Robert Tomes.

Battles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) online

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that when one had fired his musket and
prepared to reload, the other might come
forward ready to take his place and cover
his comrade. With this improvement in
their tactics, the Americans found the In
dians much less formidable, and soon got
so far the advantage of them, that they
began to lose spirit and disperse.

Major Watts now brought up a detach
ment of the "Johnson Gre-ens," which had
hitherto been kept in reserve. These
were men belonging to the Mohawk val
ley ; and, being thus brought into conflict
with the American patriots, among whom
there were not only those who were neigh
bors, but some even who were their kins
men,, the horrors of a fierce family feud
were added to the usual terrors of war
fare. The old quarrels and animosities
which had before occurred between those
taking separate sides in the early contro
versies and troubles of the colonies, grow
ing out of the dispute with the mother-
country, were now aroused to increased
fury. There was no check to passion, and
no scruple to forbid the shedding of blood.
Actual war authorized all, and neighbor
joined in deadly struggle with neighbor
without a qualm of conscience. The en
gagement was fierce, and the result ter
ribly fatal.

The battle was so pertinaciously con
tested on both sides, that neither seemed
disposed to give way. The Indian allies
of the British, however, were the first to
lose heart; and, shouting their retreating-
cry, " Oonah ! oonah /" these ruthless war
riors at length fled precipitately to the

adjoining forests. The white men heard
these ominous shouts of their savage con
federates, nnd saw their hasty retreat to
the woods, but nevertheless continued to
fight, and did not cease their deadly strug
gle, until the distant firing from the at
tack of Colonel Willett (in his sortie from
the fort) began to be heard ; whereupon,
the British commander, anxious for the
safety of St. Leger s camp, withdrew his
troops from the field, leaving the patriots
in possession, and marched back to rein
force the arch-leader of the " tories," Sir
John Johnson.

The victory, in the engagement thus
abruptly brought to a close, remained un
decided. The loss in killed and wound
ed on both sides was about equally great,
amounting to over three hundred each.
Of the American officers, Colonel Cox and
Captain V^an Sluyk were killed at the first
fire. The brave old commander, Herki-
mer, and the rest of the wounded, were
borne off the field on litters made from
the branches of trees. The general died
ten days after the battle, at his own resi
dence, on the Mohawk river. His shat
tered leg was amputated, but (from the
complex nature of the wound) so unsuc
cessfully, that he never recovered from
the effects of the operation. He bore his
sufferings cheerfully, and calrny awaited
his death, smoking his pipe and reading
his Bible, to quote the graphic words of
an annalist, " like a Christian hero." His
patriotic example was greatly venerated
by his countrymen, and his illustrious
name was subsequently conferred by the
legislature of New York upon one of the
newly-formed counties of the state.



[PART n.

The enemy had retired from the field
of action in such haste, that one of their
officers (Major Watts, who was severely
wounded) was left for dead. He there
remained for two days, when he was dis
covered by an Indian scout, near a spring
of water, where he had crawled to quench
his burning thirst, and was borne into St.
Leger s camp.

When General Schuyler received in
telligence, at Stillwater, of this tragic con
test, he despatched a force of eight hun
dred continental troops, under the com
mand of Brigadier-General Learned, to
reinforce the patriots.

Aug. 13,

A few days subsequently, General Ar
nold volunteered his services, which were
accepted by Schuyler, who or
dered him to proceed immedi
ately to the " German Flats," where he
was to assume the chief command, and,
calling out the militia of the neighboring
country, relieve Fort Schuyler, if practi
cable ; otherwise, to adopt such precau
tionary measures as would most effectu
ally cover the settlements of the Mohawk
valley from the ravages of General Bur-
goyne s advancing British and Germans,
and their more terrible Indian allies, who
filled the countrv with consternation



General Burgoyne in Straits. His Wants. He seeks Relief by an Expedition to Bennington. Opposition of Officers.
Major Skene, of Skcnesborough, carries the Day. The Force. The Hessians and Colonel Baume. Small Means
and Great Ends. The Slow Germans. The Plodding Baume. A Capture. Encouragement and Discouragement.
The Americans on the Alert. General Stark and his Quarrels. His Influence. Colonel Seth Warner and the
Green-Mountain Boys. Stark comes up with the Enemy. A Successful Skirmish. A Soaking Rain. Breyman and
his Lumbering Germans. Intrenchments of the Enemy. A Fighting Parson. Molly Stark s Prospects of Widow
hood. The Fight. Victory. Losses. " One Little Hair" too late. Stark s Glory and Rewards.


GENERAL BURGOYNE had so far ex
hausted his resources in his difficult
march to Fort Edward, and Schuyler s
efforts to deprive him of the natural sup
plies of the country had been so success
ful, that he found himself unable to pros
ecute his onward route to Albany, where,
forming a junction with Colonel St.Leger,
he proposed to concentrate his forces. His
chief want was horses with which to draw
his baggage-wagons and artillery, and to
mount his cavalry regiments. Having
learned that Bennington, in the " New-
Hampshire grants" (now Vermont), was
used by the Americans as a deposite for
stores, and that it contained not only live
stock in abundance, but large quantities
of corn and flour, he determined to send
an expedition against the place. General
Phillips, of the artillery, arid Baron Rei-
desel, who commanded the Hessians, op
posed the enterprise. They contended

that, to send a detachment into the heart
of the enemy s country, would be to in
cur too great a danger. Burgoyne him
self thought that a large force might be
required ; but Major Skene, of Skenes-
borough, who pretended thoroughly to
know the country and the sentiments of
the people, declared that the friends of
the British cause were as five to one, and
that they only required the appearance
of a protecting power to show themselves.
General Burgoyne accordingly, trusting
to Skene s apparently superior knowledge,
followed his advice, and despatched but a
small force to Bennington, consisting of
about five or six hundred men in all, with
two light fieldpieces. Of this small de
tachment, one hundred were Indians, a
few British and Canadians, but the great
er part Hessians, among whom were two
hundred dismounted dragoons beloninntr

to Reidesel s regiment.




nel Baume, a German, was appointed to
the command ; and Major Skene was sent
to accompany him, and aid in the execu
tion of an enterprise of which he was the
chief instigator.

The force was meager, but it was ex
pected to accomplish great purposes, as
may be inferred from Burgoyne s instruc
tions to Lieutenant-Colonel Baume, who
was ordered to proceed through the New-
Hampshire grants; cross the mountains;
scour the country from Rockingham to
Otter creek ; to get horses, carriages, and
cattle, and mount Reidesel s regiment of
dragoons ; to go down Connecticut river
as far as Brattleborough, and return by
the great road to Albany, there to meet
General Burgoyne ; to endeavor to make
the country believe it was the advanced
body of the general s army, who was to
cross Connecticut river and proceed to
Boston, and that at Springfield they were
to be joined by the troops from Rhode
Island. All officers, civil and military,
acting under the Congress, were to be
made prisoners. He (Baume) was to tax
the towns where they halted, with such
articles as they wanted, and take host
ages for the performance. " You are to
bring all horses," adds Burgoyne, "fit to
mount the dragoons or to serve as battal
ion horses for the troops, with as many
saddles and bridles as can be found. The
number of horses requisite, besides those
for the dragoons, ought to be thirteen
hundred ; if you can bring more, so much
the better. The horses must be tied in
strings of ten each, in order that one man
may lead ten horses."

With these great designs in view, Lieu-


[TAUT n.

Aug. 13.

tenant- Colonel Baume, with his small
force, set out on his expedition.
General Burgoyne, at the same
time, moved his army along the eastern
shore of the Hudson, and encamped near
ly opposite to Saratoga,, where, having
thrown a bridge of boats across the river,
he sent over his advanced guard, under
General Fraser.

Baume had not a long march before
him, Bennington being only about twen
ty-four miles to the eastward of the Hud
son, but he and his heavy Germans were
slow in their movements. "The worst
British regiment in the service," says Sted-
man, the English military annalist, " would
with ease have inarched two miles for
their one." Rapidity of motion was not
one of the virtues of the German troops.
They were not only naturally less active
than the British, but were weighed down
by the monstrous accoutrements intro
duced by Frederick the Great into the
Prussian armies. Their hats and swords
alone weighed nearly as much as the en
tire equipment of a British soldier ! The
Germans were the last men who should
have been selected for attempting a sur
prise, which requires above all things ce
lerity of movement.

Baume went on. plodding his way slow
ly but faithfully. On the first night he
reached Cambridge, where his advanced
guard of Indians and Canadians succeed
ed in dispersing a small party of Ameri
cans guarding some cattle. The follow
ing day he got possession of the mill of
" Sa.ncook," with a large supply of "very
fine Hour," a thousand bushels of wheat,
twenty barrels of salt, and about " one



thousand pounds of pearlash and potash,"
which the Americans, flying before him,
had left as a prize behind them. From
this place, on the morning of the 14th of
August, he writes a despatch to General
Burgoyne, which, upon the whole, is quite
encouraging. " By five prisoners taken
here," he says, " they agree that from fif
teen to eighteen hundred are at Benning-
ton, but are supposed to leave it on our
approach People are flocking in hour
ly, but want to be armed." There were,
however, already some drawbacks to his
successful progress. The Americans were
breaking down the bridges, and delaying
his march ; and the Indians were giving
him no little trouble. " The savages," he
declares, " can not be controlled ; they
ruin and take everything they please."
With their superior skill in horse-steal
ing, the Indian allies were the first to get
possession of these animals ; and, unless
they received hard cash for them, they
would either destroy or drive them off.
Baume, notwithstanding, is still hopeful,
and adds, in his deliberate way, " 1 will
proceed so far to-day as to fall on the en
emy to-morrow."

The Americans, however, were vigilant,
and were preparing to receive the lieu
tenant-colonel and his Germans. Ever
since the success of General Burgoyne at
Ticonderoga, the eastern states had been
making strenuous efforts to protect their
frontiers from invasion. New Hampshire,
being the first exposed, was foremost in
preparing to defend herself. The militia
of the state was called out. and a detach
ment under General Stark ordered im
mediately to the frontier.

Stark had only accepted the command
of the New-Hampshire militia on the con
dition of being left at liberty to serve or
not under a continental commander as
he pleased. The general was vexed by
the treatment which he had received at
the hands of Congress, that body having,
by the appointment of younger and less-
experienced men above him, slighted, as
he thought, his superior claims. He had
therefore left the general service in dis
gust, but was too devoted a patriot to
abandon his country in the crisis of its
trials ; and, when his native state was
threatened, he did not hesitate to come
forward in her defence.

JOHN STARK had, while a youth, fought
in the French wars. At the first sound
of the cannon at Lexington, he had left
his sawmill, and, calling together the back
woodsmen of New Hampshire, had hast
ened to Boston, w T here he was foremost
in the struggle at Bunker s hill. He had
served in Canada under Montgomery and
Arnold; and he had shared in the victo
ry at Trenton under Washington. Al
though these services may have been for
gotten by Congress in the strife of parti
sanship, they were held in fresh remem
brance by his own state.

Stark s influence in New Hampshire
was so great, that his appointment was
no sooner made, than fourteen hundred
men rallied to his standard. These were
not raw militia, but brave and true sol
diers, well officered, who had already, like
their veteran commander, seen service.

Stark s resolve to act independently of
the orders of any continental command
er was soon put to the test. General




Lincoln, who had been sent by Washing
ton to the North, to aid Schuyler, had
now reached Manchester, some twenty
miles north of Bennington. Here Stark
met him, and was ordered to join Schuy
ler at Stillwater. With this order, how
ever, he refused compliance, confronting
Lincoln with the "condition of service"
which the state of New Hampshire had
accepted. The matter was finally referred
to Congress for adjustment, when that
body resolved " that the council of New
Hampshire be informed that the instruc
tions which General Stark says he has re
ceived from them are destructive of mili
tary subordination, and highly prejudicial
to the common cause at this crisis ; and
that therefore they be desired to instruct
General Stark to conform himself to the
same rules which other general officers
of the militia are subject to, whenever
they are called out at the expense of the
United States."

Stark, however, was a plain man, and
had no fastidious regard for the nice dis
tinctions of legislative privileges. Pie
would do everything, he said, to promote
the public good, but nothing that was in
consistent with his own honor, and went
on, resolutely bent upon the sole object
of defending his state, now threatened
with danger. Having heard of the ad
vance of Lieutenant-Colonel Baume, the
veteran Stark hurried back to Benning
ton, where he was soon followed by Colo
nel Seth Warner and his " Green-Mount
ain Boys," who had returned to New
Hampshire after St. Glair s surrender and
retreat from Ticonderoga.
, On reachingBenuington,Stark learned

Aug. 14.

that Baume s Indians were at Cambridge,
twelve miles north of him. He immedi
ately sent forward Lieutenant- Colonel
Gregg, with two hundred men, to oppose
them ; and the next morning,
having rallied his brigade and
the militia, and being reinforced by War
ner, who had come into Bennington with
his men drenched by a soaking rain, he
inarched himself with all speed to meet
the enemy. Warner s regiment was left
behind to "dry" and refresh themselves.
Stark had got but seven miles on his way,
when he met Gregg and his party in full
retreat, with Baume s force in pursuit,
only a mile in their rear.

Stark at once halted his troops, and
drew them up in order of battle. The
enemy coming up and seeing his strength,
did likewise, taking their position on a
hill very advantageously situated. Stark
confined himself to sending out small par
ties to skirmish with their advance-guards,
and with such good effect, that thirty of
the enemy were killed or wounded, with
out any loss on his own side. As his
ground was not suitable for a general ac
tion, the American commander withdrew
his troops a mile farther back, and en
camped. The whole of the fol
lowing day was mostly lost, for
it rained heavily from morning till night,
A council of war, however, was called, at
which a plan of action was agreed upon.
Two detachments were to be sent to at
tack the enemy in the rear, while a third
should oppose them in front, Lieuten
ant-Colonel Baume, in the meanwhile,
took advantage of this pause to send to
Burgoj iie for a reinforcement ; and Colo-





nelBreyman was immediately despatched
with five hundred men to his aid. His
progress, however, was so slow, with his
lumbering Germans, that, although he had
but twenty-four miles to march, he took
over two days to accomplish it ! " This
Breyman," says the author of "KnigMs
History of England? "like most of his school,
was a pedant and a formalist, who had no
notion of marching, even through a rough
country, except with all the order and
precision of the drill-ground : he halted
ten times an hour to dress his ranks." Of
course, such a laggard was not likely to
be up to time, and we shall find that his
arrival was too late for him to render any

Baume, in the meantime, continued by
means of intrenchments to strengthen the
position which he had chosen, upon the
high ground, within a bend of the little
Wallormscook river. Although the rainy
weather kept the two opposing parties,
for the most part, within their encamp
ments, there was an occasional skirmish
between them ; and the Indians were so
frequently picked off by the New-Hamp
shire riflemen, that they be^an to desert

/ / cj

Baume, telling him that they would not
stay, because the woods were filled with

General Stark, before leaving Benning-
ton, had sent expresses in all directions
throughout the country, to summon the
militia, and they now began to come in.
Before break of day on the morning of
the IGth of August, Colonel Symonds
marched into camp with a considerable
body from Berkshire county, Massachu-

* Lossing.

Aug. 16.

setts. Among the volunteers was a war
like clergyman of the name of Allen. So
impatient was he for the fight, that he no
sooner arrived, than he presented himself
to Stark, saying, " General, the people of
Berkshire have been so often summoned
without being allowed to fight, that they
have resolved, unless you now give them
a chance, not to turn out again." " You
wouldn t surely wish to march while it is
dark and raining !" replied Stark. " No,
not just now," answered Allen. " Well,"
responded the general, " if the Lord will
only give us once more some sunshine,
and I do not give you fighting enough,
I ll never ask you to come out again."

As the day advanced, the rain ceased,
and the sun shone brightly ; so
Stark prepared to begin his op
erations against the enemy. In accord
ance with the plan agreed upon with his
officers on the previous day, the general
sent Colonel Nichols, with two hundred
men, in the rear of the enemy s left, and
Colonel Herrick, with three hundred, in
the rear of their right, with orders to join
their forces and make a simultaneous at
tack. To the right, Colonels Hubbard
and Stickney were detached, with two
hundred men, while a hundred were sent
to the front, in order to draw the atten
tion of the enemy in that direction. The
command of the main body the general
reserved for himself, with the view, as
soon as the action began, to push his men
forward and make a charge in front.

It was three o clock in the afternoon
when tl>e attack was begun, by the ad
vance of Colonel Nichols upon the rear
of Baume s intrenchments. "Forward 1 "


[PART n.

shouted Stark, at the sound of the first
gun, as he led his troops on against the
enemy s front. " See there, men !" con
tinued he ; " there are the red-coats ! Be
fore night they are ours, or Molly Stark
will be a widow !" And his brave fellows,
responding to this homely speech of their
general with a loud huzza, pushed for
ward. In a few minutes the action was
general. "It lasted two hours," wrote
Stark, " the hottest I ever saw in my life.
It represented one continued clap of thun
der." The Indians were the first to give
way. Finding that they were about to
be hemmed in by the Americans in the
rear, they fled, yelling and jingling their
" cow-bells," but received a fire by which
three were killed and two wounded as
they ran between the two detachments
of Nichols and Herrick, that were closing
to form a junction.

The Germans, nevertheless, spiritedly
resisted, clinging to their guns within the
oreastworks as long as their ammunition
lasted ; and then strove to defend them
selves with sword in hand, and with the
brave Baume at their head. The Ameri
cans, however, though armed only with
their " brown firelocks," and with hardly
a bayonet, mounted the fortifications and
assailed them with such dashing gallant
ry, that the enemy were obliged to give
way. " Our martial courage," said Stark,
" was too hard for them." After a severe
loss in killed and wounded, amon<; the


latter of whom was Baume himself, they
were driven from their around, leaving


their artillery and baggage behind them.
Stark s militiamen, who had been prom
ised by him all the plunder taken in the

enemy s camp, now left their ranks to se
cure their booty. The retreating Ger
mans, hearing of the advance of Colonel
Breyman with a reinforcement, began to
rally, and might have renewed the en
gagement to the disadvantage of the un
disciplined Americans, scattered about in
their search for plunder, had not Colonel
Warner s regiment, which had been left
behind at Bennington, luckily come up
at this moment, and began the attack
afresh. Stark, too, gathered as many of
his dispersed men as he could, and, form
ing them, pushed forward. The battle
was renewed, and continued obstinately
on both sides until sunset. The enemy,
however, were forced to. retreat, with
Stark close at their heels, who pursued
them until dark. " Had day," said he,
"lasted an hour longer, we should have
taken the whole body of them."

The laggard Breyman came up with
his slow Germans only in time to meet
Baume s force in full retreat. " Had he
been one little hour sooner, the fate of the
day," according to the British authorities,
"might have been different; but now he
had nothing to do but to put the fugi
tives of Baume s detachment into some
order, and retreat to the place he had
come from."

Seven hundred of the enemy were ta
ken prisoners, among whom was Baume,
who soon after died of his wounds. Two
hundred and seven of them were left
dead on the field. The Americans had
about one hundred killed and nearly the
same number wounded. Stark himself
lost " his horse, bridle, and saddle," in the
action. Four pieces of brass cannon, sev-


eral hundred stands of amis, and a mis
cellaneous collection of brass -barrelled
drums, stores, swords, and baggage-wag
ons, fell into the hands of the Americans.
These (or their value) were claimed by
Stark for his troops, since, as he declares
in his official account, that he promised
" the soldiers should have all the plunder
taken in the enemy s camp."

The Americans were everywhere great
ly inspirited by this triumph at Benning-
ton. The gloom, which had previously so
darkened the hopes of the people in the
North, now began to disappear before

this dawn of victory in the East. The mi
litia became more self-reliant, and proved
themselves more worthy of the trust of
others. They had succeeded in overcom
ing European regulars, and had put to
flight the much-dreaded Indian savages
arrayed against them.

General Stark s share in the victory
was handsomely acknowledged. Con
gress, forgetting their .own wrongs, now
thought only of his rights, and, appoint
ing him a brigadier-general in the conti
nental army, reinstated him in the posi
tion which he claimed.


Court of Inquiry upon Generals Schuyler and St. Clair. Sohuyler superseded. Washington declines to nominate a Suc
cessor. Unpopularity of Schuyler, and its Causes. General Gates appointed to the Command of the Northern De
partment. Courtesy of Gates and Schuyler. Schuyler chagrined. Gates agreeably disappointed. Gatcs s Attack
upon General Burgoync with his Pen. Military Rhetoric. Burgoyne s Answer. Movements of General Arnold.
A Master of Grandiloquence. A Yankee Trick. Yan Yost Cuyler. The Success of his Mission. The British for

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 67 of 126)