October 17th, 2007 by Bill
Niedersachisches Staatsarchiv, Wolfenbuttel
Letter, Lt. August Uhlig to Herr Georg Wilhelm Grau, Wolfenbuttel
“November 23, 1777
Many events have taken place since I sat with you in our beloved city. We made a long, arduous march from Canada to Stillwater on the River Hudson, captured a great fort Ticonddroga, fought three battles, and were surrendered to the rebel Americans at a village Saratoga. Now we are prisoners in the provence Massachusetts, and I do not know when we shall see our homes.
Our real troubles had their birth after we crossed the Hudson River to march on the road toward Albany Town. Even though the country people we met were faithful to their King, some of us began to have feelings of trouble. When we had reached the mouth of a small stream called the Crooked Creek in English and Krummachkill in Netherlandish, we found that the Americans had closed the road to Albany by building fortifications on a hill called Braemus’s Hill. Until they were dislodged, we could not advance. To accomlish that, General Burgoyne took two English columns into the hills west of the river to find the enemy’s left flank and dispatch them. On the 19 of September advanced American parties were found on the farm of a loyal man named Friedmann and the battle was joined before the American positions could be reached. After a hard fought engagement, the English were being repulsed, but were saved by Freiherr Riedesel and a force of his regiment and that of Rhetz. We Germans and the english 47th Regiment had been left along the road to exploit an American retreat. The day ended with the rebels back in their lines and our possessing the field.
For more than two weeks we waited hoping for good news to the south and daily expecting a rebel attack. But were not idle. We built the strongest fortifications we could and laid on our arms every night. No one believed we were in a happy situation. The nights grew colder and soon after the beginning of October we reduced our rations. Every night was made restless by rebel parties, and even the days were not free from annoyance.
Our position on the battlefield was as strong as the land and human effort could make it. The left, which rested on the river Hudson was protected by three posts, one of which was very strong. A long line extended from the river to the battlefield, where the British Light Infantry redoubt was built. This very strong fort faced the west and was more than 3,000 yards long. Within it were the houses of the Friedmann’s whose farm was here. Several cannon and many men made this a most secure post. On a low ridge to the west, an outwork overlooked a farm in the shallow vale through which a road ran.
Our post, a smaller one built of tree trunks, was on a small hill near a steep bank. It also faced the west. Here our line ended. Behind it lay our camp. It was here that the brave Colonel Breymann was killed when an overwhelming rebel force captured our post. We had only 200 men and two cannon when the post fell. To our left in a small vale were provincials in two log houses. The place was weak and the men untrustworthy, and when they retreated our left was uncovered. We had not worried a great deal about them because our post and that of the English were complementary, and if all had been as it should, we would have been able to defend ourselves. As it was, we were overrun, our post and camp fell, and we were not even able to bring off our colonel’s body. An effort was made to retake the post that night, but it failed with a loss of men killed and captured. The rebels burned the provincials’ posts that nght. We could see the fires from the English redoubt.
The battle on the seventh of October resulted from General Burgoyne’s intent to end the impasse by using a column drawn from nearly all the regiments, including ours, to again flank the rebel left. They did not wait in their lines, but sallied out and attacked our column near the head of a ravine. After heavy fighting our people retreated to the shelter of the light infantry redoubt, which the rebels attacked with ferocity, but their work was in vain, and the fort stood. While that struggle was going on, our post was attacked and the tragic events that I told of before unfolded.
On the night of the seventh, we left our fires and retreated to the mouth of the creek. At sunset of the next day, General Fraser of the English Advanced Corps was buried in the biggest redoubt above the river, and the retreat northward began. We hoped without great expectation of success to reach Fort Edward and then Ticonderoga, where we would have spent the winter. It was not a happy expectation.
Whipped by rain, burdened by our baggage, saddened by our losses, and tormented by an untiring enemy, we dragged ourselves to Dovegatt and thence to the village of Saratogah, where a stream named the Fishkil enters the river. There, we formed to dare the enemy to repeat his attack. To go farther northward required recrossing the river. That demanded that the crossing be defended. However, the opposite shore of the river swarmed with Americans, and we could not lure the enemy on our shore to attack. After a week of siege and mounting suffering, General Burgoyne surrendered us to the traitor Englishman Gates, and we laid down our armes in the parade of an old English fort.
We are now prisoners in the Provice of Massachusetts and await our fates at the hands of an implacable foe. I write these facts so that you and my friends at home will know that we have have dishonorable. The country in which we campaigned is wild beyond anything we have known. The enemy is fierce and full of wiles. He is well-led and determined.
Speak of me to my friends and speak my name in your prayers and I shall write more at Christmastime.
This document can be found at Saragota National Historic Park
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