Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

A road was soon after made to the very summit of that eminence which the Americans supposed could not be ascended ; and they were now so much disheartened, that they instantly abandoned the fort, and made precipitate retreat to Skenesborough, a place to the south of Lake George ; while their baggage and military stores, which they could not carry off, were sent to the same place by water. But the British generals were not disposed to let them get off so easily; but pursued and overtook them.

Their armed vessels consisted only of five galleys; two of which were taken, and three blown up; on which they set fire to their boats and fortifications, at Skenesborough. The provincials lost two hundred boats, and one hundred and thirty pieces of cannon, with all their provisions and baggage.

Their land forces under colonel Francis, made a brave defence against general Fraser; and as they were superior in number, they almost overpowered him, when general Reidesel with a large body of Germans came to his assistance. The Americans were now overpowered in their turn; their commander killed, they fled in every direction. In this action two hundred of the provin. cials were killed, as many taken prisoners, and above six hundred wounded; many of whom perished in the woods for want of assistance.

During the engagement, general St. Clair was at Castleton, about six miles from the place ; but instead of going forward to fort Ann, the next place of strength, he repaired to the woods which lie between that fortress and New England. General Burgoyne therefore detached colonel Hill, with the ninth regiment to intercept their retreat towards fort Ann : on his way he met with a body of the enemy, said to be six times as numerous as his own; but after an engagement of three hours, they were obliged to retire with great loss.

After so many disasters, and finding themselves unable to make any stand at fort Ann, they set fire to it, and retired to fort Edward. In all these engagements, the loss of the killed and wounded in the royal army did not exceed two hundred men. General Burgoyne now suspended his operations for some time ; and wait. ed at Skenesborough for the arrival of his tents, provisions, &c. But employed this interval in making roads through the country about fort Ann, and in clearing a passage for his troops to proceed against the enemy. This was attended with incredible toil. But the resolution and patience of the army surmounted all obstacles.

Thus, after having undergone the greatest difficulties, and having made every exertion that man could make, he arrived with his army before fort Edward about the latter end of July. Here general Schuyler had been for some time endeavouring to recruit the scattered American forces, and had been joined by general St. Clair, with the remains of his army; the garrison of fort George had also taken shelter there. But on the approach of the royal army they retired from fort Edward, and formed their head quarters at Saratoga. VOL. II.

х

Notwithstanding these discouraging circumstances, the Americans shewed no disposition to submit ; but prepared in the best manner they could to make the most effectual resistance. For this purpose the militia was every where raised and draughted, to join the army at Saratoga ; and such numbers of volunteers were obtained, that they soon began to recover from the alarm into which their late losses had thrown them.

The forces now collected were put under the command of general Arnold, who repaired to Saratoga with a considerable train of artillery ; but receiving intelligence that colonel St. Leger was proceeding with great rapidity in his expedition on the Mohawk river, he removed to Still Water, a place about half way between Saratoga and the junction of the Mohawk with Hudson's river.

The colonel in the mean time, had advanced as far as fort Stanwix; the siege of which he pressed with great vigour; and un. derstanding that a supply of provisions, guarded by eight or nine hundred men, was on its way to the fort, he despatched Sir John Johnson with a strong detachment to intercept it.

This he per formed so effectually, that four hundred of the escort were slain, "and two hundred taken ; the residue escaping with great difficule ty. The garrison, it was expected, would be intimidated by this disaster, and by the threats and representations of St. Leger : on the contrary, they made several successful sallies under colonel Willet, the second officer in command; who, with another gentleman, ventured out of the fort, and eluding the vigilance of the enemy, passed through them, in order to hasten the march of general Arnold to their relief.

The affairs of colonel St.Leger, notwithstanding his recent success, appeared in no very favourable situation; and they were totally ruined by the desertion of the Indians; who had been alarmed by the report of general Arnold's advancing with two thousand men, to the relief of the fort; and while the colonel was endeavouring to encourage them, another report was spread that general Burgoyne had been defeated with great slaughter, and was flying before the provincials. On this he was obliged to comply with their fears, and ordered a retreat; which was not effected without the loss of the tents, some artillery, and military stores,

Difficulties and disappointments still continued to press upon general Burgoyne : the roads he had made with so much labour and pains, were destroyed by the enemy, and wetness of the sea. son ; so that provisions from fort George could not be brought to his camp, without prodigious toil. Having been informed of the siege of fort Stanwix, by colonel St. Leger, he determined to move forward, that he might enclose the enemy betwixt his own army and that of St. Leger; and in hopes of securing the command of all the country between fort Stạnwix and Albany. At any rate, a junction with St. Leger, was likely to produce the most happy consequences. The only difficulty was, the want of

provisions; and this it was proposed to remedy, by seizing the magazines of the provincials:

For this purpose, colonel Baum, a German officer of great bravery, was chosen with a body of five hundred troops. The magazines lay at Bennington, about twenty miles eastward of Hudson's river: in order to support colonel Baun's party, the whole army marched up the bank of the river, and encamped almost opposite to Saratoga, with the river between it and that place. An advanced party was posted at Batten-kill, between the camp and Bennington, in order to support colonel Baum. In their way the royal detachment seized a large supply of cattle and provisions, which were immediately sent to the camp ; but the badness of the roads retarded their march so much, that intelligence of their design was sent to Bennington. Colonel Baum, understanding that the American force at that place, was much superior to his own, acquainted the general ; who immediately sent colonel Breyman, with a party to his assistance : but the same causes which retarded the march of colonel Baum, also impeded the march of colonel Breyman, who could not arrive in time. General Starke, in the mean time, who commanded at Bennington, determined to attack the two parties separately; and advanced against colonel Baum, whom he surrounded on all sides, and attacked with the utmost .violence. The German troops defepded themselves with great valour, but were to a man either killed or taken. Colonel Breyman, after a desperate engagement, had the good fortune to effect a retreat, through the darkness of the night : which otherwise, he could not have done, as his men had expended all their ammunition.

Disappointed in his attempt on Bennington, general Burgoyne applied himself with indefatigable diligence, to procure provisions from Fort George ; and having at length procured a sufficient quantity, to last for a month, he threw a bridge of boats over the river Hudson, which he crossed about the middle of September, encamping on the hills and plains of Saratoga.

As soon as he approached the provincial army, which was encamped at Still Water under general Gates, he determined to make an attack; he placed himself at the head of the centre, having general Fraser and colonel Breyman on his right, and generals Reidesel and Phillips, with the artillery on the left. In this position, the 19th of September he advanced towards the enemy. But the Americans, confident in their numbers, did not now wait to be engaged : but attacked the central division with great impetuosity, and it was not till general Phillips with the artillery came up, and at eleven o'clock at night, that they could be induced to retire to their camp. In this action the British lost five hundred in killed and wounded, and the Americans three hundred and nineteen.

The resolution manifested by the Americans upon this occasion, surprised and alarmed the British forces. But this did not prévent them from advancing towards the enemy, and posting themselves within cannon shot of their lines the next day. But their Indian allies now began to desert in great numbers; and at the same time the general was exceedingly mortified by having no intelligence from Sir Henry Clinton, who was to have assisted him, as had been stipulated.

He now received a letter from him, by which he was informed that Sir Henry intended to make a diversion on the North River in his favour. This afforded but little comfort: and he returned an answer by several trusty persons who took different routes, stating his distressed situation ; at the same time informing him, that his provisions and other necessaries would only enable him to hold out till the 12th of October,

The Americans in the mean time, that they might effectually cut off the retreat of the British, undertook an expedition to Ticonderoga ; but failed in the attempt, notwithstanding they sur. prised all the out posts, and took a great number of boats, and some armed vessels, and a few prisoners.

The army under general Burgoyne, however, continued to la. bour under various distresses ; his provisions feil short, so that in the beginning of October he diminished the soldiers allowance. On the seventh of that month he determined to move towards the enemy: for this purpose he sent a body of one thousand five hundred men to reconnoitre their left wing; intending if possible, to break through it, and effect a retreat. The detachment had not proceeded far, when a dreadful attack was made by the Ame. ricans on the left wing of the British army, which was with great difficulty preserved from being entirely broken, by a reinforce. ment brought up by general Fraser, who was killed in the attack. After the troops had with the most desperate efforts regained their camp, it was furiously assaulted by general Arnold; who, notwithstanding all opposition, would have forced the entrenchments, had he not received a dangerous wound, which obliged him to retire. Thus the attack failed, but on the right the German reserve was forced, colonel Breyman killed, and his countrymen defeated with great slaughter, and with the loss of their artillery and baggage.

This was by far the greatest loss the British sustained since the battle of Bunker's hill: the list of the killed and wounded amount. ed to dear twelve hundred, exclusive of the Germans; but the greatest misfortune was, that the Americans had now an opening on the right, and rear of the British forces, so that the army was threatened with entire destruction. This obliged general Burgoyne once more to shift his position, that the enemy might also be obliged to alter theirs. This was accomplished on the night of the seventh without any loss, and all the next day he continued to offer the enemy battle. The enemy now advanced on the right that they might enclose him entirely, which obliged general Bur. goyne to direct a retreat to Saratoga. But the Americans had stationed a strong force at the ford on Hudson's river, so that the only possibility of retreat was by securing a passage to Lake.

George ; and to effect this, workmen were despatched with a strong guard, to repair the roads, and bridges that led to FortEdward. As soon as they were gone, the enemy seemed to pre. pare for an attack; which rendered it necessary to recal the guard, and the workmen being left exposed, could not proceed.

The boats which conveyed provisions down the Hudson river, were exposed to the continual fire of the American marksmen, who captured many; so that it became necessary to convey them over land. General Burgoyne finding it impossible to stay here, with any safety to his army, resolved to attempt a march to Fort Edward in the night, and force the passages at the fords either above or below. That he might effect this the more easily, it was resolved that the soldiers should carry their provisions on their backs, and leave behind them their baggage and every other incumbrance. But intelligence being received that the enemy had raised strong intrenchments opposite the fords, well provided with cannon, and that they had also taken possession of the rising ground between fort George and fort Edward, it was judged impossible to succeed in the attempt.

The American army was still increasing in numbers; and reinforcements flocked in from all quarters, elated with the certain prospect of capturing the whole British army. Small parties extended all along the opposite bank of Hudson's river, and some had passed it, that they might the more exactly observe every movement of the enemy. The forces under general Gates were computed at sixteen thousand men, while the army under general Burgoyne amounted to six thousand.

Every part of the British camp was reached by the rifle and grape shot of the Americans. In this state of extreme distress and imminent danger, the army continued with the greatest constancy and perseverance, till the evening of the thirteenth of October, when an inventory of provisions being taken, it was found that no more remained than was sufficient to last three days; a council of war being called, it was unanimously determined that there was no other alternative but to treat with the enemy. In

consequence of this, a negociation was opened the next day, which terminated in a capitulation of the whole British army; the principal article of which was, “ That the troops were to have a free passage to Britain, on condition of not serving against Ame. rica during the war.". On this occasion general Gates generously ordered his army to keep within their camp, while the British soldiers went to a place appointed to lay down their arms, that the latter might not have the additional mortification of being made spectacles on so melancholy an event.

The number of those who surrendered at Saratoga, amounted to five thousand seven hundred and fifty. According to the American accounts, the list of sick and wounded left in the camp when the army retreated to Saratoga, amounted to five hundred and twenty-eight, and the number of those by other accounts, since the taking of T'iconderoga, to near three thousand. Thirty-five brass

« ZurückWeiter »