Robert Tomes.

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

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with the full force of the enemy, who im
mediately began a heavy fire of artillery
and musketry, which soon drove him back,
and sent him with his scattered brigade
across to the American encampment,

Morgan and his riflemen, after their
engagement with the advanced picket
of the enemy, had warily moved, under
cover of the fog, around Burgoyne s right,
and taken their position on some heights
in its rear, which they firmly held. The
brigades of Patterson and Learned, which
had gone to the support of Morgan, also
succeeded, after a slight skirmish with an
advanced party of the British, in gaining
a strong position under the cover of a
wood, and maintaining it, though on the
same side of the Fishkill with Burgoyne s

The two armies, thus drawn close to
each other, kept up an incessant cannon
ade ; but the British commander, finding
himself completely hemmed in, and all
resources of escape cut off but the chance
of relief from Sir Henry Clinton (of which,
after lingering so long in anxious expec
tation, he now at last abandoned all hope),
was in despair of saving his army.

" A series of hard toil," wrote Burgoyne
himself; "incessant effort, and stubborn ac
tion, until disabled in the collateral branch
es of the army by the total defection of
the Indians ; the desertion or the timidity
of the Canadians and provincials,some indi
viduals excepted ; disappointed in the last
hope of any co-operation from other ar
mies; the regular troops reduced by losses
from the best parts to thirty-five hundred
fighting men, not two thousand of which




Oct. !3,

were British ; only three days provisions,
upon short allowance, in store ; invested
by an army of sixteen thousand men, and
no appearance of retreat remaining, I
called into council all the generals, field-
officers, and captains commanding corps,
and by their unanimous concurrence and
advice I was induced to open a treaty
with Major-General Gates." While the
council was in session, an eighteen-pound
ball passed over the table, as there was
not a spot of ground in the whole British
camp which was not exposed to the fire
of the Americans.

It having been determined to

open a treaty, Burgoyne imme
diately wrote a note to General Gates,
saying that he was desirous of sending a
field-officer "upon a matter of high mo
ment to both armies/ and requesting to
be informed at what time General Gates
would receive him the next morning. A
note in reply was promptly sent, in which
Gates appointed ten o clock as the hour.
Accordingly, next morning, at

the hour appointed, Major Kings
ton presented himself at the American
advanced post, and, being blindfolded, was
led to headquarters, where he delivered
the following message from the British to
the American commander: "After hav
ing fought you twice, Licutenant-General
Burgoyne lias waited some days in his
present position, determined to try a third
conflict against any force you could bring
against him. He is apprized of the supe
riority of your numbers, and the disposi-

/ V

tion of your troops to impede his sup
plies, and render his retreat a scene of |
carnaire on both sides. In this situation |

Oct. 14,

he is impelled by humanity, and thinks
himself justified by established principles
and precedents of state and war, to spare
the lives of brave men upon honorable
terms. Should Major-General Gates be
inclined to treat upon that idea, General
Burgoyne would propose a cessation of
arms during the time necessary to com
municate the preliminary terms by which,
in any extremity, he and his army mean
to abide."

Gates was prepared with his answer in
advance ; and, as soon as Major Kingston
had done, the general put his hand into
his side-pocket, and, pulling out a paper,
said, " There, sir, are the terms on which
General Burgoyne must surrender."* The
major was somewhat taken by surprise
at the promptness of the reply, but read
the paper, while Gates surveyed him cu
riously through his spectacles. Kingston
was not pleased with the terms, which
proposed, " as Burgoyne s retreat was cut
off," an unconditional surrender of his
troops as prisoners-of-war ; and he at first
objected to convey them to the British
commander, but was finally prevailed up
on. Kingston soon came back with a nea:-

o o

ative answer, and word from his general
that he would never admit that his re
treat was cut off while his troops had arms
in their hands. Hostilities in the mean
time ceased; and other proposals were
then made, and passed backward and for
ward, when finally, after a two or three
days delay, the following terms were
agreed upon :

General Burgoyne s troops were to
march out of their camp with all the hon-

* Wilkinson.




Oct. 15.

ors of war; and the artillery to be moved
to the banks of the Hudson river, and
there left, together with the soldiers arms,
which were to be piled at the word of
command from their own officers. It was
agreed that a free passage to Great Britain
should be granted to the troops, on condi
tion of their not serving again in the pres
ent contest ; that all officers should retain
their ba^nge and side-arms, and not be


separated from their men ; and that all,
of whatever country they might be, fol
lowing the camp, should be included in
the terms of capitulation.

The conditions of the surren
der being settled, the two gener
als were preparing to sign and carry out
the terms of the treaty, and about to ex
change signatures, when Burgoyne sent
word to Gates that it had been unguard
edly called a treaty of capitulation, while
his army only meant it as a treaty of con
vention. Gates, without hesitation, admit
ted the alteration ; and the next day (the
IGth) he was expecting to receive from
the British commander a copy of the con
vention, properly signed, when instead a
note arrived, in which Burgoyne, having
heard of the departure of some of the
American militia (who, with their usual in
dependence, had gone off without leave),
declared he had " received intelligence
that a considerable force had been de
tached from the army under the command
of Major-General Gates" during the ne
gotiation, and in violation of the cessation
of arms agreed upon. This gave rise to
another delay; and, in the meanwhile,
word was at last received at the British
headquarters from Sir Henry Clinton.

Burgoyne immediately called a coun
cil of war, and submitted to it the ques
tion " whether it was consistent with pub
lic faith, and if so, expedient, to suspend
the execution of the treaty, and trust to
events." At this anxious moment there
were those in the British camp who, hav
ing, during the cessation of hostilities, mo
mentarily enjoyed the blessings of repose
and security, were in fearful alarm lest
they should soon be again awakened to
the horrors of the battle-field.

" One day," says the baroness Reidesel,
" a message was sent to my husband, who
had visited me and was reposing in my
bed, to attend a council of war, where it
was proposed to break the convention ;
but, to my great joy, the majority was for
adhering to it. On the IGth, however,
my husband had to repair to his post, and
I to my cellar. This day fresh beef was
served out to the officers, who until now
had only salt provision, which was very
bad for their wounds. The good woman
who brought us water, made us an excel
lent soup of the meat, but I had lost my
appetite, and took nothing but crusts of
bread dipped in wine. The wounded offi
cers (my unfortunate companions) cut oil
the best bit and presented it to me on a.
plate. I declined eating anything; but
they contended that it was necessary for
me to take nourishment, and declared
they would not touch a morsel until I
afforded them the pleasure of seeing me
partake. I could no longer withstand
their pressing invitations, accompanied as
they were by assurances of the happiness
they had in offering me the first good
thing they had in their power ; and 1 par-



took of a repast rendered palatable by
the kindness and- good will of my fellow-
sufferers, forgetting for the moment the
misery of our apartment and the absence
of almost every comfort."

The British commander-in-chief. though

7 O

himself inclined to believe that he might
honorably withdraw from the convention,
yielded to the majority of his officers, and
signed it on the 17th of October. This
was a happy moment for the baroness
Reidesel. " General Burgoyne and the
other generals," she says, " waited on the
American general ; the troops laid down
their arms, and gave themselves up pris-
oners-of-war. And now the good woman
who had supplied us with water, at the
hazard of her life, received the reward of
her services. Each of us threw a hand
ful of money into her apron, and she got
altogether about twenty guineas. At
such a moment as this, how susceptible
is the heart of feelings of gratitude !"

The deputy adjutant-general, Wilkin
son, was the master of ceremonies chosen
to conduct the formalities of the surren
der. He accordingly visited General Bur
goyne in his camp, and returned
with him to present him to Gen
eral Gates. The British commander came
dressed in a rich royal uniform, and sur
rounded by a brilliant staff of officers, all
mounted on horseback. On reaching the
American head quarters, General Gates, in
" a plain blue frock," was on the ground,
ready to receive his visiters, who, having
approached within about a sword s length
of him, reined up their horses. At this
moment, General Burgoyne, raising his
hat most gracefully, said, The fortune of

Get, 17,

war, General Gates, has made me your
prisoner ; to which the conqueror, return
ing a courtly salute, replied, I shall al
ways be ready to bear testimony that it
has not been through any fault of your
excellency. "

General Gates acted with great courte
sy throughout, during these occurrences,
so trying to the sensibilities of the brave
soldier. Wilkinson was the only Ameri
can who was allowed to witness the sur
render of the British army. The spot
having been first selected by him, Gener
al Burgoyne s troops were drawn up on
the level ground in front of Fort Hardy,
on the north bank of the Fishkill, where
that stream joins with the Hudson. Here
the soldiers emptied their cartridge-boxes
and grounded their arms at the word of
command from their own officers. The
place was within sight of the American
encampment; but Gates, with a courteous
regard for the feelings of his gallant ene
my, took care to order every man to keep
within the lines, that there should be no
exulting witness of the humiliation of the
British troops.

In the afternoon, the American army
was drawn up in two lines, bordering the
road which led to their encampment to
the extent of a mile. The British troops
now crossed the river, and, escorted by a
company of light dragoons, were inarched
between the American soldiers, preceded
by two American officers, unfurling for
the first time the "stars and stripes;"*

* In June, 1777, Congress first resolved that "the stars
and stripes" should Ixi used, but not unfurled until Septem
her. Previously the flag was the union one, with the com
bined crosses of St. George and St. Andrew, and thirteen
stripes, alternately red and white.



while the bands struck up the lively tune
of " Yankee Doodle" Burgoyne, attended
by his staff, was with Gates, in front of
his marquee ; and, at the moment when
his troops were filing between the Ameri
can lines,he stepped back, drew his sword,
and presented it to his victorious oppo
nent. Gates received the sword with a
courteous acknowledgment, and immedi
ately returned it, when the two generals
retired within the tent.

The foreign soldiers, especially those
of Germany, who had been drilled in all
the stiff formalities of Prussian military
regulation, were struck with the undress
appearance of the American troops ; they
observed that none of them were uniform
ly clad, but that each had on the clothes
he had worn in " the fields, the church, or
the tavern." They could not, however,
withhold their admiration of the natural
good looks of " such a handsome, well-
formed race," and were surprised at their
conduct. "The men all stood so still,
that we were filled with wonder. Not
one of them made a single motion as if
he would speak with his neighbor," was
the testimony of one of the Brunswick-
ers.* The officers, in their motley dres
ses some in brown turned up with sea-
green, some in buff-and-blue,somein home
ly gniy,but most in old-fashioned unkempt
wigs and every-day dress, with only a
white belt to distinguish their rank in
the army were the objects of great won
der and hardly-suppressed merriment to
the German military martinets/}*

Let us again trace the fortunes of that
gentle and noblest of camp-followers, the

Quoted by Irving.


baroness Reidesel: " My husband s groom,"
she says, " brought me a message to join
him with my children. I seated myself
once more in my dear calash, and then
rode through the American camp. As I
passed on, I observed (and this was a great
consolation to me) that no one eyed me
with looks of resentment, but that they
all greeted us, and even showed compas
sion in their countenances at the sight of
a mother with her children. I was. I con
fess, afraid to go over to the enemy, as it
was something quite new to me. When
I drew near the tents, a handsome man
approached and met me, took my children
from the calash, and hugged and kissed
them, which affected me almost to tears.
You tremble, said he, as he offered me
his arm ; < be not afraid. No, I replied,
you seem so kind and tender to my chil
dren, it gives me courage. He then con
ducted me to the tent of General Gates,
where I found Generals Burgoyne and
Phillips on the most friendly footing with
him. General Burgoyne said to me, i Nev
er mind now, your sorrows are all over.
I replied that I should be much to blame
to have anxieties when he had none, and
was on such friendly terms with General

"All the generals remained to dine
with General Gates. The same gentle
man who had received me so kindly now
came and said to me : You may feel em
barrassed in dining with all these gentle
men; come with your children to my tent,
where you will find a frugal meal offered
with the best will. I replied, You must
certainly be a husband and a father, you
show me so much kindness. He now


told me that he was General Schuyler.
He regaled me with excellent smoked
tongue, beefsteaks, potatoes, and good
bread and butter. I could riot have de
sired a better dinner. I was happy and
contented, and saw that those about me
were so likewise ; and, what was best of
all, my husband was out of danger.

"After dinner, General Schuyler told
me that his residence was at Albany, that
General Burgoyne had promised to be
come his guest, and invited myself and
children also. I consulted my husband,
and he advised me to accept the invita
tion. General Schuyler politely sent me
back under the escort of a French gen
tleman, who, after leaving me at the house
where I was to remain, went back.

"In the house I found a French sur
geon, who had under his care a Bruns
wick officer, who was mortally wounded,
and died a few days afterward. The
Frenchman boasted a good deal of his
treatment of his patient, and possibly was
skilful enough as a surgeon, but otherwise
a great fool. He seemed delighted when
he discovered I could speak his language.
He began to address many empty and
impertinent speeches to me. Among oth
er things, he said he could not believe I
was a general s wife, as he was certain a
woman of such rank would not follow her
husband. He expressed the wish that I
would remain with him, as he said it was
better to be with the conquerors than the
conquered. I was shocked at his impu
dence, but dared not show the contempt
and detestation I felt for him, because it
would deprive me of a place of safety.
Toward evening he begged me to take

part of his chamber. I told him that I
was determined to remain in the room
with the wounded officers, when he at
tempted to pay me some stupid compli
ment. At this moment the door opened,
and my husband with his aid-de-camp en
tered. I then said, l Here, sir, is my hus
band ! and at the snme moment looked at
him with scorn, w r hen he retired abashed.
He was, however, polite enough to offer
us his chamber.

"Soon after, we arrived at Albany
where \ve had so often wished ourselves
but we did not enter it as we expected
we should, victors. We were received by
the good General Schuyler, his wife, and
daughters, not as enemies but kind friends,
and they treated us with the most marked
attention and politeness, as they did Gen
eral Burgoyne, who had caused General
Schuyler s handsome house to be burned.
In fact, they behaved like persons of ex
alted minds, who were determined to bury
all recollection of their own injuries in
the contemplation of our misfortunes.

" General Burgoyne was struck with
General Schuyler s generosity, and said
to him

" ( You show me great kindness, al
though I have done you much injury.

" That was the fate of war, replied the
brave man. Let us say no more about
it. "

Burgoyne was not unmindful of Schuy
ler s generous hospitality and chivalrous
courtesy, and took occasion on his return
to England, where he resumed his place
in the Parliament, to acknowledge, in the
presence of the assembled British senate,
his sense of gratitude.




The whole British force which surren
dered at Saratoga amounted to five thou
sand seven hundred and ninety-one men,
of whom two thousand four hundred and
twelve were Germans. A train of brass
artillery, consisting of forty-two cannon,
howitzers, and mortars, and four thousand
six hundred and forty-seven muskets, to
gether with a large supply of ammunition,
fell into the possession of the Americans.
Among the British officers who had sur
rendered were some of the most distin
guished Englishmen. There were six
among them who were members of Par
liament. The prisoners were subsequent
ly removed to Boston, where they re
mained under the especial guard of Gen
eral Heath and the garrison under his

In the meanwhile, Gates hastened to
Albany, in order to encounter the British
troops advancing up the Hudson under
the command of General Vaughan. But
when Sir Henry Clinton heard of Bur-
goyne s surrender, he immediately re
called Vaughan (who had reached within
only four hours sail of Albany), and with
drew all his force from the river to New

Major Wilkinson was despatched with
the report of the America,!! triumph to
Congress, then in session at Yorktown.
He was received with great honor, and
had the rank of brigadier-general imme
diately bestowed upon him, in accordance
with the recommendation of Gates, who
also received every tribute which a grate
ful people could give. Gates s military
reputation was now at its height, and the
esteem of his friends and his own vanity

led him to entertain hopes of the chief
command of the patriot armies.

The success at Saratoga was a great
triumph for the American cause. Creasy
has justly ranked Gates s victory as one
among " the fifteen decisive battles of the
world." The Americans themselves were
now more sanguine than ever of achiev
ing their independence, and their luke
warm advocates in Europe at once be
came staunch friends. When news first
reached France of the triumphant march
of Burgoyne from the North, the French
government immediately despatched in
structions to Nantz and other seaports of
the kingdom, that not an American pri
vateer should be allowed -to enter them,
except in case of indispensable necessity,
for repairs or provisions. Franklin, Ad
ams, and Deaue, the American commis
sioners at Paris, were about leaving that
city in disgust with the selfish conduct
of the French government, when the in
telligence arrived of Burgoyne s surren
der. Now all was changed, and France
unhesitatingly came to the aid of a peo
ple who had proved that they were so
well able to defend themselves. She was
ready to make a treaty, lend her money,
send a fleet and troops, or do anything
by which to strengthen the power of her
new ally in striking the destined blow
against her old enemy. In December
following the memorable month of Sep
tember a treaty was arranged, and in Feb
ruary, 1778, the minister of Louis XVI.
signed it, and acknowledged the independ
ent United States. French fleets, and troops,
and money, soon gave proof of the sin
cerity of French promises, and hastened



the consummation of the hopes of Amer
ica. Spain and Holland, soon afterward,
acknowledged the independence of the
"UNITED STATES;" and England was left
alone to struggle in her obstinate pride
against the inevitable fate which was to
sever for ever the American colonies from
her dominion., but only to bind the great
nation of the West in firmer ties of inter
est, if not of friendship, with Great Brit

Even in England, the steadfast friends
of the American cause saw its final tri
umph in the failure of Burgoyne s cam
paign, and boldly declared it. "Attend,"
said the earl of Coventry, in the house of
lords, with the spirit and solemn utter
ance of a prophet, " to the vast extent of
the one [America], and the diminutive
figure of Britain; to their domestic situ
ations ; to the increase of population in
the one, and the inevitable decline of it
in the other ; the luxury, dissipation, and
all the concomitant effects, in this coun
try, and the frugality, industry, and con
sequent wise policy, of America. These,
my lords, were the main grounds on which
I presumed to trouble you from time to
time on this subject. I foresaiu then, as I
continue to do, that a period must arrive when
America tuould render herself independent;
that this country would fall, and the seat of
empire be removed beyond the Atlantic /"

The great earl of Chatham rose feebly
upon his crutch, but there came from his
ardent heart and eloquent lips the same
full gush, as of old, of generous sentiment
and burning words. " You can not," he

exclaimed, "I venture to say it, you can
not conquer America. . . . You may swell ev
ery expense, and every effort, still more
extravagantly ; pile and accumulate ev
ery assistance you can buy or borrow ;
traffic and barter with every little pitiful
German prince, that sells and sends his
subjects to the shambles of a foreign po
tentate : your efforts are for ever vain and
impotent doubly so from this mercena
ry aid on which you rely ; for it irritates
to an incurable resentment the minds of
your enemies, to overrun them with the
mercenary sons of rapine and plunder
devoting them and their possessions to
hireling cruelty ! If I ivere an American,
as I am an Englishman, ivhile a foreign troop
ivas landed in my country, 1 never would lay

down my arms never never never!

You can not conciliate America by your
present measures; you can not subdue
her by any measures. What, then, can
you do ? You can not conquer, you can
not gain : but you can address you can
lull the fears and anxieties of the mo
ment into an ignorance of the danger
that should produce them. But, my lords,
the time demands the language of truth :
we must not now apply the flattering unc
tion of servile compliance or blind com
plaisance. In a just and necessary war,
to maintain the right or honor of my coun
try, I would strip the shirt from my back
to support it; but in such a war as this,
unjust in its principle, impracticable in its
means, and ruinous in its consequences,
I would not contribute a single effort or
a single shilling !"





Retreat of Washington to Germantown. Slow Advance of General Howe. Ho crosses the Sehuylkill. Storm versus
Battle. Succe>s of General Grey, and Defeat of Wayne. The British ahead. A Forced Contribution. The Scru
pulous Washington. Forts and Obstructions on the Delaware. Franklin s Ingenuity. Entry of the British into
Philadelphia. The Show. The Officers described. Adjournment and Removal of Congress. The British Fleet in
the Delaware. General Howe sends out a Force to co-operate. Attack on Germantown Washington s Plans. Pre

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 74 of 126)