United historical and patriotic societies and asso.

The need of a history of New York online

. (page 4 of 8)
Online LibraryUnited historical and patriotic societies and assoThe need of a history of New York → online text (page 4 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Campaign, previous to that event afforded. But I am in great hopes the ill


consequences of it, will not continue to operate long and that the Jealousies and
Alarms, which so sudden and unexpected an Accident has occasioned, in the
Minds of the People both of your State and to the Eastward will shortly subside
and give way to the more rational Dictates of self-preservation, and regard to the
Common good. In fact, the worst effect of that disaster is that it has served'
to create those Distrusts and apprehensions, for if the matter were coolly and
dispassionately considered there would be found nothing so formidable in Mr.
Burgoyne, and the force under him, with all his successes, as to countenance the
least languor or despondency; and experience would show, that a tolerable degree
of vigor in the States more immediately interested would be sufficient to check
his career, and prehaps convert the advantages he has gained into his ruin.

"But while People continue to view what has happened through the Medium
of Supineness or fear, there is no saying to what length an enterprising genius may
push his good Fortune. I have the fullest Confidence, that no endeavors of the
Council will be omitted to bring your State (with the distresses of which I am
sensibly affected) to every Effort it is Capable of making in its present mutilated
Condition; and they may rely upon it, that no means in my power will be unem-
ployed, to co-operate with them in repelling the Danger that threatens the State,
and through it threatens the Continent. If I do not give so effectual Aid as might
be wished to the Northern Army, it is not from want of inclination nor from being
too little impressed with the importance of doing it, but because the State of affairs
in this quarter will not possibly admit of it. It would be the height of impolicy
to weaken ourselves too much here, in order to increase our strength there, and it
must certainly be more difficult as well as of greater moment to control the main
army of the Enemy, than an inferior, as I may say, dependent one; for it is pretty
obvious if General Howe can be completely kept at Bay, and prevented effecting
any capital purposes, the Successes of General Burgoyne whatever they may be,
must be partial and temporary.

"Nothing, that I can do, shall be wanting to rouse the Eastern States and
excite them to those exertions, which the exigency of our affairs so urgently de-
mands. I lament, that they have not yet done more — that so few of their militia
have come into the field, and those few have been so precipitate in returning home,
at this critical period. But I have nevertheless great reliance upon those States.
I know that they are capable of powerful efforts. And their attachment to the
Cause, notwithstanding they may be a little tardy, will not allow them long to
withhold their aid, at a time, when, their own safety, that of a Sister State, and
in a great measure, the Safety of the Continent calls for their greatest zeal and
activity. I flatter myself, the presence of General Arnold and General Lincoln
in the Northern Department, will have a happy effect upon them. Those Gentle-
men possess much of their confidence particularly the latter, than whom there is
perhaps no man from the State of Massachusetts, who enjoys more universal
esteem and popularity. And in addition to that, they are both to be considered
very valuable officers.

"You intimate a wish that some assistance could be drawn from the Southern
States at this time. But while things remain in the present posture, and ap-
pearances however illusory they may prove in the issue afford the strongest reason
to keep their force at home to counteract the Seeming intentions of General Howe,
I could neither ask nor expect them to detach Succours to the Northern States,
who are so well able to defend themselves against the force they have now to
oppose. . .

"I hope an exaggerated idea of the enemy's numbers may have no injurious
influence on our measures. There is no circumstance I am acquainted with, that
induces me to believe General Burgoyne can have more than five or Six thousand
men; and if the force left in Canada is so considerable as the information you send
me makes it, he cannot even have so many.

"The representations of prisoners and deserters in this respect are of little
vulidity, their knowledge is always very limited, and their intentions, particularly


the former, very often bad. Beyond what regards their own companies, little or
no attention is due to what they say. The number of regiments your informant
mentions corresponds with other accounts, but in the number of men in each
company, he gives the establishment, not, I am persuaded, the actual State.
The enemy's army in Canada, last campaign though they suffered little by
action, must have decreased materially, by sickness and other casualties, and if
the recruits to them, both from England and Germany, bore any proportion to
those, which have reinforced General Howe, the State of their regiments must be
greatly inferior to what your information holds forth. Reasoning by analogy as
far as it will apply, I cannot imagine the British regiments can exceed two hundred
and fifty men each, fit for the field, or that the foreign troops can amount to many
more than three thousand in all. The appointment of General Clinton, to the
Government of your State is an event that in itself gives me great pleasure and
very much abates the regret I should otherwise feel for the loss of his services in
the military line. That Gentleman's character is such, as will make him peculiarly
useful at the head of your affairs, in a Situation, so alarming and interesting as that
which you now experience. Agreeable to your desire my future applications shall
be made to him.

"I have the honor to be with great respect. Sir,

"Your most obedient servant,

"G'o. Washington.
"To the Council of Safety." ("Clinton Papers," Vol. IT, p. 170.)

Battle of Oriskany.

In Volume XII, "New York State Historical Association," will be found a
most interesting account of this battle by Freeman H. Allen, Ph.D., Colgate

"The battle took up the plan of the Grand Campaign and it proved the
Colonists would fight and fight well against the veterans of the British armies,
and their allies. It turned the tide of defeat and of despondency which the events
of the preceding year had raised. It not only prevented co-operation by St.
Leger with Burgoyne but enabled the militia of Tryon and Schoharie Counties
to join the army at Saratoga. Every available element of strength was impera-
tively needed there" — (Elias H. Roberts, New York, Vol. II, p. 417).

The account of the battle of Oriskany by General C. Stedman:
"In the meantime, Col. St. Leger had commenced his attack upon Fort
Stanwix, a small square log fort with four bastions and a stockaded covered-way
without any other outworks. It was defended by Colonels Gansovert and Willet
and seven hundred men. The commencement of the Siege was attended with very
favourable circumstances. On the fifth of August Colonel St. Leger received in-
telligence that one thousand provincials under the Command of General Herki-
mer were advancing to the relief of the fort. Sir John Johnson therefore, with a
party of regulars and a number of savages, was dispatched into the woods, where
he placed his men in ambush. The enemy advanced incautiously, and fell
into the trap that was laid for them. A sudden and unexpected fire was poured
upon them from behind trees and bushes, and the savages rushing from their
concealment made a dreadful slaughter with their spears and tomahawks.

"The enemy though surprised and somewhat dismayed did not retreat pre-
cipitately, but recovered a rising ground which enabled them by a kind of running
fight to preserve about one third of their detachment. The number killed and
wounded on the part of the enemy amounted to near four hundred. The besieged
being informed of the approach of General Herkimer made a sally under Colonel
Willet which was attended with some success.


"Having received, however, intelligence of the defeat of the provincials, he
and another officer undertook a very perilous expedition. They penetrated at the
dead of night through the camp of the besiegers and traveled a space of fifty miles
through deserts, woods, and morasses, in order to bring relief to the fort. The enemy
perceiving that the artillery of the besiegers was too light and insufficient to make
any impression on the defences of the fort, treated every proposal for a surrender
with derision and contempt. On the twenty-second of August a man belonging
to the fort purposely conveyed himself into the British Camp and declared that
he had escaped from the enemy, at the hazard of his life in order to inform the
British Commander that General Arnold with two thousand men and ten pieces
of cannon was advancing rapidly to raise the siege. He also acquainted him
that General Burgoyne had been defeated, and his army cut to pieces. Colonel
St. Leger was not intimidated by this information, nor did he give much credit to
it, but it produced an immediate effect on the savages. The British Commander
called a council of their chiefs and endeavoured by the influence of Sir John Johnson
and the other superintendents, Colonels Claus and Butler, to induce them not to
withdraw their assistance.

"Every effort, however, was ineffectual; a large party of the savages departed
while the Council was sitting and the rest threatened to follow their example,
unless the British Commander would immediately make a retreat. To this mortify-
ing proposition he was under the necessity of acceding. The tents were left stand-
ing and the artillery and stores fell into the possession of the Garrison."

"It is a remarkable fact, however, that in nearly every period of the struggle
and in every part of the States, the great majority of the Indians, if they took part
in the war, ranged themselves on the side of the crown, and England obtained in
consequence much larger share both of the benefit and discredit of their assist-
ance" — (Ramsey, 11-139).

Albany in a State of Panic.

The Committee presents doleful conditions of affairs to the Council of Safety.
Capture of the city feared.

"Albany Committee Chamber, 11 Augt. 1777.

"We wrote you a few days ago giving you a State of Affairs to the Northward
as far as they came to our Knowledge; we then informed you that the Prospect
was disagreeable. It appears every day more gloomy. Our apprehensions are
not so groundless, as those at a distance suppose them to be. We are well assured
did our situation present itself in the same point of light to neighbours as it does
to us, some mode would be for our Relief, being informed repeated applications
were made to the New England States for aid, and seeing that no reinforcements
came forward thought it our indispensable Duty to Address the People at large,
a Copy, which we enclose you together with an answer that their militia are ordered
to the Southward.

"On the Governor and Council of Safety being repeatedly informed of our
distressed Situation, we flattered ourselves that some assistance would be sent
from the lower Counties of our State but alas all their Forces were ordered to repel
an intended invasion when a real one is entirely neglected. . . ." — ("Clinton
Papers," Vol. II, p. 209).

"At the end of 1776 Robert Morris, in describing the gloomy prospects of
the Revolution, complained that in the Eastern States they are so intent upon
privateering that they would mind little else."


"It may be questioned, however, whether American enterprises could have
been on the whole more profitably employed, for the successful privateering brought
great benefit to the Country, impoverished the enemy, and added very largely to
the popularity of the war. It needed all the popularity that could be derived
from this source for the latter months of 1776 found one of the darkest periods
in the whole struggle. The army of Washington had dwindled to 3,000 and even
to 2,700 effective men; except two companies of Artillery belonging to the State
of New York that were engaged for the war the whole of the Continental troops
had only been enlisted for a year"— (Lecky).

"Speculation ran riot; every form of wastefulness and extravagance prevailed
in town and country, nowhere more than Philadelphia under the very eyes of
Congress — luxury of dress, luxury of equipage, luxury of the table. We are told
of one entertainment at which £800 was spent in pastry" — (Green's "Historical
View of the American Revolution").

1777. — "The position of Washington at this time was in all respects de-
plorable; as early as March he had written to General Schuyler, 'The disaf-
fection of Pennsylvania I fear is beyond anything you have conceived.'

"General Howe during the many months his army was stationed at Phila-
delphia never found the smallest difficulty in obtaining from the people abundance
of fresh provisions.

"It would perhaps be an exaggeration to say that the active loyalists were
the true representatives of Pennsylvanian feeling, but it is in my opinion but
doubtful that the sympathies of this great and worthy province were much more
on the side of the Crown than on the side of the Revolution. Had the Pennsyl-
vanians really regarded the English as invaders or oppressors the presence of an
English army in their Capital would most certainly have spurred them to passionate
resistance, but in truth it was never found possible to bring into the field more
than a tenth part of the normal number of Pennsylvania militia and the Pennsyl-
vania quota in the Continental regiments was never above one third full and soon
sank to a much lower point" — ("Washington Works," pages 96-146).

Battle of Bennington.

It should be remembered Bennington at this period was a part of New York

General Burgoyne, having met with but little opposition, became careless.
The provisions having been delayed and in want of horses, he sent Colonel Baum,
with about eight hundred men, on a foraging expedition toward Connecticut,
where he understood there were a quantity of horses.

"The American General Stark with a body of one thousand men from New
Hampshire and Massachusetts was at this period on his route to join Gen. Schuyler.
Having received intelligence, however, of the approach of Colonel Baum, he
altered his course and hastened towards Bennington, where, joining the Con-
tinental troops under Colonel Warner, he set out on the sixteenth of August and
by ten o'clock in the morning surrounded Colonel Baum at St. Coiecks Mill at
Walloon Creek.

"The German officer, a stranger to the Country and to the language of the
inhabitants, was at first persuaded by the loyalists who had joined him they
were friends. General Stark, however, commencing a furious attack upon him
on ;ill sides soon convinced him of their error. Nevertheless he resolved to make a
vigorous defence. For upwards of an hour he endured a terrible discharge of
musketry and during the period drove the enemy several times from the high
ground on which they were stationed. But their number increasing every moment
and Colonel Baum having lost his artillery, the German troops were under the


necessity of retreating into the woods, leaving their commander mortally wounded
on the field of battle. The savages who had accompanied Col. Baum behaved in
a shameful manner, retreating at the commencement of the engagement. Flushed
with this victory the enemy advanced against the detachment under Colonel
Breyman who, ignorant of the defeat of Baum, was advancing to his relief, but
the tardiness of their method of marching added to the obstacles which the roads
presented had retarded their progress in such a manner that twenty-four hours
were spent in marching sixteen miles. The consequence was that Breyman came
up just in time to join the fugitives of Baum's detachment. The Americans began
a vigorous attack on Breyman who was obliged to retreat after having made a
gallant resistance and having expended all his ammunition. The loss of men in
these two engagements amounted to about six hundred" —("History of the
American War," by General C. Stedman).

Speaking of the battle of Bennington: "The unfortunate affair caused a
sudden cessation of all our operations. Our boat provisions, in fact nothing was
received from Lake George. The army therefore could not advance further, and
despondent spirits of the enemy suddenly became so elated that its army grew
daily stronger" — ("Letters and Journals of Mrs. General Riesdesel," by William
L. Stone).

A Great Injustice to Our State.

"Schuyler's chief sin was in being a Son of New York."

General Schuyler Relieved.

"In Congress, August 4th, 1777.

"Congress took into Consideration the Letter from General Washington
wherein he wished to be excused the appointment of an Officer to command the
Northern army; whereupon Congress proceeded to the Election of an officer for the
purpose, and the Ballots being taken, Major General Gates was elected to that
command by the vote of eleven States.

"Resolved that General Washington be informed of this apporntment and
that he be directed to order General Gates to repair all possible Expeditions to
the Northern Department to relieve Major General Schuyler. Ordered that the
Remaining part of the Latter from General Washington be referred to the Com-
mittee on the Northern Department" — ("Clinton Papers," Vol. II, p. 178).

Referring to General Schuyler's removal as Commander-in-chief of the North-
ern Army: "We have given New England men what they will think a complete
triumph in the removal of generals from the Northward and sending Gates; then
I hope New England will now exert itself to its utmost efforts" — -(John Adams to
his wife).

"Bancroft himself gives the numbers under Burgoyne as 7,500 choice men,
exclusive of Indians, with the most complete supply of artillery ever furnished to
any army. It is worth while to send the army roll of General Schuyler at that
time, twenty days after the battle of Hubbardton, previously referred to."


State of Connecticut.
One Major, one Captain, two Lieutenants, two Ensigns, one Adjutant, one
Quartermaster, six Sergeants, one Drummer, six sick rank and file — the rest

State of Massachusetts.
Berkshire County — Somewhat more than 200 are left.
Hampshire County — Colonel Moseby's regiment ten or twelve left.


State of New York.

County of Albany — 1,050 left.

This being his force on the 27th on or about the 29th of July. General Schuyler
thought it proper to fall back to Saratoga.

("Correspondence and Remarks upon Bancroft's "History of the Northern
Campaign of 1777" and "The Character of Major-General Philip Schuyler,"
by George L. Schuyler, "New York Historical Society Proceedings").

Samuel Adams's Opinion of General Schuyler.

Extract from a Letter from Samuel Adams to Richard Henry Lee, dated Philadelphia,

July 15th, 1777.

"We have letters from General Schuyler in the Northern Department giving
us an Account of the untoward Situation of our Affairs in that Quarter & I con-
fess it is no more than I expected, when he [Schuyler] was again intrusted with the
Command there. You remember it was urged by some that as he had a large
Interest and powerful Connections in that Part of the Country, no one could so
readily avail himself of Supplys for an Army there, than he. A most sub-
stantial Reason, I think, why he should have been appointed a Quartermaster
or a Commissary. But it seems to have been a prevailing Motive to appoint
him to the Chief Command. You have his Account in the inclosed Newspaper
which leaves us to guess what has become of the garrison. It is indeed droll
enough to see a General not knowing where to find the main Body of his Army.
Gates is the Man of my Choice. He is honest and true, & has the Art of gaining
the Love of his Soldiers principally because he is always -present and shares with
them in Fatigue and Danger. But Gates has been disgusted! We are however
waiting to be relieved from this disagreeable State of uncertainty, by a particular
Account of Facts from some Person who was near the Army who trusts not to
Memory altogether, lest some Circumstances may be omitted while others are
misapprehended'''' — (Papers of Samuel Adams, III, 387-8).

George Bancroft's Unfair Criticism of General Schuyler.

("History of the United States," by George Bancroft, Volume 5, Page 165.)

"On the 22nd [July, 1777], long before Burgoyne was ready to advance, Schuyler
retreated to a position four miles below Fort Edward. Here he again complained
of his 'Exposure to immediate ruin.' His friends urgent to silence the growing
suspicion of his want of spirit, he answered: 'If there is a battle I shall certainly
expose myself more than is prudent.' To the New York Council of Safety he wrote
on the 24th: 'I mean to dispute every inch of ground with Burgoyne and retard
his descent as long as possible;' and in less than a week, without disputing any-
thing, he retreated to Saratoga, having his heart set on a position at the junc-
tion of the Mohawk and the Hudson. The courage of the commander being
gone, his officers and his army became spiritless. From Saratoga Schuyler, on the
first of August, wrote to the Council of Safety of New York:

"I have been on horseback all day reconnoitring the country for a place to
encamp one that will give us a chance of stopping the enemy's career. I have
not yet been able to find a spot that has the least prospect of answering the pur-
pose, and I believe you will soon learn that we are retired further south. I wish
that I could say that the troops under my command were in spirits. They are
quite otherwise. Under the circumstances the enemy are acquiring strength
and advancing.'


"On the fourth of August he sent word to Congress that 'Burgoyne is at
Fort Edward. He has withdrawn his troops from Castleton and is bending his
whole force this way. He will probably be here in eight days, and, unless we are
well reinforced, as much further as he chooses to go.'

"On the 6th, Schuyler writes to Governor Clinton of New York: 'The enemy
will soon move and our strength is daily decreasing. We shall again be obliged to
decamp and retreat before them.' And, as his only resource, he solicited aid
from Washington."

A Few Criticisms upon the Plan of the Campaign of 1777, by George W.

Cullum, Major-General, U.S.A. ("Narrative and Critical

History of America.")

"Congress committed the most criminal error, outweighing all others, in
substituting at the most critical moment of the campaign a military charlatan for
an accomplished soldier, in supplementing Schuyler, who was the organizer of the
victories, by Gates, who 'had not fitness for command, and wanted personal courage,
to say nothing of the difference in merit, for making the change was most inop-

Other Opinions of General Schuyler.

"And now Schuyler, after all he had done to baffle the Enemy and organize
Victory, was to be the victim of prejudice of New England against New York,
which dated back to Colonial days. Schuyler placed little reliance upon New
England troops, and their representation in Congress had as little confidence in
Schuyler's generalship; each misjudged the other; but the outcome of this feeling
between Dutch and Puritan blood was unfortunate in superseding soldierly Schuyler
by the intriguing Gates. And it was a cruel reverse to the former, just as his
skillful plans were culminating in the utter discomfiture of the enemy and his
success at Stanwix and Bennington were bringing reinforcements from every
Quarter" — ("Narrative and Critical History of America," by Justin Winsor).

"Indeed the Congress in their anger was in a dim sort of way following the
(reputed) example of the wise men of Carthage of a former day. The Prume Con-
gress was said to have crucified, impaled, flayed alive or done to death, by some
lingering method any Gentlemen of the Navy or Army who returned from the
wars without Success. Congress denoted Schuyler, insulted Greene and Knox,
reprimanded Stark and snubbed Benedict Arnold, court-martialed Sullivan
St. Clair, Wayne and Matthews, and promoted a cabal against Washington him-
self. At the same time it held Charles Lee and Horatio Gates in high repute.

1 2 4 6 7 8

Online LibraryUnited historical and patriotic societies and assoThe need of a history of New York → online text (page 4 of 8)