United historical and patriotic societies and asso.

The need of a history of New York online

. (page 5 of 8)
Online LibraryUnited historical and patriotic societies and assoThe need of a history of New York → online text (page 5 of 8)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

In later days Gates fell upon evil times, and now no one has a good word for him "
(Dr. Henry Belcher).

General McDougall's Opinion of Gates.
"Camp Second Hill 3 miles from New Milford 5th, November — 78.

"General Gates I understand is gone to command at Boston. I know he
was exceedingly impatient under command. And from his known temper, I sus-
pect he prefers being the first man of a village to the second of Rome. He has
but little to do there; but the service will not suffer, by his being at a Post of ease
and security. I could hardly believe he was so extremely credulous, as I found
him to be; he is the most so, in his profession, of any man I ever knew, who had
seen so much service. He has the weakest mind to combine circumstances, to
form judgment of any man I ever knew, of his plausible, and specious appearance.


In short sir, he [is] as weak as water. His whole Fort lies in a little Rotine of detail,
of duty and a perfect knowledge of the English corrupt Nobility. The Lord of
Hosts have Mercy on that Army whose movements must depend on his combina-
tion of Military demonstrations, of an enemy. God avert so great a Judgment to
America, as his having the chief Command of her Armies. It's fortunate for
America Gen. Burgoyne was so rash as to put himself in the Position as he did,
and that there was no other route, for him to Albany, but the one he took, or he
would not have been an American Prisoner" — ("Clinton Papers," Vol. IV, p. 244).

"Horatio Gates of Virginia. Congress appointed him Adjutant-General
of the Continental Army with rank of Brigadier-General. In 1776-77 he was
twice in command of the Northern Army, having through intrigues displaced
General Schuyler. He gained undeserved honors as Commander of the troops
that defeated and captured Burgoyne and his army in the fall of 1777. He soon
afterwards intrigued for the position of Washington as Commander-in-chief,
using his power as president of the Board of War for the purpose, but ignomin-
iously failed. In June, 17S0, he was made Commander of the Southern Depart-
ment, but made a disastrous campaign, his army being utterly defeated and
routed by Cornwallis near Camden, S. C, in August, 1780. This defeat ter-
minated Gates's military career" — ("Harper's Popular Cyclopaedia of United
States History." Benson J. Lossing, LL.D.).

While histories have devoted much space to Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga,
the important part played by our State has been neglected, and Bancroft's unjust
criticism of Schuyler allowed to remain uncontradicted.

Gates Announces Burgoyne's Surrender.

"Saratoga, October 15, 1777.

"Enclosed I have the Honour to send your Excellency a copy of my letter
of this day to Major General Putnam with a copy of the Terms on which Lt.
General Burgoyne has proposed to surrender.

"I am Sir,
"Your Excellency's most affectionate & Humble Servant,

"Horatio Gates.
"His Excellency Governor Clinton, Esq."

("Clinton Papers," Vol. II, p. 489; "The Battle of Saratoga, One of the
Fifteen Decisive Battles of History." Sir Edward Creasy.)

Surrender of General Burgoyne.

"The surrender of Saratoga forms a memorable aera in the history of the
American War. Although the success of the British arms had not been so brilliant,
nor the progress made in repressing the spirit of revolt so considerable, as either
the magnitude of the force employed under Sir William Howe, or the military
character of that General, gave reason to expect; still, upon the whole until the
unfortunate expedition from Canada, the advantages that had been gained were on
the side of Great Britain.

"Whenever the British and American armies had been opposed to each other
in the field, the superiority of the former was conspicuous in every thing, and, in
general, even in numbers. The Americans themselves, impressed with an opinion
of their own inferiority, were dispirited; and it was with reluctance that they ever


attempted to engage the British troops upon equal, or nearly equal, terms. But
so uncommon an event as the capture of a whole army of their enemies animated
them with fresh ardour, invigorated the exertions of Congress, lessened in the
mind of the American soldier the high opinion which he had entertained of British
valour and discipline, and inspired him with greatest confidence in himself.

''The consequences, however, which this event produced in Europe were of
still greater moment. In Great Britain the most sanguine expectations had been
raised from the Canada expedition, the rapid success which, in its first stages,
seemed to promise the most fortunate issue. A junction of the Northern Army
with that of New York was confidently expected; and it was hoped that by this
junction a decisive blow would be given to the Rebellion, by cutting ofFthe northern
from the middle and southern Colonies" — ("History of the American War," by
General C. Stedman, 1794. Vol. II, p. 1).

Madame Riedesel Dines with General Schuyler.

"I confess that I feared to come into the enemy's camp, as the thing was so
entirely new to me. When I approached the tents, a noble looking man came tow-
ard me, took the children out of the wagon, embraced and kissed them, and then
with tears in his eyes helped me also to alight. 'You tremble,' said he to me, 'fear
nothing.' 'No,' replied I, 'for you are so kind and have been so tender toward
my children, that it has inspired me with courage.' He then led me to the tent
of General Gates, with whom I found Generals Burgoyne and Phillips, who were
upon an extremely friendly footing with him. Burgoyne said to me, 'You may
now dismiss all your apprehensions, for your sufferings are at an end.' I answered
him, that I should certainly be acting very wrongly to have any more anxiety, when
our Chief had none, and especially when I saw him on such friendly footing with
General Gates. All the Generals remained to dine with General Gates. . . . The man
who had received me so kindly, came up and said to me, 'It may be embarrassing to
dine with all these gentlemen; come now with your children into my tent where
I will give you, it is true, a frugal meal, but one that will be accompanied with the
best of wishes.' 'You are certainly,' answered I, 'a husband and a father, since
you show me such kindness.' I then learned that he was the American General
Schuyler. He entertained me w T ith excellent smoked tongue, beefsteaks, potatoes,
good bread and butter. Never had I eaten a better meal; I was content. . . ."

General Burgoyne, General and Mrs. Riedesel with some of the stafF remained
at General Schuyler's house in Albany three days.

(Letters and Journals of Mrs. General Riedesel. W. L Stone, p. 134.)


In Congress, November I, 1777.
'ORASMUCH as it is indispensable duty of all men to adore the
superintending providence of Almighty God — to acknowledge
with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received, & to
implore such further blessings as they stand in need of — And it
having pleased him in his abundant mercy, not only to continue
to us the innumerable bounties of his common providence, but
also to smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary

war, for the defense and establishment of our unalienable rights and liberties;

particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the

means used for the support of our troops & to crown our arms with the most

signal success;—


"It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these
United States, to set apart Thursday, the 18th day of December next, for solemn
Thanksgiving and praise: That at one time & with one voice, the good people
may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the
service of their divine benefactor, & that together with their sincere acknowledg-
ment & offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins,
whereby they had forfeited every favour & their humble & earnest supplication that
it may please God through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive, & blot
them out of remembrance. That it may please him, graciously to afford his
blessing on the Governments of these States respectively & prosper the public
council of the whole.

"To inspire our Commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with
that wisdom and fortitude, which may render them fit instruments under the
providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all
human blessings, independence and peace. That it may please him, to prosper
the trade and manufactures of the people, and the labor of the husbandman, that
our land may yet yield its increase. To take schools, and seminaries of education
so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under
his nurturing hand, & to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and
enlargement of that kingdom, which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy
in the Holy Ghost.

"And it is further recommended that servile labor, & such recreation as
though at other times innocent may be unbecoming the purpose of this appointment
may be omitted on so solemn an occasion.

"Charles Thompson, Sec'y."

Extract from the Minutes.

("Clinton Papers." Vol. II, p. 496.)

"From a strictly military point of view nothing so important happened in the
long and slow course of the Revolution as the Surrender of Burgoyne's army.
The significance which it had in the British mind is clear enough when one remem-
bers that the head and front of the American Revolt seemed to be in New England
and New York; that if this great northern revolution, could be quelled the rest
would appear easy; the old warpath of the Indians and the English and French
along, the Hudson River, and Lake Champlain, was the natural, short, level, and
easy channel of communication between the British Army and Navy at New
York City and the loyal English colonies in Canada" — (Hon. Andrew S. Draper,
LL.B., LL.D., Commissioner of Education of the State of New York. N. Y. S.
Historical Association. Proceedings. Vol. XII, p. 92).

"Condensed into a few words, the immediate military results of the destruc-
tion of Burgoyne's army may be stated as follows: it took from Britain in the
field ten thousand of the best officers and soldiers in the British army; it trans-
ferred from the British to the Colonists vast stores of war which the little Con-
federacy stood sorely in need; it destroyed all confidence in the Indians, as allies
of value in systematic warfare, and opened the way for punishing the Iroquois
so severely that they feared and respected white civilization, ever after; it cut off
for all time all communication between the English Loyalists in Canada and their
Army and Navy at the mouth of the Hudson; and completely ended all resistance
to the Revolution in New York and New England, where there was the most in
America that could give strength and substance to the British Crown. It opened
the doors of the House of Commons, appealed to English sense, pride and con-
science, and led to the immediate overtures for peace from Britain on any terms
but separation, and to the unanimous and unhesitating rejection of these overtures.
It produced the French alliance and the consequent war by France upon England,
the war of Spain upon England, the Dutch loan to the Colonists and the warfare
of the Netherlands upon England, and the early recognition of American Inde-



pendence by all the leading powers of Europe" — (Hon. Andrew S. Draper, LL.B.,
LL.D., N. Y. S. H. A. Proceedings. Vol. XII, p. 102).

From Address of Hon. Horatio Seymour on the One Hundredth Anniversary

of the Surrender.

"One hundred years ago upon this spot, American Independence was made
a great fact in the history of Nations.

"Until the surrender of the British Army under Burgoyne the Declaration
of Independence was but a declaration. It was a patriotic purpose asserted in
bold words by great men, who pledged for its maintenance their lives, their for-
tunes, and their sacred honor. But here it was made a fact, by virtue of armed
force. It had been regarded by the world merely as an act of defiance, but it was
now seen that it contained the germs of a government, which the event we celebrate
made one of the powers of the earth. Upon this ground, that which had in the
eyes of the law been treason, became triumphant patriotism."

(New York State Historical Association. Proceedings. Vol. XII, p. 206.)


S a matter of fact, Vaughan committed this atrocious piece of
vandalism on Thursday, October 16, 1777. The British fleet ar-
rived and anchored near Esopus Island on the night of October 15,
and the following morning at an early hour, weighed anchor and
sailed up to the mouth of Rondout Creek, opposite Columbus
Point. The British opened a lively fire upon the ' Lady Washington '
galley, which was lying near the mouth of the Creek, without
perpetrating much damage. Shortly after noon the British proceeded to land
in two divisions, one in Rondout Creek, and the other in the Cove above Columbus

"Vaughan in person brought the main body of his command to the beach above
Columbus Point. Seizing a negro and forcing him to act as pilot, the English
took up the line of march to Kingston, climbed the hill, formed a junction with the
other division and marched to the village without meeting resistance. Here
the troops divided into small parties and guided by Tories through the streets,
fired the houses as they went along. When General Clinton arrived on the scene,
the whole village was in flames, and the invading forces were retreating to their
ships" — (From "Clinton Papers," Vol. II, p. 457).


Over the Conduct of Vermont and of General Stark. Declares Congress
Countenances Vermont's Actions.

"Poughkeepsie, 7th Sep'r, 1778.
[ENTLEMEN: The Last I had the Honor of addressing to you
was dated the 16th Ultimo. Since which I have been favoured
with your letters of the 21st & 25th of last Month. The Former
shall be submitted to the Consideration of the Legislature at
their next Session which will commence the first of next month. . . .
"The unwarrantable Conduct of the usurped Government
of the People on the Grants, in sentencing to Banishment a number
of the Subjects of this State, and of General Stark, in attempting to carry the
same into Execution, calls upon me again to Trouble Congress with the Copies


of several Letters & papers on that Occasion which are of themselves so intelligible
as not to require any Explanation of mine. The inclosed copy of Genl. Washing-
ton's Letter to me of the 21st of July informing me of his having transmitted these
Papers with some others on the same Subject to Congress for their Decision, will
Account for my not having forwarded them to you before. Besides those which
Congress have received from General Washington, you have inclosed Copies of
three other Papers which I have since received, tending to prove the true Charac-
ters of the Persons attempted to be banished. I have only to add that the Exiles
yet remain in Confinement at Fort Arnold under Military Keepers, and that I
have no Reason to believe that General Stark has been punished, or even reproved
for his Offence, which you will readily perceive is no less than having employed
the Authority & Arms of the Continent against the Liberties of the Subjects of
this State, that the Silence of Congress on this Occasion after the Matter was
referred to their Decission by his Excellency General Washington, may be con-
sidered as countenancing these unwarrantable Measures.

"The Indians & Tories continue to committ Depredations on our western
Frontiers, last week they destroyed 3 Barns, killed 2 men & carried off two Prisoners,
and a small party of the Militia who pursued & fell in with them had their Officers
& 2 men killed without doing the Enemy any Injury that I can learn. I am with
great Respect Gent. Your most Obed't. Serv't.

"George Clinton.
"The Hon'ble the Delegates for the State of New York in Congress."

("Clinton Papers," Vol. Ill, p. 743.)

Historical Hudson and Champlain Valleys.

"A new kind of warfare arose in New York, a warfare of arson, massacre
and ambush fighting, of which Indians were masters, and in which they had con-
stant aid from the Tories. Those border conflicts were essential parts of the
struggle for the Hudson Valley. They had been directly inspired from London
and were actively directed by the British of New York and Canada. It was
believed that forces might thus be drawn away from the Hudson Valley and that
men, pouring down from Canada by way of Oswego and the Mohawk, by way of
Niagara and the Susquehanna, might force their way to the Hudson Valley.
Indeed, at one time these conflicts had gone so far that Gov. Clinton expressed
grave fears lest the Hudson should become the frontier of the State.

"From the battle of Onskany in 1777 until peace returned, these border
lands became lands of terror. They were finally reduced to lands of complete
desolation. Here were more than 12,000 farms that had ceased to be cultivated.
More than two thirds of the population had died or fled, and among those who
remained were 300 widows and 2,000 orphans. It is a record of battles in the
open, battles in the ambush, massacre and child murder, in the midst of which
perhaps the great gleam of light that came from the conflict outside was the capture
of Stony Point by Anthony Wayri£, 'Mad Anthony Wayne' mad only in courage
and patriotic zeal" — ("Historical Hudson and Champlain Valleys," Francis H.
Halsey, in New York State Historical Association. Proceedings. Vol. IX, p. 234).



'- EW ENGLAND was so occupied with privateering, their land
was largely neglected, and speculation in wheat and flour was
carried on to such an extent New York was obliged to place
an embargo on the exportation of same out of the State.

The demands on New York for flour and wheat from the
New England States caused Clinton a great deal of trouble.
Massachusetts in 1778 addressed the following to Governor


The Massachusetts Board of War asks Permission to Transport iooc
Barrels of flour to Boston.

"War Office, Boston, February 5, 1778.
"Gentlemen: This State being in want of Flour have contracted with William
Smith of Fishkill, in your State, Esqr. for 1000 barrels to be delivered in Boston,
provided leave can be obtained from your honors for him to send same. The
Board of War would, therefore request the Favor that Mr. Smith may have the
liberty to send the same.

"We have the Honor to be Gentlemen, Your most Obedient

"Humble Servant,

"Sam Phps. Savage, Pres't.

"By Order of the Board. '

"His Excellency George Clinton, Esq., Gov'r; the Hon'le Senators and House
of Assembly of the State of New York; or the Hon'le the Council of Safety of
said State."

("Clinton Papers," Vol. II, p. 716.)

"Many sellers of merchandise monopolized articles of the first necessity and
would not part with them to their suffering countrymen, and to the wives and
children of those who were absent in the field, unless at enormous profits" —


The State of New York, although largely overrun by the enemy, yet produced
a large portion of the wheat for both the army and the New England States.
It became necessary to place an embargo on its exportation out of the State, owing
to the speculation there was in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Massachusetts
asked for more flour.

Nathaniel Gorham Requests a Permit to Export Flour to Massachusetts.

"To his Excellency Governor Clinton of the State of New York.

"Council Chamber, October 14, 1778.

"The Council of the State of Massachusetts Bay would represent to your
Honor that the inhabitants of thig State are in great want of flour for their own
consumption and would, therefore, recommend Nathaniel Gorham, Esq., a re-
spectable Inhabitant of this State, for your Honor's Permission to purchase and
bring to the market here a Quantity of flour for the use of the Inhabitants.

"Attest Jno. Avery, D'y. Secy."

A true Copv.

("Clinton Papers," Vol. IV, p. 162.)

"Boston, October 15, 1778.

"Sir: The great want of Bread in these parts and the great distress into which
many people, the poor especially, are thereby involved is truly alarming. I
have, therefore, been induced to attempt to the bringing a quantity of flour from
your State into this, and having applied to Council desiring them to take some
measures for facilitating the plan, they have furnished me with the within recom-
mendation to your Excellency; but my avocations in the Assembly and at the
Board of War, are such as renders it impossible for me to pay my respects to
your Excellency in person. Mr. William Stimpson the bearer of this will, therefore
wait upon you as he is connected with me in the affair, and if it is by any means
possible to permit him to transport a quantity of flour from your place to this,


it will be an act of the greatest humanity and benevolence, and treating a Sister
State in that way and manner which I have no doubt your Excellency will be glad
to do if possible. I am with greatest respect, your Excellency's most obedient
and humble servant, &c.

"Nathaniel Gorham.

"(To Governor George Clinton.)"

("Clinton Papers," Vol. IV, p. 162.)

Massachusetts had apparently forgotten Albany's appeal of August 1, 1777.

Governor Clinton Declines to Raise the Flour Embargo on Massachusetts

and Gives Good Reasons.

"Camp at White Plains, 6th Aug't 1778.
"Sir: Two Days since I was honored with the Receipt of your Letter of the
16th ultimo. It is with real Concern I learn that the Inhabitants of your State
are apprehensive of suffering by the Want of a proper Supply of flour & grain
for their Consumption. And what greatly adds to my anxiety is the little pros-
pect I have at present of being able to afford them with the Relief sollicited for
without distressing the Grand Army now in this State. Immediately on the
Receipt of your letter, I communicated the Contents to the Commissary Genl.
of Purchases, with a View of convening the Legislature & of recommending it to
them in the most pressing Terms to repeal the Embargo Law so far as it respected
the Exportation of Flour and Grain to the Neighbouring States, if it might be
done consistent with the good of the public Service. But he assures me that the
necessary Supplies of Flour & Grain for the Army depends on a Continuation of our
Embargo, and that even an unfaithful Execution of it might be productive of the
most fatal Consequences. This being the Case, Sir, notwithstanding our ardent
Desire of accommodating a Sister State with whom we wish to cultivate the most
Friendly Intercourse by the exchange of Good Offices, we must in the -present
Instance, submit for a Time to the lesser, to avoid the greater Evil. I am led to
believe that though your State fails in producing a sufficient Quantity of Grain
for the Support of its Inhabitants throughout the year, yet the coming in of their
Harvest will afford them such a present Supply as to prevent Immediate Distress
by the Want of that Essential Article, & that before such an unhappy event can
take Place the Situation of our affairs will be Such as to warrant the Repeal of our
Embargo & thereby enable your People to draw the necessary Supplies from this

"It does not require much Speculation to discover that an Inland Embargo
on the Staple Commodity of a State excluded from all Foreign Trade is highly
Injurious to the Interest of its Inhabitants. In this Point of View we consider
the present Law, & submit to it as a sacrifice of Interest to the Common Cause.
It is needless, therefore to add assurances that as soon as the public Exigencies
of the United States may admit of it the Law will be repealed, & a free Commu-
tation of the different Necessaries of Life opened on our Part with our Neighbors.
"I am Sir with verv great Respect and Regard your Most Obed't Serv't.

[G. C.].

"To the Hon'ble Jeremiah Powel, Esq. Presid't. of the Council Boston."

("Clinton Papers," Vol. Ill, p. 614.)

Smugglers Detected Taking Flour over the State Line.

"Oct. 23d Day 1778.


"As I was returning home, I was informed of a quantity of flour being about

1 2 3 5 7 8

Online LibraryUnited historical and patriotic societies and assoThe need of a history of New York → online text (page 5 of 8)