Robert Tomes.

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

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your children must go, that at least they
may be safe from danger. " She then con
sented, got into her calash, and drove off.
At six o clock the next morn
ing there was a full halt. " The
delay," says the baroness (whose anxie
ties were naturally for her husband and
her children), -seemed to displease every
body ; for, if we could have only made
another good march, we should have been
in safety." Burgoyne was, however, pru
dently preparing against the chances of
attack from his triumphant enemy in the
rear. He halted in order to count and
range his cannon, and to bring his strag
gling troops out of the confusion unavoid
able in a hurried retreat. He soon found
reason for his discretion ; for he had hard
ly begun his march, when the alarm was
given that the enemy were in sight. A
halt was again immediately ordered ; but
it was soon discovered that the fright had
come from a small reconnoitring-party of
Americans, only two hundred strong.

In the meantime, however, the retreat
ing army expected an engagement, and
prepared for the worst. Some of the Ger
man officers collected their valuables, and
strove to place them in security, so that
their property might have a chance of
safety, whatever might be the risks to
which their lives were exposed. " Cap
tain Willoe," says the baroness, " brought
me a bag full of bank-notes, and Captain
Geismar his elegant watch, a ring, and a
purse full of money, which they request

ed me to take care of, and which I prom
ised to do to the utmost of my power."

The army, nevertheless, soon recovered
from its fright,and moved slowly on again.
But the poor baroness, with the anxieties
for her husband, the care of her little chil
dren, and her despairing servants, was
overwhelmed with trouble. " One of my
waiting-women," she says, " was in a state
of despair which approached to madness.
She cursed, and tore her hair; and when
I attempted to reason with her, and to
pacify her, she asked me if I was not
grieved at our situation ; and, upon my
saying, I am, she tore her cap off her
head, and let her hair drop over her face,
saying to me : It is very easy for you
to be composed and talk ; you have your
husband with you : I have none, and what
remains to me but the prospect of perish
ing, or losing all I have ? " All that the
baroness could do was to bid her take
comfort, and promise that she should be
compensated for all her losses.

" About evening," continues the baron
ess, " we arrived at Saratoga. My dress
was wet through and through with rain,
and in that state I had to remain
the whole night, having no place
to change it. I, however, got close to a
large fire, and at last lay clown on some
straw. At this moment, General Phillips
came up to me, and I asked him why we
had not continued our retreat, as my hus
band had promised to cover it, and bring
the arm}- through. Poor, dear woman,
said he, I wonder how, drenched as you
are, you have the courage still to perse
vere and venture farther in this kind of
weather. I wish, continued he, you were

Oct. 9,




Oct. 9.

our commanding general : General Bur
goyne is tired, and means to halt here to
night and give us our supper. "

On the morning after Burgoyne s re
treat, the whole of Gates s army, with the
exception of the camp -guards,
moved forward and took posses
sion of the enemy s abandoned intrench-
ments. The British commander was still
in the position, on the heights, which he
had taken on the night of the battle. Du
ring the day while he remained, previous
to beginning his retreat, a desultory fire
was kept up between the pickets of the
opposing camps ; and General Lincoln,
while reconnoitring, had his leg broken
by a shot from the enemy. Burgoyne,
as we have seen, was allowed to begin his
retreat on the night of the 8th of Octo
ber, without interruption ; for Gates pru
dently avoided an engagement, and de
termined so to surround his enemy as to
force him to a, surrender. He according
ly, when Burgoyne was retreating, sent
off General Fellows, with a detachment
of fourteen hundred militia, to cross the
Hudson, and post themselves on the high
ground, on the eastern bank of the river,
opposite to Saratoga, and at a ford where
the British would desire to cross. Other
troops were also detached to Fishkill ;
while Fort Edward, on the Hudson, and
Fort George, on Lake George, to the
north of Saratoga, were already held by
Colonel Cochrane, in command of a force
which was daily gathering strength from
the flocking in of the militia of the whole
country round.

General Gates, with his main body, re
mained quietly for two days in the camp

Oct. 9,

abandoned by Burgoyne. "The weath
er," says Wilkinson, "was unfavorable, the
commissariat dilatory, and the men seem
ed to prefer repose to action." The delay
fretted the young deputy adjutant-gener-
al, but Gates was unmoved, and was calm
ly and discreetly abiding his time.

An incident now occurred which brings
again to our notice one of the gentle wo
men of whom we have already
had so much to say, to whose
constant heroism of woman s love during
these trying times w r e all eagerly turn,
from the hot bravery flushing up in the
angry paroxysms of the battle-struggle.

Lady Harriet Ackland, when she heard
that her husband (Major Ackland, of the
grenadiers) was wounded and a prison
er, was determined to go to him, as she
had done when he was a sufferer before,
and by her sympathy and her tender care
soothe him whom she loved so deeply.
When she sent to Burgoyne, asking per
mission to proceed to the American camp,
he was greatly surprised. " Though I was
ready to believe." he says, " that patience
and fortitude, in a supreme degree, were
to be found, as well as every other virtue,
under the most tender forms, I was as
tonished at this proposal. After so long
an agitation of spirits, exhausted not only
for want of rest, but absolutely want of
food, drenched in rains for twelve hours
together that a woman should be ca
pable of such an undertaking as deliver
ing herself to an enemy, probably in the
niuiit, and uncertain of what hands she


might fall into, appeared an effort above
human nature. The assistance I was en
abled to give was small indeed ; 1 had not




even a cup of wine to offer her : but I
was told she had found, from some kind
and fortunate hand, a little rum and dirty
water. All I could furnish to her w r as an
open boat, and a few lines (written upon
dirty, wet paper) to General Gates, rec
ommending her to his protection."

On the " dirty, wet paper" the British
cominander-in-chief wrote as follows, in a
rapid scrawl :

" SIR : Lady Harriet Ackland, a lady of
the first distinction by family, rank, and
by personal virtues, is under such concern
on account of Major Ackland her husband,
wounded and a prisoner in your hands,
that I can not refuse her request to com
mit her to your protection.

" Whatever general impropriety there
may be in persons acting in your situa
tion and mine to solicit favors, I can not
see the uncommon perseverance in every
female grace and exaltation of character
of this lady, and her very hard fortune,
without testifying that your attentions to

t/ O /

her will lay me under obligation.
" I am, sir, your obedient servant,


" October 9, 1777.


Lady Ackland, thus provided, set out
in the midst of a storm of rain, on her
trying journey, in an open boat upon the
Hudson. Mr. Brudenell, the chaplain, had
offered to accompany her ; and he, to
gether with a waiting-maid, and her hus
band s body-servant (who had still a ball
in his shoulder, which he had received
while searching for his master on the bat
tle-field), were her only companions. It

was at dusk in the evening when she be
gan her journey, and it was late at night
when she reached the American outposts.
A sentinel, hearing the oars of the boat,
challenged it, when Mr. Brudenell, the
chaplain, called out that he bore a flag of
truce from General Burgoyne. The sol
dier, fearful of treachery, and threatening
to shoot them should they land, kept
them off until he had sent word to Major
Henry Dearborn, who commanded the
American advanced guard.

The major, upon learning that there
was a lady in the boat, immediately pre
pared to receive her. His guard occupied
a log-cabin, in which there was a back
apartment appropriated to his own use.
This he had cleared for her reception, and
orders were given that the party should
be allowed to land. Upon reaching the
cabin, Lady Ackland was assured of her
husband s safety ; and a fire having been
lighted, and a cup of tea made, she was
enabled to pass the night with tolerable
comfort. Early the next morn
ing, the party again embarked,
and sailed down the river to the Ameri
can camp, " where General Gates, whose
gallantry will not be denied," says Wil
kinson, " stood ready to receive her with
all the tenderness and respect to which
her rank and condition gave her a claim.
Indeed, the feminine figure, the benign as
pect, and polished manners, of this charm
ing woman, were alone sufficient to attract
the sympathy of the most obdurate ; but
if another motive could have been want
ing to inspire respect, it was furnished by
the peculiar circumstances of Lady Har
riet, then in that most delicate situation,

Oct. 10,



[PART 11.

which can not fail to interest the solici
tudes of every being possessing the form
and feelings of a man."

Her wounded husband, Major Ackland,
had already been conveyed to Albany,
where Lady Harriet proceeded immedi
ately to join him, and had the happiness
of finding that his wound was not mortal,
and that he was rapidly recovering from
its effects.*

General Burgoyne did riot remain long
at Saratoga, but, having refreshed his ar
my after its painful inarch with a few
hours of such repose as his troops could
obtain by throwing themselves on the wet
ground during the pelting rain, he began
to continue his retreat to the northward

before break of day. A detach-
Oct, 10, ... . J

ment 01 Americans had reached

the ground, on the bank of the Fishkill,

* The subsequent history of Lady Harriet and Major Ack
land was thus first told by Wilkinson, and has been adopted
by most other writers: " Ackland, after his return to Eng
land, procured a regiment ; and at a dinner of military men,
where the courage of Americans was made a question, took
the negative side with his usual decision ; he was opposed,
warmth ensued, and lie gave the lie direct to a Lieutenant
Lloyd, fought him, and was shot through the head. Lady
Harriet lost her senses, and continued deranged two years ;
after which, I have been informed," continues Wilkinson,
"she married Mr. Brudenell, who accompanied her from
General Burgoyne s camp, when she sought her wounded
husband on the Hudson s river." This story, however, is
now contradicted ; and it is declared, apparently on good
authority, that Major Ackland did not tight a duel, and was
not killed ; that Lady Harriet did not become insane, and
did not marry the chaplain, Mr. Brudenell. "Major John
Dyke Ackland," says Lossing, in his Life of Washington,
" was the eldest son of Sir Thomas Dyke Ackland. He died
from the effects of his wounds received at Saratoga, Novem
ber, 1778. His wife, the Right Honorable Lady Harriet
Ackland, was sister of the earl of Ilchester, and mother of
the late countess of Carnarvon. Lady Ackland survived
her husband many years, arid, contrary to the generally-
received opinion, appears to have remained his widow until
her death, on the 21st. of July, 1815. ... Lady Ackland and
the eminent Charles James Fox were cousins." (See Amer
ican Historical Maijaziue, New York, vol. ii., p. 121.)

before the British commander; and, al
though on his advance, they had retreat
ed to the opposite side of the river, where
General Fellows was posted on the heights
with his fifteen hundred men, they had
taken care to break down the bridges.
Burgoyne was thus delayed in getting
his baggage and artillery over the Fisl
kill, which small stream, running into th
Hudson from west to east, stretched di
rectly across his route. After destroying
the buildings on the south bank, among
which were the house and mills belonirinur


to General Schuyler, the British crossed
over and posted themselves on the heights
north of the Fishkill, where they at once
began to intrench their camp.

General Gates, in the meantime, drew
near in pursuit; although, in consequence
of the heavy rains, and some delay in wait
ing for supplies, he did not march before
the afternoon of the 10th of October. By
four o clock, however, he reached Sarato
ga, and took his position on the wooded
heights, about a mile south of the Fish-
kill, separated from Burgoyne s camp by
this small stream. The general s own quar
ters were humble enough, being in a small
hovel about ten feet square, situated at
the foot of a hill, out of which it had been
partially scooped. The floor was simply
the ground, and Gates s pallet was spread
upon rude boards, supported by four fork
ed pieces of timber, with cross-pieces, iu
one corner; while Wilkinson, with his
saddle for a pillow, lay upon the straw in
another. Finding the enemy still busy
in moving their stores, Gates ordered out
tw r o light fieldpieces, to disperse a fatigue
party engaged in unloading the batteaux



which had followed Burgoyne up the
Hudson. The object was attained ; but
Major Stevens, who was serving the field-
pieces, was soon obliged to withdraw, by
a severe cannonade from the whole park
of the enemy s artillery.

To the baroness Reidesel s narrative we
must again recur for a true impression of
passing events in the British camp. " The
greatest misery," she says, " at this time
prevailed in the army, and more than
thirty officers came to me, for whom tea
and coffee was prepared, and with whom
I shared all my provisions, with which my
calash was in general well supplied ; for I
had a cook who was an excellent caterer,
and who often in the night crossed small
rivers and foraged on the inhabitants,
bringing in with him sheep, small pigs,
and poultry, for which he very often for
got to pay, though he received good pay
from me, as long as I had any, and was
ultimately handsomely rewarded. Our
provisions now failed us for want of prop
er conduct in the commissary s depart
ment, and I began to despair.

" About two o clock in the af
ternoon, we again heard a firing
of cannon and small-arms. Instantly all
was alarm, and everything in motion.
My husband told me to go to a house not
far off. I immediately seated myself in
my calash with my children, and drove
off; but scarcely had we reached it, be
fore I discovered five or six armed men
on the other side of the Hudson. Instinct
ively 1 threw my children down in the
calash, and then concealed myself with
them. At that moment the fellows fired,
and wounded an already wounded Eng-

Oct. 11.

lish soldier, who was behind me. Poor
fellow ! I pitied him exceedingly, but at
that moment had no means or power to
relieve him.

" A terrible cannonade was commenced
by the enemy, which was directed against
the house in which I sought to obtain
shelter for myself and children, under the
mistaken idea that all the generals were
in it. Alas ! it contained none but wound
ed and women. We were at last obliged
to resort to the cellar for refuge ; and in
one corner of this I remained the whole
day. my children sleeping on the earth
with their heads in my lap, and in the
same situation I passed a sleepless night.
Eleven cannon-balls passed through the
house, n,nd we could distinctly hear them
roll away. One poor soldier, who was ly
ing on a table, for the purpose of having
his leg arnputated,t was struck by a shot
which carried away his other. His com
rades had left him, and when we went to
his assistance we found him in a corner
of the room, into which he had crept more
dead than alive, scarcely breathing. My
reflections on the danger to which my
husband was exposed now agonized me
exceedingly ; and the thoughts of my
children, and the necessity of struggling
for their preservation, alon^ sustained me.

" The ladies of the army who were with
me were, Mrs. Hamage, a Mrs. Kennels,
the widow of a lieutentant who was killed,
and the wife of the commissary. Major
Hamage, his wife, and Mrs. Kennels, made
a little room in a corner, with curtains to
it, and wished to do the same for me ; but
I preferred being near the door, in case
of fire. Not far off my maid slept, and



[PART n.

opposite to us three English officers, who,
though wounded., were determined not to
be left behind ; one of them was Captain
Greene, an aid-de-camp to Major Phillips,
a very valuable officer and most agreea
ble man. They each made me a most
sacred promise not to leave me behind ;
and, in case of a sudden retreat, that they
would each of them take one of my chil
dren on his horse : and, for myself, one
of my husband s was in constant readi

" Our cook, I have before mentioned,
procured us our meals, but we were in
want of water ; and I was often obliged
to drink wine, and to give it to my chil
dren. It was the only thing my husband
took which made our faithful hunter
(Rockel) express one day his apprehen
sions that the general was weary of his
life, or fearful of being taken, as he drank
so much wine. The constant danger which
my husband was in, kept me in a state of
wretchedness ; and I asked myself if it
was possible I should be the only happy
one, and have my husband spared to me


unhurt, exposed as he was to so many
perils. He never entered his tent, but
lay down whole nights by the watch-fires.
This alone was enough to have killed
him, the cold was so intense.

"The want of water distressed us much.
At length vse found a soldier s wife, who
had courage enough to fetch us some from
the river, an office nobody else would un
dertake, as the Americans shot at every
person who approached it ; but, out of re
spect for her sex, they never molested

"I now occupied myself through the
day in attending the wounded. I made
them tea and coffee, and often shared my
dinner with them, for which they offered
me a thousand expressions of gratitude.
One day, a Canadian officer came to our
cellar, who had scarcely the power of
holding himself upright, and we con
cluded he was dying for want of nourish
ment. I was happy in offering him my
dinner, which strengthened him, and pro
cured me his friendship. I now under
took the care of Major Bloomfielcl, anoth
er aid-de-camp of General Phillips. He
had received a musket-ball through both
cheeks, which in its course had knocked
out several of his teeth and cat his tongue.
He could hold nothing in his mouth ; the
matter which ran from his mouth almost
choked him, and he was not able to take
any nourishment except a little soup or
something liquid. We had some Rhenish
wine, and, in the hope that the acidity of
it would cleanse his wound, I gave him
a bottle of it; he took a little now and
then, and with such effect, that his cure
soon followed. Thus I added another to
my stock of friends, and derived a satis
faction which, in the midst of sufferings,
served to tranquillize me, and diminish
their acuteness.

" One day, General Phillips accompa
nied my husband, at the risk of their lives,
on a visit to us, who, after having wit
nessed our situation, said to him : I would
not for ten thousand guineas come again
to this place ; my heart is almost broken !
In this horrid situation we remained six





Desperate Situation of General Burgoyne. Desperate Expedients. A Masked Movement. The Americans tricked
A Skirmish with the Pickets. The British surrounded. Despair of Burgoyne. Proposals to negotiate. The Terms
settled. Surrenderof Burgoyne. Convention not Capitulation. News from Sir Henry Clinton. Too late. Fresh
Beef. The Baroness Reidesel refreshed. The Convention signed. Meeting of Burgoyne and Gates. Splendor and
Simplicity. The Formalities of the Surrender. The British Commander pleads Illness. The " Stars and Stripes"
for the First Time. The Adventures of the Baroness continued. Courtesy of General Sehuyrer. French Gallantry.
Kindness of Schuyler. The Numbers surrendered. The News of Victory reaches Congress. Gates moves toward
the Hudson. Retreat of General Vaughan. The Result of the Surrender at Saratoga. Its Effect in France, Eng
land, and throughout Europe. The Earl of Chatham. " You can not conquer America!"


desperate position, with a powerful
body of Americans under General Fellows
extending beyond his left flank, on the
eastern bank of the Hudson ; with the
country before him, toward the north,
filled with provincials, who held Fort Ed
ward, and swarmed in every mountain-
pass and forest-path which led to Fort
George, and even to the borders of Lake
Cliamplain ; and with a triumphant ene
my behind him. His situation was des
perate, and his plans for extrication equal
ly so. He proposed to ascend the Hud
son, along the western bank, where he
was now posted, to Fort George, at the
southern end of the lake of that name.
A rugged country, with mountains, mo
rasses, ravines, and deep streams, was be
fore him. Roads were to be made and
bridges built by an army half famished
and threatened on all sides by a numer
ous and triumphant enemy. Great as
were the obstacles, the British general
made the attempt to overcome them. He
sent out working-parties to open roads
and construct bridges ; but the American

riflemen were everywhere on the alert,
and from each rocky defile and forest-
covert came the fetal bullets : and, after
one day s trial, Burgoyne s artificers were
forced to retire to the cover of the camp,
and give up all hope of the route to Fort
George by the western bank of the Hud

Burgoyne now hit upon the desperate
expedient of marching his army a short
distance along the Hudson, and forcino-

C> O

his passage across that river in the very
face of the large body of Americans on
the eastern bank. Making up his rnind
to abandon the artillery, and giving each
man his share of the few days provisions
which were all that were left to carry in
his knapsack on his back, he hoped that
his troops, by dint of personal daring and
physical endurance, might succeed in
working their way to Fort Edward and
the lakes, and thence by a circuitous
route find safety in Canada. With this
object in view, Burgoyne sent a
detachment up the river in ad
vance, intending to follow with the whole
of his army in the course of the night.

Oct. 10,



Oct. 11.

This movement almost proved fatal to

Intelligence was brought late at niu;lit

O o o

into the American camp that the main
body of the British had abandoned their
intrenchments on the north side of the
Fishkill, and were marching to Fort Ed
ward. Gates accordingly ordered Mor
gan, with his rifle-corps, and Nixon and
Glover, with their brigades, to cross the
Fishkill at break of day, and attack the
enemy s encampment, supposed to be de
fended merely by a rear-guard.
The morning, as is common at
that season of the year, opened with a
dense fog ; but the alert Morgan had at
the earliest hour groped his way across
the stream, and was soon engaged with
an advanced picket of the British on their
right. The firing brought the brigades
of Patterson and Learned to his support.
Nixon, too, had crossed the Fishkill, to
move against the centre of the enemy s
camp ; Glover was about doing the same ;
and General Gates had moved his whole
army forward, prepared to follow, when
a British soldier came wading; through

o O

the water. He proved to be a deserter,
and brought intelligence that Burgoyne
was still in camp, with the main body of
his troops. Glover immediately checked
the march of his brigade, and strove to
call back Nixon from the other side of
the stream.

At this moment the fog suddenly lifted
and rolled away, and the day became
clear, revealing the whole British army,
drawn up in formidable array before their
camp on the heights. Fifteen hundred
Americans, under Nixon, had crossed the

river, and were now brought face to face

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 73 of 126)