History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Campaign of Lieut. Gen. John Burgoyne
and The Expedition of Lieut. Col. Barry St. Leger.
by William L. Stone.
Albany, NY, Joel Munsell. 1877.
Part III, continued
DESCRIPTION OF ST. LUKE'S BRIDGE, AND OF THE ATTEMPT TO BURN IT ON THE APPROACH OF BAUM.
CLINTON PLACE, NEW YORK,
25th July, 1877.
" WM. L. STONE,
" My Dear Sir : Since my last visit to your house, when an interesting conversation was had upon the subject of Bennlngton battle, I have looked more fully into the account of the same, as contained in your " Memoirs etc., of Maj. Gen. Reidesel." My long residence in the vicinity of that now famous battle-field, and my personal acquaintance with many of the men engaged in the fight, gives me especial interest in the story as told in your book.
" On page 121,I find an allusion to the ' bridge of St. Luke.' This bridge is a very familiar object to me. I used to go to mill there when I was a boy. In '77 it's name may have been St. Luke's, but in 1815 it's name was Van Schaick, from the little Dutch village on the margin of Hoosick river, a short distance below the bridge. It spanned the stream then called Little White creek, a few rods above its debouch into Walloomsac (or Bennington) river. The three streams-White creek, Walloomsac and Hoosick-unite near this bridge. The road passing over the bridge, was the great market road, leading to the North river, Albany, Halfmoon, etc. A branch road led off in a northwesterly direction to Cambridge, Batten kil, Fort Edward, etc.
'' At the point where the bridge spans the creek, there is a deep, narrow ravine, extending for a considerable distance both above and below the bridge. Hence the bridge was important. Indeed it was Indispensable to Baum's marching army. It was a wooden bridge, covered with loose plank, not very long but very high.
" A little skirmishing adventure occurred at this bridge, the circumstances of which were as follows :
"On the 15th of August, '77, the day previous to Bennington battle, a small scouting party from the American camp, or to speak more truly, a party of volunteer scouts from the country near Bennington, were exploring the country along the road towards Cambridge. They were met and driven back by Col. Baum's advancing troops. Some of the party were taken prisoners. But most of them escaped. Being on foot and well acquainted with the country, they took to the fields and made a safe retreat to Bennington, ready for the battle next day. On their way home they were obliged to pass over St. Luke's (Van Schaick's) bridge, crossing the stream --- Little White creek, near its termination in the Walloomsac river.
" As our Yankee boys were crossing the bridge, they wished they could destroy it to embarrass the invading foe , but they did not dare stop to do it because British guns were close to their heels, and they hurried forward. At this critical juncture, one man more heroic than she rest, Eleazur Edgerton, declared that the bridge ought to be destroyed,and he would go back and burn it, if any one would join him. Two of his associates volunteered. Those three returned, threw the plank off into the chasm below and set fire to the timbers. Whilst they were doing this heroic work, British balls were whizzing about
their ears , but all three safely escaped, and soon rejoined their more discreet companions. I have ever esteemed this daring feat as one of the heroic acts of those trying times.
" The inspiring leader of this patriotic trio, Eleazur Edgerton, resided in the town of Bennington, where he spent his after life. He was a man quite above the medium size, very strong and athletic, devoting his energies to peaceful and useful pursuits. He was a farmer and a carpenter. He had peculiar characteristics that gave him a distinguished local reputation among his neighbors. As a carpenter he was noted for the mechanical strength of his work. His neighbors used to call him the strong builder and that the Green mountain winds had a hard job to blow down one of Uncle Lezur's barns.
" He always went bare-headed and bare-handed summer and winter. This gave him a very rough appearance. They used to say his face was all made but doors.
Notwithstanding this rough exterior, he was a man of very gentle nature, much
beloved by children. He was the king of children in his neighborhood. He often
visited them at their homes, carrying his pockets full of apples and other
little presents. But the special favor that the children liked the best, and
which they waited for with the most anxiety, was his pocket full of sticks
and straws for them to play jack straws.
" Yours very truly,
" J. W. RICHARDS."
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