Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter 10: Defeat, then Victory, in the North: Ticonderoga, Bennington, Saratoga (November 1775 to November 1777) - The Life of George Washington
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chapter 10: Defeat, then Victory, in the North: Ticonderoga, Bennington, Saratoga (November 1775 to November 1777) - John Marshall, The Life of George Washington 
The Life of George Washington. Special Edition for Schools, ed. Robert Faulkner and Paul Carrese (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000).
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Defeat, then Victory, in the North: Ticonderoga, Bennington, Saratoga (November 1775 to November 1777)
Enquiry into the conduct of General Schuyler.—Burgoyne appears before Ticonderoga.—Evacuation of that place.—Of Skeensborough.—Defeat of Colonel Warner.—Evacuation of Fort Anne.—Burgoyne approaches Fort Edward.—Schuyler retires to Saratoga.—To Stillwater.—St. Leger invests Fort Schuyler.—Herkimer defeated.—Colonel Baum detached to Bennington.—Is defeated.—Breckman defeated.—St. Leger abandons the siege of Fort Schuyler.—Gates takes command.—Burgoyne encamps on the heights of Saratoga.—Battle of Stillwater.—Of the 7th of October.—Burgoyne retreats to Saratoga.—Capitulates.—The British take Forts Montgomery and Clinton.—Forts Independence and Constitution evacuated.—The British evacuate Ticonderoga.
While, with inferior numbers, General Washington maintained a stubborn contest in the middle states, events of great variety and importance were passing in the north.
Nov. 1775After Sir Guy Carleton had placed his army in winter quarters, General Burgoyne embarked for Europe, to assist in making arrangements for the ensuing campaign.1 The American army, having been formed for one year only, dissolved itself at the expiration of that time.
The defence of this frontier was assigned to the regiments to be raised in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and the north-western parts of New York; but the recruiting service advanced so slowly, that the aid of the militia became indispensable; and the plan of the campaign, on the part of the British, was involved inMarch 1777 so much obscurity, that General Washington thought it advisable to direct eight of the regiments of Massachusetts to rendezvous at Peekskill.
The services of General Schuyler had been more solid than brilliant. Prejudices against him had been manifested by Congress, and his head quarters had been fixed at Albany; while General Gates was ordered to take command at Ticonderoga.2 He had been detained in service only by the deep interest he felt in the contest. So soon as his fears for Ticonderoga were removed, he waited on Congress for the purposes of adjusting his accounts, obtaining an enquiry into his conduct, and supporting those necessary measures for defence in the north which were suggested by his knowledge of the country. The committee appointed to enquire into his conduct, were so convinced of the importance of his services, that Congress deemed it essential to the public interest, to prevail on him to remain in the army. The resolution fixing his head quarters at Albany, was repealed, and he was directed to proceed forthwith to the northern department, and take the command of it.
April 1777On his arrival, he found the army not only too weak for its object, but destitute of military supplies. At the same time, a spy, who had been seized near Onion river, gave information that General Burgoyne was at Quebec, on the point of commencing his formidable plan of operations for the ensuing campaign.
After completing his arrangements for defence at Ticonderoga, he hastened to Albany for the purpose of attending to his supplies, and of expediting the march of reinforcements. While occupied with these duties, he received intelligence from General St. Clair,3 who commanded at Ticonderoga during his absence, that Burgoyne had appeared before that place.
In the course of the preceding winter, a plan had been digested in the cabinet of London for penetrating to the Hudson, by the way of the Lakes. Burgoyne was to lead a formidable army against Ticonderoga; while a smaller party under Colonel St. Leger,4 composed chiefly of provincials, aided by a powerful body of Indians, was to march from Oswego by the way of the Mohawk, and to join the grand army on the Hudson.
Burgoyne reached Quebec as soon as the river was practicable, and appeared in full force on the river Bouquet, on the westernJune 1777 banks of Lake Champlain, earlier than the American General had supposed to be possible. At this place he met the Indians in a grand council. In his speech delivered on this occasion, he endeavored to impress on them the distinction between enemies in the field, and unarmed inhabitants, many of whom were friends. Addressing himself to their avarice, he promised rewards for prisoners, but none for scalps. It was perhaps fortunate for America, that these feeble restraints were disregarded.
The royal army now advanced on both sides of the Lake, the fleet preserving a communication between its divisions, and encamped, on the first of July, within four miles of the American works. The next day they took possession of Mount Hope, which commanded part of the lines on the northern side, and cut off the communication with Lake George. The weakness of the garrison obliged General St. Clair to give up this post without a struggle. The British lines were then extended on the western side from the mountain to the Lake so as to inclose the garrison on that side. Sugar Hill, which stands at the confluence of the waters that unite at Ticonderoga, and overlooks the fortress, had been thought inaccessible, was seized, and batteries constructed on it which would be ready to open the next day. The garrison was not in a condition to check their operations.
The situation of St. Clair was at its crisis. The place must be immediately evacuated, or maintained at the hazard of losing the garrison.
Between these cruel alternatives, General St. Clair did not hesitate to choose the first; and a council of general officers, convened on the 5th of July, unanimously advised the immediate evacuation of the fort.
The invalids, and such stores as could be moved in the course of the night, were put on board batteaux,5 which proceeded under the guard of Colonel Long, up the river to Skeensborough; and before day the main body of the army commenced its march to the same place.
The orders given by General St. Clair to observe profound silence, and to set nothing on fire, were disobeyed; and before the rear guard was in motion, the house which had been occupied by General de Fleury6 was in flames. This seemed as a signal to the besiegers, who immediately entered the works, and commenced a rapid pursuit.
The bridge, the beam, and those other works, the construction of which had employed ten months, were cut through by nine in the morning, so as to afford a passage for British vessels, which engaged the American galleys about three in the afternoon, near the falls of Skeensborough. It being discovered that three regiments had landed at some distance from the fort at that place, for the purpose of cutting off the retreat of its garrison, as well as that of the detachment in the boats and galleys, the works and vessels were set on fire, and the troops retired to fort Anne. The baggage and a great quantity of military stores were lost.
General St. Clair reached Castletown, thirty miles from Ticonderoga, on the night succeeding the evacuation of the fort. The rear guard under Colonel Warner, augmented to one thousand men by those who, from excessive fatigue, had fallen out of the line of march, halted six miles short of that place.
The next morning at five they were attacked by General Frazer, at the head of eight hundred and fifty men. The action was warm and well contested. Two regiments of militia, which lay within two miles of Colonel Warner, were ordered to his assistance. They consulted their own safety, and hastened to Castletown. While the action was maintained with equal spirit on both sides, General Reidisel arrived with his division of Germans, and the Americans were routed.
Colonel Francis, several other officers, and upwards of two hundred men were left dead on the field. One Colonel, seven Captains, and two hundred and ten privates, were made prisoners. Near six hundred are supposed to have been wounded, many of whom must have perished in the woods.
The British state their own loss at thirty-five killed, including one field-officer, and one hundred and forty-four wounded, including two Majors. It is scarcely credible, notwithstanding the difference in arms, that the disparity in the killed could have been so considerable.
St. Clair directed his march to Rutland, where he fell in with several soldiers who had been separated from their corps; and two days afterwards, at Manchester, was joined by Warner with about ninety men. From this place he proceeded to fort Edward, where he met General Schuyler.
After taking possession of Skeensborough, Burgoyne found it necessary to suspend the pursuit, and to halt a few days in order to reassemble and arrange his army.
The ninth British regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Hill, had been detached against fort Anne; and, the garrison of that place being in some force, two other regiments were ordered, under Brigadier-General Powell, to support the first party. Before his arrival, Colonel Long attacked the first party, and a sharp skirmish ensued, the advantage in which was claimed by both parties. Hearing that a reinforcement was approaching, he set fire to the works at fort Anne, and retired to fort Edward.
At Stillwater, on his way to Ticonderoga, General Schuyler was informed of the events which had taken place. No officer could have exerted more diligence and skill than he displayed. Having fixed his head quarters at fort Edward, he obstructed the navigation of Wood creek, and rendered the roads impassable. He was also indefatigable in driving the live-stock out of the way, and in bringing the military stores deposited at fort George to fort Edward. Colonel Warner was posted on the left flank of the British army, with instructions to raise the militia.
The evacuation of Ticonderoga was a shock for which no part of the United States was prepared. Neither the strength of the invading army nor of the garrison had been understood. When, therefore, intelligence was received that a place believed to be of immense strength, which was considered as the key to the whole north-western country, had been abandoned without a siege, that a large train of artillery had been lost, that the army, on its retreat, had been defeated and dispersed; astonishment pervaded all ranks of men; and the conduct of the officers was universally condemned. Congress recalled all the generals of the department, and directed an enquiry into their conduct. Throughout New England especially, the most bitter aspersions were cast on them, and General Schuyler was involved in the common charge of treachery.
On the representation of General Washington, the recall of the officers was suspended; and on a full inquiry afterwards made, they were acquitted of all blame.
A letter from St. Clair to the commander-in-chief, stating the motives for evacuating Ticonderoga, represented his garrison, including nine hundred militia entitled to a discharge, at three thousand effective rank and file. The lines required ten thousand to man them. He affirmed that his supply of provisions, which had been procured after General Schuyler resumed the command of the department, was sufficient for only twenty days, and that the works on the Ticonderoga side were incomplete. He justified the delay of evacuating the place by the prevalent opinion that the force in Canada was not sufficient to justify so hardy an enterprise; and by his orders, which were to defend it to the last extremity.
A court of inquiry justified his conduct, and he retained the confidence of the commander-in-chief.
General Washington made great exertions to reinforce the northern army, and to replace the military stores which had been lost. Through the dark gloom which enveloped the affairs of that department, he discerned a ray of light which cheered his hope for the future; and exhorted General Schuyler not to despair. On receiving a letter from that officer of the 11th, stating the divided situation of the British army, he seemed to anticipate the event which afterwards occurred, and to suggest the measure in which originated that torrent of misfortune with which the British general was overwhelmed.
After collecting his army, Burgoyne proceeded with ardor on the remaining objects of the campaign. Such were the delays of opening Wood creek, and repairing the roads and bridges, that he did not reach the Hudson until the 14th of July. At this place it was necessary again to halt, in order to bring artillery, provisions, batteaux, and other articles, from fort George.
Schuyler had received some reinforcements of continental troops from Peekskill, but was not yet in a condition to face his enemy. He therefore crossed the Hudson and retreated to Stillwater, not far from the mouth of the Mohawk. General Lincoln was ordered to join him with a corps of militia assembling at Manchester, and he fortified his camp in the hope of being able to defend it.
At this place information was obtained that Burgoyne had evacuated Castletown, and that his communication with Ticonderoga, whence his supplies were chiefly drawn, was insecure. The orders to General Lincoln were countermanded, and he was directed to place himself, with all the militia he could assemble, in the rear of the British army, and to cut off its communication with the lakes. Here, too, he was informed that Colonel St. Leger, reinforced with a large body of Indians, had penetrated to the Mohawk, had laid siege to fort Schuyler, and had totally defeated General Herkimer,7 who had raised the militia of Tryon county in the hope of relieving the fort. The importance of preventing the junction of St. Leger with Burgoyne, determined Schuyler to detach General Arnold with three continental regiments to raise the siege. This measure so weakened the army as to render its removal to a place of greater security indispensable; and it was withdrawn to some islands at the confluence of the Mohawk with the Hudson.
On the 3d of August, St. Leger invested fort Schuyler. The garrison consisted of six hundred continental troops, commanded by Colonel Gansevoort. The besieging army rather exceeded fifteen hundred, of whom between five and six hundred were Indians. General Herkimer assembled the militia of Tryon county, and gave notice, on the morning of the 6th, of his intention to force a passage that day through the besieging army. Gansevoort drew out two hundred men under Lieutenant-Colonel Willet, to favor the execution of this design by a sortie.
Unfortunately, St. Leger received information the preceding day of Herkimer’s approach, and, early in the morning, placed a strong party in ambuscade on the road along which he was to march. Herkimer’s first notice was given by a heavy discharge of small-arms, which was followed by a furious attack from the Indians with their tomahawks. He defended himself with resolution, but was defeated with the loss of four hundred men. The destruction was prevented from being still more complete by the timely sortie made by Colonel Willet. He fell on the camp of the besiegers, routed them at the first onset; and, after driving them into the woods, returned without the loss of a man. This checked the pursuit of Herkimer, and recalled those engaged in it to the defence of their own camp.
Burgoyne was aware of the advantage of effecting a junction with St. Leger, by an immediate and rapid movement down the Hudson; but the obstacles to his progress multiplied daily, and each step produced new embarrassments. The increasing difficulty of communicating with fort George furnished strong inducements to attempt some other mode of supply.
Large magazines of provisions were collected at Bennington, which place was generally guarded by militia, whose numbers varied from day to day. The possession of these magazines, and the means of transportation which might be acquired in the country, would enable him to prosecute his ulterior plans without relying on supplies from Lake George, and he determined to seize them. To try the affections of the people, to complete a corps of loyalists, and to mount Reidisel’s dragoons,8 were subordinate objects of the expedition. Lieutenant-Colonel Baum, with five hundred Europeans, and a body of loyalists, was detached on this service.
To facilitate the enterprise, Burgoyne moved down the east side of the Hudson. His van crossed the river on a bridge of rafts, and took post at Saratoga. Lieutenant-Colonel Brechman, with his corps, was advanced to Batten Hill, in order to support Baum.
On approaching Bennington, Baum discovered that the New Hampshire militia, commanded by General Starke, had reached that place on their way to camp; and, uniting with Colonel Warner, amounted to about two thousand men. He halted four miles from Bennington, fortified his camp, and despatched an express for a reinforcement. Lieutenant-Colonel Brechman was immediately ordered to his assistance, but such was the state of the roads, that though he marched at eight in the morning of the 15th, he could not reach the ground on which Baum had encamped until four in the afternoon of the next day.
In the mean time General Starke determined to attack him in his entrenchments. The American troops were mistaken by the loyalists for armed friends coming to join them. Baum soon discovered the error, and made a gallant defence; but his works were carried by storm, and great part of his detachment killed or taken prisoners. Brechman arrived during the pursuit, and gained some advantage over the disordered militia engaged in it. Fortunately Colonel Warner came up at this critical juncture with his continental regiment, and restored and continued the action, until the militia reassembled, and came to his support. Brechman maintained the action till dark, when, abandoning his artillery and baggage, he saved his party under cover of the night.
One thousand stand of arms,9 nine hundred swords, thirty-two officers, and five hundred and sixty-four privates, were the known fruits of this victory. The number of dead was not ascertained, because the battle with Brechman had been fought in the woods, and been continued for several miles.
This success was soon followed by another of equal influence on the fate of the campaign.
Fort Schuyler had been fortified with more skill, and was defended with more courage than St. Leger had expected. The Indians became intractable, and manifested great disgust with the service. In this temper they understood that Arnold was advancing with a large body of troops, and that Burgoyne had been defeated. Unwilling to share the misfortunes of their friends, they manifested a determination not to await the arrival of Arnold. Many of them decamped immediately, and the rest threatened to follow.
The time for deliberation was past. The camp was broken up with indications of excessive alarm.
The victory at Bennington and the flight of St. Leger, however important in themselves, were still more so in their consequences. An army which had spread terror in every direction, was considered as already beaten. The great body of the people were encouraged, the disaffected became timid, and the wavering were deterred from putting themselves and their fortunes in hazard to support an army whose fate was so uncertain.
The barbarities which had been perpetrated by the Indians excited still more resentment than terror; and their influence on the royal cause was the more sensibly felt because they had been indiscriminate. But other causes of still greater influence were in operation. The last reinforcements of continental troops arrived in camp; the harvest, which had detained the northern militia, was over; and General Schuyler, whose eminent services had not exempted him from the imputation of being a traitor, was succeeded by General Gates, who possessed a large share of the public confidence, and who had been directed by Congress to take command of the northern department.
Schuyler continued his exertions to restore the affairs of the north until the arrival of his successor, though he felt acutely the disgrace and injury of being recalled at that crisis of the campaign when the fairest prospect of victory opened to his view.Map
Notwithstanding the difficulties which multiplied around him, Burgoyne remained steady to his purpose. Having collected provisions for thirty days, he crossed the river on the 13th and 14th of September, and encamped on the heights and plains of Saratoga, with a determination to decide the fate of the expedition by a battle. General Gates had advanced to the neighborhood of Stillwater.
On the night of the 17th, Burgoyne encamped within four miles of the American army; and on the morning of the 19th, advanced in full force towards its left. Morgan was immediately detached to harass his front and flanks. He attacked and drove in a piquet in front of the right wing; but, pursuing with too much ardor, he was met in considerable force, and compelled in turn to retreat in some disorder. Two regiments being sent to his assistance, his corps was rallied, and the action became more general. Reinforcements were continually brought up; and, by four in the afternoon, upwards of three thousand American troops were already engaged [at Freeman’s Farm] with the right wing of the British army, commanded by General Burgoyne in person. The conflict was extremely severe, and only terminated with the day. At night the Americans retired to their camp, and the British lay on their arms near the field of battle.
The killed and wounded on the part of the Americans, were between three and four hundred. Among the former were Colonels Coburn and Adams, and several other valuable officers. The British loss has been estimated at rather more than five hundred men. The Indians, beaten in the woods by Morgan, and restrained from scalping and plundering the unarmed by Burgoyne, seeing before them the prospect of hard fighting without profit, grew tired of the service, and deserted in great numbers. The Canadians and Provincials were not much more faithful; and Burgoyne perceived that his hopes must rest on his European troops. With reason, therefore, this action was celebrated throughout the United States as a victory.
General Lincoln had assembled a considerable body of militia in the rear of Burgoyne, from which he drew three parties of five hundred men each. One, under the command of Colonel Brown, was to proceed against a small fort at the north end of Lake George, where some American prisoners were confined. The second, commanded by Colonel Johnson, was to march against Mount Independence; and the third, under Colonel Woodbury, was detached to Skeensborough to cover the retreat of both the others. With the residue, Lincoln proceeded to the camp of Gates.
Brown surprised the post on Lake George, and also took possession of Mount Defiance and Mount Hope. He liberated one hundred American prisoners, and captured two hundred and ninety-three of the enemy, with the loss of three killed and five wounded.
Colonel Johnson attacked Mount Independence, but was repulsed; after which, all the parties returned to their former station.
The day after the battle of Stillwater, Burgoyne took a position almost within cannon-shot of the American camp, fortified his right, and extended his left to the river. Here he received a letter from Sir Henry Clinton, stating that he should attack fort Montgomery about the 20th of September.
Both armies retained their position until the 7th of October, when Burgoyne, having heard nothing farther from Sir Henry, and being reduced to the necessity of diminishing his rations, determined to make one more trial of strength with his adversary. For this purpose, he drew out fifteen hundred choice troops on his right, whom he commanded in person, assisted by Generals Philips, Reidisel, and Frazer. They formed within three quarters of a mile of the left of the American camp; and a corps of rangers, provincials, and Indians, was pushed forward through secret paths to show themselves in its rear.
On perceiving these movements, Gates determined to attack their left, front, and right flank at the same time. Poor’s brigade, and some regiments from New Hampshire, were ordered to meet them in front, while Morgan, with his rifle corps, made a circuit unperceived, and seized a height [Bemis Heights] covered with wood on their right. The attack was made in front and on the left in great force, and at the same instant Morgan poured in a deadly fire on the front and right flank.
While the British right was thus closely pressed, a distinct corps was ordered to intercept its retreat to camp. Burgoyne, perceiving its danger, formed a second line with the light infantry, under General Frazer, and part of the twenty-fourth regiment, for its security. While this movement was in progress, the left was forced from its ground, and the light infantry was ordered to its aid. In the attempt to execute this order, they were attacked by Morgan, and Frazer was mortally wounded. Overpowered by numbers, Burgoyne regained his camp with the loss of his field-pieces, and great part of his artillery corps. The Americans followed close in his rear, and assaulted his works throughout their whole extent. The entrenchments were forced on their right; and General Arnold, with a few men, entered their works; but his horse being killed under him, and himself wounded, the troops were forced out of them; and the night put an end to the assault. The left of Arnold’s division was still more successful. Jackson’s regiment, of Massachusetts, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Brooks, turned the right of the encampment, and stormed the works occupied by the German reserve. Lieutenant-Colonel Brechman was killed, and the works carried. Darkness put an end to the action, and the Americans lay all night on their arms, about half a mile from the British lines.
Burgoyne changed his position in the night, and drew his whole army into a strong camp on the river heights, extending his right up the river.
General Gates was not disposed to attack him on this strong ground. He detached a party higher up the Hudson to intercept the British army on its retreat; and posted strong corps on the other side of the river to guard its passage.
Burgoyne retired to Saratoga, from which place he detached a company of artificers,10 under a strong escort, to repair the roads and bridges towards fort Edward. This detachment had scarcely moved, when the Americans appeared in force, and threatened his camp. The Europeans escorting the artificers were recalled; and a provincial corps11 employed in the same service being attacked, ran away, and left the workmen to shift for themselves.
The British army was now almost completely environed12 by a superior force, and its difficulties and dangers were continually increasing. A council of general officers took the bold resolution to abandon every thing but their arms, and such provisions as the soldiers could carry, and force their way to fort George.
Gates had anticipated this movement; and had placed strong guards at the fords of the Hudson, and formed an entrenched camp on the high grounds between fort Edward and fort George. The scouts sent to examine the route returned with this information, and the plan was abandoned.
In this hopeless condition, a negotiation was opened by a proposition from General Burgoyne, which was answered by a demand that the whole army should surrender themselves prisoners of war. This demand was peremptorily rejected, but a convention13 was signed on the 17th of October, stipulating that the British army, after marching out of their encampment with all the honors of war, should lay down their arms, and not serve against the United States till exchanged. They were to be permitted to embark for England.
These terms were probably more advantageous than would have been granted by Gates, had he entertained no apprehensions from Sir Henry Clinton, who was, at length, making his promised diversion on the North14 river, up which he had penetrated as far as Aesopus and its dependencies.
The drafts made from Peekskill had left that post and its dependencies in a situation to require the aid of militia for their security. The requisitions of Putnam were complied with; but the attack being delayed, the militia became impatient, many deserted, and General Putnam was induced to discharge the residue.15
Governor Clinton16 ordered out half the militia of New York; but this order was executed so slowly, that the forts were carried before the militia were in the field.
Forts Montgomery and Clinton had been constructed on the west of the Hudson, on very high ground, extremely difficult of access. To prevent ships from passing the forts, chevaux-de-frise had been sunk in the river, and a boom extended from bank to bank, which was covered with immense chains stretched at some distance in its front. These works were defended by the guns of the forts, and by a frigate and galleys stationed above them.17
Fort Independence was four or five miles below forts Montgomery and Clinton, on the opposite side of the river; and fort Constitution rather more than six miles above them. Peekskill, the head quarters of the commanding officer, is just below fort Independence, on the same side of the river. The garrisons had been reduced to six hundred men; and the whole force of Putnam did not much exceed two thousand. This force, if properly applied, was more than competent to the defence of the forts against any numbers which could be spared from New York. To ensure success, it was necessary to draw the attention of Putnam from the real object, and to storm the works before the garrisons could be aided by his army. This Sir Henry Clinton accomplished.
Between three and four thousand men embarked at New York, and landed, on the 5th of October, at Verplank’s Point, a short distance below Peekskill, upon which General Putnam retired to the heights in his rear. On the evening of the same day, a part of these troops re-embarked, and landed the next morning, at break of day, at Stony Point, and commenced their march through the mountains into the rear of forts Clinton and Montgomery. In the mean time the manoeuvres of the vessels, and the appearance of a small detachment at Verplank’s, persuaded General Putnam that the meditated attack was on fort Independence. The real designs of the enemy were not suspected until a heavy firing from the other side of the river announced the assault on the forts. Five hundred men were immediately detached to reinforce the garrison; but before they could cross the river, the forts were in possession of the British.
Both posts were assaulted about five in the afternoon. The works were defended until dark, when, the lines being too extensive to be completely manned, the assailants entered them in different places. Some of the garrison were made prisoners, while their better knowledge of the country enabled others to escape. Governor Clinton passed the river in a boat; and General James Clinton,18 though wounded in the thigh by a bayonet, also made his escape. The loss sustained by the garrison was about two hundred and fifty men. That of the assailants was rather less than two hundred.
The continental vessels of war lying above the boom and chains were burnt; forts Independence and Constitution were evacuated; and Putnam retreated to Fishkill. General Vaughan, after burning Continental village, proceeded up the river to Draper’s, which he also destroyed.
General Putnam, whose army had been augmented by militia to six thousand men, detached General Parsons with two thousand to re-possess himself of Peekskill, and of the passes in the Highlands, while he watched the progress of the enemy up the river. Gates, on the capitulation of Burgoyne, had detached five thousand men to his aid. Before their arrival General Vaughan had returned to New York, whence a reinforcement to General Howe was about to sail.
The army which surrendered at Saratoga, exceeded five thousand men. On marching from Ticonderoga it was estimated at nine thousand. In addition to this great military force, the Americans acquired a fine train of artillery, seven thousand stand of excellent arms, clothing for seven thousand recruits, with tents and other military stores to a considerable amount.
The thanks of Congress were voted to General Gates and his army; and a medal of gold, in commemoration of this great event, was ordered to be struck and presented to him by the President in the name of the United States.19 Colonel Wilkinson, his Adjutant-General, whom he strongly recommended, was appointed Brigadier-General by brevet.20
Nov. 1777Soon after the capitulation of Burgoyne, Ticonderoga and Mount Independence were evacuated, and the garrison retired to Isle aux Noix and St. Johns.
[1. ]Sir Guy Carleton (later Lord Dorchester), Major General in the British army, Governor of Canada (1775–78), later British Commander in Chief in America (1782–83); John Burgoyne (1722–92), British Major General, former member of Parliament.
[2. ]Later historians refer to this as the Gates-Schuyler Controversy, involving Philip John Schuyler (1733–1804) of New York, and Horatio Gates (1728–1806) of England and Virginia, both Major Generals in the Continental army.
[3. ]Arthur St. Clair (1737–1818) of Scotland, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, Major General in the Continental army.
[4. ]Barry St. Leger (1737–89), Lieutenant Colonel (later Colonel) in the British army, veteran of frontier warfare in the French and Indian War.
[5. ]Flat-bottomed river boats with tapering ends, moved by oars, poles, or square (fixed) sails.
[6. ]François Louis Teissedre de Fleury (1749?–96?), French volunteer; initially a Captain of Engineers, he rose to Lieutenant Colonel in the American army, and was ultimately a Field Marshall in the French army.
[7. ]Nicholas Herkimer (1728–77) of New York, revolutionary patriot active in the Mohawk Valley of western New York, Brigadier General in the militia.
[8. ]Dragoons were mounted infantrymen; strictly understood, they rode into battle but dismounted to fight, whereas cavalry, strictly understood, fought on horseback.
[9. ]A set of complete arms, i.e., a set of muskets or rifles each with a bayonet.
[10. ]Soldier mechanics who served with the artillery and engineers.
[11. ]A unit of American Loyalist soldiers, officially designated “Provincials” so as to distinguish them from British regulars.
[12. ]Encircled, surrounded.
[13. ]Distinct from a surrender; an agreement entered into by belligerents, suspending hostilities. In this spirit, it was arranged that Burgoyne would surrender his sword to Gates, yet that Gates would immediately return it.
[14. ]At the time of the Revolution, the Hudson was alternatively called the North River.
[15. ]The remainder of the militia.
[16. ]George Clinton (1739–1812) of New York, Brigadier General in the Continental army (ultimately Major General, by brevet or honorary rank—see note 20 below), first governor of the state of New York (1777–95, 1800–1803), later U.S. Vice President under Jefferson and Madison (1805–12); not to be confused with his older brother James Clinton (note 18 below) nor with Sir Henry Clinton, British General and commander in chief in America.
[17. ]A boom is a floating construction of logs, fastened with chains, intended to form an obstruction to vessels; for chevaux-de-frise, frigates, and galleys; see chapter 9, notes 1, 3, and 4.
[18. ]James Clinton (1733–1812) of New York, Brigadier General in the Continental army, older brother of Governor George Clinton.
[19. ]Under the Articles of Confederation (proposed in 1777, fully ratified in 1781), the President of Congress was an appointee of the Congress with no independent election, term, or powers.
[20. ]A commission giving an officer higher honorary rank without increase in pay or the right to exercise command at that grade, except by special assignment.