History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume II, Page 116
Burgoyne's Army.--I have mentioned the invasion of norther New York by Gen. Burgoyne, as one of the carefully devised enterprises of the enemy int he summer of 1777. He had said vauntingly in the British Parliament, that with 10,000 British troops he could march from Maine to Georgeia, and as was the case with St. Ledger, he was the chosen ageny of royalty to execute a concerted mission. Burgoyne's army on leaving Canada, consisted of 7863 British and German troops,* to which was added, as believed, Canadians, loyalists and Indians, numbering nearly 1000 more. He had also the best train of artillery that had then been seen in America. From a chain of disasters, one after another the forts in northern New York fell into the hands of the enemy, until they had possession of Fort Edward. Confusion and alarm were spreading through New England and New York, greatly increased by the attrocities committed by the attending Indians. The murder of Miss Jane McCrea, who was accompanying some Indians to meet her lover in the enemy's camp-who quarreled about the reward for her delivery, and took instead of her lovely person her reeking scalp to him ; recoiled on the heads of the invaders.
Place where Miss McCrea was murdered.
Gen. Schuyler was succeeded in command of the Northern army by Gen. Gates, to gratify the New England people, who, instead of hastening troops to his assistance, were clamoring against him. After the murder of Miss McCrea, Gen. Gates in a letter to Burgoyne, accused him of his Indian cruelties,
* Address of John Austin Stevens, in New York Centennial Celebrations.
presenting the case of this murdered girl as a specimen of what his allies were constantly doing. Burgoyne denied having encouraged Indian outrages, asserting that he had refused to the Indian council, to pay a bounty on scalps, but said he had paid a bounty for prisoners, to encourage the Indians to a more humane warfare. That he thought the employment of the Indians on leaving Canada a wise affair can hardly be doubted, but he soon learned he had an element he could not control. It became known afterwards that most of the Indians who left his army, on their return to Montreal, assigned as a reason for their return, Burgoyne's refusal to pay them their accustomed bounty for scalps.*
of Bennington.-As Burgoyne advanced, he was under the necessity of replenishing
his larder, and attempted to do it, by obtaining a portion of the public American
deposit at Bennington. For that purpose he sent thither a detachment of troops
mostly Hessians, numbering about 600 men under Lieut.- Col. Baum.++ Gen. Starker
who had raised a body of "Green Mountain boys," intended to reinforce
Gen. Schuyler, apprised of Baum's approach, was there to defend the public
stores. Baum, "smelling a mouse," halted at Walloon creek, seven
miles from Bennington, and sent to Burgoyne for a reinforcement. August 16th,
having assembled about l,600men, Starke attacked Baum in his intrenchments,
and at the end of two hours the Germans retreated, leaving their commander
mortally wounded. The fugitives meeting a reinforcement of 500 men under Lieut.-
Col. Breyman, made a stand, but were again repulsed and compelled to retreat.
In the two engagements, the British loss in killed and wounded was about 600.§
Gen. Starke had been a Captain under Wolfe, on the Plains of Abrahman, and
therefore a competent judge of fighting, when he said: " The action lasted
two hours, the hottest I ever saw in, my life." He reported
*Stone's Brant, vol. 1, p. 204.
+ Holmes' Annals. He says Dr. Belknap stated their number from Burgoyne's manuscript, at 1,500, besides 100 Indians, vol. 2, p. 386 Probably the latter estimate included 800 Germans sent under Leut.-Col. Breyman to the assistance of Baum.
++ Gen. Starke was rather under size, rode a small gray mare-and when on the move he meant business. He wore buck-skin breeches, black sheep's yarn stocklngs, with knee buckles or a puff knot, and brass shoe buckles. Pointing to the Hessians at Bennington, he said to his men: " I'll be there in half an hour, or Molly Starke's a widow." He kept his word and his wife.- Capt. Eben Williams.
§ Holmes' quoting Stedman.
207 of the enemy killed, and about 700 prisoners. He gave Col. Warner, who came up with a regiment of fresh troops, great praise for the success of the second engagement.* Burgoyne represented his loss to be about 400, but Marshall stated that 32 officers and 564 privates, including Canadians and tories were made prisoners. Col. Baum died and was buried near the river.+ The American loss was 70 in killed and wounded. The trophies of the victors were four brass cannon, 1,000 stand of arms and 900 swords. But, better than all, this affair while it seriously crippled Burgoyne and disheartened the Indians, who, for their numbers suffered severely; tended wonderfully to raise the drooping spirits of the Americans, who had learned that European troops were not invincible.
Battle of Hemus Heights.-When Gen. Schuyler had done the hard work in getting ready to arrest the progress of Burgoyne, be was superceded by Gen. Gates; about which time Gen. Washington sent him a rifle corps of 500 men, justly celebrated for sharp shooting, that he might be prepared for Burgoyne's Indians. It was commanded by Col. Morgan, of Virginia, whose field officers were Lieut.-Col. Richard Butler, of Pennsylvania; Majors Morris, of N. J., and Dearborn, of Massachusetts, the latter officer in especial command of 250 of the men, armed with bayonets. I mention this corps, because it was considered not only the most efficient for its numbers, but also as being a nucleus of strength in the army. On the 19th of September, the armies of Burgoyne and Gates met in battle, on Bemus Hights, near Stillwater. As the enemy advanced, they were met by Morgan's men, and soon the fight became general and lasted four hours, and until night, when the armies fell back to their encampments. The American loss was 321 in killed, wounded and missing, and that of the enemy, between 500 and 600. Comparatively few prisoners were made on either side. Twenty-two of Morgan's men were captured in their first charge, and about 100 of the enemy were made captive during the day.§ Here is a sentence from the same author: "The artillery of the enemy fell into our hands several times in the course
Allen's Rev. vol. 2, p. 42.
§ Allen's Am. Rey., vol. 3, p. 62.
of the action ; but it was impracticable to use it against them.* The British corps which served this artillery, fought with the most heroic bravery, 36 of them out of 46 being killed and wounded at the guns. It was certainly one of the warmest actions ever fought, and sustained by both sides with equal courage; night only putting an end to the contest. Gen. Burgoyne, as was discovered by his correspondence, claimed the victory; but it is evident that there was no victory on either side, neither having gained a single inch of ground." Neither party seemed exactly ready for this action, but it was believed at the time, that had Burgoyne renewed the fight within a day or two, he would have been victorious ; but Gates was so strengthened afterward as to block his last chance and last hope of progressing farther.
Dilemma of Gen. Arnold.-Three days after the battle on Bemus Heights, an altercation took place between Generals Gates and Arnold, which resulted in the latter officer's losing his command. The cause of their difficulty grew out of a " general order " from Gates, which was as follows : " Col. Morgan's corps not being attached to any brigade or division of the army, he is to make returns and reports to headquarters only; from which alone he is to receive orders." Arnold considered the elite of the army as belonging to his division, and especially desiring to control Morgan's corps, regarded the order as an insult to him, and resented it with much zeal. It was probably intended as regarded. A correspondence followed, in which Arnold, in his impetuosity, demanded permission for himself and aids to "pass to Philadelphia." The "pass "was immediately given him, and thus was effected what Gates so much desired, his exclusion from his accustomed command. Arnold saw his dilemma when too late to recall his error; for to leave an army near an expected battle would reflect upon the reputation his valor had already won for him, and which Gates was evidently jealous of.+ He remained with the army, however, until after the battle of Oct. 7th.
the battle of Sept. 19th resulted in nothing decisive, it
* Says Wllkinson's Memoirs, the guns of the enemy could not be used for the want of a linstock, which the enemy each time took off, and could not be removed on account of the wood.
brought important advantages to the American army. It gave a new impulse to the movement of the militia; while the Indians, with the enemy, taking a dislike to Morgan's sharp shooters, were constantly deserting Burgoyne's army. Quite a number of Oneidas and Tuscaroras tendered their services to Gates, and by Oct. 4th his army was swelled to 11,000 men; over 7,000 of whom were well armed and fit for duty. Burgoyne could still count on between 5,000 and 6,000 effective men.*
Morgan's Men. in Demand.-Washington wrote to Gates that he wished Morgan's corps returned to him if it could he spared, and Oct. 5, two days before the battle of Saratoga, Gen. Gates replied that since the battle of Sept. 19th, neither army had gained an inch of ground. " In this situation your Excellency would not wish me to part with the corps the army of Gen. Burgoyne are most afraid of." +
Second Battle on Bemus Heights.-After the battle of Sept. I6th, to Oct. 7th, while the army of Gates was daily growing stronger, that of Burgoyne was gradually weakening, so that by the time of the second general engagement from the same encampments he had less than 6,000 effective men, who were on half rations ; while his stock of forage was exhausted and his horses were perishing in great numbers. In this time the Americans were fast making it impossible for him either to advance or make good his retreat. As a dernier resort he, however, resolved, if possible, to dislodge the Americans on their left and retreat to the lakes. To increase his distress and this necessity, he heard nothing from Sir Henry Clinton favoring his own movement, as he had hoped to, from Albany.++
the afternoon of Oct. 7th, an alarm drum was beat by an advance guard in the
centre of the American camp, and on reconnoitering, Col. Wilkinson reported
a foraging party within half a mile of our encampments. Col. Morgan was then
sent to the enemy's right, with orders to act bis discretion in commencing
battle. He therefore proposed, under cover of the wood, to gain a desired
position on a rise of ground and there wait until a tire should be opened
on the enemy's left. This Gen. Gates approved, ordering Gen. Poor's brigade,
of New Hampshire and
*Allen. + Ibid. ++ Holmes.
New York troops, to commence an attack on the flank and front of the British grenadiers. When Morgan heard the signal he attacked the enemy's right, and with such deadly vigor as compelled them to fall back in confusion. They were commanded by the Earl of Balcarras, a brave leader, who again brought them near to their first position. By this time the whole British line were attacked in front and flank so vigorously that they retreated in great disorder to their camp.*
Wllkinson, having been an active officer present, was competent to give a
truthful account of this battle, and here is an extract from his narrative
: He says after Gen. Poor commenced the action-" True to his purpose,
Morgan, at this critical moment, poured down like a torrent from the hill
and attacked the right of the enemy in front and flank. Dearborn, at the moment
when the enemy's light infantry were attempting to change front, pressed forward
with ardor and delivered a close fire, then leaped the fence, shouted, charged
and gradually forced them to retire in disorder-yet headed by that intrepid
soldier, the Earl of Balcarras, they were immediately rallied and re-formed
behind a fence in rear of their first position, but being now attacked with
great audacity in front and flank by superior numbers, resistance became vain
and the whole line, commanded by Burgoyne in person, gave way and made a precipitate
and disorderly retreat to his camp, leaving two 12 and six 6-pounders (all
of brass) on the field, with the loss of more than 400 officers and men, killed,
wounded and captured, and among them the flower of his officers, viz. : Brig.-Gen.
Frazer, Maj. Ackland, commanding the grenadiers; Sir Francis Clark, his first
Aid-de-camp ; Maj. Williams, commanding the artillery; Capt. Mooney, Deputy-quartermaster-general,
and many others. After delivering the order to Gen. Poor and directing him
to the point of attack, I was peremptorily commanded to the rear, to order
up Ten Broeck's regiment of New York militia, 3,000 strong. [Some of those
troops, no doubt, were from the Mohawk valley .] I performed this servive,
and regained the field of battle at the moment the enemy had turned their
backs-52 minutes after the first shot was fired. The ground which had been
occupied by the British grenadiers presented
*Allen, vol. 2, 82.
a scene of complicated horror and exultation. In a square space of 12 or 15 yards lay 18 grenadiers in the agonies of death, and three officers propped up against stumps of trees, two of them mortally wounded, bleeding and almost speechless."
At the point mentioned, Col. W. said he found the brave Col. Cilley astride a brass 12-pounder, exulting in its capture. Passing on to join our troops in pursuit of the enemy, he was enabled to save the life of Maj. Ackland from a boy who was about to shoot him. The gallant and humane Colonel placed him on the horse of his own servant and sent him to our headquarters. The right flank of the enemy was held by the German corps of Col. Breyman. Gen. Learned coming up at this time, asked Col. W. where he could " put in " to the best advantage. He directed him to the point held by the Provincial troops, Canadians and tories, which he gallantly assaulted, and they hastily fled. This exposed the German flank, which, in turn, was attacked and routed, leaving their commander, Col. Breyman, among the dead. The whole British encampment was now exposed, but darkness put an end to the fight, and during the night Gen. Burgoyne resumed his old fortified position.
For the time it lasted, few fiercer battles or more decisive ones were ever fought during the war. The British loss in killed wounded and prisoners, was over 400, while the American loss did not exceed 80 in killed and wounded, and among the latter was Gen. Arnold. Burgoyne narrowly escaped death, one shot having passed through his hat and another through his waistcoat.*
the Battle of October 7th was brought on.-Here is a version of the manner
in which this battle began: If this spy visited the camp of the enemy more
than once, and possibly he did, it is not improbable his mission had something
to do with " starting the game." Jacob Van Alstyne, who was under
Gen. Gates at Bemus Heights, from whom I had this narrative only a year or
two before his death, was a very exemplary and conscientious man, and the
truth of his statement I never had reason to doubt-as he fully believed it
himself. When it occurred he was Adjutant of the regiment of Rensselaer county
militia, under Col. Stephen J. Schuyler, Lieut. Col. Henry K. Van Rensselaer,
and acted in the two-fold capacity of Adjutant and Quartermaster. Col. Schuyler was a brother of Gen. Philip Schuyler, and having the oldest commission among the colonels on that station, he acted as Brigadier-General in the latter part of the campaign. A German, named John Tillman, a portly gentleman who resided at Albany after the war, acted as German interpreter for Gen. Gates, and was requested by the latter to select a proper person to go into the British camp as a spy; the object of whose mission was, to circulate letters among the Hessian soldiers, to induce them to desert, and to bring on an engagement in such a manner as Gates desired. Tillman selected Christopher Fisher,* a private in Col. Schuyler's regiment-a shrewd fellow and always ready with an answer to any question that might be asked him. Fisher, being well acquainted with my informant, visited him to ask his advice in the hazardous undertaking, naming the reward offered. The latter told him what the consequence would be if be was detected, but declined giving counsel. "Well," said Fisher, "if you will not advise me how to proceed, then I must act on my own judgment." So saying, he took his leave of Van Alstyne, who thought but little more of the matter until after the battle of October 7th.
in his tent after that engagement, Fisher entered and showed him a purse of
gold and his discharge from the service. Van Alstyne then desired to know
how he had proceeded. Fisher stated that on the day appointed, he approached
the enemy's picket with a sheep upon his back, which had been killed for the
occasion. He was hailed by the guard, who demanded of him his residence and
the object of his visit. Fisher replied that he lived a few miles back in
the country-" that the 'd-d Yankees' had destroyed all his property but
one sheep, which he had killed, and was then taking to his friends."
On hearing this reply, the sentinel treated him kindly, and delivered him
over to an officer with a favorable report. In the British camp, he was asked
by a superior officer, what proof he could give that he was not deceiving.
Said Fisher, "the 'rebels' are preparing to give you battle, and if you
will go with me, I will convince you of its truth." The officer followed
Fisher to a
* Fisher waa a native of Schoharle county, of German origin, and had removed to
Reneselaer county just before the war.
certain place, from which was visible a wood. Here had been stationed, agreeable to the order of Gen. Gates, a body of Morgan's rifle corps, who were to exhibit themselves in a stealthy manner. The riflemen wore frocks and were easily distinguished. "There-there," said Fisher, "don't you see them devils of Morgan's dodging about among the trees ? " And sure enough, as fast as the spy directed his vision, the British officer could see the moving frocks "of the American riflemen. When urged to enlist into the British service, Fisher pretended an aversion to war, pleading the necessity of returning home to protect his family against the rebels. He was allowed to leave the camp when he chose, and embraced the opportunity while the armies were engaged. He was, however, admitted into communion as a genuine royalist, and being allowed to mingle for several hours with those who spoke German, he discharged the duties of his perilous mission to the satisfaction of Gen. Gates. A party of British troops were sent to dislodge the riflemen pointed out by Fisher-a general engagement followed, and the result is known to the American reader. The spy executed faithfully the principal object of his hazardous enterprise, and many of those Hessian soldiers deserted the British service in that campaign, and either entered the American service, or became good citizens of New York. Mr. Van Alstyne died at his residence at Caughnawaga, in May, 1844, aged nearly 95 years.
The German troops known as Brunswickers, are said to have shown great cowardice in this action, having retreated before a man of them waa killed or wounded.* May not the mission of Fisher, who undeceived them in regard to the character the English had given the Americans, have had something to do with their nonresislance? There are many good families in the Mohawk valley to-day, whose forefathers came from Canada with Gen. Burgoyne.
killed Gen. Fraser.-Gen. Frazer, a distinguished officer in the British army,
was looked upon by some of the Americans as a more dangerous leader to oppose
than Burgoyne himself. Several published accounts state that such was the
opinion of Col. Morgan. During the engagement of October 7th, it fell
to the fortune of Morgan's rifle corps to meet in battle the troops under Frazer. Morgan selected a few of his best marksmen, who were placed in a favorable position, and instructed to make Frazer their special mark. A friend some time ago stated to me by letter, that the position of marksmen in trees was the act of Arnold, and not of Morgan. It has also been stated by some writer, that several bullets whizzed so near Frazer's person, that a friend suggested to him that he was evidently marked, and had better seek a place of less exposure, to whom he replied in substance, that he should remain where duty called him. Timothy Murphy, who afterward went to Schoharie, was one of the riflemen selected to execute this unholy ' design. The party thus stationed had each a chance to fire, and some of them more than once, before a favorable opportunity presented for Murphy; but when it did, the effect was soon manifest. The gallant General was riding upon a gallop when he received the fatal ball, and after a few bounds of his charger, fell, mortally wounded. The fact that Murphy shot Gen. Frazer, was communicated to the writer by a son and two daughters of the former.
A letter dated Amherst, Massachusetts, October 7, 1835 published in the Saratoga Sentinel, introduced a competitor for the honor, if such it was considered, of having slain Gen. Frazer. The letter is from the pen of E. Mattoon, Esq., being a reply to an interrogatory letter of a preceding date, from Philip Schuyler, Esq., a son the late Gen. Schuyler. Mr. Mattoon expresses his belief, in the letter, that Gen. Frazer was killed by an old man with a long hunting gun, and not by one of Morgan's men. There can be no doubt but that the old gentleman to whom he alludes, shot an officer, but that he killed Gen. Frazer I cannot believe, since not only Murphy was positive he fell before his rifle, but several authors have stated that Frazer told his friends after he fell, " that he saw the man who shot him, and that he was a rifleman posted in a tree." The remains of Gen. Frazer were taken to England after the war.
I have alluded to the coldness between Generals Arnold and Gates, and that he remained in camp without any command. During the second engagement Arnold dashed about into several posts of danger, his recklessness of life being increased as supposed; by the intoxicating bowl. His rashness inspired some confidence in the troops near him. In my Trappers of New York, I have given an incident from the lips of one of his young volunteers, in his most fortunate movement, from which I here copy: " Towards evening of that day, that daring chief led a body of troops into the very heart of the Hessian camp; carrying dismay along the whole British line. In this impetuous onset he was shot through the leg,* and his horse killed under him, and would to God the ball-had passed through his heart, and that that reckless leader, who, up to that hour had been one of Liberty's boldest champions could have sealed with his life-blood his former deeds of glory! Yes, would to God that that brave General, who, with the gallant Montgomery, had faced his country's foes on the snow-clad plains of Abraham, could now have found a grave on those heights, where his own blood had mingled with that of the foeman. But, alas ! alas ! a sombre destiny awaited him.
Among the death-daring spirits who followed Arnold to the Hessian camp, was
"Nicholas Stoner, and near the enemy's works he was wounded in a singular
manner. A cannon shot from the breastwork killed a soldier near Stoner, named
Tyrrell. The ball demolished his head, sending its fragments into the face
of Stoner, which was literally covered with brains, hair and fragments of
skull. He fell senseless, with the right side of his head about the ear severely
cut by portions of the skull bone, which iniury ever after affected his hearing
in that ear. Shortly after, as the young fifer was missing, his Captain, Timothy
Hughes, sent one Sweeney, an Irish soldier to find and bear him from the field;
but a cannan shot whizzed so near his own head, that he soon returned without
him. Col. James Livingston to whose regiment the company belonged-asked Sweeney
where Stoner was'. ' Ja-s! colonel,'replied the soldier, " a goose just
laid an egg there, and you don't catch me to stay there,'" Lieut. William
Wallace then proceeded to the spot indicated by Sweeney, and found Stoner,
with his head resting upon Tyrrell's thigh, and in his arms bore him to the
American camp. When found, a portion of the brim of his hat, about
* A wounded Hussian fired on Arnold, and John Kedman, a volunteer, ran up to bayonet him, but was prevented doing so by Arnold, who exclaimed: " He's a flne fellow, don't hurt him !" The Hessians continued to flght after they were down, because they had been told by their employers that the Americans would give no quarters.-Stoner.
one-fourth the size of a 9-pound shot, was observed to have been cut off very smoothly, the rest of it. was covered with the ruins of Tyrrell's head, who, to use the words of Stoner, 'did not know what hurt him.'"
the second engagement on Bemus Heights, Gen. Burgoyne did not again return
to give battle, but made a tardy and ineffectual attempt to retrace his steps
to Canada. Before he was ready to do so, however, Gen. Nixon, of the First
Massachusetts brigade, had succeeded in gaining Fort Edward in his rear; and
the first intimation the retiring hero had that his retreat was cut off, was
from hearing the evening gun fired at that fortress. As its thunder came booming
along the valley of the Hudson, it sounded in his unwilling ears the knell
of his military glory.-Capt. Eben Williams.
Facsimile of Burgoyne's Signature to his Capitulation.
Finding that he was literally encircled by the men he had effected to despise
in England, Burgoyne offered terms of surrender. An agreement was arrived
at and signed by the commanders, October 16th. Burgoyne and his officers,
although compelled by circumstances to become prisoners of war, did not like
to call the terms a capitulation, but a convention, to which Gen. Gates assented.
The surrender took place in front of old Fort Henry, near the Hudson, on the
morning of October 27th. The brass ordnance, including what bad been captured,
amounted to 42 pieces-what an accession to the American armament-5,000 stand
of arms, 6,000 dozen of cartridges, ammunition, wagons, shot, shells, etc.,
etc. The number of troops surrendered were 5,763, which with those killed
and captured since they left Canada, would amount to nearly 5,000 more, making
Burgoyne's total loss about 10,000 men.* Hardly
two writers give the same numerical force, as that which left Canada with
Burgoyne. Here is a table from Holmes' Annals:
The whole number surrendered, was ................. 5,758
British troops .................................................. 2,442
Brnnswick and other German troops................... 2,198
Canadians, Volunteers, etc ............................... 1,100
Sick and wounded left in the British camp when his retreat began.. 588
Besides the above there were killed, wounded, taken and deserted, between July 6th and October 16th ........................... 2,938
Total ............................................. 9,213
The troops under Burgoyne were to march out of their camp with the honors of war; they were to be quartered in or near Boston, and given a free passage in British transports to England, on condition of not serving again in the present contest.
I have aimed to give the reader as good an idea of the invasions of Northern "New York as possible, in the apace allotted for it; since on the result of them evidently hung the future destiny of the country. The repulse and return of St. Ledger from the Mohawk valley to Canada, without accomplishing his mission; and the surrender of Burgoyne and his entire army, are events belonging together in their result, which established for us a national reputation abroad, making France an ally, and paving the way for our final triumph; and while those successes of our arms taught the British the fact, that the frontiers of New York were not to become loyal as easily and readily as the Johnson family had promised they would, they inspired the American people with renewed confidence in their own strength, and the justness of their cause in the eye of the civilized world. -and better than all in the eye of Jehovah. Burgoyne's capitulation was an event celebrated throughout the land, and in no one place with more joy than in Albany, which had beckoned the enemy thitherward from the south as well as the north. I have elsewhere shown the enemy's success in the valley of the Hudson, which fortunately Burgoyne was not benefitted by.
The Capture of Burgoyne's army how celebrated.-To show the reader how Burgoyne's surrender was celebrated in Albany, here is a narrative of the event from persons who were then living there. An ox was roasted whole for the occasion. A pole passing through it and resting on crotches served as a spit, while a pair of cart wheels at the ends of the pole were used to turn it. A hole was dug in the ground, in which, beneath the ox, a fire was made. While cooking, several pails of salt water were at hand, to be applied with swabs to keep the meat from burning. When roasted it was drawn through the principal streets, and the patriotic secured a good slice. A constant roar of artillery was kept up during the day,
The aged met with joy of heart,
The youthful met with glee;
While little children played their part,
The happiest of the three.
In the evening almost every dewlling in the city was illuminated. A pyramid of pine fagots wliich had been collected for the occasion, in the centre of which stood a liberty pole supporting on its top a barrel of tar, was set on fire on the hill near the city early in the evening. When the fire reached the tar, it not only illuminated every part of the city, but sent its ominous light for many miles around, presenting a most imposing effect.*
show the enthusiasm that prevailed during the celebration above related, I
insert the following incident : Evert Yates, of Montgomery county, who then
lived in Albany, assured the
* The author Is indebted to Mrs. Henry France of Seward, who was a resident of Albany at the time, for the manner in which this event was celebrated; and also for the following narrative: Her father, John Horne, was a butcher in Albany previous to the French war. In the early part of that war, he, with six other Albanians, went up the Hudson In a batteau with merchandize to trade with the Indians for furs. Landing at some place and leaving their boat in which were their weapons ot defence, they were proceeding a little distance from it, when, as they were crossing a small bridge a party of seven armed Indians, who had been sometime watching their motions, sprang out from under the bridge and made them captives. As they all had prisoners, each Indian at night took care of his own, and Horne watching his opportunity after traveling several days with his new master, effected his escape when the party were all asleep. He went a short distance and secreted himself In a hollow log. As soon as his absence was discovered, several of the enemy pursued him; and he, in his concealment, heard them pass and repaas, hallooing to each other. Alter their return he directed his course to the Mohawk, and at the end of eight or nine days' journey through the forest, in which time he suffered much from hunger and exposure, he reached the bank of West Canada creek, and discovered an Indian and squaw upon its opposite shore. He called to them to come to him, but they did not move until he held up a piece of money. The Indian then sent the squaw in a canoe after him. He obtained food from them, who proved to be of a friendly tribe, and in a few days more reached home in safety; but it was a long time before hiscomrades in the perilous enterprise all returned.
writer that he, with several young friends,-was without the city firing muskets in honor of the happy event. After firing a good many loud guns they returned home-when he found, to his great surprise, his gun was half full! The party, as often as they had loaded, fired together; and he continued to load, not doubting but his old fusee went off-too much excited to discover the increasing length of his ramrod.
In the summer of 1777, when the several British commanders were proceeding towards Albany, some of its citizens, fearing the enemy would reach that city, secreted their money. A man named Ten Eyck buried a tin cup full of gold and silver in his cellar. After Burgoyne's surrender, search was made in vain for this treasure; one Jacob Radley dug the ground floor of the cellar all over without finding it, and the superstitious notion obtained in the family, that it had disappeared through supernatural agency. Here is a "spook story" for the credulous. The cup had been removed by animam viventum-a living soul.-Judge Brown.
Morgan's Sharp Shooters.-David Klerson, who was a private in Capt. Long's company of Morgan's rifle corps, and compatriot of Timothy Murphy in many hazardous enterprises, related the following anecdote to the author in 1837: Morgan's riflemen had acquired much celebrity as marksmen while under Gen. Gate's. When in the vicinity of Albany, on their return from the northern army, a gentleman, near whose residence they halted, expressed a wish to witness their skill. The captain signified his willingness to gratify his curiosity, and a piece of paper was fastened upon a small poplar tree. Elerson handed his rifle, one of the best in the company, to John Garsaway, who, informant said, took a surer aim than himself. The rifle was leveled 100 yards distant from the mark and fired. The leaden messenger passed through the paper and the tree-splitting the latter several inches, and ruining it. Said the gentleman, looking at his crippled tree, which had been converted into a weeping willow (it will be remembered that fashion then made the 'poplar' a very desirable shade tree): "I do not wonder the Indians are afraid of Morgan's riflemen, if that is the way they shoot." He then treated the company to liquor, as was the custom of the times; expressed his satisfaction at their skill, and the troops resumed their march.
Burgoyne's Arrival at Albany.-This vain man, not only boasted in England of what be could do in America with the opportunity, but just after leaving Ticonderoga, when everything seemed to favor his ambitious views for an easy march thither, he said to his brother officers-"I'll make the rebela give me plenty of elbow room when I get in Albany."
He entered Albany, not in triumph, but as a prisoner of war to those whose prowess he had so much ridiculed. By some means the expression above cited became known in Albany before his arrival, and he was fated to be humbled by it. The commanding officers of both armies entered the city on horse-flack; Generals Burgoyne and Reidesel riding side by side, attended by Generals Gates, Schuyler and others. Many patriotic people had assembled from the surrounding country to witness this grand entree.
As the cavalcade struck the pavement in "North Market street (now Broadway), there appeared suddenly upon the sidewalk, a little in advance of the generals, a witty, waggish son of the Emerald lale, accompanied by not a few genial spirits. At once he began nudging his comrades to the right and left, and shouting, with stentorian lungs, much as follows: "Now sure, and ye'll stand back and give General Burgoyne planty of albow room here in Albany '; I say, rebels, plase to fall back and give the Gineral room to come along here in Albany ! O, for haven's sake, ye cowardly rebels, do stand aside, to the right and laft, and make more albow room for Gineral Burgoyne, or, by St. Patrick, I'll murther ivery mothers son iv ye."
The proud commander was disconcerted and mortified, but evinced less uneasiness at the hard rubs of the Irish quidnunc, than did his German friend-both of whom wore glad to enter a dwelling, and thus get rid of the herald and his "albow room." This farce was witnessed from an open window by the wife of Maj. Peter Schuyler of Palatine Church, who communicated it to my informant, Jacob Shew. The story was also corroborated to the writer by others.
Ladies of Culture in the Wrong Place.-Not a few interesting events are noted in history attending Bnrgoyne's last general battle, which cannot he given here in detail, embracing the romantic position of Lady Harriet Ackland, who entered the American camp on the night after that battle to care for Maj. Ackland, her wonnded husband; and that of MadamRiedesel, the wife of Gen. Riedesel, in the midst of the carnage, with the dying Gen. Frazer in her care. Those cultivated women were a strange element in a moving camp in an unbroken forest, where they had to submit to all manner of privations and vicissitudes, and at times witness scenes calculated to try stout hearts and strong nerves. Why they should have followed the fortune of their husbands through the wilderness, in all weather camping in tents, is surprising ; as the care of them, if it did not actually place a hindrance on the advance of the army, subjected it to much inconvenience. The presumption is, however, that they expected, on leaving Canada, to reach Albany with very little delay, and there not only find a good resting place, but expecting there to enjoy the novelty of living for a little season-until the Yankees were subdued-in one of the oldest towns in North America.
Centennial Celebrations-On the 19th of September, 1877, a celebration took place at Bemus Heights, commemorative of the battle fought there 100 years before; on which occasion Hon. Geo. G. Scott, Hon. Martin I. Townsend, Lieut.-Gov. Dorsheimer and John Austin Stevens, Esq., delivered addresses, and Robert Lowell, Esq., furnished a lengthy poem. A large gathering was there and the proceedings were very creditable.
October 17, 1877, a celebration took place at Schuylerville, to commemorate the surrender of Burgoyne's army a century before. As this was one of the most important events of the war, an effort was made to render this occasion a memorable one, and although the attendance was greater at Oriskany, yet tlie number here gathered was large, when it is considered that it was some miles from a railroad. On the occasion the Masonic ceremony took place of laying the corner stone for a costly monument; attending which an address was delivered by Grand Master J. J. Crouch; after which the multitude was addressed from two stands. At the south stand, by Hon. Chas. S. Lester, Hon. Horatio Seymour, Hon. George W. Curtis, Hon. L. F. S. Foster, with a lengthy poem by Alfred B. Street, Esq. At the north stand, by Hon. George W. Schuyler, William L. Stone, Esq., W. B. Throckmorton, Esq., H. L. Gladding, Esq., Hon. A. A. Yates, with poems written by Gen. J. Watts dePeyster, and Col. B. C. Butler. This celebration was another grand success, and its published proceedings make an interesting part of the book entitled Centennial Celebrations of the State of New York, 1879.
Indians in a Cellar.-During one of the earliest invasions of the Saratoga county settlements by the enemy (probably in 1777), the following singular incident occurred: A party of Canadian Indians arrived just at night at the house of Angus McDermott, a Scotchman, who had but recently arrived in the country. The enemy were helping themselves to whatever the house afforded to eat and drink, when all at once the floor gave way, and they were precipitated into the cellar. No one was seriously injured, and the jollification was continued there. The Indians kept the family within doors, so that their arrival should be unknown in the neighborhood, and scattering about the settlement early in the morning, they commenced their diabolical deeds of destruction and death--Angus McKinlay.
Suffering at Valley Forge.-In the fall of 1777, Congress adopted thirteen articles of confederation; Maryland was the last State to adopt them. In November, Forts Militia and Mercer, which prevented the pass of British shipping to Philadelphia, were taken by the enemy, after a severe loss on their part, and a most gallant defence of them by Colonels Greene, Smith, and Simms, and Maj. Thaver, and the enemy entered that city in triumph, where they wintered. About the same time Washington went into winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pa, 15 miles northwest of Philadelphia, where his army erected temporary huts, but their sufferings were most acute from a want of nearly all the munitions of war. The winter was a very severe one, and the American soldier might daily He traced by his own blood! Nothing but an unconquerable love of liberty, could have induced men to continue in the American service.-Allen, and Tallmadge's Journal.
Washington's Piety.-The following anecdote will not only allow the true piety of Gen. Washington, but the power on which he relied for the final success of his suffering country. While the American army was in camp at Valley Forge, Isaac Potts, a respectable Quaker, who had often seen Washington going to, or returning from a grove at a little distance from his own dwelling early in tlie morning, had the curiosity to learn the object of those visits. Entering the thicket one morning very early, he secreted himself; soon after which the American commander advanced to a retired spot near him, and upon his knees offered a fervent prayer to the God of battles for the triumph of patriotic principles. Soon after, Potts returned home: his wife observing his thoughtful countenance, thus said to him: "Isaac, something moves thee I perceive." "Yes, Sarah! " he replied, "I never believed until this morning that a soldier could be a Christian." He then related what he had witnessed and remarked, " that such prayers as George, the Virginian offered, must prevail, and that England never could subdue her colonies."-Capt. Eben Williams.
A Dishonored Name.-In the course of this year (1777), Gov. Tryon became almost a savage-sending out parties to burn buildings and wantonly destroy the property of many inoffensive colonists. When remonstrated with by Gen. Parsons, he declared that had be more authority, he would burn every committee-man's house within his reach, and expressed a willingness to give twenty silver dollars for every acting committee man who should be delivered to the King's troops.-Allen.
The preceding paragraph will show the reader the reason why the county called Tryon, was afterwards given the name of the immortal Montgomery.
Events of the Year.-The year 1777 was one of alternate hopes and fears to the American people. They had witnessed with gratitude the success of their arms in northern New York -while several forts along the Hudson had been captured by the enemy, and the battles of Brandywine and Germantown had been followed by disaster. In April of this year, it should not be forgotten, a new impulse was given the cause, by the opportune arrival, with several of his countrymen, of the brave and generous Lafayette, who not only bared his own breast to the storm in its fury, but who, with a magnanimity that put sinister nature to the blush, threw into the exhausted treasury of the nation, his ample fortune. Let that patriot who glories in being an American, love and venerate the virtues of Lafayette as did Washington; and let him remember, too, that this country should ever be a home for the oppressed of every land, for good men of other lands aided in establishing its freedom. With many other gallant foreigners, a DeKalb and Pulaski mingled their life-blood with that of a Warren, a Woodhull, a Montgomery, a Herkimer, and Mercer, to water the shriveled roots of the tree of Liberty-while a Lafayette, a Kosciusko and a Steuben, prompted to deeds of noble daring, aided more fortunately in sustaining the American flag.
A Conspiracy.-It was during the year 17777, that an attempt was made by foul intrigue, to supplant Gen. Washington and promote Gen. Gates to the chief command. Several officers of rank favored the Gates' party, among whom were Generals Mifflin and Conway-the latter an Irishman-and several members of Congress. Anonymous letters, reflecting on the charater and military skill of Washington, were put in circulation. Mr. Laurens, president of Congress, and Patrick Henry, one of its master spirits, communicated to Washington the character of his foes and the nature of their design. Happily for the country, the machinations of this unholy ambition recoiled upon the heads of its instigators. Conway found it necessary to resign his commission. This subject matter afterwards originated a duel between Conway and Gen. Cadwallader. After the duel, the former, thinking himself mortally wounded, expressed to Gen. Washington by letter, his deep regret for the part he acted in the Gates transaction, adding his own testimony to the many virtues of the Commander-in-chief.-Bancroft's Washington and Wirt's Patrick Henry.
Romance of War.-The following romantic incident I copied from the journal of Col. Tallruadge. In December, 1777, when the British army was at Philadelphia and the Americans under Washington were at Valley Forge, Major Tallmadge was stationed between the armies with a detachment of cavalry, for the purpose of observation, and to circumscribe the range of British foraging parties. The duty was an arduous one, the horses seldom being unsaddled, or tlie squad remaining all night in the same position, from fear of a visit from the enemy, which on one occasion they received with the loss of several men. While on this duty, says the Journal:
" Being advised that a country girl had gone into Philadelphia with eggs, instructed to obtain some information respecting the enemy, I moved my detachment to Germantown, where they halted, while with a small party I advanced several miles toward the British line, and dismounted at a small tavern called the "Rising Sun," in full view of their oat posts. Very soon I saw a young female coming out from the city, who also came to the same inn. After we had made ourselves known to each other, and while she waa communicating some intelligence to me, I was informed that the British light horse was advancing. Stepping to the door, I saw them at full speed chasing in my patroles, one of whom they took. I immediately mounted, when I found the young damsel close by my side, entreating that I would protect her. Having not a moment to reflect, I desired her to mount behind me, and in this way I brought her off more than three miles, up to Germantown, where she dismounted. During the whole ride, although there was considerable firing of pistols, and not a little wheeling and charging, she remained unmoved, and never once complained of fear after she mounted my horse. I was delighted with the transaction, and received many compliments from those who became acquainted with the adventure." (The Journal does not say at whose instigation this heroine had visited Philadelphia, but Gen. Washington was doubtless her employer.)
Feu-de-joies, and Storming of Stony Point.-When authentic news of the surrender of Burgoyne reached the camp of Washington, his army was drawn out in line and the welcome news proclaimed by a running fire, as called by the French, a feu-de-joie. Each individual discharged his piece when the second man from him fired, as nearly as he could, to keep up a continuous discharge. This manner of welcoming news was repeated for the alliance of the United States and France, and also in honor of the birth of the dauphin.-Flavel Clark, in 1846, a resident of Mohawk village, Herkimer county.
Storming of Stony Point.-Gen. Anthony Wayne stormed and recaptured the works at Stony Point, July 16, 1779. It is stated in a biography of Gen Wayne, that the flints were removed from the muskets of the troops previous to their attack on the works at Stony Point. This book account of this affair, said Flavel dark to the writer, was the first intimation he ever had that the guns of the Americans were not in complete readiness for any emergency. He was quite confident that his own gun was well charged with a good flint in the lock, on that occasion, and he believed they all were; he could not speak with confidence, however, beyond the company of Capt. Phelps, to which he belonged. The troops leading the advancing columns, may have had their flints removed without its being known to those in the rear, but if so it would seem almost incredible that they should not have known it afterwards. Mr. Clark, speaking of the personal appearance of Gen. Wayne, said he was a little under six feet high, and was a well made, though rather a thick set man, with dark hair and dark eyes. As an officer, he not only understood his own duty but that of his soldiers, and always required them to perform it.
The Hanging of Tories in Ulster County.-This event is inserted to show some of the horrors of a civil war ; neighbors being obliged to testify against and witness the execution of former friends. The nearer to an enemy's camp, the greater the necessity for severe penalties and their rigid enforcement.
In the summer of 1859, I learned from Cornelius Hoffman, then 87 years old, some incidents connected with the capture and execution of two prominent citizens who had been former neighbors of his own father, Adam Hoffman, in Marbletown, N. Y. Jacobus Rose and John Hasbrook, both being subaltern militia officers, were candidates for the captaincy of a company, when the latter, who was possessed of the most worldly substance was chosen to its command. Not a few thought Rose should have succeeded, of which number was his early friend, Adam Hoffman, who was also a militia captain. Rose was so mortified at this result, that Arnold like, he went to New York city and entered the British service, taking with him his neighbor, Jacob Middah. Those men returned to Ulster county on two occasions, when, persuading quite a number to go over to the enemy, they got off safely; but on coming a third time, they were pursued and captured at Smith's Clove, in Orange county.
They, with other prisoners taken witli them, by the order of Gen. Geo. Clinton, were tried at Fort Montgomery, on Wednesday, April 30, 1777, by a Court Martial, consisting of 19 officers, of which body Col. Dubois was President, and Capt. Lush, Judge Advocate. They, with eight others, were condemned to suffer the penalty of death-" For adhering to the King of Great Britain whilst owing allegiance to the State of New York." Rose and Middah, and perhaps the others, were removed to Kingston and there hung. One of the arguments of enlistment, as shown on these trials, was-"That the northern and southern armies were to meet; that they were so strong the war would be short, and they would join their two armies; that Johnson was getting the Indians in readiness for that time; that America was almost surrounded, and. the Indians will come down and assist the King." * The battles of Oriskany and Saratoga, thank God! defeated the enemy's well planned scheme.
The Employment of Hessian Troops and Indians.-The hiring of German troops by the British government for mercenary purposes, at the outset of our struggle for liberty, as also the employment of the greater part of the Six Indian Nations, to aid in subjugating their American brethren, by waging a war of extermination against them; must ever go down in history through all time, as a very dark stain upon British policy and British generosity. Several Revolutionary men, who spoke the German language, have assured the writer that the Hessians came to this country to fight with the express understanding that they must give no quarter, because they would receive none at, the hands of the Americans. In further proof that this was generally so understood in the British camp, here is an extract from a letter written by Gen. Israel Putnam, to his friend, Godfrey Malbone, then of Promfret, Ct. The letter was dated at Peekskill, Jan. 24, 1777, where the old hero was then on duty. After mentioning the savage cruelty practiced toward American prisoners in New York in the preceding winter, where, as he said, " Eleven hundred died from hunger and cold in five weeks," many of whom perished in the " Old Sugar House." He adds- "There was a brave officer a few days ago, who, with a small party, engaged a party of light horsemen and killed six; but, while he was thus engaged, had the misfortune to be surrounded by a party of Hessians, and no alternative left but to cut his way through, which he did; but, like a good officer, he was in the rear, to see his men all safe, and had the misfortune to be taken. They put him to death in the most cruel manner. After cuting his face and head all to pieces with their cutlasses, they run him through twenty two times with their bayonets-each wound must have been mortal-and then went off and left him on the spot. Gen. Washington sent and fetched off the body and sent it to the British General [Howe, no doubt,] by a flag,
* For minutes of this trial, see Calendar of New York Manuscripts, vol 2.
who took no notice of it." Putnam did not tell whether this scene was enacted in New York or New Jersey, but similar ones occurred in both States. In this letter Gen. P. expressed the belief, " That where we made one Whig, Gen. Howe made ten, by his cruelty and cheating the inhabitants."
On Sentinel Duty, the First Shot.-The late Dr. John F. Gray, of New York, communicated the following story to Hon. H. N. Lockwood, for this work. His father (whose given name is not remembered), then a resident of the town of Florida, at the age of 15, was on duty at Fort Plain as a soldier, in the fall of 1777. Posted outside the pickets on a very dark night, he was instructed that if he discovered an enemy, he should discharge his gun and flee to the fort. Hark ! what sound is that breaking upon the midnight stillness? Surely, thought Gray, it is the stealthy footsteps of a foe that crackles the underbmsh. No object was visible, for the soldier could not see his own gun; but the enemy must be cautiously approaching -yes, it must be the mocasined tread of an Indian. Greatly excited, the youth discharged his gun in the direction of the sound, and fled to the fort. He met at the gate a squad of troops his gun had alarmed, and vigilance was kept up until daylight, when a party sallied out, if possible, to lesirn what had occasioned the alarm. It was found that the wary sentinel had shot a calf in the bushes, that had become separated from its mother.
After firing his gun, Gray dropped it to increase his speed, and seeking an occasion in the morning he recovered it unob-served, so as not to become the butt of ridicule for having thus disarmed himself. Such was the young sentinel's first lesson on the New York frontier, affording his messmates not a little gossip at the time. He had a brother named Silas, who was at Orlskany.
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