riedesel posted the Barner Battalion on the English left wing, in order to support the Jagers and the detachment. The Battalion of Grenadiers and the v.Riedesel Regiment, however, were posted on the English right wing to cover the road to Skeenesborough along which we were to march, and the two corps remained stationed in that position. After that the dead and wounded were collected, and the troops that had been sent in pursuit of the enemy brought in many wounded.
The list of the losses our side had sustained, English as well as German troops, together with the number of rebels we captured follows herewith.
Now in order to give a general idea of the cause of this affair, a short description of the whole situation will given here. According to all the news we had heard it was reported that only 500 rebels were to have gone by land, and that the remainder of the rebel army was to have retreated to Skeenesborough by water. Brigadier Fraser had formed a vanguard of 1 officer, 30 men and some Indians, followed by 5 companies under the command of Major Grant, he himself following behind those again with the Battalion of Light Infantry and the Grenadiers. The Indians were the first to notice the rebel outpost and reported it. Brigadier Fraser ordered a halt, and reconnoitered the enemy himself accompanied by Major Grant. He could not see more that 4 to 500 of the enemy, which confirmed the correctness of the news he had received. He did not want to attack, but to await General v.Riedesel. But Major Grant, full of impetuosity, assured him that they were strong enough to beat the enemy alone. So they decided to attack, and the following disposition was made: -
Major Grant was to attack the enemy straightway, half of the Light Infantry placing themselves on his right and the other half on his left wing, and the Battalion of Grenadiers was to serve as a support. But hardly had this corps left the wood, when they found a hostile force consisting of over 1500 men opposing them, who welcomed them with a terrible fire, so that Brigadier Fraser was obliged to lengthen the line with the help of the Grenadiers. In spite of the strong position the enemy had taken up, our men ousted the rebels from their position on the first hill, brave Major Grant perishing in the attack. The enemy moved to a second hill on the left, and Lord Belcarres, who was in command of the English Grenadiers, attacked their left wing, during which time Brigadier Fraser posted himself on the hill that had been taken from the enemy with the Light Infantry. Lord Belcarres defeated the rebel left wing likewise. But as Brigadier Fraser had not sufficient men to cover his left wing, the enemy moved to the right and commenced to attack his left wing in the flank. And it was at this moment that General v.Riedesel’s Jagers and vanguard arrived and put an end to their attack, and the 3rd attack the English made en front also ended to our advantage.
The enemy with whom we had had to do consisted of 4 regiments under the command of a so-called general or brigadier by name Francis, who also lost his life and was buried by us. This was the rear-guard of the hostile army, which had marched from Hubert-Town to Castle-Town the evening before, and this rear-guard had been delayed owing to great fatigue. The hostile army had not retired to Skeenesborough but to No. IV in the direction of the river Connecticut, and the remnant of these defeated regiments has probably gone through the woods in the same direction. Now as we should have run the risk of losing all our wounded, if our two corps had continued their march to Skeenesborough, General v.Riedesel and Brigadier Fraser resolved to remain on the champ de bataille and await General Burgoyne’s further instructions, to whom a report of the engagement that had taken place had been sent straightway. But we received the news already the same evening, that General Burgoyne had arrived at Skeenesborough with the fleet and army on the evening of the 6th, and that the hostile vessels had been captured after a heavy cannonade from our gun boats, but that 3 of them had been set on fire by the rebels themselves and 2 taken by us. General Burgoyne had given orders to the right wing of the army to land, and intended attacking Fort Skeenesborough. But the enemy had already abandoned same and retired to Fort Anne. At Skeenesborough another large supply of vivres, munition and other apparatus had been found, and the following day the army took possession of a camp on the heights of Skeenesborough.
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