Edmond Frank Peters.

Peters of New England: a genealogy, and family history; online

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me very kindly, and as I was wotmded in the breast and
was also lame with a hurt I had received in a skirmish the
day before the action by a ball grazing my foot, and was
much fatigued, and for some time had been harassed
with fever and ague, he generously gave me up his bed
for the night, and he laid himself in his cloak on a bench.
I received his and Gen. Burgoyne's approbation for my
conduct in this action. The report of the defeat of the
royal troops at Bennington reaching Montreal, Gen.
McLean, Col. of the 84th Regiment, went to Mrs. Peters
and told her that news had come from Gen. Burgoyne's
camp, and she must expect to hear of many being killed
and wounded, but if Col. Peters or her son were among
them she must hold up with good courage and not de-
spond, as he would see to care being taken of her and her
family, that they should never want.

After some conversation in like manner. Gen. McLean
thought proper to let her know that there was a report
that Col. Peters and his son were both wounded and since
dead. Mrs. Peters said: "My calamities are very great,
but thank God, they died doing their duty to their King
and Coimtry. I have six sons left, who, as soon as they
shall be able to bear arms, I will send against the rebels,
while I and my daughter will mourn for the dead and
pray for the living."

September 7th, the rebels made an attack upon the Brit-
ish army marching from Saratoga towards Albany. They
were repulsed with great loss of killed, and the royal army
suffered much. The royal army kept their ground at Still-
water till September 19, when the rebels attacked our ranks
in the morning and the attack continued till dark.

The royal army having suffered much and Gen. Frazer
being mortally wounded, we retreated to Saratoga.

Autobiography of John Peters 375

Sept. 27th, we burnt some of our tents, and the 28th
did the same. Here we remained until October 8th,
hoping every day the Royal army would attempt to
force their way to Fort George. Cessation of hostilities
took place and treaties went on between the Royal army
and rebel commanders.

On the 14th of October, in the morning, when it was
expected the capitulation was nearly concluded, as I was
in great anxiety and distress of mind, knowing how im-
possible it was that any capitulation could provide for
my security, I met Gen. Phillipps, who asked me why I
remained there, as I had told him before that no articles
would protect me.

I answered that whatever might be the event I would
not go without orders in writing, for that no one should
be able to say that I had deserted them in the hour of
distress. He said he would get me orders. In the after-
noon he met me again, and seemed surprised at seeing
me still there.

I reminded him of what he had said, on which he
carried me with him to the general's tent, and he brought
me out a written permission to take as many of my
officers and men as I thought could not be protected
and were willing to go. I accordingly got together as
many as I could meet with in that condition who chose to
make the attempt.

While I was preparing for our departure a person who
had left the rebel colonies for having counterfeited their
paper money came to me and begged to be of the party.
I did not much like his company, but I saw the poor
creature in such a trembling situation from the certainty
of being hanged that I could not but consent. As soon
as it was dark enough we set out, being thirty-five in
number, and each carrying two days' provisions. I
ordered Lieut. Holiburt, of my regiment to lead, as he

376 Autobiography of John Peters

knew the woods in the dark better than I did. I followed
next, and ordered all of the rest to follow in single file,
and in perfect silence, my son and Major Wright in the
rear. We steered at first south westward. We had
not got far when the money maker began to be vefry
troublesome with his fears. I ordered him placed be-
tween Major Wright and my son, and ordered the major
if he made any noise to put his bayonet into him, and
leave him dead; notwithstanding this he was very
troublesome. When we had travelled two or three miles
from the Royal camp we were challenged by a party of
rebels. I replied: "From Gen. Gates and we were in
pursuit of some Tories who have fled from Burgoyne's
camp." The rebels demanded the countersign and who
commanded. The answer was: "Col. Peters with 1800
men, and they might fire as soon as they pleased," was the
coimtersign. The darkness and the surprise caused the
rebels to take prudent care of themselves for that night,
but next day they pursued us with about 100 men whom
we saw at a distance from a hill, but whether they saw
us or not I cannot say. When we thought we could do
it safely we turned more north westerly and then north-
erly. On the i6th, at the beginning of the night, we
found ourselves on the western bank of the Hudson
river. The moon was just risen, and close under us on
the same side, at the mouth of a brook, was a man in a
canoe, going to fish. We called to him, and by the fear
of our firearms obliged him to come to us ; but as three
only could go at once in the canoe, and one was obliged
always to come back to fetch two more, and as we
were obliged to paddle for fear of being heard, in case
any scouts of the rebels were at hand, it was midnight
before we all got over.

Tedious as this was it was much better than the noise
we should have made, and the time we should have con-

Autobiography of John Peters 377

sumed in felling and making a raft of trees to pass over
upon. Whilst this was transacting, such of us as first
went over detained the man, which we told him was only
to prevent his discovering us. He seemed surprised at
this, having taken us for rebels, and informed us that he
and his father were sincere Loyalists and on his mentioning
his name one of our party recognised him. After we had
all got over he carried us to his father's who received us
very kindly, and offered us all he had, some bear's flesh,
some dried moose and some Indian corn, and informed us
that there were two parties lying on the two ways we
were expected to pass and that perhaps in the morning
they might visit his house, as they frequently did ; there-
fore it would be necessary for us to be away very early,
but that he would accompany and lead us directly over
the mountain, so as to avoid these two parties, and go
between them.

He accordingly called us very early in the morning,
and though the mountain seemed impracticable yet he
led us over and clear of the two parties and then took
leave of us. The 17th, in the woods, we heard the firing
of cannon at Saratoga which I knew to be in consequence
of the surrender of the British army to the rebels. It
went to my heart to hear it, though I knew it was to be
the case. We then kept northerly so as to avoid any
path. On the i8th we thought we were sufficiently
north, and stood east in order to strike Lake George, but
to our surprise we suddenly came in sight of houses,
which obHged us to stand west again and then northerly,
and we stood on so until we were quite out of danger.
Then we stood east, and on the 19th of October, near
sunset, when we were almost famished, we struck Lake
George, where Major Irwin, of the 47th, commanded. He
received us very imcivilly till I produced my written
order. He then treated us with great kindness and

378 Autobiography of John Peters

humanity, giving us food and ordered boats to carry us to
Diamond Island, about five miles, where Major Aubery
of the 47th commanded and had done good service. He
treated us with all possible goodness, and as I was in a
fever and ague, with which I had been troubled for some
time before I had quitted the camp, and much fatigued,
he was so good as to make me sleep in his bed while he
went somewhere else for the night. Next day he gave
us boats which carried us across the lake, from whence
we marched to Ticonderoga, where we remained under
the command of General Powel, till the fort was evacu-
ated, when we returned to Montreal, and soon after to
Quebec, where Gen. Carleton received me with appro-
bation, but could not pay m.e till he had official ac-
counts from Gen. Burgoyne. Hitherto I had received
no pay from the King for my services. Gen. Carleton
had put me on the subsistence list at t,o£ per muster,
and had behaved with great attention and humanity to
my family.

In 1778, Gen. Haldimand took the command in Canada,
to whom I was introduced by Gen. Carleton. His Ex-
cellency ordered me to command a party of 200 white
men and 100 Indians, and to march to Cobos, on Con-
necticut river, and destroy the settlement there. Having
arrived at Lake Champlain, on my way to Cobos, Gen.
Haldimand 's letter overtook me, which gave leave to all
my party to return that chose to do so, but permitted
me to pay a visit to Onion river. He also directed me to
leave my orders. We all went on by water one day and
landed at the river La Mile, and marched up by that
river when some got discouraged and returned with all
the Indians and all the white men except thirty-four
with whom I had proceeded to the head of Onion river;
and following it down we destroyed the Block house and
all the buildings on it, for about thirty miles, as I was

Autobiography of John Peters 379

ordered, after which I returned with my thirty-four men
to St. Johns, on the 23rd of August, 1778.

In 1779, I again requested General Haldimand to pay
me for my services under Gen. Burgoyne in 1777. His
Excellency said that matter had been transacted before
he took command, and he could do nothing in it till he
should have official returns, but he continued me on the
subsistence list where Gen. Carleton had placed me. I
wrote to the Rev. Mr. Peters in London, who applied to
Lord George Germaine in my behalf, and his lordship
wrote to Gen. Haldimand to settle my accoimts and
others in a like situation. Gen. Haldimand seemed to
be offended, and accused me of complaining home against
him, which in truth I had not done, or thought of, nor
hitherto had any reason. He appointed a board of
officers to examine my claims, but ordered the com-
missioners not to allow pay for any men that were killed
or taken in the year 1777, or bat or forage, or for any
money advanced by me or my officers to the men in the
campaign of 1777 who had not returned to Canada.

The commissioners obeyed his orders, although I pro-
duced Gen. Burgoyne's orders, given out at Battlehill,
August 26th, 1777, that all the provincial troops should
be paid the same as the British troops. By this injustice
I lost what was due me on British pay from the first of
August to the 24th of December, 1783, when we were

November 12th, 1781, Gen. Haldimand draughted the
provincial corps and out of them formed corps which he
named "Loyal Rangers," and appointed Edward Jessop
to be major of it, and at the same time gave out in
general orders that he appointed "Lieutenant-Colonel
John Peters, of the Queen's Loyal Rangers, as captain
of Invalids." This cruel, degrading change was worked
while I was at Skeensborough, where I had been sent by

380 Autobiography of John Peters

Gen. Haldimand with a flag and rebel prisoners with a
view to gain inteUigence from the southern army, which I
performed and reported to him. On my return to Quebec
I complained to the general of the hard measures he had
dealt out to me by degrading me below those who had
been under my command in 1777, nor did I understand
why I was invalided. Mr. Mathews, secretary to Gen.
Haldimand, gave me for answer that I had a wife and
eight children and I might starve if I refused captain's
pay, beside I should not be allowed rations if I refused.
My subsistence money being stopped I was obliged to
accept the pay of a captain till December 24th, 1783, or
perish with my family.

1784, Gen. Haldimand owning land at the bay of
Chaleurs urged the Loyalists to settle on it, or at Catara-
qui, and threatened to withhold provisions from them in
case of a refusal. Some of the Loyalists, however, wanted
to settle near Maisqui Bay in Canada, where they built
some houses and cleared some land, but Gen. Haldimand
sent Lieut. Buckley of the 29th to burn their houses and
to bring off the settlers. The Loyalists then petitioned
the governor for leave to settle in Cape Breton, and not
at the Bay of Chaleur.* The governor having heard that
I had drawn up the petition sent for me and told me that
I was the supposed author of it, and in a passion treated
me with great indignity. I told him that no man but
the commander-in-chief should treat me so ; he added :
"I will allow the Loyalists nothing, they shall settle on
those lands I have allotted for them, or I will send them
back to the rebels." His threatening terrified some, and
they settled on such lands as he chose, but I and my
family left Canada, October 17th, with many others to
get rid of such a petty tyrant, and we arrived at Cape

* No attempt has been made to alter the spelling of proper names.
They are printed exactly as found.

Autobiography of John Peters 381

Breton. Here I left my wife and children in a fisher-
man's home, under the protection of Peter, the Indian
king of Cape Breton (who had more honour than two
Swiss governors), and I went to Halifax.

August, 1785, Sir Charles Douglas, who knew me in
Canada, generously brought me with him to England.
I first borrowed loo;^ for my family in Halifax, and drew
on a friend in London for it.

On my arrival in London I applied to the Lords of the
treasury for subsistence, and they gave me temporary
support of loo;^ per annum, notwithstanding Gen. Haldi-
mand refusing a certificate of my loyalty and services
though they had been so conspicuous for ten years past.

One thing I omitted respecting my sons, who had
served his Majesty against the American rebellion. My
son John, the oldest ensign in the Queen's Loyal Rangers,
was neglected by Gen. Haldimand when he drafted the
provincial corps in Canada, and a son of Major Jessop's,
quite a boy, who had never done any service, was ap-
pointed a lieutenant over my son and all the ensigns who
had served during the whole of the war.

Andrew, my second son, was a midshipman during the
war on the Lakes, under Commodore Chambers, and has
no subsistence. Samuel, my third son, has been a volun-
teer ever since 1779, and all the reward given me and my
sons by Gen. Haldimand is, he returned me to the war
office in these remarkable words " as captain of Invalids,"
and my son John as ensign in the Loyal Rangers, under the
command of Major Edward Jessop, whom as Lieutenant-
Colonel, I had commanded in 1777, and afterwards, till
he was put over me in this astonishing manner. I cannot
say I look back with regret at the part I took, from
motives of loyalty and from a foresight of the horror
and miseries of independence, though I never imagined
they would be so great as they now are, yet I thought

382 Autobiography of John Peters

the part I took right, and I certainly think so still, from
love to my cotintry as well as duty to my sovereign and
notwithstanding my sufferings and services, and scanda-
lous treatment by Gen. Haldimand, I would do it again
if there was occasion. It is true I see persons who were
notorious on the rebel side who are now here, and taken
notice of and advanced, while I am neglected and de-
prived even of what is justly due me ; but with the con-
sciousness of having done right I can look with disdain
at the triimiph of successful villains.

Should you desire any further information, I shall
willingly attend to your commands, either viva voce vel

I have the honour to be, sir, your faithful friend and

obliged servant,

J. Peters.
Duke's Row, No. 3.

Pimlico, Jime 5th, 1786.

I have also had an occasion to overlook the original
from which this was printed and find it to be compar-
ably the same ; headed that it was written by Col. John
Peters by request. It was to have been used by Dr.
Peters in his application for Col. John Peters' relief to the
British government.

I have since ascertained that this clipping was from the
Toronto Gazette.

Col. Peters' anxiety and distress of mind and desire to
get away from Burgoyne's army at the time of its capitu-
lation arose from the fact that he had not as yet received
his commission from the British government, although he
was recognized by the government and his men had been
mustered into the service of the King, just previous to
that in July, but his commission was deferred as the
office which he would be commissioned to depended on
the nimiber of men which he should have mustered into

Autobiography of John Peters 383

service, and the commission which he was fighting under,
was his acknowledgment by the British government, and
his orders from Gen. Governor Tryon of New York under
his old commission of colonel of militia, and the general
governor's proclamation to raise troops for the British
government, as will be partially seen from the following
abstracts from Hadden's Journal:

" Though the provincials and Canadians with Burgoyne,
like the volunteers in our late Civil war, received but
slender praise from the regulars, yet there were some
able officers among them, like the brothers Jessup, Lieut.
Col. John Peters, and Captain Justin Sherwood.

' ' Of irregular troops there were two provincial battalions
commanded respectively by Lieut. Col. John Peters of
Hampshire grants, and Lieut. Col. Ebenezer Jessup, of
New York. The number of companies in each battalion
is unknown, but there were not sufficient to constitute
a regiment, and Peters' corps was sent on the expedition
to Bennington in the hope of swelling its ranks by the
accession of recruits in the neighborhood. Burgoyne in
writing to Lord George Germaine from Skeensborough,
July II, 1777, when everything had gone well with him
says: 'Mr. Peters and Mr. Jessup who came over to
Canada, last autumn and proposed to raise battalions,
one from the neighborhood of Albany, the other from
Charlotte County, are confi.dent of success as the army
advance. Their battalions are now embryo, but very
promising! they have fought and with spirit. Sir Guy
Carleton has given me blank commissions for the officers,
to fill up occasionally, and the agreement with them is,
that the Commissions are not to be so effective till two
thirds of the battalions are raised.'

" Peters' battalion at the battle of Bennington occupied
a prominent position in the fight and at one time bore the
brunt of the battle at the side of a stream and the Amen-

384 Autobiography of John Peters

cans pressed tip the hill in their rear where they had the
whole field of action in their view. In that battle the
British loss was 934; of that number Peters' battalion
alone lost 157.

"The Loyalist corps that served under Burgoyne seem
to have led a precarious existence after their return to
Canada, as we find a warrant antedated July 19, 1779,
issued by order of Gen. Haldimand for payment of
;^i634. 85. lod. sterling, being the allowance made for
the present relief of several corps of Loyalists belonging
to Gen. Burgoyne 's army and sundry other persons
who have taken refuge in this province from the rebel-
lious colonies between 25th June and 24th August, 1779,

"The subsistence returns for Royalists commanded
by Capt. Mc Alpine from which the above warrant was
issued show the money was for the following parties as
the returns denominated :

"Capt. McAlpin's 78

Mr. Jessup 98

Mr. Peters 61

Part of Capt. Leak's 30

Part of Mr. Adams' 34

Those not attached to parties 36

John Peters received ;^30.

"Later on, in 1779, Gen. Haldimand determined to re-
organize these Loyalist corps, if possible, as shown by his
letter to Lord George Germaine dated Quebec, November
I, 1779, and which is as follows:

" My lord, I have the honor to present to your Lordship
that several Gentlemen amongst whom are Capt. McAlpin,
Mr. Leake, Messrs Peters and Jessup, having in conse-
quence of Governor Tryon's Proclamation raised corps,
with whom they joined Gen. Burgoyne 's army, but having

Autobiography of John Peters 385

been by his misfortune dispersed, they took refuge in
this province with part of their men and made appHcation
to me to have their corps re-estabHshed and put upon the
same footing with the provincial corps that has joined
the southern army, but the difficulty that I foimd
in procuring men for the royal emigrants and Sir John
Johnson's corps, and fearing that raising others might
interfere with their success, I from time to time put
them off. Finding these regiments have not been bene-
fited by my design and seeing that the trial may be made
without much expense to our government, these gentle-
men with a number of other refugee Loyalists being indis-
pensably supported at the public expense and that such
corps once raised would be useful particularly as they will
he recruited upon the frontiers of Hampshire, and give
an influence towards Vermont and that neighborhood, I
have thought it expedient to make the attempt and shall
begin with two battalions. I shall not give the officers
commissions until their men are raised, and in proportion
to their success I shall enlarge the plan, trusting to obtain
the King's approbation of what I do for the best, and
that I shall be enabled to fulfill the expectations of those
gentlemen by putting them upon the same footing with
the other provincials serving with the army. As soon as
the winter sets in I shall permit them to send out people
and to employ their friends upon the frontiers in raising
men and shall give them every assistance in my power to
effect their purpose. I shall at the same time set about
raising some companies of Canadians and shall need arms
for the purpose."

Gen. Burgoyne's private instructions to Lt.-Col. Baume
were as follows :

"The object of your expedition is to try the affections

of the country, to disconcert the councils of the enemy, to

mount Reidesils Dragoons, to complete Peters' corps, and

386 Autobiography of John Peters

obtain large supplies of cattle, horses, and carriages. You
will send in cattle from Arlington with a proper detach-
ment from Peters' corps. Also as you will return with
the regiment of dragoons mounted, you must always have
a detachment of Capt. Frazer's or Peters' corps in front
of the regiment of dragoons, in order to prevent your
falling in with ambuscade when you are marching through
the woods."

I * will insert here a short sketch of Col. John Peters'
emigration to Cape Breton,

"As soon as it was known that a lieutenant-colonel
governor was to be sent to Cape Breton and that grants
of land would be issued the same as in the other provinces,
heretofore denied, many persons directed their attention
there. One of the first was Abraham Cuyler Esq. formerly
mayor of Albany, then residing in London, who laid be-
fore the King a memorial dated February 21, 1784, in
which he stated that he himself and many other persons,
who had been deprived of their property on occasion of
their loyalty, had moved to Canada in 1782, and were
desirous of obtaining grants of lands at Cape Breton with
the intention of settling there. This memorial having
been favorably received, a number of persons styling
themselves the Associated Loyalists, sailed in their vessels
for Cape Breton under the charge of Col. Peters, Capt.
Jonathan Jones, and Mr. Robertson, late oflEicers in the
corps of Royal Rangers, and associates of Mr. Cuyler,
where they arrived about October 25. About one hun-
dred and forty persons came out in the vessel furnished
with clothing and provisions by the British government.
Some settled near St. Peters, others at Baddeck, and the
rest at Louisberg."

* This pronoun appears to refer to Mr. McCormick.





" The more one studies histories, and races, and families,
the more one must be convinced of the marked and
permanent influence of blood despite all the crossings by
intermarriages. Every genealogist has noted and mar-
velled at the continuance, from generation to generation,
of some particular type of character visible in the earliest
ancestor. ... To read aright the lessons of human
history, to reach wise and safe generalizations, one must
not forget the law of descent and the power there is in
blood of race." The present compiler finds these words
among the papers of the earlier one, and they form an

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Online LibraryEdmond Frank PetersPeters of New England: a genealogy, and family history; → online text (page 23 of 28)