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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
It is important to consider all of the activities leading up to the 2nd battle of Saratoga. This page looks at the accounts from 20 September 1777 to 19 October 1777 when the armies separate. The full account of the affair known as Saratoga is included.
The army had stood under arms the whole night until an hour after dawn, but as everything remained quiet General v.Riedesel again returned to General Burgoyne on the right wing.
And camp at
As we had very little knowledge as to the actual position of the enemy, and General Burgoyne, would not advance any further on that account, it was decided to give the army such a position for the present on the spot where it was stationed, that we could not only with stand a hostile attack, but also continue our enterprises with a certain likelihood of success, and at all events wait and see what General Howe could do in the way of assisting us to benefit our position and effect a junction. So the generals rode over the whole ground on which our troops were stationed in separate columns, and it was decided that the army’s new position was to extend from Freeman’s Farm through the wood and across the mountains up to the hill behind John Taylor’s House in front of no. 2 bridge, and from thence as far as the river Hudson, and that a large redoubt should be constructed on the battlefield, on the opposite side of the ravine near the angle of the wood where the enemy had been stationed, as a cover for the right wing. Brigadier Fraser’s Corps was to keep the ravine in front of it, in the position in which the 7 Brunswick companies had been posted the day before by General v.Riedesel. Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann’s Corps de Reserve got its emplacement on the opposite side of the ravine, and covered the right flank of Brigadier Fraser’s Corps almost en potence and at the same time a road, that ran along the rear of the army across the mountains, and led into the main road near the river behind no.2 bridge. In order to cover the deep ravine which separated the intrenchments of the Fraser and Breymann Corps from each other, 2 houses standing next to each other were strengthened on the outside by means of parapets and crenulated, and the Canadian companies of Monin and Boucherville were given their emplacement inside them so as to defend them, and thus the low ground was completely protected. The right wing of the English Brigade commenced behind the left flank of the Fraser Corps, and thus the line of the whole army ran across the mountains as far as the hill at John Taylor’s House in front of no 2 bridge. So the right flank of the army was covered en potence by the Fraser Corps. The road along which General v.Riedesel had led the 7 companies the day before lay close to the rear of our left wing, and descended in front of the van of the right wing. The advantageous height on which the left wing of the army was posted could cannonade the whole valley near the river as far as no. 3 bridge. The von Hesse-Hanau Regiment kept its post on the crossroad in the valley behind no. 2 bridge, and had its furthermost outpost at no.3 bridge,. The 47th Regiment as well as the Corps of Provincials under Pietersen, Jesop and Macalpi also remained stationed between no.1 and no.2 bridges, in order to defend the valley together with the few Indians we still had left, the heavy artillery as well as its t rain, the large hospital, all the depots and all the baggage of the army being enclosed in this space.
General Burgoyne encamped in the centre of the army between the English and German brigades. And General v.Riedesel on the hill near the left wing.
The whole front of the army was protected by a deep swampy ravine overgrown with bushes, which lost itself near the left wing 900 paces in front of the chain of picket-sentries, at the place where the mountains sloped down to the valley. But the aforesaid ravine approached so near to the line of the centre of the army, that the picket sentries were stationed on this side of its banks, and then is wound along in front of the right wing and round its flanks, so that the Fraser Corps was separated from the line of the army. The gap caused thereby was protected by means of batteries and detachments. About 400 paces in front of our furthermost bridge no.3 in the valley near the river the woods, that covered the mountain-sides and also part of the valley, projected in a point, and it was behind this wooded point that the right wing of the enemy had their first outpost in the valley in front of us. One officer with 40 men of the Hesse-Hanau Regiment occupied a fortified position on the road in order to cover no.3 bridge, and had a post manned by a non-commissioned officer and 10 men in a crenulated house in front of him. The officer formed a chain of posts across the valley as far as the side of the mountain with his men, where another officer’s post, that was stationed in a shed belonging to John Taylor’s House, continued the chain from the post near the mountainside as far as the picket post in the front line of the army. The new camp got the name of Freeman’s Farm.
Judging from the shots fired at retreat and reveille as well as when the assembly was sounded, the enemy’s left wing must commence just on the other side of the ravine in front of our left wing, and their army must be nearer our left than our right wing. In order to throw a little more light on the subject, and perhaps bring the enemy out of their position by men as of a move in the direction of their right wing, 100 workmen with a guard of the same strength to cover them and them and just as many men from the left wing of the army were detached at daybreak, so as to make 2 roads through the wood in front of us under the directions of two engineers. The enemy opposed this work with the help of several 100 men at 9 o’clock, who climbed up the mountain side from the valley behind the wooded point, and drive the workmen belonging to the left wing away, after they had made the road as far as the ravine, which the enemy only discovered on that occasion. The result of this allerte was, that the army had to remain 2 hours under arms, until everything was quiet again. Towards noon the order was issued, that the troops were to pitch their tents. The watches and picket-posts proceeded to throw up strong fleches, and roads of communication were made to them through the forest.
In today’s order General Burgoyne tendered his thanks to the troops for the good conduct they displayed when facing the enemy two days ago. Generals Phillips and v.Riedesel and Brigadiers Fraser and Hamilton were specially commended, likewise Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann. Very high praise was bestowed on the artillery brigade under Captain Johnes who was killed, on the Hamilton Brigade and on the 7 companies of German troops on account of their excellent bearing and the steady fire they had poured on the enemy. Although the Hamilton Brigade had done much that was worthy of praise, still General Burgoyne deployed that these English troops had been so eager to fire, as they ought to have acted against the enemy with quicker and much greater effect with the help of the bayonet, which he specially recommends to all the troops in the army during the remainder of the campaign. The loss of 3 English regiments of the Hamilton Brigade have had induced General Burgoyne to reinforce same by taking men from the corps under Pieterson, Jessop, Macalpy and Mackai, on the condition, however, that they were not to serve with the said regiments any longer than December 25. The above-mentioned leaders received certificates from General Burgoyne to that effect. Towards 8 o’clock in the evening a feu de joie was heard in the enemy’s camp, but we were not informed as to the reason for it until some days later.
A pontoon bridge.
A pontoon-bridge was constructed behind no. 2 bridge under the directions of Captain Schanks last night, so as to keep up communication with the other bank and carry out our foraging there in the future, as the supplies are not very large on this side.
The remainder of the loyal Albanians arrived by way of the pontoon-bridge that had just been made today, some of whom had already arrived on the 17th inst.
There was a great commotion in the enemy’s camp during the night, a good deal of noise and shouting was heard, which must probably be attributed to the same reason as the feu de joie.
In order to guard the new pontoon bridge a tete du pont was made on the opposite bank of the river.
A courier to Gen.
A courier arrived from General Howe’s army with news for General Burgoyne from General Clinton. Although the despatches he brought with him were not made public, still General Burgoyne remarked to General v.Riedesel, that a coprs d’armee under Lieutenant-General Clinton was advancing to attack Fort Montgomery and ascend the river Hudson in vessels, and it would then try to fall on General Gates’ army in the rear and thus compel him to divide his army. At midnight 7 shots were fired from our heavy guns, of which notice had been given to the army in advance. These were answered in the rebel’s camp., 2 shots being fired from their big guns. The courier from General Clinton was despatched during the night, and it was presumed that the 7 shots had been fired to notify this.
The same courier is expected to return in a week’s time. The general order was given when the password was issued, that as long as the army remained in the camp here, all the regiments were to be under army 1 hour before dawn.
This morning our pickets on the left wing were harassed by some rebel bands, who had crept up the mountain-side as far as our picket-posts from the valley, and were harassing the sentries stationed there; however, our patrols soon forced them to give way.
The news that had arrived respecting the movements of a corps d’armee under General Clinton that was to effect a junction with us, induced General Burgoyne to make up his mind to remain where he was with the army for the present, and to wait and see what help General Clinton would give us to effect a junction. So a place d’armes for the whole army was marked out in front of the regiments, which is to be intrenched and provided with intermediate batteries, in which 12 and 6-pounders are to be placed according to the nature of the ground. As the army was posted in the midst of the forests, the ground was cleared some 100 paces in front of the van by cutting down the trees and brushwood. Three large forts were also marked out in the valley between no. 1 and no. 1 bridges, and lines and redoubts were thrown up in the valley itself. All that work as well as the hewing of many 1000 trees probably occupied more than 1000 regular troops for a fortnight, working every day.
We venture to hope that Lieutenant-Colonel St.Leger will soon join the army, as he thinks of coming to us with his corps from Carillon. But it was also reported at the same time, that the rebels have sent out some brigades against him, so as to prevent him effecting a junction.
Last night a terrific noise of driving, hewing, stamping and such like was again heard in the rebel camp, as though the rebels were clearing roads, constructing batteries or making other preparations to attack us. They must have been quite close to our van on the opposite side of the ravine, as we could even hear what they were saying to each other.
About 8 o’clock in the morning the pickets on our left wing were again attacked several times by the enemy, who had climbed up the mountain to us from the valley, but they were repulsed by our patrols in the same way as yesterday. When they retired they took some horses from the Canadian train and draught-oxen with them, that were grazing in the valley near the river and had run past our outposts.
So as to prevent the rebels from paying us these daring visits in the future the Hesse-Hanau company of Grenadiers had to leave their post in the valley behind no.2 bridge, lodge themselves on the mountain-side up above our left wing; the slope in front of the Grenadiers was cleared of trees and bushes as far as possible at the same time, so as either to entirely prevent the enemy from ascending from the valley, or at least to permit us to discover their presence earlier.
In order to secure ourselves against a similar or perhaps even more serious alarm in the night it was settled, that from now onward an adjutant from each wing of the army was to spent the night with the picket belonging to his wing, and that the adjutants themselves were to patrol as far down as the ravine and along its whole length in front of their respective vans, so as to convince themselves that no rebels were forcing their way through the ravine during the night, and that our van in front of the chain of picket-sentries was clear. Each adjutant was to be responsible for his wing. At daybreak a brigade-major of each wing was to do likewise. This arrangement as well as the marching out of the troops into the intrenchments an hour before dawn was a regulation that remained in force as long as the army remained in this position.
The guns the enemy fired from their right wing at retreat this evening were loaded with ball-cartridge, and the ball sped beyond our van as far as the fire-watch of General v.Riedesel’s Regiment.
Today Captain Gerlach was sent to the east bank of the river Hudson with a sufficient guard from the corps of Provincials by General Burgoyne, in order to reconnoitre. He was to try whether he could see anything of the position of the enemy’s right wing from the heights there. He was to see how the roads were on the opposite bank, and whether the heavy artillery could be taken along them, and, finally, whether he considered it possible to operate against the enemy’s right wing from that side. Captain Gerlach returned from his work in the evening and reported, that he had succeeded in getting behind the enemy’s right wing owing to the windings of the river, but that he had not been able to see anything of their position, and could only judge from the shots fired at retreat, that the rebels must be encamped in 2 lines, that their left wing was drawn further back, and that the whole rear of the hostile army seemed to be protected by the river owing to its windings. The rebels had no bridge over the Hudson, but a ford 4 English miles behind their position, by means of which they often sent parties to the opposite shore, and the provincials he had with him had also seen small bands of them on the road now and then. At dawn next morning the pickets of the left wing as well as those of the Fraser and Breymann Corps were again molested, this time on the left wing, and the rebels were much better supported than usual. Whilst the pickets at the top of the mountain were being “amused”, another hostile party, that was in a field of maize, crept along the high-road so near to our advance post in the valley near the river under a Hesse-Hanau non-commissioned officer, that its picket-sentry was cut off on the road, the house in which the non-commissioned officer was stationed was forced, and the non-commissioned officer compelled to withdraw to his officer’s post at no.3 bridge with his men owing to superior numbers. He lost 2 men thereby, who were severely wounded. But our patrol from the von Rhetz Regiment brought in 4 prisoners, and the enemy retired after losing some wounded. This made it necessary for us to continue clearing the wood some 100 paces more in front of the van. At the same time another non-commissioned officer’s post was stationed on the ridge of the mountain, where same is parallel with the river, and near a by-way leading up from the valley to the top of the mountain en ligne with the chain of picket-sentries, so as to give warping.
At 10 o’clock in the morning General Gates returned the Canadian wagons, in which our officers who had been captured had had some clothing sent them. Lieutenant-Colonel Baum’s servant, who had been liberated by General Gates, arrived with these wagons. This man was full of praise as regards the politeness and humanity this general displayed to our captured men. He said that all the wounded prisoners were at the hospital at Bennington, and were exceedingly well treated. The captured officers who were well had been taken to Springfield, where they were comfortably off in every respect. The great praise this man repeatedly bestowed on General Gates for his politeness made Major-General v.Riedesel think it advisable to give him the supervision of the watch the dragoons furnished, so that he might not give our soldiers any occasion to desert, although perhaps innocently, and orders were issued that he might not speak to anybody.
Some loyal Albanians, who had joined our army, wanted to convince those at head-quarters, that General Howe had gained a great victory over General Washington, and that the latter’s army was quite dispersed. A deserter from the enemy confirmed this news in some respect.
The work and commotion continued in the rebel camp the whole night, and in the morning the bands of rebels again appeared before our pickets as usual, but this time our patrols discovered them early, and compelled them to retire.
All the intrenchments and batteries in front of the camp were completed today, and the artillery was placed in the forts.
General Burgoyne sent some officers round the rebel army’s left wing, accompanied by Indians and other light troops. They had got quite to the rear of the hostile army after going a long way round, but they could not say anything whatever about the enemy’s position with any certainty, however, the Indians brought some chevalures back with them.
The army loses men from the van and the right flank of the Fraser and Bergmann Corps every day, who are either carried off by rebel patrols, or fall into the enemy’s hands when they go down to fetch water or look for food in the nearest habitations. Patrols hardly ever go out without the enemy taking their quota of them.
The whole night and morning passed quietly contrary to custom, but 5 hostile bateaux were seen on the river Hudson, of which it was believed that they had landed troops on the opposite bank. Consequently the 47th and the Hesse-Hanau Regiments in the valley had to redouble their vigilance, so as to protect the pontoon bridge and the magazines, in case the enemy should attempt anything from the opposite bank.
Some Albanians, who had lately arrived, confirmed the news of General Howe’s successes, and added, that a corps of that army under General Clinton was marching against Albany, but that the rebels had detached a corps against him.
It was reported that news had arrived from Fort George, that everything was quiet there and in the neighbouring districts.
The enemy continued their work during the night, but they left our pickets in peace.
About 9 o’clock this morning Cornet Graef of the Dragoon Regiment came to our outposts accompanied by Colonel Wilkenson, General Gates’ adjutant-general. The latter was not allowed through, but had to return to the rebel camp.
The reason why Cornet Graef had been sent had to do with the extradition of a colonel in the provincials in exchange for our Major v.Meibom and Captain v.Baertling.
But the colonel had fallen into General Carleton’s hands already 2 years ago, and been sent by him to England, so that General Burgoyne could not consent to General Gates’ petition, although the latter had requested him to do so in a very polite manner. General v.Riedesel received a letter with the same contents from General Gates, in which he also alluded to having given Cornet Graef permission to remain 5 days with our army, so that he might have an opportunity of showing General Burgoyne a similar politeness to what he had shown him, namely, that he had given 2 officers in the Provincials leave in the same manner as their private affairs had necessitated their presence.
Cornet Graef had in fact no idea of General Gates’ commission, until the general asked him to come to him 40 miles from Bennington yesterday, and he had only arrived at the enemy’s camp late last night, and had received his commission and dismissal from General Gates early this morning.
He stated with respect to our captured men, that all the officers and privates who were well had been conveyed to Boston, where they would be taken on board some vessels, but that all the wounded were still at the hospital at Bennington, where they were well taken care of, and that altogether our men were always well treated.
General Howe’s victory over General Washington is certainly not denied in General Gates’ army, but the losses sustained are made very small, although General Washington has fixed a rendezvous for his brigades where they are to muster again, Which shows pretty clearly, that his army was dispersed, and even his letter to Congress proves that.
Another piece of news made known through the medium of Cornet Graef and which interested our army was, that the rebels under General Lincoln had made an expedition to Forts Carillon and Mont Independent, where they had taken 4 companies of the 53rd Regiment prisoners, taken a block house by storm, and driven the officer and his men out of same, besides which they had also taken possession of a war ship and some bateaux. The rebels had made a feu de joie on the 21st in honour of this success.
At 9 o’clock this evening our advance non-commissioned officer’s post near the river was again attacked by about 50 rebels and forced to retire, but was at once reinstated by its officer. As the two armies are so near each other, hardly an hour passes in which one or the other of our outposts is not “amused” by rebel bands, but the losses on both sides are not taken into consideration on these occasions. The losses our army, that is already weakened by so many wounded an sick, is beginning to sustain owing to desertion (which is gaining ground) are, on the other hand, considerable. On the one hand there are the treacherous persuasions of the rebels, on the other the heavy duties, incessant toil and sleepless nights, half of which is generally spent under arms, and these may be considered as some of the reasons for this spreading evil, especially as all such necessaries and diversions, that might otherwise encourage the soldier not to grow impatient and weary in the performance of his duties, are entirely wanting.
Besides the sick who remain with the regiments, there are about 800 men at our hospital, most of whom are wounded.
The return of General Clinton’s courier, who left our army on the 21st, is eagerly expected, as the 8 days during which he believed and also promised to return to our army and bring news as to what moves General Clinton had been able to make to effect our junction have elapsed today.
We learnt through a deserter, that General Lincoln has returned from his expedition to Carillon on the 27th, and that General Gates’ army has been reinforced by 1300 fresh troops. Altogether the enemy’s forces were still increasing daily.
Arrival of a
St. Leger at
The great want of forage compelled us to make a general foraging expedition today, which was carried out on the opposite side of the Hudson behind the left wing of the army. A detachment of 250 men under Major v.Lucke and some six-pounders served to cover this foraging expedition on this side of the river, and it was effected without the enemy hindering us in any way. A courier and 20 Indians from Lieutenant-Colonel St. Leger’s Corps arrived at headquarters from Carillon this evening. They had taken the road through the forests so as to evade the rebel bands that were wandering about, and that make the paths and highroads insecure in places.
The despatches he had brought with him contained the following, namely,
That Lieutenant-Colonel St. Leger intended to set out to join our army one of the first days, furthermore, that the Brunswick recruits had arrived at Carillon, but that Brigadier-General Powel had been very anxious to keep them, so as to strengthen his post.
Powel to Gen.
Details of the
A letter from Brigadier Powel to General Burgoyne gave us a detailed account of General Lincoln’s unsuccessful expedition against that important post, the main points of which are about as follows:-
After General Lincoln had crossed the mountains between Lac George and Skeenesborough with his Corps, and had been joined by another corps from Hubert Town, he suddenly arrived at the portage on September 18, and took same by surprise in the morning without much difficulty, as the naval officer who had been detached there had slept on land in a house a good distance from the portage with most of his sailors that night. So he succeeded in taking possession of a guard ship armed with 4 big guns and several bateaux very quietly, and was equally successful in capturing the considerable detachment of infantry that covered the portage as well as various other posts on Sugar-Loaf Hill, these detachments amounting in all to almost 4 companies of the 53rd Regiment. All this took place so quietly, that Brigadier Powel did not hear anything whatever about it as Carillon until 2 days later, when General Lincoln advanced against a blockhouse near the sawmill with the guns he had seized, and finally took possession of same with his artillery after a brave defence on the part of Lieutenant Lord, who had been drafted there. After General Lincoln had made himself master of the sawmill, he had the temerity to advance against Fort Carillon and Mount Independent, and to twice call upon Brigadier Powel as well as Lieutenant-Colonel Pretorius, who was in command of Mont Independent, to surrender. But he received the defiant answer from them, that they both awaited him with arms in their hands. So General Lincoln made various unsuccessful attacks on both posts for 4 consecutive days, and was at last obliged to go away.
On September 24 on his way back he attacked Diamond Island in 2 divisions with the warship and bateaux he had seized, but met with such a bad reception from Captain Obery of the 47th Regiment, who was in command there, that he had to retire to the east bank of Lac George in great haste, after having some 60 men killed, where he was pursued by Captain Obery, who took the warship away from him again as well as all the guns except 2 iron ones. Which the rebels burst, and 5 bateaux which they burnt. When the order was given today General Burgoyne did not fail to make known to the army, that Brigadier Powel, Lieutenant-Colonel Pretorius, Lieutenant Lord and Captain Obery and several other officers, who had distinguished themselves by their bravery on that occasion, had had much well-earned praise bestowed on them.
General Burgoyne frequently send out parties to the rear of the enemy round their left wing, in order to obtain some knowledge of their position and movements if possible, and the enemy do not fail to do the same as regards our two wings, and their Indians, who are known under the name of the “Stokbridges”, have had the temerity to seize some English soldiers 500 paces behind the tents at headquarters, who were looking for potatoes in a field there. Many a man has been missed from the army in this manner, who was seeking vegetables in the nearest habitations at the time or herbs in the wood.
So as to prevent such unpleasant losses as much as possible, Major General v.Riedesel issued the strictest instructions with respect to the soldiers roving about alone when the order of the day was given, and appointed dragoon patrols, who were to patrol in the rear of the army, and arrest all soldiers and servants whim they met wandering alone outside the camp. In order to protect our headquarters more effectually the fire watches of the neighbouring regiments changed their positions, and nine fleches were thrown up for them.
The 2nd great foraging expedition in the rear of the army on this side of the Hudson took place today under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Southerland of the 47trh Regiment, which was carried out quite quietly.
As the enemy kept on harassing our pickets every day, sometimes with much obstinacy, Major-General v.Riedesel took some Jagers from Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann’s Corps to the left wing, where he was, so as to compel the rebels to respect
our arms somewhat more. In order to show these Jagers the position of the ravine and of the whole camp a large guard patrolled in front of the left wing, and it was also the intention to follow the ravine as far as possible in the direction of the valley by the same opportunity, so as to find out most exactly where the enemy had their first outposts, and whether it was possible for them to attempt anything against us in that direction with a large force. But after the patrol had gone somewhat more than 1500 paces beyond the furthermost picket-sentry, and was already en ligne with some wooden sheds in the valley behind the wooden point, and bushes became so dense and the abysses of various ravines that converged at this point so deep, that it was impossible to penetrate any further. On the way back the whole side of the mountain as far as the bottom of the ravine and then on to the camp was examined, and all the secret paths the enemy have used to reach the heights were found. Places were found, where they probably stationed the posts to give warning at night. But the slope itself and the by-paths were of such a nature, that the enemy could never come up to us without a good deal of noise and many preparations on the part of their columns, and they could not find much space to fall into line either without risking all kinds of things. But a few 100 men could always find an opportunity to do so. The Jagers who went into the valley discovered the first rebel outpost at the corner of the wood in the valley.
Major v.Lucke had a large piece of ground on the mountain side as far as one of these secret paths cleared under cover of the patrol, and the patrol did not fail to make some of these secret paths useless by means of logs of wood, which they threw one at the top of the other, and they also destroyed some emplacements and mantelets, behind which they used to shoot at our pickets. On seeing our Jagers at the foot of the mountain a large rebel patrol appeared on our hill at 2 o’clock in the afternoon, or order to repair their emplacements which we had destroyed in the morning. But this time they were sharply repulsed on the hill itself as well as in the valley at the foot of the mountain by some 50 Indians, who had taken it into their heads to forage the field of maize between the outposts of the two armies, and had met the rebels just as they were coming down the mountainside. The Indians pursued them beyond the wooded point in the valley, chased away their outposts, set fire to some of their wooden sheds, and returned joyfully to the camp with a rich harvest of maize.
Towards 4 o’clock in the afternoon after this disturbance was over Cornet Graef received orders to depart, and was accompanied by Captain Gerlach as far as the first rebel outpost to the left of the main road. This post was about 2000 paces from our furthermost post in the valley, and consisted of 1 officer and 30 men. Nothing could be discovered there either with respect to the enemy’s position. We heard from a secret source, that Captain Londe had been sent to our army from Carillon with despatches, but that he had been taken by the rebels at John’s Mill, where he had spent a night. All the despatches he had with him have been lost.
Last night as well as the whole of today passed off unusually quietly. The work of constructing intrenchments in the valley between bridges no.1 and no. 2 was completed, and not all that had to be done was to construct some platforms in the 3 forts on the mountains, the special object of which was to cover the said valley, and this work was commenced today.
Another general foraging expedition took place under Lieutenant-Colonel v.Lentz of the Hesse-Hanau Regiment on the opposite side of the Hudson, vis a vis our advance post in the valley on this side of the river. Two 6 pounders covered this expedition on this side of the river. As it was known that the enemy had some troops on the other side of the river, the precaution was taken to post a corps de reserve at our pontoon bridge, which was to be ready for anything that might happen. Brigadier Specht had the superintendence of the whole. This expedition was also successful, although a rebel detachment, that came out of the wood on the opposite side of the river, skirmished with the troops that were covering us, and also fired several times at our advance post on this side of the river.
General Burgoyne appeared to have the secure defence of the valley which contained all our depots very much at heart, as even today the 47th Regiment had to throw up a new line in the direction of no. 1 bridge, so as to protect the rear of the valley still more. The valley was, therefore, defended in the following manner:-
Description of the
Defence of the
Valley in which
Depots were en-
There was a fortified officer’s post on the road at the rear of no.1 bridge, which also had a fortified non-commissioned officer’s post in front of it. The new line made for part of the47th Regiment was drawn at a proportionate distance behind the 1st bridge, and the valley can be enfialded from the foot of the hills across to the river with the help of it.
Besides the above there were 2 closed redoubts in the v alley near the road, which were to serve as a defence as well as a retreat in case of need, should the army have to choose another post in the rear. The crossroad behind no.2 bridge, which leads to the rear of the Breymann Corps, was provided with earthworks for artillery and infantry, so as to rake the valley in the direction of Stillwater from the foot of the hills as far as the river. Intrenchments were constructed on the 3 principal hills, that could fire in all directions.
The defence of this important “quarrees” was entrusted to the 47th and the Hesse-Hanau Regiments, both of which had to occupy all the work in various detachments, and encamp in front of them. Moreover all the sailors were destined for the defence of the pontoon bridge, where fore they had to turn out and drill every day. Some Indians as well as Provincial Corps under Jesop, Pieterson, Gerwood, Macalpy and other leaders encamped between the redoubts close to the main road.
The supply of food for 40 days that we had taken with us for this expedition grew less day by day, more than half of it having been consumed since communication had been stopped with Lac George, and there were only sufficient provisions for 16 days left. And as we had not heard any reliable news whatever up to date respecting General Clinton’s operations that were to effect our junction, this made our position all the more critical, so that General Burgoyne decided to reduce the daily portion of each man in the army to 1 lb. Of bread and 1 lb. Of meat, so that the army’s subsistence might be lengthened until the end of the month if possible by the daily saving of half a pound of bread and meat. In return for this none of the men’s pay was to be deducted for provisions, as long as this reduction lasted. This promise was faithfully observed in the future.
One might have thought this reduction could have aroused some dissatisfaction in the minds of the soldiers, but they bore it with the greatest patience and fortitude, as they
They did all the fatiguing work that was given them to do.
General Burgoyne, who naturally took the position of our army more to heart than any one else, now expressed some anxiety for the first time, and sent for Generals Phillips and von Riedesel as well as Brigadier Fraser this evening, so that they might confer with each other. An enemy who was 4 times as strong and whose position we did not know the advanced time of the year, the diminution of our provisions and the absence of news regarding General Clinton’s progress, for which we had already waited so long in vain, were sufficient reasons to make General Burgoyne determined to seek the advice of the next in command to himself. He expressed a great inclination to turn the enemy’s left flank and thus fall on their rear, after leaving 800 men behind in the valley between no. 1 and no.2 bridges in order to defend same.
Such an undertaking required to be maturely examined in advance, in order to see whether the valley were so defended by means of the works that had been constructed there; that 800 men could maintain their position there alone during the army’s absence. For as nothing was known of the enemy’s position, the army might be away for 3 to 4 days, as we had first of all to seek the roads along which to reach the enemy in the woods for many miles round. Moreover it was very risky to leave such an excellent position with so few men in it for so long a time under our present circumstances. Consequently it was decided that our position should be surveyed on the morrow and the conference was closed for today.
The pickets were somewhat severely molested by the enemy on 2 different occasions last night. Although this is a very minor importance, still the whole of the left wing was disturbed thereby.
Of the post in the valley
All the generals rode through the whole of our camp this morning accompanied by Brigadier Fraser. Several defects in the defence of the post near the river which enclosed our depots were found, as the 3 forts that had been constructed on the hills were not only too far apart, but were partly unable to defend each other mutually, and quite unable to enfilade the hollows between the hills, by which the enemy could reach the valley from the side where the wood was, without being obliged to attack the fortifications on the hills.
This day also passed by without any news whatever of General Clinton’s Corps or of Lieutenant-Colonel St.Leger’s approach either, although it was confidently expected at headquarters, that the latter must join our corps one of the first days. However, some of the officers doubted that the junction of the said lieutenant-colonel with our army was so close at hand, as the militia from New Hampshire would undoubtedly endeavour to prevent it.
The generals’ conference was continued this evening, and after the situation of our army had been minutely examined, it appeared that if we could not set out against the enemy very shortly, attack same and settle the matter, it would be more advisable to re-cross the Hudson and take possession of our former position on the other side of the Batten Kill, as we should then not only be in communication with Lac George again but might also await what movements General Clinton would make on the other side of Albany to further our junction whilst in that position. These sentiments, which were so fitting in our present position, were approved of by all, partly aloud and partly in silence. But General Burgoyne looked upon a retrograde movement as too hard, and declared that he himself would make a reconnaissance as close to the rebel left wing as possible on the 7th, so as to see whether same cold be attacked or not, and would then either attack the enemy with the whole army or on the 8th, or retreat behind the Batten Kill on the 11th. This was his decision, and at the same time his order.
The army again foraged on the opposite side of the Hudson today, but more in the rear of our army, as no more forage was to be found in other places.
The foraging expedition was carried out successfully, but hardly half of the army could be provided with fodder.
On our left
It seemed as though the rebels intended doing something more decisive in the direction of our left wing, as between 4-500 of them, who were drawn up in a line, attacked all our pickets at the same time with a vigorous discharge of musketry, and drove away the advance sentries. They were only opposed by some strong patrols, who in conjunction with the sentries defended the van in front of the pickets’ main post alone for an hour, until about 50 Indians and a party of sailors and some of the Provincial Corps amounting to about 100 men in all voluntarily came up from the valley near the river to take part in the engagement. The Indians crept up the slope, so as to cut off the revel detachment from its secret paths. But the latter defended itself so courageously, that the Indians had to give way, after which the enemy retired after the firing had lasted about 3 hours. When the rebels retired they were pursued by the Indians and Volunteers, who forced the first hostile outpost at the projecting angle of the wood in the valley to give way, burnt their wooden sheds, and drove them 2000 paces further down into the valley as far as a house, which was also one of the rebel outposts, and some of their generals sere there at the time, who swung themselves on their horses in great haste, and returned to their camp. One of these officers was dangerously wounded, and the house was set on fire by the Indians. Some were wounded on both sides, and we on our side brought in 4 prisoners, who stated that this commotion had been a reconnaissance. They also reported, that the rebel army had stood under arms the night before, because they b elieved they heard a cannonading in their rear in the direction of Albany.
The order came from headquarters, that the army was to be provided with provisions for 4 days, and General Burgoyne had also rum distributed among the troops today, a special favour which the army can boast of having had twice during this campaign.
At 10 o’clock in the morning 1500 men, who had been drafted from the whole of the army except the 47th Regiment, set out from the camp with 8 big guns, among which two 12-pounders and 2 howitzers, and with General Burgoyne accompanied by Generals Phillips and v.Riedesel as well as Brigadier Fraser at the tete. The rendezvous for the whole detachment was in front of the right and left wings of the Breymann and Fraser Corps. All the Indians, 180 in number, as well as the Canadian companies and the Corps of Provincials had to cover the detachment’s right flank by making a large circuit through the woods, and endeavour to get to the rear of the enemy on their left flank. About noon the detachment set out to the right in 3 columns and marched through the woods, where some houses were met with which the detachment passed, and advanced thus to within about ¼ league of the enemy’s left wing.
We came across the first rebel post at Weiffer’s House, drove it away and occupied the height, which had woods on both sides of it. The detachments drew up into line, and took up their positions in such a manner according to the nature of the ground, that our small force could not be discovered by the enemy. We remained in this position about 1 ½ hours, so as to decide how the reconnaissance might be continued. Some more fodder was found here, which the Fraser and Breymann Corps fetched away in the meanwhile.
Towards 3 o’clock our Jagers discovered some solitary bands of rebels near a house ahead of us, that was separated from us by a ravine. At first they seemed to be nothing but bands who were reconnoitering us, but they soon increased in numbers, and showed us by their movements, that they would not permit us to advance. General Burgoyne, who had decided to await the evening in this position, and fire his retreat shots in this place and then return t the camp without having entered into an engagement with the enemy, whose strength he could not know, ordered some shots to be fired from his 12-pounders so as to frighten them off. But they did not take any notice of the, and it looked as though they wanted to form themselves into line against us, although it was not the most favourable spot to attack us. Some 20 shots were probably fired at the enemy at this place, which occupied us until after 4 o’clock, at which time the rebels suddenly attacked the detachment’s left wing where the English Grenadiers were standing in the wood very vigorously, and forced them to give way. Lieutenant-Colonel Speth, who formed the centre of the line with 300 Germans, and whose left flank had been exposed owing to the retreat of the English Grenadiers, had to join forces with the detachments of the German Light Infantry, the Hesse-Hanau and the v.Rhetz Regiments, and thus made that wing tolerably secure assisted by the firing of the artillery. He continued in this position for a long time, and would have maintained his post still longer, if Lord Belcarris had not received orders that obliged him to leave his post, and take another emplacement with his English Light Infantry, by means of which movement, (it is believed that there was some misunderstanding about it) the right wing of the German detachment was just as exposed as the left.
Captains Fredersdorff, v.Gleisenberg and v.Dohlstierna as well as Ensign v.Geyling of the Hesse-Hanau Regiment were severely wounded, and the Hesse-Hanau artillery consisting of two 6 pounders was lost in the retreat of the English Grenadiers, after their commanding officer, Major Acland, had also been severely wounded. Brigadier Fraser, who had taken up a position on our right with half of the English Grenadiers, Light Infantry and the 24th Regiment, hastened to the centre of the line of our assistance with his 24th Regiment, and it was here that he was mortally wounded Major Forster, who had remained stationed on our right with 200 more English Grenadiers of Brigadier Fraser’s Corps, withstood the rebel fire with the greatest composure, as did also Lieutenant-Colonel v.Speth, who was attacked en front and in both flanks, until General Burgoyne sent orders that the detachment should retreat. It was high time when General Burgoyne sent the order to retreat, as we only perceived at that moment, that we had almost all the rebel forces against us, who did their utmost to cut off our re treat to our camp, and now pressed us hard on all sides. The artillery under Major Williams did what they could to check the impetuosity with which the rebels attacked us; the major was
taken prisoner on this occasion, and his 12-pounders seized. The order was to the effect, that the troops should retreat to the large re doubt in front of the Fraser Corps’ right wing, and this was also carried out in tolerably good order, in spite of the enemy pressing us hard.
Hardly had the troops reached the large redoubt, when the enemy attacked it forthwith with the greatest impetuosity, but could not force it. Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann’s intrenchment and part of the Fraser intrenchment were attacked with equal force at the same time, and as Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann’s Corps was hardly 200 strong in all now, after he had given his quota to the detachment, and his intrenchment was attacked both in front and on the left flank, the rebels compelled it to yield after Lieutenant-Colonel Breymann had been killed. The special reason for this corps’ misfortune was, that in general confusion when the troops retreated to the large redoubt and the intrenchments, it had been forgotten to have the post occupied which the Canadian companies had held, these companies together with all the other light troops not having returned to the camp as yet owing to the long round-about way they had had to take. As already described on September 20, the emplacement of these Canadian companies covered a piece of ground separating the Fraser and Breymann intrenchments from each other, and two fortified houses in which these companies had been stationed formed the connection between the lines. So it was these fortified houses that had not been occupied which the enemy seized, and from which they came round the left flank of the Breymann Corps and into its rear, so that the Grenadiers’ tents were already burning, before the corps even knew that their left flank had been reached by way of the valley.
Lieutenant-Colonel v. Speth wanted to try to take this intrenchment from the enemy again with some troops, but as night was coming on he was prevented from doing so, and the result was, that he as well as some other officers of the Brunswick Corps fell into the hands of the enemy.
The enemy did not venture to keep the post they had taken during the night, although it was the key to the road leading into the valley behind no.2 bridge, where our depots were. Meanwhile Captain Fraser had to occupy this road with his corps during the night.
When night set in the enemy again retired to their camp, after they had lost a good many men in front of our lines. The rebel General Arnold was severely wounded in front of the lines. We on our side suffered a great loss in Brigadier Fraser’s death, who died the day after from the wounds he had received. The other losses we sustained on this day may be seen from the annexed lists.
All the guns we had taken with us to reconnoitre fell into the enemy’s hands except the two howitzers. And in the Breymann intrenchment the enemy obtained two 6-pounders as well as all the tents that were not burnt and most of that corps’ equipage.
The troops remained under arms the whole night, and that same evening General Burgoyne decided, that the army should retreat behind the Batten-Kill. For this purpose the tents were struck as midnight with as little noise as possible, and taken down into the valley to the depots together with all the baggage.
The army leaves
Its fortified camp
And takes up a
Position on the
Heights around the
Before daybreak the army left its fortified camp and marched to the valley between no.1 and no.2 bridges, the English regiments of the right wing stationing themselves in the cross-road behind no.2 bridge.
The Brunswick Battalion of Grenadiers and the Chasseurs covered the right flank of the English regiments.
The English Light Infantry and Grenadiers under Lord Belcarris occupied the advantageous height further back among the mountains, somewhat nearer the rear of the camp we had abandoned, which was mentioned on September 19, and were covered there by a deep hollow.
The line of the German regiments stood en potence on the right wing of the English regiments, on the summit of the chain of mountains in front of the 3 f orts, and faced the mountains and forests, so that reckening from the front the German troops formed the right and the English the left wings. All the light troops covered the rear and right flank in the direction of Sword’s House under their respective leaders.
When the army left the intrenchments, the pickets formed the rear-guard behind their brigades, and only moved into the regiments after dawn.
Soon after the regiments had left their posts, the enemy took possession of the camp we had evacuated, and prepared to attack our army in its new position, where it had to remain stationed until the hospital could be moved further back, there being more than 800 men, mostly wounded, in it, who were too much exposed to the rebel guns.
The whole day went in making these preparations, which were accompanied by a heavy cannonading and discharge of musketry, that broke out in different places, but especially where Lord Belcarris was stationed.
The patrols that were sent from the regiments were constantly exchanging shots with the enemy, so that this day did not pass either without bloodshed, especially on the rebel side, where many men were killed in the valley by means of our cannonade, and some guns silenced by our artillerymen.
About 4 o’clock in the afternoon Brigadier Fraser, who had died of his wounds, was buried in the large no.1 fort in accordance with his wish, and was followed to the grave by all the generals and many other officers. The enemy, who could witness this ceremony from the valley, honoured his burial by connonading the fort vigorously with their 12-pounders.
General Burgoyne had decided, that the army should continue its retreat that evening, and in order that the enemy might not be able to hinder us in our retreat from Sword’s House, Lieutenant-Colonel Southerland was detached with the 9th and 47th Regiments to occupy that post at noon, and the light troops, who had hitherto occupied the post, had to march in advance to reconnoitre the road the army was to take.
When it commenced to grow dark the pontoon-bridge was taken up with as little noise as possible, and at 10 in the evening the vanguard of the army set out under the command of Major-General v.Riedesel. The meeting place of the vanguard was at Sword’s Hours, from which place Major-General v.Riedesel set out in the following order.
The Indians and all the light troops formed the tete under Captains Fraser and Makai, behind them followed the Brunswich Grenadiers and the Chasseur Batalion, and then the above-mentioned 2 English regiments under Lieutenant-Colonel Southerland. The heavy artillery and all the conveyances belonging to the army followed behind the troops.
As soon as the above had started General Burgoyne also set out to the right en colonne renverse in order to follow the vanguard, the German troops forming the van whilst Lord Belcarris had to form the rear-guard with the Grenadiers and the English Light Infantry, Major-General Phillips remaining with same. The bateaux containing the provisions followed the army along the west bank of the Hudson.
The hospital was left behind under Dr. Hees’ management, as there was no possibility of conveying it with us; and it was, therefore, left to the enemy’s discretion with a special letter of recommendation from General Burgoyne to General Gates, after everyone who in any way could get along had followed the army.
At 2 o’clock in the morning General v.Riedesel arrived at Dovogot;s House with the vanguard. We heard that a rebel detachment had intrenched itself not far from Saratoga. Captain Fraser was sent on in advance to reconoitre these rebels, who, however, retired across the Hudson straightway. General Burgoyne sent the order to halt, and came to the vanguard at Dovogot’s House in person before daybreak. At first it was believed, that as the enemy had quitted the Heights at Saratoga, the only reason why we halted was that the whole army might be reassembled; but when all the troops were assembled at that place between 3 and 4 in the morning, General Burgoyne ordered the army to deploy in 2 lines contrary to all expectation, and thus await the day in bivouac.
We were neither prevented from continuing our march by the darkness nor by the enemy, whom w e had no reason whatever to fear until we arrived at the Batten Kill, and nothing would have been easier that to reach Saratoga bout 7 in the morning and proceed to build the bridge there across the Hudson, before the enemy could hinder us in doing so with a large force.
When it was dawn General Burgoyne had a new position assigned to the troops at Dovogot’s House, where they remained in bivouac until 4 in the afternoon. The start was had gained was almost all lost now, as the rebels conveyed as many troops over the river as possible, so as partly to call upon the nearest townships to muster on the other side of the river, so as to prevent our army from crossing and to occupy the posts as far as Fort George. Whilst thus in inaction we watched the rebels assembling on the east bank the whole day, and they frequently shot across at our bateaux and patrols. Meanwhile Captains Fraser and Makay had to advance as far as the Fish Kill with the light troops. So as to make it easier for the bateaux, provisions for several days were distributed among the troops, and then the order to set out was given at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and it was notified at the same time, that the march was not to be delayed on account of the regimental baggage. in case same was being conveyed in wagons.
This and a very heavy rain that continued to fall the whole day and made the roads in a terrible condition were the reasons why almost all the regiments in the army lost most of their tents and various articles of equipment on that day, which were left behind for the enemy.
Takes up a
The army arrived at Saratoga in the evening when it was very dark, and crossed the Fish Kill a gue, and the regiments took up their position on the other side of it for the night as well as they could, and remained there in bivouac until the following morning. Our headquarters were at Skuyler’s House that night. Brigadier Hamilton’s Brigade did not cross the Fish Kill with the 20th, 21st and 62nd Regiments that evening, but remained on an advantageous height to cover headquarters. The bateaux with the stores, that had been moored at the mouth of the Fish Kill, were exposed to a heavy fire from the opposite whore the whole night.
General Burgoyne had heard that General Clinton had taken possession of Fort Montgomery. Our light troops, that had been sent on in advance, reported this morning, that the enemy had already occupied the Batten Kill on the opposite side of the Hudson with troops. Now as General Burgoyne no doubt considered it too dangerous to cross the river Hudson at that place, the order was issued, that the army should take its stand on the Heights of Saratoga for the present, until the river could be crossed at another place, and we could occupy Fort Eduard. So as to carry out the latter purpose, Lieutenant-Colonel Southerland was ordered to ascend the right bank of the river until he came vis a vis Fort Eduard with the 47th and 62nd Regiments and accompanied by Captain Mackai with some volunteers and Captain Twis of the Artillery, in order to repair the road there as well as the bridges that had been destroyed for the passage of the army, and to have the fort add neighbourhood roconnoitred.
Brigadier Hamilton’s Brigade still remained stationed on the other side of the Fish Kill.
At 2 o’clock in the afternoon the enemy took possession of Saratoga. Brigadier Hamilton could not maintain his post on the other side of the Fish Kill any longer, but was compelled to wade through the river and join the army. Skuyler’s beautiful house was destroyed by the flames on this occasion, and the barracks, which had served as a hospital before and also did so now, were set on fire as well by the insolence of some scoundrels.
At first it was believed that it would come to a general engagement that day. So the position of the troops was altered in one or two particulars, in order that the regiments might be of more support to each other, and the army remained in this position, which will shortly be described, until the 17th.
The enemy occupied the heights Brigadier Hamilton had abandoned, and cannonaded the hills on this side of the Fish Kill from there. Some rebel brigades attempted to cross the Fish Kill, but were prevented from doing so by our cannonade.
Our bateaux were lying higher up near the mouth of the Fish Kill, and were protected by the heavy artillery and the English detachments. General Burgoyne, bivouaced in the centre of the army near the barracks, but he was compelled to abandon that place already the same evening, as the rebels caused a battery to play on a height on the other side of the river, which made the aforesaid place the most insecure in the line. The strong current prevented our taking the loaded bateaux further up the river except with great difficulty owing to their weight, so all the stores were unloaded late the same evening and during the night. The result soon showed how necessary this precaution had been. The army also began to fortify its position the same night, as we had learnt that the rebels were passing up above our left wing, so as to advance through the wood and attack our centre in the front.
As the enemy had already established themselves on the other side of the river, it cannot be said that our army’s position was as good as it could have been, or that it would have been better for us to have stationed ourselves below the Batten Kill.
As regards our left wing, where some English regiments were occupying the heights near the Fish Kill, same was a strong post and not unlike a large redoubt, from whence the enemy’s passage across the Fish Kill and their advance into the valley near the river might no doubt be prevented. But it was different matter with respect to the English and German regiments belonging to the centre and right wing. It was impossible to prevent the rebel batteries from enfilading our whole line from the Fish Kill. The proximity of the heights on the other side of the Hudson, on which the rebels were erecting batteries as they pleased, exposed the rear of the whole line to the enemy’ cannonade, and the extreme left wing even to the fire from their small guns, which they were firing at us from the valley on the opposite bank.
There was a battery containing some 12 and 6-pounders at the end of our right flank, which prevented the rebels from so easily becoming masters of the valley in which all our depots and our parc d’artillerie were enclosed from the Batten Kill, where the water was very shallow. The battalions of Chasseurs and Grenadiers and the v.Rhetz Regiment stood in the centre; these troops had a hill in front of them, from which shots could be fired into their intrenchment, and still we could not take possession of it without prolonging the line of the army beyond its strength.
Our batteaux fall
Into enemy’s hands
Not much progress was made at the intrenchments last night owing to the hard and rocky ground, and the work had to be continued in sight of the enemy the whole day. Before it was really dawn two hostile brigades, who had crept up during the night, suddenly ventured to cross the Fish Kill, and after having seized 1 officer and 40 men of the 62nd Regiment, one of these brigades fell on our bateaux whilst the other prevented our detachments hastening to the assistance of the batteaux and sailors by means of their fire. In less that 3 minutes all the bateaux were in the enemy’s hands, who sailed down the river with them. We lost some of our sailors on this occasion as well as some stores, which were on the river bank and were rolled into the water by the enemy.
The two rebel brigades had to pay dearly enough for this daring enterprise, as they were presses very hard by our shot and forced to give way. But the bateaux were lost.
Our army was cannonaded from the front and in the rear the whole day, and the outposts fired at each other uninterruptedly. We lost many a man among the guards who patrolled the wood in front of us, all of whom were taken prisoners, and this was particularly the case with our advance post of Brunswick Jagers in front of the centre of the army, whose special duty it was to keep up communication with the English regiments of the left wing on the heights near the Fish Kill by means of their patrols so that we might perceive in time, when the enemy took it into their heads to turn the left wing and fall on the flank or in the rear of some English regiments by means of this manoeuvre.
General Burgoyne heard that the enemy had sent off a strong detachment from the army to reinforce the post at Fort Eduard today. Altogether it begins already today to look as though our army’s retreat had been entirely cut off, except by the only road Lieutenant-Colonel Southerland had taken to the aforesaid fort along the right bank of the Hudson.
The aforesaid lieutenant-colonel notified in his report to General Burgoyne, that he had got within one mile this side of Fort Eudard on the 10th, without having seen anything of the enemy on his march, that he had already half finished the repairs, to the raids and brigades, and that he had received the reliable information, that there were only 100 rebels in the fort. In reply to this report he received the very unexpected order to join the army again with the 2 regiments he had with him. In consequence of this ordre he joined the army again., after leaving Captain Mackai stationed at the bridge vis a vis Fort Eduard, who later on, continued his march to Lac George with some Indians and Provincials he had with him, and escaped to Carillon with them in safety.
Of all the
That evening General Burgoyne sent for Generals v.Riedesel and Phillips. He represented the situation of our army as it was in reality, namely, that it was impossible to attack the enemy, as our position in the centre and on the right wing was untenable. The proposal was made, that we should retire along this side of the Hudson leaving the baggage behind, cross the river a gue 4 miles above Fort Eduard, as the said fort would probably be reinforced by that time, and then continue our journey to Fort George without stopping. This undertaking was still considered feasible, as the road on this side of the river was still unoccupied. But nothing could be decided that evening, and the night passed by.
The enemy had now constructed 3 batteries in our rear on the opposite side of the Hudson, and also occupied all the posts as far as Fort Eduard, which was the more easy, as they could convey as many guns and men across by the bateaux they had taken from us as was necessary. The enemy also extended their army in front of our van on this side of the river. So large officers’ patrols were constantly sent out, and the vigilance of the posts was redoubled in every respect. There was no longer any safe place for the train and baggage. The valley near the river lay full of dead horses, some of which had been shot and some had starved to death for want of forage. There was not even a place to be found for the sick and wounded any longer, the number of whom increased every hour, and they used to seek shelter in the hollows in the wood in front of us as well as they could, as they were not secure from the enemy’s balls in the few houses at the foot of the mountain in the plain near the river, and the sous terreins of these houses were so full of wounded officers, that nobody else could be there.
Council of war
At 3 o’clock in the afternoon General Burgoyne, Major-Generals Phillips and v.Riedesel as well as Brigadiers Hamilton and v.Gall assembled for a council of war for the first time. General Burgoyne laid the situation of both armies before the members present , and submitted five proposals to them, respecting which they were to give him their opinion. The fourth of those proposals, namely, to retreat in the night, leave the artillery and baggage in the lurch and cross the ford above Fort Eduard or go round Lac George, was accepted as the best in our present situation, and the proposed retreat was resolved upon. The army had on the whole sufficient provisions for 6 days including today, that is, until the 17th inclusive, which were to be given out this evening before the army set out. Major-General v.Riedesel was to be in command of the vanguard, and Major-General Phillips of the rear-guard. It was 10 o’clock in the evening when the provisions for 6 days were distributed among the regiments, and Major-General von Riedesel had a report of this distribution sent to General Burgoyne through the medium of Captain Gerlach, who enquired at the same time, when the general was to set out with the van. The verbal answer General Burgoyne sent back to General v.Riedesel was, that it was too late that evening, and the army was to remain where it was.
Major Campbell, leader of the few Indians we had in the army, intended venturing to cross the Hudson river near the Batten Kill (where the river is rather shallow) with some Indians, Provincials and Albanians that night, so as to gain the woods on the other side of the river through which he would creep. But the enemy’s vigilance was too great, so that he had to desist from his plan, and be satisfied he was able to reach the army again without being captured.
The army is
The rebels had now entirely enclosed us, and had placed a post of observation on a height on our right flank, that had crossed from the opposite bank near the Batten Kill by means of some rafts, so that the rebels had now made an uninterrupted chain of communication around the army.
The time to make an honourable retreat, which had been open to us from the evening of the 8th until yesterday evening and on which the council of war had insisted even yesterday, had now passed.
Council of war
Provisions for five days and at all events some half starved draught-oxen was what remained to us of supplies.
Under these circumstances General Burgoyne solemnly convened the council of war once more, to which all the commandants of the different corps and all the regiments were added, and after first publicly declaring to all the members, that he had hitherto not demanded anything of the officers and regular troops except obedience to his orders, and that he alone was responsible for the conduct of the army up to that moment, he then laid the whole condition of our army before them, as he had done the day before.
According to the position of an enemy who was 4 times stronger than we were, and whom we could not reach except by crossing a swampy ravine and steep hill, which took us so far from the river, that the rebels would be able to attack us in the rear from the other side of it, General Burgoyne as well as everybody else looked upon is as an impossibility for us to attack the enemy with any success. And even if it were possible, contrary to all probability, our troops could hardly reach Lac George now owing to want of provisions, partly owing to the circuitous route they would have to take, partly to the thousands of other difficulties to which we would be exposed from the opposite bank whilst crossing the river.
A retreat with our whole army through the forests was considered just as impossible, unless every man had to seek his way alone as well as he could.
If the troops remained stationed as they were, they could stand it as long as their 5 days’ provisions lasted, but the situation would still remain the same in that case, and as our position in the centre and right wing was untenable, a deroute of the troops and consequent separation might probably be expected, should the enemy attack us.
With the enemy
After considering the above and replying to the questions:-
Firstly, whether history could give examples of an army having capitulated in similar position?
Secondly, whether a capitulation in such a situation was disgraceful, and
Thirdly, whether our army were really in a position to have to capitulate?
General Burgoyne produced the draft of a capitulation, which, accepted by the enemy, would no doubt be found advantageous both for his Majesty and the army. Thereupon it was resolved unanimiter to commence to treat with the enemy, and a letter was sent to General Gates by General Burgoyne for that purpose, in which the latter requested permission to send a staff-officer to General Gates to discuss mater of importance to both armies, and asked what time he would receive that officer next day.
The drummer who was despatched with this missive returned at 9 o’clock in the evening with the reply, that General Gates would expect the staff-officer at the outposts of the United States’ Army at 10 o’clock next morning.
General Burgoyne’s deputy adjutant-general, Major Kingston, presented himself at the rebel army’s outposts at the time specified, and laid the proposals with respect to the negotiations and an armistice during the settlement of the preliminary articles if General Burgoyne’s ideas were agreed to before General Gates.
In reply to this General Gates gave Major Kingston a draft of 6 articles, as the preliminaries to the capitulation to be made. The armistice was to last until sunset, and was made known in both armies. But General Gates expected General Burgoyne’s reply before then.
About noon General Burgoyne again convened the council of war, and laid General Gates’ draft before same, the 1st article of which was, that the troops were to surrender as prisoners of war, and the last, that the troops should lay down their arms in the intrenchments in which they were stationed at present, and set out for their destination.
All the members of the Conseille de Guerre declared hereupon, that they would rather sacrifice the last drop of their blood or die of hunger, than agree to such humiliating articles.
When the sun set Major Kingston was sent to General Gates with General Burgoyne’s reply, that the negotiations must cease, if General Gates would not deviate from the articles he had proposed, all the troops being of the opinion, that they would rather fall on their enemies with the utmost desperation than accept such articles. Major Kingston then returned General Gates the draft he had received from him, and handed him General Burgoyne’s with the declaration, that a capitulation could never be thought of unless those articles were accepted.
The armistice ended, and Major Kingston returned to the camp.
To the proposals
made to them
It looked as though there could be no more thought of any negotiations now, when one of General Gates’ aides-de-camp arrived at our outpost quite unexpectedly at 10 o’clock this morning, and handed General Burgoyne the draft he had proposed, which was agreed to and signed by General Gates under today’s date. All propositions were fully agreed to, and only one article added, namely, that the capitulation must take place already at 2 o’clock the same afternoon, and be signed by General Burgoyne, and that the troops must march out of their lines at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, so as to be able to set out on their march to Boston tomorrow early.
The armistice was again renewed.
Council of war
General Gates’ speedy alteration of opinion and the urgent article that had been added to the effect, that the matter must be settled quickly, seemed very suspicious to General Burgoyne, and induced him to convene the council of war once more.
It was resolved to let General Gates know, that General Burgoyne accepted the last draft that had been sent, but as this was only the preliminary step, and various other articles had still to be arranged before General Burgoyne could sign a capitulation, the time until 2 o’clock in the afternoon was too brief, and that General Burgoyne now proposed that the staff officers who were to settle the supplementary articles and arrange the treaty for bot sides to sign should be appointed. Those on our side were Lieutenant-Colonel Southerland and Captain Craigg.
The commissioners met at Skuyler’s House that had been burnt down, and remained together until 11 o’clock in the evening. Everything we still demanded was agreed upon, and our commissioners who were empowered to make the final arrangements promised on General Burgoyne’s and their own word of honour, that the treaty should be returned next morning, namely, the 16th, signed by General Burgoyne.
The armistice was prolonged.
All the troops received the money that was still due to them from our military chest this afternoon.
A stranger who
News of Gen.
The unexpected arrival of a provincial last night, at once interrupted the negotiations in connection with the treaty that had almost been arranged, and very nearly cancelled it. For this man stated had heard privately, that General Clinton had taken the fortifications in the Highlands, and had arrived with the troops and fleet at Esopso a week ago, so that he would probably be at Albany by now. General Burgoyne as well as some of the other officers were so delighted with this uncertain piece of information, that they already expressed a wish to break off the negotiations. So a council of war was again convened the first thing this morning, and it was put before the members very clearly by means of three questions, whether such an advantageous treaty, which was almost as good as settled and ready for the signature of the two general as agreed upon, cold be broken off in our present position in consequence of the news brought by this new arrival, whom nobody knew. The replies given by the members of the council of war were divided, but 14 voices against 8 decided, that it would be contrary to the honour of the nation and all raison de guerre.
Letter to General
IN order to gain time the following was devised as a last expedient, namely, that General Burgoyne should inform General Gates in a letter, that he had learnt through deserters and other trustworthy persons, that General Gates had sent a considerable corps of hie army in the direction of Albany during the negotiations. Now as this was not keeping faith, General Burgoyne could not sign before he was convinced, that General Gates’ army was at least 3 to 4 times superior in numbers to his own. He would, therefore, feel obliged if General Gates would show his army to an officer of our army who would be designated, and if he were convinced of the superiority on receipt of his report, he would sign the treaty forthwith.
General Gates’ reply.
General Gates did not receive this letter with indifference, and replied, that he gave his word of honour that his army was still just as strong as before the treaty, that it had, on the contrary, been still further augmented by some brigades, and was probably 4 times as strong as ours, not including the troops stationed on the opposite bank of the Hudson. So he left it to General Burgoyne to decide, what it meant to break one’s word of honour. However, as soon as General Burgoyne had signed, he himself would show him his whole army, and then he would find, that all he had said was in accordance with truth. But he would not give General Burgoyne more than 1 hour now in which to give a reply, after which he would take the strictest measures.
Council of War convened
For the last time.
Neither General Burgoyne himself nor the council of war that was convened for the last time could object to General Gates’ declaration, and General Burgoyne at last signed the treaty, although he could hardly bring himself to it, and same was at once forwarded to General Gates through the medium of Major Kingston.
This treaty only contained the proposition made by the respective generals and their respective answers, properly speaking, which the generals in command forwarded to each other after having signed them.
Made with the
The troops under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Burgoyne will leave their intrenchments with all military honours and their artillery, and march to the bank of the Hudson, to the spot where the old fort stood, where they will leave their muskets and artillery behind them.
General Burgoyne’s troops will be allowed a free journey to England, on condition that they will not serve in North America any more during the present war, and Boston Harbour has been fixed on for this purpose, where the troops will be able to embark, should General Howe not make other arrangements with respect to this matter
Should a cartel be drawn up, pursuant to which all these troops or part of same may be exchanged, the 2nd article would be cancelled, provided the exchange took place.
The troops under Lieutenant-General Burgoyne will march by the shortest and easiest route to the province of Massachussets Bay, and be quartered in or around Boston as suitably as possible in accordance with circumstances. And the march of the said troops is not to be delayed, if the transports arrive on which they are to embark.
During the march and as long as they are in their quarters these troops are to be supplied with provisions exactly in the same manner as his own corps in accordance with General Gates’ instructions, and the forage for the officers’ horses and the draught-oxen is to be delivered at the usual price if possible.
All officers are to keep their wagons, pack-horses and other cattle, and no baggage is to be inspected or other wise disturbed. But General Burgoyne is to give his word of honour, that no articles belonging to the King are contained therein. General Gates will make the necessary arrangements to see that this article is observed, and he will also see that troops and officers are provided with the necessary wagons required for the march at the usual price, should same be wanting.
As far as circumstances permit the officers are not to be separated from their men on the march and as long as the troops are in the province of Massachussets Bay, and they are at liberty to muster their men as often as they find it necessary for the maintenance of order and discipline. Furthermore the officers are to receive quarters in accordance with their rank.
All sailors, boteaux and workmen, drivers, volunteer companies and other persons belonging to General Burgoyne’s army not included in the above-mentioned classes are to be recognised as British subjects, and to be equally included in this article in every sense, whatever their nationality may be.
All Canadians in General Burgoyne’s army, whatever duties they have performed in it, are to be permitted to return to their homes, and are to set out at once under escort to the first British post near Lac George; they are also to be supplied with provisions during their march in the same manner as the English troops. Moreover they are to pledge themselves not to serve in North America during the present war.
Passes are forthwith to be given to 3 officers of no higher rank than captains, whom General Burgoyne will chose, who are to take despatches to Generals Sir William Howe, Sir Guy Carleton and to England by way of New Yorck. General Gates promises faithfully and publicly, that these despatches will not be opened, and that on receipt of same the said officers will be sent to their destinations by the shortest routes and in all haste.
During the troops’ sojourn in the province of Massachussets Bay, the officers will give their word of honour, and are to be allowed to keep their swords.
Should General Burgoyne’s troops find it necessary to send for their clothing and baggage from Canada, they will be permitted to do so in the most easy manner.
These articles are to be signed by the respective generals tomorrow early at 9 o’clock, and the troops to leave the camp at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
John Burgoyne Horatio Gates.
In the camp at Saratoga, October 16, 1777.
Thus the fate of our army was developed, which, according to the proof’s given by the enclosed lists of losses, had honourably fought against an enemy 4 times stronger in numbers, which, I spite of great hardships, toil and other evils of many kinds that any army on European soil can never know, never lost courage even at the most critical times, and which, although amounting to not quite 4,000 men fit for duty, undoubtedly would have done everything to avoid a fate which can never be anything but painful to brave troops, if the certainty that they would finally all have died of hunger in the woods had not induced their leader to surrender on conditions, so that they might preserve the lives of brave troops, who had fought for the rights of the British nation with their blood and most willingly as long as possible, and until honourable terms could be made for the English Crown. Perhaps there is not a single example in history - or at least very few - of a corps of troops having been able to decide on a capitulation, whereby it gained as much honour as justice.
Last night the flags of all the regiments in the army were made away with, so as not to surrender any trophies to the enemy, which were too beautiful for them.
Towards 8 o’clock in the morning General v.Riedesel addressed all the Brunswick regiments in a speech, in which he prepared them, that they would have to lay down their arms. He pointed out to them, that this step was not to be attributed to their want of bravery, consequently could not prejudice them in the worlds’ eyes. He concluded his speech wit the admonition, that they should continue to conduct themselves well, and that they should always remember the duties they owed their Sovereign, and would continue to owe him in their future position, too.
At 11 o’clock all the troops moved out of their intrenchments. And formed into line in the valley near the so-called old fort on this side of the Fish Kill, where they subsequently left their small and big guns.
General Gates’ army on this side of the Hudson was drawn up en ligne on the other side of the Fish Kill. Three of our officers, among whom was Captain Twys of the Engineers, were commissioned to go through the rebel lines and count the troops. Their strength was found to be between 13 and 14,000 privates. General Gates himself gave General Burgoyne the following list of the strength of his army:-
3 Major General
12 Brigadiers General
332 Premier Lieutenants
326 Second Lieutenants
44 Quarter Masters
30 Paye Masters
43 Surgeons Mates
13216 Rank and File, present, fit for Duty
652 Sick, present
731 Sick, absent
3875 on command in the Rear
180 on Furlough
20817 Total fit for Duty
The troops on the opposite side of the Hudson river are not included among these numbers. They were the remainder of the militia from the nearest townships of New Hampshire and Connecticut, where every 2nd man had been summoned to keep us away from that side of the river.
General Gates received our Generals on the opposite side of the Fish Kill, led them into his tents and gave them a dinner.
We now saw the rebel position on the heights at Bimese’s House for the first time, which we had been so anxious to find out on September 19 and October 7. Their position was naturally strong, and was rendered still more so by art. The right wing was close to the Hudson river; the front was protected by a swampy ravine, and the lines commenced behind that, and had a barricade of logs in front of them besides. The left wing ended on a height, where the so-called School House is situated. The left flank was also covered by a barricade of logs down the slope of the mountain. The hills behind the front were as escarpe as those in front, and the whole army was intrenched on these heights.
We had abandoned
That day the troops marched as far as the valley, where our army had quitted its position on the 8th, and where we had had our pontoon bridge before. Here they spent the night in bivouac. The generals went on to Stillwater, 6 miles further.
Captain v.Dahlsgierna (who has since died of his wounds) as well as other officers who were wounded and could not be moved on the 7th, were all at the hospital under the hands of a French surgeon.
The troops arrived at Stillwater towards noon, under convoy of a rebel brigade commanded by Brigadier Glover. They were to have been conveyed across the Hudson today, but as they could not procure sufficient rafts and bateaux, only the
English could cross the river. So they bivouaced on the opposite bank, and the German troops on this bank during the night.
General v.Riedesel continued his journey to Albany, 25 miles further, accompanied by Brigadier Glover today, where Generals Burgoyne and Phillips arrive in the evening, so as to have a further conference with each other.
Lieutenant Wilford, General Burgoyne’s adjutant, had been sent on to Albany in advance to inquire of General Gates whether some of the officers of the German troops might not also be exchanged at once in accordance with the treaty, in order that some of them might be went to Canada for the benefit of that corps, but General Gates sent the reply, that he could have nothing to do with any further exchange until he had received information respecting the matter from General Washington, and it was only as a personal favour shown to General Burgoyne and his army, that he had permitted 3 English officers to be sent from the army; but the Germans were not included among them.
On the road to Albany we passed the Mohawk river at Half Moon, a post General Gates has also occupied with almost 4,000 men so as to cover his rear, and where he would be able to take his stand once more with the army in case of need. A fine position both naturally and owing to an ingenious defence.
At Albany Generals Burgoyne and v.Riedesel lodged in General Skuyler’s house, who was of a Dutch family.
After Carillon had been taken this general collected what remained of General Sinclair’s brigades, and then posted himself with them and some militiamen he had gathered together once more at Half Moon. When the corps had grown into an army and General Gates had been placed at the head of it, he laid down his command.
Albani (sic.) is one of the oldest towns in North America, and has a pleasant position and some beautiful buildings. The place probably contains about 800 houses, and is protected by a small fortress. Most of the inhabitants are on the king’s side, and many of them are rich.
The army separated on this day. The English regiments took the road to the left across the Green Mountains in the direction of Stockbridge, and the German troops across the Green Woods. The latter crossed the Hudson river today, and marched to Scheeticoop escorted by a regiment of militia under the command of Colonel Ried.
We heard at Albany with respect to General Clinton’s expedition to Esopos, that this general had laid the town in ashes a week before, and had not ventured to advance after that, as he had probably heard about our army’s critical position, or perhaps did not consider himself strong enough to push on any further.”
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