History From America's Most Famous Valleys
The Orderly Book of Sir John Johnson
During the Oriskany Campaign
Annotated by Wm. L. Stone
With an Historical Introduction illustrating the Life of Johnson by J. Watts De Peyster, and Some Tracings from the Foot-Prints of the Tories, or Loyalists in America by T. R. Myers.
Joel Munsell, 1882
Introduction to the Battle of Oriskany
There is a rather long poem which will not be included.
"Against stupidity the gods are powerless." --Goethe.
* The battle of Almansa, fought on the 25th April, 1707, was remarkable in two respects-first, for its result, in that it assured the crown of Spain to Philip V.; second for a bloody episode, which it is said the Duke of Berwick, bigoted and pitiless as he always proved himself to be, could never recall without a shudder of horror. In the midst of that conflict, John Gavalier, the expatriated French Protestant hero, with his battalion of fellow-exiles, the Camisards, or Huguenots of Languedoc, found themselves opposed to a regiment of French Roman Catholics, who it is supposed had been chiefly instrumental in applying the atrocities of the Dragonnades against their native Protestant brethren. No sooner had they recognized each other, than the two corps, without exchanging a shot, rushed to the attack with the bayonet, and engaged in such a mutual, inveterate slaughter that, according to the testimony of Marshal, the Duke of Berwick, not over three hundred survived of both corps. As the Gamisards constituted a battalion of 700 men, and the Roman Catholics a full regiment of at least 1000 effectives, only one out of every six combatants survived the merciless conflict. Such a slaughter is almost unparalleled in history.
England has never been prolific in great, nay in even moderately great generals, however exuberant in crops of the bravest soldiers. Since Marlborough, who culminated at Hochstedt or Blenheim, 13th August, 1704-178 years ago-there have been only three who stand forth as remarkable leaders-Wolfe, Clive and Wellington. Olive was destined to the command against the revolted colonies, and if he had displayed in America the tremendous power, influence and fortune he exerted in Hindostan, the history of the American Revolution would have had a different termination. The name of Sir William John son, "a heaven-born general," has been associated with that of Lord Olive by more than one English writer of distinction, and particularly by one of Great Britain's best military analysts, Sir Edward Cust. Lord Olive perished by suicide, 22d Nov., 1774, and Sir William Johnson, it is insinuated, but falsely in the same manner on 11th July, 1774. He died of chronic, malignant dysentery.
American affairs were desperate enough in 1776 and 1777, in 1780, and even in 1781, to need only a feather's weight in the scale to sink it into ruin. A breath of genius would have done this, but there was no one to breathe it. Cornwallis might have done so had he occupied an independent position like Marlborough, Wolfe, Clive or Wellington, and have added his name to these illustrious four.
Unfortunately for England, and luckily for the United States, he was subordinate to successive superiors, who were his inferiors in everything but rank. Gage was weak and vacillating ; Howe indolent and self-indulgent; Burgoyne vain, self-seeking and overconfident; Clinton nervous and afraid of responsibility. Carleton and Cornwallis are the only two of high rank that relieve the picture. There were able men in lower grades, but they exercised only restricted influence. The American Revolution was a political quarrel between parties in England. It was fought out with so much bitterness that, to injure the Tories, the Whigs were willing to sacrifice the worth, wealth and welfare of the empire. Without this wordy fight in Parliament, the bloody conflict in America would not have lasted six months. It was the story of Hannibal over again. The violence of faction in the senate house of Carthage, at home, sacrificed the hero who was breaking down, abroad, the deadly enemy of his country, and the oligarchs in Africa carried this spite so far that, with the fall of the victimized hero, fell the commonwealth which he sustained. No wonder he burst out into a sardonic fit of laughter when he saw the oligarchs, abject, brokenhearted, hopeless, weeping the bitterest tears on feeling the ruin they had caused when they beheld their own riches the prey of Roman flames. The Loyalists of America were representatives of the spirit of the Barricade- faint imitations of the genius, but strong representatives of the feeling which lay beneath it. Like Hannibal they expiated their patriotism and loyalty-all in exile, some in poverty, many on foreign fields of battle, others in prison, not for crime but debt, when rebels were reveling in then-sequestrated possessions-and all MARTYRS ; for there can be no martyrdom without a full appreciation of the cause- a complete perception of the result and a perfect willingness to suffer for principle.
Tradition can scarcely be deemed worthy of satisfying legitimate importance, or perhaps more properly speaking of serious consideration, by a historian, unless supported or corroborated by other irrefutable testimony, less susceptible of the influence of time and the weakness of the human structure. Even physical proofs, if they continue to subsist, are only trustworthy as to locality or results, but not as to the "why" and the "when," which, after all, to the philosopher, are of the most consequence. This remark as to the little weight that can be attached to human recollections, transmitted from generation to generation, is particularly applicable to the Johnson family in the State of New York and especially respecting Sir John Johnson, the last of them who figured in connection with the affairs of the Mohawk Valley. If ever a mortal has been the victim of bigoted prejudice and continuous misrepresentation, he is the man. The English translator of von Clausewitz's "Campaign in Russia," in 1812, remarks in regard to the action of the Prussian General York, on which hinged the fate of Napoleon, that, whether the Prussian general should be regarded as a traitor or a hero,- was not dependent on what he risked or did, but upon subsequent developments based thereupon. The same doubt hangs over the memory of Wallenstein. That, the last, never can be cleared up, although with time York has received full justice. Sir John Johnson belongs to the category of Wallenstein, because he failed, justifying the maxim-"to appear absolutely able a man must always be successful." Human success, as a rule, is the counterfeit of merit in the majority of cases; as regards the recipient of the reward, a sham. It is often the greatest of impostors. It has certainly been so in American history. And, yet, it is the fallacy which is always accepted by the masses-who never reason-as the reality.
One of the closest students of American history, considers that the two men greatest in themselves who exerted an influence on the colonies were Sir William Pepperell, Captor of Louisburg, and Sir "William Johnson, "the Indian Tamer." In regard to the latter, public opinion has been led astray. It believes that he was little better than an adventurer, who owed his start in life to the accidental patronage of Ins uncle, Admiral Sir Peter Warren. For Sir William Pepperell the best informed would substitute Hon. James de Lancey, who for so many years was Lieutenant and acting Governor of the Province of New York. Of him the great PITT remarked, "Had James de Lancey lived in England, he would have been one of the first men in the kingdom."
William, afterwards Sir William Johnson, Bart., was more directly influential in the arrest which involved the overthrow of the French power in America than any other individual; and that this does not appear in popular history is due to the local antagonisms, prejudices, and interests, which have obscured all the narratives of the colonies or provinces that affected more or less closely the arrogant claims of New England. This is owing to the principle which is most evident in war, that while the purely defensive, or passive, is scarcely ever, if ever, successful, the offensive or aggressive, with any proportional power, is almost always so. Example, Alexander of Macedon. The offensive-defensive is likewise most advisable-witness the triumph of "Frederic II of Prussia, the greatest man who was ever born a king."
When, nearly half a century ago, the writer first had his attention directed to American history, he placed great faith in standard works, accepted by older men, as unquestionable authority. As he investigated more closely this faith became gradually chilled and in many cases killed. Then he came to appreciate the force of the Latin proverb, "Hear the other side." A sterner scrutiny and harsher judgment was now applied to every book, nor were apparent facts alone subjected to microscopic examination. Attention was directed to the motives which imperceptibly or visibly guided the pens or influenced the periods of our most popular and polished writers. With St. Paul he perceived that those " who seemed to be pillars'' were not stone or marble but deceptions, stucco or frailer material. All this led to the conviction that no one can prepare a satisfactory narrative, especially of a battle, who does not go back to original documents on both sides, or at least to the works in which they have been reproduced; who has not reflected upon the animus which did or might actuate the authors of such papers; who has not weighed report against report; and then, and only then, after a careful study of the character of the actors and consideration of time, place, and circumstances, has formed an opinion for himself. His first story of Oriskany was written in 1859; his second in 1869; his third in 1878; his fourth in 1880. In all these he continued to pin faith to the American side of the story. Subsequently he determined to investigate with equal care the Loyal story and British side, pure and simple; this, with the discovery of Sir John Johnson's "Orderly Book," has brought with it a feeling that, although the moral effect of the battle, particularly upon the Indians, was to a great extent decisive, the physical circumstances were not so creditable. It was a sacrifice rather than a conflict; an immolation, a holocaust which Heaven accepted, as the Great Ruler ever accepts, not according to what is actually given, but according as man purposeth in his heart to give. '' For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." As it was admirably put in his Centennial, by the Hon. Ellis H. Roberts, "Herkimer's glory is that out of such a slaughter he snatched the sustanace." This is a sentence will live, for it is the concrete truth in a very few admirable words.
In comparing Oriskany to Thermopylae, there is no intention to contrast the physical circumstances. In both cases, however, a heroic leader offered himself for the defence of his country and lost his life in consequence. In. both cases a portion of the troops did their duty and another portion failed, ingloriously, to do so. Eventually, the Greeks, like the Mohawkers, were surrounded and few escaped death, wounds or captivity. A pass, whether across a marsh, or through a wood, or among mountains, any similar locality, in fact, is in a military sense a '' defile.'' The moral similitudes between the 6th July, B. C. 480, and 6th August, A. D. 1777, resemble each other in many respects. Leonidas fell to save Attica and Athens; Herkimer to relieve Fort Stanwix, and thus preserve his native valley.
A better parallel to certain phases of Oriskany is the battle of Thrasimene, B. C. 217. In the latter case the Gauls, like the Indians in 1777, rushed in too soon, and thus by their precipitation enabled a small portion of the Romans to escape. Another opposite example is the battle of Crevant, 31st July, 1423. The French and their Scotch auxiliaries were besieging Crevant, about one hundred miles southeast of Paris on the right bank of the Yonne, and the English and Burgundians advanced to relieve the place. In this case the result of Oriskany* was reversed under similar circumstances, and the besiegers were almost all slain or captured. During the Austro-Hungarian war Gen. Guyon nearly came to grief in a similar trap during the winter of 1848-9. Dade's massacre
* The fight, disastrous for Bale or Basel city, striving, in 1833, to maintown its ancient privileges or influence over the whole State, was a collision similar in many respects to Oriskany. It led to a rupture between the Past and Present, and ended in a division of the canton into two half-cantons, Bale Ville (city) and Bale Campagne (country) to the advantage of neither.
by Seminole Indians, 28th December, 1835, in Florida, was a miniature of Braddock's overwhelming on the Monongahela, 9th July, 1755. The glory of this success belongs to Langlade, the famous French leader of Indians, who prepared a similar trap for Wolfe on the Montinorenci, in 1759. In the latter the great English leader was only saved by the supercilious self-sufficiency of the French regular superior officers, who rejected the proposition of the partisan.
It is somewhat curious that in the same way that the Provincials seemed to have better strategical as well as grand-tactical views than professionals, George III was wiser in his views than his ministers and generals. He suggested a route for Burgoyne which, had fortune favored instead of thwarting it, would have been far more advantageous and would have enabled Burgoyne to reach his objective, Albany, without doubt. The movement on this point, in 1777, was simply, reversing the plan which was triumphant against Canada in 1759. Alas for England, there was no Pitt at the head of military and colonial affairs in 1777, only a St. Germaine; no Wolfe, but a Burgoyne; no Amherst, but a Howe and then a Clinton; no Prideaux or. Sir William Johnson, but a St. Leger. Sir William Johnson's son might have rivaled his father's fortune had opportunity favored or circumstances permitted. Like that of 1759, the operations of 1777 were not simple, but complex, triple. In 1759, Quebec was the first objective. Against it Wolfe ascended the St. Lawrence, Amherst ascended the Hudson and descended Lake Champlain, and Prideaux, afterwards Johnson, ascended the Mohawk and captured Niagara. In 1777, Burgoyne ascended Lake Champlain and descended the Hudson; St. Leger ascended the St. Lawrence and descended the Mohawk ; and Howe (afterwards Clinton) was to ascend the Hudson. The Burgoyne of 1777, would have reached his goal had he been the Burgoyne of 1763, and estimated, as then, the value of time, and remembered the orders of his great master in the art of war, Count de la Lippe, through which he avoided, in 1762, a catastrophe similar to that of Saratoga. Everything contributed to insure the Burgoyne fiasco. Where Carleton would have succeeded Burgoyne must have failed. The most important function was entrusted to St. Leger with the most inadequate means. St. Leger was greatly to blame because he did not listen to Sir John Johnson and Colonel Daniel Claus, and because he underestimated the adversaries he had to encounter and the obstacles he had to overcome. The greatest culprit, however, was Sir William Howe, "the most indolent of mortals," apathy itself, who, with ordinary judgment, energy, and even a spirit of lukewarm camaraderie^ could have even remedied the shortcomings of Burgoyne and the blunders of St. Leger. If Howe had so maneuvered in the Jerseys as to occupy the attention of Washington, simply demonstrating in his front with half his army, which half was fully equal to the whole force under Washington at this time, he could have dispatched at least 7000 men up the Hudson to cooperate with Burgoyne. If Burgoyne had attended to his business thoroughly, and acted with enterprise and audacity, and if St. Leger had had from 1500 to 2000 whites, instead of about 400, the history of this continent would have been totally different. All however hinged, first on Howe's paralyzing Washington, second on St. Leger's cleaning out the Mohawk Valley. The campaign of 1777, as regards the British, was a glaring part of a tissue of blunders. The colonies were at their mercy if they had used the forces, moral and physical, under their control with any judgment-simple common sense. The Duke de Lauzun and other competent military judges confirm these views.
It is ridiculous, however, in a mere military point of view, to claim that all the advantages in this contest were in favor of the British. They might have been, had they utilized the Loyalists, respected them, shown energy and activity, and forgotten professional conceit and inertia in zeal for the crown and patriotic desire to maintain and extend the glory of the imperial dominion. The British, like Napoleon in Russia, were conquered by space. Paradox as it may seem to be, discipline, rigid martinet regulation, may actually, under some conditions become a disadvantage. Marksmen with some idea of drill may be better than strictly line regulars in a new, a wooded, and a rough or mountainous country. The range of heights extending from northeast to southwest across New Jersey, the broken elevations and extensive marshes around Morristown, as a central citadel, and the spur shot out into the plain opposite the elbow of the Raritan, between Bound Brook and Middle Brook, with its gaps for sally-ports, saved the American cause. Numbers and aim "won the first fight at Hoosic (mis-named Bennington), and then, when indiscipline, dissolved in plundering, needed the support of discipline, in the second fight, Warner came in with his Continentals or regulars. Man for man, the colonists were as good as the best British, and, being willing, better than the Germans unwilling combatants. Why not? They were all the same race, and the world has yet to see its equal as enduring and courageous soldiers.
And here it is pertinent to the occasion to remark, that the declamation and shrieks of the Americans at the employment of the Indians by the British is the sheerest hypocrisy. They would have enlisted the tomahawk and scalping-knife without the slightest repugnance if they could have bid as high as the crown, or would have paid cash down as honestly. If the assistance of the savages was nefarious, the Americans would not have objected to its utilization on that account, if they could, have contracted for, coerced, cajoled or controlled it. Lucky for the Americans a factious opposition in England and Parliament used the American War as a weapon of offense against the crown, just as the Whigs in America professed loyalty to the King, but opposition, nay bitter animosity, to the Ministry and Parliament. As Gen. C. S. W. wrote (from Innsbruck, 19, 7, 1882), "The English government, like our own, is a government of party; and the consideration of gaining or losing party-capital outweighs all others." "Of course the thing [Egypt] was badly managed in many respects." English faction nearly ruined Wellington in Spain and colonial congressional discordances and jealousies very nearly occasioned a worse fate for Washington. Even the liberally praised Chatham, in his hypocritical denunciation of setting the Indian bloodhounds upon the colonists, was reproved or shewn up by General, Lord Amherst, and rebuked by the production of his orders, when Prime Minister, for letting them loose upon the French. The Americans courted the assistance of the Indians with assiduity, but the latter foresaw the fate which would attend the success of the colonists, as their chiefs in council foretold, and remained faithful to the old country, which had always protected and fostered them and treated them with justice and forbearance.
This fact-just referred to-in connection with the employment of Indians, which is too little known, is apposite to the support of the American Revolution in Parliament. The Earl of Chatham (Pitt) denounced in the House of Lords the employment of the wild Indians in conjunction with the British troops, although he himself; nineteen years before, had used Indians in the same manner against the French and the Canadians. In advocating his views he waxed still more loud and indignant, "pouring out fresh volumes of words." "Ministers then offered to produce, from the depository of papers in the Secretary's office, documents written by himself to prove the charge. The dispute grew still hotter; and at length Lord Amherst, Chatham's general, who had commanded our [the British] troops in that Canadian war, was so loudly appealed to on all sides, that he found himself compelled to acknowledge that he had followed the example of the French in employing savages, which he would not have done without express orders from government at home. He even offered to produce the orders, if his majesty would permit him." *****
Lord Denbigh rather happily called Chatham "The great oracle with the short memory,'' and stated that "Chatham, when in office under George II., had guided and directed everything relating to the war; had monopolized functions wliich did not belong to him, and had been excessively jealous of any interference by others, whether boards or ministers."
The Lords who supported Chatham now seemed inclined to lay the question by, as far as it concerned his veracity or correctness of memory. According to Lord A Brougham, when Lord Bute heard what had passed on this occasion in the House of Lords, and that Chatham had denied his having employed the red men (or Indians), he exclaimed with astonishment, "Did Pitt really deny it ? Why, I have his letter still by me, singing lo Paeans of the advantages we were to gain through our Indian allies." As a political question, "Whigs against Tories, the cause of the Colonies was fought with as much virulence with words, in Parliament, as, with weapons, in America, and in many cases with just as much principle.
Let the consideration, however, confine itself to Oriskany. It "was the turning point of the Burgoyne campaign and of the American Revolution. Within the scope of the considerations before dwelt upon, it was the Thermopylae of the Colonies.
In regard to the numbers at Oriskany there are such discrepancies in the various accounts that it is almost impossible to reconcile them. The Americans exaggerate the English numbers to excuse Harkheimer's coming short of decided success, and to exalt the determination of the garrison. How many the latter comprised is by no means certain. Stedman (4to, I., 334) says 750 men, but Gen. Carrington, U. S. A., one of the most careful of investigators, uses language (323) that would justify the belief that it consisted of 950 men. If only 750 ''under cover'' it ought still to have been a full match for the whole heterogeneous corps that St. Leger brought against it. The "Burgoyne scare" was upon the whole country and the garrison of Fort Stanwix felt the effects of it.
Prior to the discovery of Johnson's Orderly Book, it has always been stated that St. Leger had 675 white troops with him: the Orderly Book, however, distinctly shows that only 500 rations were issued. This demonstrates conclusively that the white troops, at most, could not have exceeded that number. The Americans, to swell the numbers of British and Loyal Provincials under Col. Ferguson, encountered at King's Mountain, 7th October, 1780, based their calculations on the Ration Returns found in the captured camp.
The same rule of judgment injustice should apply to the force under St. Leger. The difference between 400 and 675 can be easily accounted for in various ways, even if exact proof did not exist to establish the smaller number. Experts, including Napoleon, consider that an army of 100,000 on paper rarely can put 80,000 effectives in the field. In a new country subject to local fevers, when men are called upon to discharge the severest labors at -the hottest period of the year, this ratio would, most likely, be greatly increased. Consequently, if St. Leger had 675 at Lachine, near Montreal, it would not be extraordinary if he left a number of invalids behind, besides those, especially individuals foreign to the country and service, who dropped out on the road. There is no mention in this Orderly Book of a list of sick or casualties, and yet it is impossible but that there must have been both. A highly educated pedant argued that the Romans had no Medical Department, because Caesar does not mention one in his Commentaries. His reasonings were completely demolished by the observation that, on the same plea, Caesar had no diseases in his camp, because he does not allude to them in any of the accounts of his campaigns, which is what the scholars call an argumentum ad absurdum.
The statement attributed to St. Leger, that he had 675 white troops, he never made. It is a deduction of their own by American writers, to make good their case. Any reader desirous of investigating this can easily refer to the reports made by St. Leger to Burgoyne and also to Carleton. These figures are not in either: Where then are these numbers to be found in a letter from Lord George Germain to General Carleton, 26th March, 1777, he says:
"From the King's knowledge of the great preparations made by you last year to secure the command of the lakes, and your attention to this part of the service during the winter, his Majesty is led to expect that everything will be ready for General Burgoyne's passing the lakes by the time you and he shall have adjusted the plan of the expedition.
"It is the King's further pleasure that you put under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel St. Leger,
from the 8th Regiment, . . . 100
Detachment from the 34th Regiment, . . . 100
Sir John Johnson's Regiment of New York, 133
Hanau Chasseurs, ......... 342
-- 675 Total
"Together with a sufficient number of Canadians and Indians ; and after having furnished him with proper artillery, stores, provisions, and every other necessary article for his expedition, and secured to him every assistance in your power to afford and procure, you are to give him orders to proceed forthwith to and down the Mohawk River to Albany, and put himself under the command of Sir William Howe."
Mark this not Burgoyne, but Sir William Howe, who was expected to cooperate, but did not, partly because through the indolence of his superior, Lord St. Germain, he did not receive his orders on time.
On the 28th February, one month previous, Burgoyne considers that even a smaller force than the 675 assigned by St. Leger would be sufficient. He only mentions 233 white troops. These are his exact words:
"Not, to argue from probability, is so much force necessary for this diversion this year, as was required for the last; because we then knew that General Schuyler, with a thousand men, was fortified upon the Mohawk. When the different situations of things are considered, viz., the progress of General Howe, the early invasion from Canada, the threatening of the Connecticut from Rhode Island, &c., it is not to be imagined that any detachment of such force as that of Schuyler can be supplied by the enemy for the Mohawk. I would not therefore propose it of more (and I have great diffidence whether so much can be prudently afforded) than Sir John Johnson's corps, an hundred British from the Second Brigade, and an hundred more from the 8th Regiment, with four pieces of the lightest artillery, and a body of savages; Sir John Johnson to be with a detachment in person, and an able field officer to command it. I should wish Lieutenant-Colonel St. Leger for that employment."
How many men, then, did St. Leger have? Stedman states he had "a body of light troops and Indians, amounting to between 700 and 800 men." Carrington calls it a "composite army of regulars, Hessian-chasseurs, Royal-greens, Canadians, axemen, and noncombatants, who, as well as the Indians, proved an ultimate encumbrance and curse to the expedition." St. Leger did not have 342 Hanau-chasseurs, nor anything like it. This is now known to be an error; he had only one company. Why? Because only one company had arrived when he started. It was commanded by a 1st Lieutenant, Jacob Hilderbrand. There could be no mistake here, because Germans are the most methodical people, and the journals of many of their officers exist, which were written with no idea of their ever seeing the light in print, with no intent to deceive or to influence public opinion. What is more, a company at that time ranged from 50 to 80; in the English Guards, always kept full, 80 is the figure (1788); 50 to 120, number never fixed (James, 1810, Hoyt, 1811). Had more than a company been sent, a higher officer than a 1st Lieutenant would have been placed in command. Sir John's regiment, or battalion, only numbered 133. The great mistake is the item generally quoted, 342, which should be under 50. If people would read carefully they would avoid many serious errors which serve to feed and stimulate popular vanity. Col. Claus corroborates von Eelking. "And here [at Buck's Island] the Brig'r had still an opportunity and time for sending for a better train of artillery, and wait/or the junction of the [Hesse-Hanau] Chasseurs, which must have secured us success, as every one will allow." Again below Claus expressly mentions "a COMPANY of Chasseurs lately arrived." Can language be clearer and more unmistakable. The proper, or real, not the intended, or ideal, enumeration would give St. Leger about 380 organized troops, besides Rangers. Here again people are led into a serious error because they desire so to be. Butler, and other officers belonging to the Rangers, did not have regular white commands at Oriskany, but, as officers, were distributed among the Indians to steady them. This was according to French military usage; officers, in France, at this time, were often multiplied in certain regiments to insure solidity by example and influence. Such a course was much more a necessity among undisciplined savages. When Butler got back to Quebec he could only collect or muster fifty out of all he had had or had. There was, it is true, quite a numerous staff of Whites serving with the Indians. The discovery of the "Orderly Book " should settle the matter. The number of rations issued would not have been falsified. This establishes the fact that there must have been considerably less than 500 to receive them, since, before rations were commuted, officers were entitled to more than one, especially when they had servants to feed, and in those days no commissioned officer took the field without one or more servants. Colonel Clans, Deputy, Acting Superintendent of the Indians, is very explicit in his letter to Secretary Knox. He blames St. Leger for miscalculating the force and efficiency of the enemy and for not taking with him more troops and more powerful artillery when he could have had a full sufficiency of both.* Undoubtedly there were detachments from the 8th (Major, afterwards Colonel, A. S. de Peyster's Regiment) and 34th (St. Leger's own) Regiments, B. A. of 100 each; Sir John Johnson's Royal-greens, 133 ; and a company of Chasseurs or Riflemen lately arrived in Canada, from Germany, which exactly tallies with von Eelking's published
* Col. Claus, in his letter of the 16th October, 1777, to Secretary Knox, shows that St. Leger himself alone was to blame for not having a sufficiency of artillery of the proper caliber in his expedition against Fort Stanwix. Col. Claus demonstrates that the Americans expected the siege which followed, and prisoners taken agreed in their story revealing the precautions necessary to insure success. St. Leger concedes that "if they [Americans] intended to defend themselves in that fort [Stanwix], our [British] artillery was not sufficient to take it." "The Brig'r." (St. Leger) had still an opportunity and time of sending for a better train of artillery, and wait for the junction of the Chasseurs (German Jaegers) which must have secured us success, as every one will allow." Here we have a repetition of the self-sufficiency of Braddock and the rejection of the wise counsels of Provincial officers like Washington, in this case represented by Sir John Johnson and Col. Daniel Claus. Oh hackneyed but eternally applicable truism of Euripides: " But the daemon (directing spirit), when he devises any mischief against a man, first perverts (or stultifies) his friend."
account. These are all the white troops he mentions. The best warriors of the Six Nations were with Burgoyne. The sum total of the savages with St. Leger, according to Col. Daniel Claus, their Superintendant in the absence of Col. Guy Johnson, was 800. Among these were 150 Mississaugues, who were accepted as a Seventh by the Six Nations, in 1746, but the alliance did not long continue. In 1755 the Iroquois Confederation found their Seventh member in the ranks of the enemy. The fact is there never were over Five Nations: even the Sixth, the Tuscaroras, did not stand on an equal footing with the original Five; they were simply tolerated. The Mississaugues were afterwards expelled or dropped from the Confederation. They were a miserable set, "drunk and riotous from the start," unreliable throughout, robbers and murderers of the associated Whites at the end. They came from the neighborhood of Lake Nippissing, to the northward of Georgian Bay. Gordon (American) puts St. Leger's Indians "at 700 warriors, who, with their wives, children, other men and women, made up 1400." Deduct the noncombatants and Indians effectives and this, again, demonstrates the number of white soldiers, rank and file, represented by 500 rations, less than 400. The Americans estimated the King's troops at King's Mountain at 1125, from the number of rations issued that morning according to the returns captured ; whereas, it is well-known, according to the Diary of Lieut. Allaire, recovered within two years, that Ferguson had only 906 or 907, of whom over 800 were raw militia.
Why St. Leger took with him so few men and such inadequate cannon is due to the supercilious disregard manifested by professional British officials for the advice of American provincial officers. All the ability he did show was due to the advice of Sir John Johnson (Stone's "Brant," I., 226). Wherever he did so, he was successful, and where he did not, he failed. Had Braddock followed the councils of Colonel Washington, he would have escaped the catastrophe in which he fell, in July, 1755. Had St. Leger listened to the suggestions of Colonel Claus,* he would have succeeded in August, 1777. Could Colonel (acting Brigadier) Ferguson + have divested himself of his
* Col. Daniel Claus, writing to Secretary Knox, 6th November, 1777, shows how the jealousies affecting the supersedure of Sir Guy Carleton by Burgoyne were fatal to all the operations of this campaign. Col. Claus, on applying to Sir Guy for orders, was told he had none to give, and that he (Claus) might do as he pleased. This was a curious remark for a chief to make to a subordinate. One fact of interest is disclosed by this letter, viz., that Sir John Johnson, after the failure at Port Stanwix, was to proceed to join Burgoyne. Why he did not is explained by the concluding sentence of this paragraph of the communication of Col. Claus: " Such fires [freaks?] and jealousies I am afraid have been rather hurtful to our Northern operations last campaign." Verily! (Chore. Do., VIII., 725.)
+ Johnson and Claus told St. Leger what he wanted and what to do, and he would not hearken, and did not succeed. De Peyster advised Ferguson as to the character of his opponents, and he was not listened to. Americans knew Americans better than Britishers. The result was, St. Leger failed and Ferguson fell, and with the failure of the one and the fall of the other, it was not the interests of England that suffered only, because the "mother country " came out of the war richer, greater and mightier than ever, but the Loyalists, dupes of their faith in the Home Government, her ability to conquer, and her determination to preserve the rights of all, to punish the guilty and to recompense the faithful.
contempt for the Mountain-men he would not have sacrificed his detachment in October, 1780. Captain (acting Colonel) de Peyster, an American Provincial, his second in command, knew the value of the exquisite picked sharpshooters who were about to assail his superior, in far preponderating numbers. He indicated the course which would have secured immediate relief and eventual success. Ferguson was too fearless or perhaps reckless to listen to his subordinate and the result was a defeat from which the English never recovered at the South. It was exactly the same with the French regulars. They would never pay the slightest heed to the warning of the Canadian provincial leaders, experts in forest-craft and Indian fighting, and thus the Bourbons lost New France. Arrogance in epaulets will never listen to esoteric experience. Members of a caste or hierarchy never pay due attention to the sagacity of intuitive external practical observation which does not exhibit the tonsure or the shoulder-strap. West Point and the regular army pooh! pooh! silently or audibly, everything that is not stamped with their cabalistic emblems or has not joined in the chorus "Benny Havens, Oh!" It has been so since the world began, and brave men will be massacred through "red tape " until the era of commonsense arrives, if it ever does come, to bless mortality-until the descent of the New Jerusalem.
How many men had Harkheimer ? Estimates vary from 800 to 1000. There were four regiments of militia, some faithful Oneidas, numerous volunteers of all ranks, a bloom of colonels and officials, and a few mounted men. By how many was Harkheimer ambuscaded at first 2 Not near as many as he himself had. St. Leger says that, when Sir John was allowed to plan and trap the Americans, he had not 200 of the King's troops in camp, and he could only spare to the Baronet 80 white men, Rangers and Troops, Sir John's Light Company, the Hanau Riflemen, and Butler with a few Officers and Rangers and the whole corps of the Indians. Here again is incontrovertible circumstantial proof that St. Leger's white troops, present and detached, assembled and scattered between his camp and his depot, or base, at Fort Bull on "Wood Creek, did not exceed from 350 to 400 men. After the Indians had flunked and behaved so badly the remainder of the "Royal Greens " were quickstepped into the fight, which would not have added 100 to the force besetting Harkheimer. Consequently the latter could not have been engaged at any time with as many as 200 whites.*
*Mr. Stone (pages e and f) emphasizes the fact that Stephen "Watts is only mentioned as Captain in the " Orderly Book," whereas he was generally known as Major. If he had turned to his own note on the subject of English rank, the discrepancy would at once he explained. It is very unlikely that a man's brother, at a period when the lines of titular distinction were firmly drawn and closely observed, would not have known the rank borne by a brother of whom he was proud, or the name of the corps to which he belonged. Stephen Watts, of Oriskany, was a great favorite in his family, and designated by the most affectionate epithets. What is more, there were a variety of titles of rank in the British Army at that time, two or more of which were often borne by the same individual. A man might be a "line" Captain, very likely "brevet" Major or Lieutenant-Colonel, a "local," "temporary" or "provincial" Colonel or Brigadier, and a militia Major-General. In some cases he did not receive an actual commission, but was delegated in writing to act as such or thus. Sir John Johnson, Bart, held commissions
As to how many the Americans lost is another disputed point. St. Leger says in his different reports that not over 200 (out of 800 or 900) escaped. The smallest list of their casualties comprises 160 killed and about 300 wounded and prisoners.
In some respects, Gordon, take him all in all, is the best authority for the American Revolution when in accord
as Major-Genera] of Militia, as Brigadier-General of the Provincial troops (21st October, 1783), and the date of his commission as " Superintendent-General and Inspector-General of the Six Nations of Indians and their Confederates of all the Indian nations inhabiting Our Province of Quebec and the Frontiers," is of March 14th, 1782. In 1777, as Lieutenant-Colonel, he was commanding his regiment.
Here again Mr. Stone is emphatic. " He says that this regiment is nowhere mentioned as the " Royal Greens." They must have been known as such or else they would not have been thus designated in the histories written nighest to their period. Any discrepancy here again is susceptible of lucid solution. At first it was determined to uniform the Provincial corps in green, and some were originally clothed in this color, but had it changed; others, exceptions to the rule, retained it to the end of the war. Doubtless for valid reasons, not now known, it was found more advantageous or economical to issue to the Provincials clothes of the same color as those worn by the Regulars, but with distinctive facings. The same process is now going on throughout the whole British Army, and evoking a perfect wail of indignation and grief from corps which had won renown in dresses and facings of exceptional color and cut,
"We" [English], observes the author of "International Vanities" (No. III., Titles), in Blackwood's Magazine, " have carried this adoring love of variety of names and titles even into our army, where we have created five kinds of rank altogether irrespective of military grades properly so called; our army rank may be  Regimental (substantive),  Brevet,  Local,  Temporary, or  Honorary, and we might almost add  "Relative" to this absurd list, which no other nation can understand. In our navy, at all events, rank is rank ; there our officers are in reality what they say they are."-Littells Living Age, No. 1556, 4th April, 1874, p. 14.)
with Stedman; but unquestionably Mercy Warren- daughter of James Otis-political dissertationist, poetess and historian, who wrote in the light and memories of contemporaries, presents facts not to be found elsewhere:
Paul Allen's "American Revolution" is the most philosophical work on this subject. Here let it be remarked, that Mrs. Warren says: "Their danger"-that is the peril of the garrison of Fort Stanwix-" was greatly enhanced by the misfortune of General Harkeimer, who had marched for the relief of Fort Stanwix, but with too little precaution. At the head of eight or nine hundred militia, he fell into an ambuscade consisting mostly of Indians, and notwithstanding a manly defence, few of them escaped. They were surrounded, routed, and butchered, in all the barbarous shapes of savage brutality, after many of them had become their prisoners, and their scalps carried to their British allies, to receive the stipulated price."
The Americans claimed a victory because the survivors were allowed to retire unmolested. This was due to the fact that the Indians had long since "voted themselves out of the fight," and because the white troops, misled by the false reports of "a cowardly Indian," were recalled to the defense of their camp. There is no intention in this little work to detract from the glory of Harkheimer or of his Mohawk men; but the best regular troops have fallen victims to ambuscades from the time of Caesar, and, doubtless, long before, judging from analogy, down to the present day. "Eternal fitness of things " is the pertinent philosophical sneer of Sardou. Harkheimer against his better judgment was plunged into a deadly trap and he suffered awfully, as is the universal result under such circumstances.
Personal enemies, with the presumption of ignorance and the bitterness of spite, have presumed to insinuate that Sir John was wanting in courage. Want of physical bravery in a trained officer or soldier is extremely rare. Moral cowardice has very few and Godlike exceptions. As one among numerous proofs that Sir John was deficient in neither quality, physical or moral, it is admitted by friend and foe that "Sir John Johnson proposed to follow the blow given to the reinforcement (who were chiefly Mohawk river people) to march down the country with about 200 men, and I intended joining him with a sufficient body of Indians; but the Brigadier (St. Leger) said he could not spare the men, and disapproved of it." It was an admitted fact, however positively it may be denied now, at this day, that the population of this district were stunned by the catastrophe at Oriskany. Is it any wonder? There was the '' Mourning of Egypt'' throughout the Mohawk valley. Scarcely a house but wept its dead or missing. It was not until the flaming sword of Arnold and the flashing bayonets of his 2000 regulars, volunteers and militia showed themselves that resolution lifted its head and hearts once more pulsated with the throbbing of hope.
"False as a bulletin," has passed into a proverb. Justice would seem to require that, since bulletins or reports are with few exceptions '' special' pleas,'' the statements of both parties concerned should be compared in the light of commonsense, and the verdict given accord to manifest probabilities. It is the popular notion that Willett's sortie* was a magnificent feat of arms. Why was it? If he found no difficulty in spoiling the British camp at his leisure without experiencing any loss either in his sortie or return to the fort-during which time his wagons drove out, looted and carried back into the fort twenty-one loads of spoil; if, again, the garrison derided the besiegers, why did Colonel Willett and Lieutenant Stockwell volunteer, leave the fort to seek assistance from Schuyler, more than a hundred miles away, against a foe who, according to American accounts, had shown so little vigor during the sortie and had effected so little subsequently? Such facts are hard to reconcile. "Within the fort were 750 (to 950?) white men, Americans, who must be considered as good, man for man, as the four to five hundred Englishmen and Americans opposing them; and no one will pretend that an armed white man behind
* That Willett's sortie was entirely destitute of peril and, throughout, uninterrupted, is clearly shown by the thoroughness with which he ransacked the Provincial and Indian camps, and the complete leisure that was afforded for "looting " them, with only a remote chance of reprisals by the absent enemy. All told, St. Leger had only (?) four hundred and ten Whites. At first he sent out eighty of these, and perhaps, subsequently, one hundred went to the assistance of Sir John, hurried to the scene of action by the report of a cowardly Indian. This would leave St. Leger at most two hundred and twenty-seven. Deduct the men necessarily on detached duty, and any one who is willing to judge fairly will believe the British commander, that he had only two hundred Whites and no savages with him when Willett made the sortie with two hundred and fifty whites, for the savages had all gone to Oriskany with Brant and Sir John Johnson. The wounded men captured had been brought back from the field of fighting during the earlier stages of the battle..
works is not worth ten times as many savages, especially demoralized Indians. Again, take the plan of the siege, all the works and posts held by St. Leger's whites were on the west of the Mohawk. At all events four to five hundred men could not effect a perfect investment of the fort. For this St. Leger had to depend in a great measure upon his Indians, and nothing shows the untrustworthiness of Indians, either as fighters or scouts, than that Willett and Stockwell could creep out without being observed and get off without being molested. The American story does not hang well together. Commonsense must endorse St. Leger's report, ignoring its magniloquence, which is of no consequence. St. Leger took little account of the troops to whom he was immediately opposed; but he was afraid of his demoralized savage contingent, whose insubordination had ruined his ambuscade at Oriskany-whose anxiety for fighting, but not their thirst for blood, had been allayed in the fight with Harkheiiner; and thus when a force of whites, at least quadruple his own men of Saxon blood, were advancing under the best American executive, Arnold, to cooperate with the garrison, really much superior to the besiegers of the same race, St. Leger found himself with less than three hundred and fifty valid soldiers opposed to at least two thousand, with his worst and most dangerous enemy in his own camp, the barbarians who had proved almost worthless as fighting factors.
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