1777 Entries | James Thatcher’s Military Journal


    About the author

    James Thatcher.
    James Thatcher

    James Thatcher was a military surgeon for the Continental Army during the American Revolution. After the war, he continued practicing in his home state of Massachusetts, and wrote a number of works on the Revoution, such as Observations Relative to the Execution of Major John André as a Spy in 1780 (1834).


      Editor’s note

      The following is an excerpt from the journal of James Thatcher, a military surgeon for the Continental Army during the American Revolution. It provides a fascinating glimpse into life on the frontlines during the war, as well as the wider context and politics of the Revolution from 1775-1783. This page covers his diary entries from 1777.

      This journal has not been edited and as a result it has some old English spellings of certain words.



      January 5th

      At the close of the last year, the situation of our main army was gloomy and discouraging: a large proportion of the troops had retired from service, as their term of enlistment expired, and the small remains of our army was retreating before the enemy, and passed the Delaware for safety. It is now announced in our general orders, to our inexpressible joy and satisfaction, that the scene is in some degree changed, the fortune of war is reversed, and Providence has been pleased to crown the efforts of our commander-in-chief with a splendid victory. His excellency, having obtained information that the advanced party of the enemy, consisting of about fifteen hundred Hessians and British light-horse, under command of Colonel Rahl, Was stationed at the village of Trenton, concerted a plan for taking them by surprise. For this purpose he made choice of Christmas night, under the idea that in consequence of the festivity, they might be less vigilantly guarded. At this time the whole force under his immediate command did not exceed three thousand men. At the head of about two thousand four hundred men, one division being commanded by General Greene and the other by General Sullivan, he crossed the river Delaware in boats, in the night of the 25th of December, during a severe storm of snow and rain. The passage of the boats was rendered extremely difficult and hazardous by the ice, and part of the troops and cannon actually failed in the attempt. Having landed on the Jersey shore, he had nine miles to march, and he reached the village about seven o’clock in the morning with such promptitude and secrecy, as to attack the enemy almost as soon as his approach was discovered. A smart firing ensued, which continued but a few minutes, when the enemy, finding themselves surrounded, threw down their arms and surrendered as prisoners. Colonel Rahl, the commanding officer, was mortally wounded, and seven other officers were wounded and left at Trenton on their parole. About thirty-five soldiers were killed, sixty wounded, and nine hundred and forty-eight, including thirty officers, were taken prisoners, amounting in all to one thousand and forty-eight. Of the Continentals not more than ten, it is supposed, were killed and wounded. General Washington recrossed the Delaware the same day in triumph, bringing off six excellent brass cannon, about one thousand two hundred small arms, and three standards, with a quantity of baggage, &c. This very brilliant achievement is highly honorable to the commander-in-chief, and to all that were engaged in the enterprise. We are sanguine in the hope that this most auspicious event will be productive of the happiest effects, by inspiriting our dejected army, and dispelling that panic of despair into which the people have been plunged. General Washington allowed the Hessian prisoners to retain their baggage, and sent them into the interior of Pennsylvania, ordering that they be treated with favor and humanity. This conduct, so contrary to their expectations, excited their gratitude and veneration for their amiable conqueror, whom they styled, “a very good rebel.”

      January 15th

      By some friends from the main army, and from current report, it appears that the British, having overrun the Jerseys, considered the Continental army as on the point of annihilation, and flattered themselves that whatthey term the rebellion, is effectually crushed. In their march through the Jerseys they have committed such licentious ravages and desolation, as must be deemed disgraceful by all civilized people; an indiscriminate robbery and plundering mark every step of their progress; rapine and murder, without distinction of friend or foe, age or sex, has been put in practice with an inexorable spirit, and countenanced by officers of rank and distinction. Even those unfortunate inhabitants who have been deluded by their promises, and received printed protections, are equally sufferers by these cruel and atrocious wretches. Hundreds of inhabitants, both male and female, have been deprived of their dwellings and sustenance, stripped of their clothing, and exposed to the inclemency of the winter, and to personal insult and abuse of almost every description. But their wicked career is about to be checked. Providence will not suffer such enormities to be perpetrated with impunity. Those miserable inhabitants, whose lives have been spared, are driven to desperation, and feel that they have no hope but in the extirpation of their cruel enemies. The people who have been subdued have, with a noble spirit, risen on their conquerors, and are resolved to revenge the injuries which they have suffered.

      We are now informed of another very important advantage which General Washington has gained over the royal army by means of a well-concerted stratagem. After his success at Trenton, General Washington received considerable reinforcements of troops from Virginia and Maryland, and some regiments of militia, which enabled him again to cross the Delaware into the Jerseys and face the enemy. While at Trenton, Lord Cornwallis advanced to attack him, and a severe cannonade commenced. In the evening, General Washington ordered a great number of fires to be lighted up and leaving a sufficient number of men to keep them burning during the night, to deceive the enemy, stole a march with his main army, taking a circuitous route, and, at nine o’clock the next morning, attacked three regiments of the British who were posted at Princeton, routed them, and drove them from their redoubts. By this masterly manoeuvre, the enemy lost about five hundred in killed, wounded and prisoners. The loss on our side is very inconsiderable in point of numbers, but we have to lament the death of Brigadier-General Mercer, a brave officer, who commanded the Virginia militia. The fact is published, that after General Mercer surrendered himself, the enemy, deaf to the voice of humanity, stabbed him with their bayonets, and with the butt end of a musket battered and disfigured his face in a savage manner. It is to be remarked, that on this memorable occasion Lord Cornwallis was completely out-generaled; while he was expecting to find the Continental army at their lighted fires at Trenton, he was astonished and confounded to hear the firing occasioned by this same army, beating up their quarters twelve miles in his rear. His lordship immediately repaired by a forced march to Princeton, but arrived too late to retaliate on his vigilant antagonist, who had taken up his route to Morristown. Finding that the Continentals were out of his reach, his lordship proceeded without halting to Brunswick. Stratagems in war, when wisely concerted, and judiciously executed, are considered as characterizing a military genius of superior order, and is a quality of inestimable value in every commander. It is often exultingly remarked in our camp, that Washington was born for the salvation of his country, and that he is endowed with all, the talents and abilities necessary to qualify him for the great undertaking. The militia of Jersey, immediately on their being, liberated from the control of the British, flew to arms, exasperated and stimulated by a recollection of their sufferings, and have become their most bitter and determined enemies; and are very active and vigilant in harassing them on all occasions, keeping a continual watch, and cutting off small parties whenever opportunities offer. It is gratifying to the army that Congress have conferred on their Generalissimo, more ample powers, and appointed, him Dictator for the limited term of six months; to reform and new-model the military arrangements, in such manner as he may judge most advantageous for the public service. Much good is expected to result from this measure.

      January 30th

      It is with infinite satisfaction we learn that the royal army has been compelled to quit almost every part of the Jerseys, and that our army is pursuing them from post to post, and they find no security but in the vicinity of their shipping.

      General Washington has issued a proclamation, commanding all persons having taken the oath of allegiance to Great Britain, and accepted protections and certificates, to deliver up the same and take the oath of allegiance to the United States – granting at the same time full liberty to all those who prefer the protection of Great Britain to the freedom and happiness of their country, forthwith to withdraw themselves and families to the enemy’s lines.

      The winter hitherto has been mild and temperate; Lake Champlain is now frozen over, and the ice is about one foot thick; the earth is covered with snow, but the storms have not been very violent, and the cold not so intense as might be expected in a northern climate. There have been frequent instances of persons being detected lurking about the country who are employed by the enemy in enlisting soldiers for the tory regiments in New York. In order effectually to prevent this nefarious conduct, every person of this description who may fall into our hands is to be tried by a court martial, and if found guilty, will be executed as a spy, A few days since one Daniel Strong was found lurking about our army at Peekskill, and on examination enlisting orders were found sewed in his clothes; he was immediately tried as a spy from the enemy, sentenced to suffer death, and was executed accordingly.


      The present unfortunate situation of General Lee, who is in close confinement in the provost prison, in New York, affords a topic for general conversation both in and out of the army. A correspondence between General Washington and General Howe has taken place relative to the subject, from which it appears that General Lee receives the most rigid and ungenerous treatment, under the absurd pretence that he is a deserter from the British service, when it is well known that he resigned his commission long before he before received an appointment in our army. As we have not in our possession any British officers of equal rank, General Washington has proposed to make an exchange of six Hessian field-officers for General Lee, that being considered as the usual proportion for the disparity of rank. This proposal being rejected, his excellency next required of General Howe, that General Lee should receive from his hands treatment suitable to his rank, and such as the custom of all armies has prescribed for prisoners of war. If this should be refused, General Howe was assured, that the unpleasant expedient of retaliation should be immediately adopted. This unhappy affair soon arrested the attention of Congress, and they resolved “that General Washington inform General Howe, that should the proffered exchange of General Lee not be accepted, and the ill treatment of him be continued, the principle of retaliation shall occasion five of the Hessian field-officers, together with Lieutenant-Colonel A. Campbell, or any other officers that are or may be in our possession, equivalent in number or quality, to be detained in order that the same treatment which General Lee shall receive may be exactly inflicted on their persons.” The result of this unfortunate business is, that the threatened retaliation has been resorted to on our part, and that Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell and five Hessian field-officers are committed to prison, and subjected to the same rigorous treatment which it has been ascertained is inflicted on the person of General Lee. Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, being on parole near Boston is confined in the jail at Concord. In a letter to General Howe, which has been published, after acknowledging the liberal and generous attention which he had previously received he describes his present condition as being most horrid, and in his view altogether unjustifiable. It remains therefore with General Howe to afford to Colonel Campbell all the relief which he desires, and extend to him all the comforts and privileges which his rank demands, by first relaxing his severity, and complying with the rules of war as respects General Lee; it being the determination of our government to place the British prisoners in precisely the same circumstances with our prisoners in their custody. My leisure hours permit me to advert to another subject which excites the interest and the inexpressible indignation of every American. I allude to the abominable conduct of the British commanders towards our unfortunate officers and soldiers, who, by the fortune of war, have fallen into their hands. In all countries and armies, prisoners of war have a just claim on the duties of humanity; from the moment of their captivity hostilities should cease, the sword should be sheathed; being themselves disarmed, no arm can of right be lifted against them, and while they conduct in a manner becoming their condition, they are entitled to the customary immunities and to be treated with lenity. Among the savage tribes we know their captives are tortured by fire, by the scalping-knife, and the tomahawk, but we are yet, and, for the honor of human nature, hope we ever shall remain, unacquainted with any civilized nation, except the English, who devote their captives to various forms of destruction. It would seem that the application of the term rebel to our prisoners, is sufficient to reconcile the consciences of their victors to inflict on them the most unprecedented cruelties. The following is a brief summary of the systematic method adopted and practised for their destruction, as taken from the New London Gazette from General Washington’s letter of complaint to General Howe, and from the verbal statement of the officers and soldiers who have returned from New York by exchange. They were crowded into the holds of prison-ships, where they were almost suffocated for want of air, and into churches, and open sugar-houses, &c., without covering or a spark of fire. Their allowance of provisions and water for three days, was insufficient for one, and in some instances, they were for four days entirely destitute of food. The pork and bread, for they had no other sustenance, and even the water allowed them, were of the worst possible quality, and totally unfit for human beings. A minute detail of their dreadful sufferings would only serve to harrow up the feelings of surviving friends; as a gross outrage against the principles of humanity, suffice it to say, that in consequence of the most barbarous treatment, died within a few weeks, not less than fifteen hundred American soldiers, brave young men, the pride and shield of our country. After death had released the sufferers their bodies were dragged out of the prisons, and piled up without doors, till enough were collected for a cart-load, when they were carted out and tumbled into a ditch, and slightly covered with earth. Besides the above diabolical treatment, the prisoners were continually insulted and tantalized by the British officers and malicious tories, cursing and swearing at them as rebels, saying, “this is the just punishment of your rebellion; nay, you are treated too well for rebels, you have not received half you deserve, and half you shall receive; but if you will enlist in his majesty’s service, you shall have victuals and clothing enough.” Thus these callous-hearted Englishmen meanly endeavored to augment the royal army by the enlistment of American prisoners, or to diminish the number of their opposers; but such was the integrity and patriotism of these men, that hundreds submitted to death rather than become rebels to their native country. In one instance, four of our wounded officers, of respectable rank, were put into a common dirt-cart, and conveyed through the streets of New York, as objects of derision, reviled as rebels, and, treated with the utmost contempt.

      A friend who was unfortunately a prisoner in New York, has recently favored me with the following facts: In 1776, a number of prisoners were made by the British in our retreat from Long Island. Among others, a Lieutenant Dunscomb, of New York. He and his fellow officers were ordered before the commanding-general, who, in harsh language, reproached them for their crime of rebellion and its necessary consequences. A gentleman present, began to plead their youth as an apology. It won’t do, said General Howe, you shall all be hanged! “Hang, and be d–d,” said Dunscomb. They hanged no one that I know of, but they played the fool by going through the farce of making them ride with a rope round their necks seated on coffins to the gallows. Otho Williams, subsequently adjutant-general to the southern army, and a most worthy and amiable gentleman, I particularly know was treated in this manner.

      But, it may be inquired, if I mean to describe the British commanders as transformed into demons?

      I only record notorious, facts, and it is not my journal, but the faithful and impartial pages of history that will. transmit to posterity this stigma on the English character. Gracious Heavens! are these the people from whom we derive our origin, and who are inviting the Americans to a reconciliation? A more dreadful curse can scarcely be denounced! It is worthy of observation, that the British and Hessian prisoners in our bands were treated in a manner directly the reverse of that just described, and they never found cause to complain. It is some satisfaction to find, that since the brilliant success of our army in the Jerseys, and a considerable number of British and Hessians having fallen into our hands, the cruel severities inflicted on our prisoners have been in some degree mitigated. To the foregoing unparalleled catalogue of criminal proceedings, I have to add, from another writer, that the enemy wantonly destroyed the New York water-works, an elegant public library at Trenton, and the grand orrery made by the celebrated Rittenhouse, which was placed in the college at Princeton, a piece of mechanism which the most untutored savage, staying the hand of violence, would have beheld with wonder and delight. Thus are our cruel enemies warring against liberty, virtue and the arts and sciences. To make war against literature and learning is
      the part of barbarians. I cannot resist the temptation to transcribe a few paragraphs from an elegant speech of Governor Livingston to the general assembly of the state of New Jersey, March the 5th. “They have plundered friends and foes; effects, capable of division, they have
      divided; such as were not, they have destroyed: they have warred on decrepid old age, warred on defenceless youth; they have committed hostilities against the professors of literature and the ministers of religion, against public records and private monuments; books of improvement, and papers of curiosity; and against the arts and sciences. They have butchered the wounded, asking for quarter; mangled the dead, weltering in their blood; refused to the dead the rites of sepulture; suffered prisoners to perish for want of sustenance; insulted the persons of females; disflgured private dwellings of taste and elegance, and, in the rage of impiety and barbarism, profaned edifices dedicated to Almighty God.”

      Lake Champlain is now open, and free from ice in its whole extent, and the hostile Indians begin to lurk about our lines, laying wait for their prey. A party of these savages in the British interest, a few days since, discovered about thirty of our unarmed recruits on their way to join their corps at Fort George; they immediately made their attack, killed and tomahawked some, made several prisoners, and escaped towards Canada; a few of these men fortunately escaped, and several that were wounded were brought into our lines. Colonel Whitcomb with a party of continentals was ordered to pursue the Indians; he overtook part of them, and killed several, but the prisoners were carried off beyond his reach.

      An enterprise of little importance has lately been put in execution by a detachment of royalists from New York. Their object was to destroy some stores which were deposited at Peekskill. General McDougal, who had the command of the post, with a small number of men, found it prudent to retire, and the enemy accomplished in part the object of the expedition. Lieutenant-Colonel Willet, however, with only sixty men, came on them by surprise, when a skirmish ensued, which obliged them to retire with great precipitation on board their vessels in the North River, after having suffered a considerable loss.


      The term of service of Colonel Whitcomb’s regiment having expired, they have now left the service, and returned to New England. Having received an invitation from Dr. Jonathan Potts, the surgeon-general in this department, to accept the office of surgeon’s-mate in the general hospital, I have received the said appointment, and commenced my official duties accordingly at this place; Dr. D. Townsend being at the same time appointed senior surgeon. We find here about eighty soldiers laboring under various diseases, and eight or ten that have been cruelly wounded by the savages who have been skulking in the woods in the vicinity. In our retired situation here, we are unacquainted with any military transactions in other quarters till they transpire in the public papers.


      It is just announced that the enemy have undertaken an expedition to Danbury, in Connecticut, for the purpose of destroying a magazine of stores at that place. Governor Tryon, a major-general of the Provincial troops in New York, was the commander of the detachment, consisting of one thousand eight hundred men, and Brigadier-General Agnew and Sir. W. Erskine were commanders under him. When the enemy had landed and commenced their operations in their usual manner, by burning and destroying houses and other buildings, the country was alarmed, the militia collected, and were commanded by Major-General Wooster, Brigadier-Generals Arnold and Silliman. A smart action soon ensued, and continued about one hour, in which our militia and a small number of continentals conducted with distinguished bravery, but being overpowered by a superior force, they were obliged to retreat. The amount of stores destroyed by the enemy was very considerable, but the loss of valuable officers and men is infinitely more Important. General Wooster was mortally wounded, and died soon after. Lieutenant-Colonel Gould and four or five other officers were killed, and about sixty men were killed and wounded. Among the slain is Dr. Atwater, a respectable character, whose death is greatly lamented. General Arnold had his horse shot under him when within ten yards of the enemy, and a soldier was advancing with fixed bayonet towards him, when, with great presence of mind, he drew his pistol from his holsters, and instantly shot him through the body. On the side of the royalists the loss, as stated by General Howe, is one hundred and seventy-two in killed, wounded and missing, but by other accounts it is much more considerable. Among their wounded is Brigadier-General Agnew and two other field-officers.

      A Captain Roofa and his lieutenant, two noted tories, lately taken in arms as they were marching towards the enemy, were condemned by a court martial, and hanged at Esopus, in the state of New York, as a suitable reward, says a writer in the newspaper, for their treasonable practices, they having induced a number of others to enlist in tices, the service of the enemy.


      Congress have appointed Major-General Schuyler to command in the northern department, including Albany, Ticonderoga, Fort Stanwix and their dependencies, and Major-General St. Clair has the immediate command of the posts of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence. It is also understood that the British government have appointed Lieutenant-General Burgoyne commander-in-chief of their army in Canada, consisting, it is said, of eight or ten thousand men. According to authentic reports, the plan of the British government for the present campaign is that General Burgoyne’s army shall take possession of Ticonderoga, and force his way through the country to Albany; to facilitate this event, Colonel St. Leger is to march with a party of British, Germans, Canadians and Indians to the Mohawk river, and make a diversion in that quarter. The royal army at New York, under command of General Howe, is to pass up the Hudson river, and, calculating on success in all quarters; the three armies are to form a junction at Albany. Here, probably, the three commanders are to congratulate each other on their mighty achievements, and the flattering prospect of crushing the rebellion. This being accomplished, the communication between the southern and eastern states will be interrupted, and New England, as they suppose, may become an easy prey. Judging from the foregoing detail, a very active campaign is to be expected, and events of the greatest magnitude are undoubtedly to be unfolded. The utmost exertions are now making to strengthen our works at Ticonderoga, and, if possible, to render the post invulnerable. Mount Independence, directly opposite to Ticonderoga, is strongly fortified and well supplied with artillery. On the summit of the mount, which is table-land, is erected a strong fort, in the centre of which is a convenient square of barracks, a part of which are occupied for our hospital. The communication between these two places is maintained by a floating bridge; it is supported on twenty-two sunken piers of very large timber, the spaces between these are filled with separate floats, each about fifty feet long and twelve wide, strongly fastened together with iron chains and rivets. A, boom composed of large pieces of timber, well secured together by riveted bolts, is placed on the north side of the bridge, and by the side of this is placed a double iron chain, the links of which are one and a half inch square. The construction of this bridge, boom and chain, of four hundred yards in length, has proved a most laborious undertaking, and the expense must have been immense. It is however, supposed to be admirably adapted to the double purpose of a communication, and an impenetrable barrier to any vessels that might attempt to pass our works. By way of amusement I went with three gentlemen of our hospital to endeavor to explore a high mountain in this vicinity. With much difficulty we clambered up and reached. the summit. From this commanding eminence we had one of the most singularly romantic views which imagination can paint. Northward we behold Lake Champlain, a prodigious expanse of unruffled water, widening and straitening as the banks and clifts project into its channel. This lake extends about one hundred miles towards Quebec, and is from one to five miles wide. On each side is a thick uninhabited wilderness, variegated by hills and dales; here the majestic oak, chestnut and pine, rear their lofty heads; there the diminutive shrub forms a thicket for the retreat of wild beasts. Looking southwest from our stand, we have a view of part of Lake George, emptying its waters into Lake Champlain, near Ticonderoga. Turning to the east, the prodigious heights called Green Mountains, ascending almost to the clouds, are exhibited to view, with the settlements in that tract of territory called New Hampshire Grant. The ancient fortress at Crown Point is about twelve miles north of this place; it is by nature a very strong position, but it has been abandoned by both armies.


      July 1st

      We are now assailed by a proclamation of a very extraordinary nature from General Burgoyne, enumerating a string of titles, which he has doubtless received from his royal master as a reward for his merit. From the pompous manner in which he has arrayed his titles, we are led to suppose that he considers them as more than a match for all the military force which we can bring against him. They stand thus: “By John Burgoyne, Esquire, Lieutenant-General of his Majesty’s forces in America, Colonel of the Queen’s regiment of Light Dragoons, – Governor of Fort William, in North Britain, one of the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament, and commanding an army and fleet employed on an expedition from Canada, &c. &c.”

      This sanguinary proclamation is to be viewed as the forerunner of his formidable army, and all the opposers of his authority are menaced with his avenging power. “I have,” says the proclamation, “but to give stretch to the Indian forces under my direction, and they amount to thousands, to overtake the hardened enemies of Great Britain and America. I consider them the same wherever they may lurk.” The British ministry, not with the disgraceful expedient of hiring foreign mercenaries, resort also to the savages of the wilderness for aid in the glorious cause of tyranny and of spreading the horrors of war by fire and sword throughout our country. The militia of New England are daily coming in to increase our strength; the number of our troops, and our ability to defetid the works against the approaching enemy, are considerations which belong to our commanding officers; in their breasts let the important secret remain, and in their superior judgment our confidence must be reposed. One fact, however, is notorious, that when the troops are directed to man the lines, there is not a sufficient number to occupy their whole extent. It appears, nevertheless, so far as I can learn, to be the prevalent opinion, that we shall be able to repel the meditated attack, and defeat the views of the royal commander; both officers and men are in high spirits and prepared for the contest.

      July 2nd

      The British army is now approaching; some of their savage allies have been seen in the vicinity of our outworks, which, with the block-house beyond the old French lines, has this day been abandoned. On the 3d and 4th, the enemy are making their approaches and gaining as is supposed some advantages. They have taken possession of Mount Hope, our batteries are now opened, and a cannonading has commenced. General St. Clair endeavors to animate the troops, and orders every man to repair to the a alarm-posts at morning and evening roll-call; and -to be particularly alert and vigilant. There seems to be a diversity of opinion whether General Burgoyne intends to besiege our garrison, or to attempt to possess himself of it by an assault on our lines.

      July 5th

      It is with astonishment that we find the enemy have taken possession of an eminence called Sugar-loaf Hill, or Mount Defiance, which, from its height and proximity, completely overlooks and commands all our works at Ticonderoga and Mount Independence. This mount it is said ought long since to have been fortified by our army, but its extreme difficulty of access, and the want of a sufficient number of men, are the reasons assigned for its being neglected. The situation of our garrison is viewed as critical and alarming; a few days, it is expected, will decide our fate. We have reason to apprehend the most fatal effects from their battery on Sugar-loaf Hill.

      July 14th

      By reason of an extrabordinary and unexpected event, the course of my Journal has been interrupted for several days. At about twelve o’clock, in the night of the 5th instant, I was urgently called from sleep, and informed that our army was in motion, and was instantly to abandon Ticonderoga and Mount Independence. I could scarcely believe that my informant was in earnest, but the confusion and bustle soon convinced me that it was really true, and that the short time allowed demanded my utmost industry. It was enjoined on me immediately to collect the sick and wounded, and as much of the hospital stores as possible, and assist in embarking them on board the batteaux and boats at the shore. Having with all possible despatch completed our embarkation, at three o’clock in the morning of the 6th, we commenced our voyage up the South bay to Skeensboro’, about thirty miles. Our fleet consisted of five armed gallies and two hundred batteaux and boats deeply laden with cannon, tents, provisions, invalids and women. We were accompanied by a guard of six hundred men, commanded by Colonel Long, of New Hampshire. The night was moon-light and pleasant, the sun burst forth in the morning with uncommon lustre, the day was fine, the water’s surface serene and unruffled. The shore on each side exhibited a variegated view of huge rocks, caverns and clefts, and the whole was bounded by a thick impenetrable wilderness. My pen would fail in the attempt to describe a scene so enchantingly sublime. The occasion was peculiarly interesting, and we could but look back with regret, and forward with apprehension. We availed ourselves, however, of the means of enlivening our spirits. The drum and fife afforded us a favorite music; among the hospital stores we found many dozen bottles of choice wine and, breaking off their necks, we cheered our hearts with the nectareous contents. At three o’clock in the afternoon we reached our destined port at Skeensboro’, being the head of navigation for our gallies. Here we were unsuspicious of danger; but, behold! Burgoyne himself was at our heels. In less than two hours we were struck with surprise and consternation by a discharge of cannon from the enemy’s fleet, on our gallies and batteaux lying at the wharf. By uncommon efforts and industry they had broken through the bridge, boom and chain, which cost our people such immense labor, and had almost overtaken us on the lake, and horridly disastrous indeed would have been our fate. It was not long before it was perceived that a number of their troops and savages had landed, and were rapidly advancing towards our little party. The officers of our guard now attempted to rally the men and form them in battle array; but this was found impossible; every effort proved unavailing, and in the utmost panic they were seen to fly in every direction for personal safety. In this desperate condition, I perceived our officers scampering for their baggage; I ran to the batteau, seized my chest, carried it a short distance, took from it a few articles, and instantly followed in the train of our retreating party. We took the route to Fort Anne, through a narrow defile in the woods, and were so closely pressed by the pursuing enemy, that we frequently heard calls from the rear to “march on, the Indians are at our heels.” Having marched all night we reached Fort Anne at five o’clock in the morning, where we found provisions for our refreshment. A small rivulet called Wood Creek is navigable for boats from Skeensboro’ to Fort Anne, by which means some of our invalids and baggage made their escape; but all our cannon, provisions, and the bulk of our baggage, with several invalids, fell into the enemy’s hands.

      On the 7th instant, we received a small reinforcement from Fort Edward, by order of Major-General Schuyler, and on discovering that a detachment of the enemy under command of Colonel Hill had arrived in our vicinity, a party from our fort was ordered to attack them in their covert in the woods. The two parties were soon engaged in a smart skirmish, which continued for several hours, and resulted greatly to our honor and advantage; the enemy, being almost surrounded, were on the point of surrendering, when our ammunition being expended, and a party of Indians arriving and setting up the war-whoop, this being followed by three cheers from their friends the English, the Americans were induced to give way and retreat. One surgeon with a wounded captain and twelve or fifteen privates, were taken and brought into our fort. The surgeon informed me that he was in possession of books, &c. taken from my chest at Skeensboro’, and, singular to relate, some of the British prisoners obtained in the same manner, and had in their pockets, a number of private letters which I had received from a friend in Massachusetts, and which were now returned to me. Fort Ann being a small picket fort of no importance, orders were given to set it on fire, and on the 8th we departed for Fort Edward situated about thirty miles southward, on the banks of Hudson River. General St. Clair, with his main army from Ticonderoga, took a circuitous route through the woods to Hubbardtown and Charlestown, in the New Hampshire grants, and being pursued by a strong detachment from Burgoyne’s army, his rear guard, commanded by Colonel Francis, was overtaken, and on the 7th instant, a very close and severe engagement took place, in which bloody conflict, the brave Colonel Francis fell with other valuable officers, while fighting with distinguished gallantry. The Americans made an honorable defence, and finally a secure retreat. We lost in this action about three hundred in killed, wounded and prisoners. The enemy, according to estimation, about two hundred. On the 12th, General St. Clair arrived here with the remains of his army, greatly distressed and worn down by fatigue. General Schuyler is commander at this post, he has a small army of continentals and militia, and is making every possible exertion, by taking up bridges, throwing obstructions in the roads and passes, by fallen trees, &c. to impede the march of Burgoyne’s army towards Albany.

      The abandonment of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence has occasioned the greatest surprise and alarm. No event could be more unexpected nor more severely felt throughout our army and country. This disaster has given to our cause a dark and gloomy aspect, but our affairs are not desperate, and our exertions ought to be in proportion to our misfortunes and our exigencies. The conduct of General St. Clair on this occasion has rendered him very unpopular, and subjected him to general censure and reproach; there are some, indeed, who even accuse him of treachery; but time and calm investigation must decide whether he can vindicate himself as a judicious and prudent commander. There is much reason to suppose that neither the strength of Burgoyne’s army, nor the weakness of our garrison were properly considered or generally understood. It must be universally conceded, that when the enemy had effected their great object by hoisting cannon from tree to tree, till they reached the summit of Sugar-loaf Hill, the situation of our garrison had become perilous in the extreme. General Schuyler is not altogether free from public reprehension, alleging that he ought in duty to have been present at Ticonderoga during the critical period. It is predicted by some of our well-informed and respectable characters, that this event, apparently so calamitous, will ultimately prove advantageous, by drawing the British army into the heart of our country, and thereby place them more immediately within our power.

      It may be deemed ludicrous that I should record a rumor so extravagantly ridiculous as the following, but it has received too much credence to be altogether omitted. It has been industriously reported, that Generals Schuyler and St. Clair acted the part of traitors to their country, and that they were paid for their treason by the enemy in silver balls, shot from Burgoyne’s guns into our camp, and that they were collected by order of General St. Clair, and divided between him and General Schuyler.

      July 25th

      The sick soldiers under my care at this place have been accommodated in barracks and tents. I have now received orders to accompany them to the hospital at Albany, about fifty-five miles; boats being provided, we embarked about forty sick and invalids, and proceeded down the North river, and arrived on the third day at the place of our destination.


      August 3rd

      The pleasing information is received here that Lieutenant-Colonel Barton, of the Rhode Island militia, planned a bold exploit for the purpose of surprising and taking Major-General Prescott, the commanding officer of the royal army at Newport. Taking with him, in the night, about forty men in two boats with oars muffled, he had the address to elude the vigilance of the ships of war and guard boats, and having arrived undiscovered at the quarters of General Prescott, they were taken for the sentinels, and the general was not alarmed till his captors were at the door of his lodging chamber, which was fast closed. A negro man, named Prince, instantly thrust his beetle head through the pannel-door, and seized his victim while in bed. The general’s aid-de-camp leaped from a window undressed, and attempted to escape, but was taken, and with the general brought off in safety. In repassing the water guards, General Prescott said to Colonel Baiton, “Sir, I did not think it possible you could escape the vigilance of the water guards.” This is the second time that General Prescott has been a prisoner in our hands within two years. This adventure is extremely honorable to the enterprising spirit of Colonel Barton, and is considered as ample retaliation for the capture of General Lee by Colonel Harcourt. The event occasions great joy and exultation, as it puts in our possession an officer of equal rank with General Lee, by which means an exchange may be obtained. Congress resolved that an elegant sword should be presented to Colonel Barton for his brave exploit. It has been ascertained that General Howe has relaxed in his rigid treatment of General Lee, and conducted towards him in a manner suitable to his rank. The Hessian officers, on whom retaliation had been inflicted, are also restored to their former condition as prisoners of war.

      It appears by the papers, that Congress resolved, on the 14th of June last, that the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.

      His Excellency General Washington, at his quarters in the Jerseys, has published a manifesto in answer to General Burgoyne’s proclamation, from which I extract a few paragraphs. He observes, ” The associated armies in America act from the noblest motives, and for the purest purposes: their common object is liberty. The same principles actuated the arms of Rome in the days of her glory, and the same object was the reward of Roman valor. When these sacred ideas are profaned, when the abominable mixture of mercenary, foreign and savage forces dare to mention the love of country, and the general privileges of mankind,” referring to Burgoyne’s proclamation, “the freemen of America protest against such abuse of language and prostitution of sentiment.” In another paragraph, “We beg leave to observe, if the power of his Britannic Majesty’s fleets and armies have been driven from Boston, repulsed from Charleston, cut off at Trenton, expelled the Jerseys, and be now, after almost three campaigns, commencing its operation, that this is a power we do not dread.” In the close, “Harassed as we are by unrelenting persecution, obliged by every tie to repel violence by force, urged by self-preservation to exert the strength which Providence has given us to defend our natural rights against the aggressor; we appeal to the hearts of all mankind for the justice of our cause; its event we submit to Him who speaks the fate of nations, in humble confidence that as his omniscient eye taketh note even of the sparrow that falleth to the ground, so He will not withdraw his countenance from a people who humbly array themselves under his banner in defence of the noblest principles with which he hath adorned humanity.” It is a matter of pride to our country that our commander-in-chief has exhibited a production so far surpassing in dignity of sentiment and justness of observation the pompous proclamation to which this is a rejoinder. It is no less satisfactory to reflect, that the measure referred to has not been productive of those glorious advantages to the royal cause, or the dire consequences as respects our own, which the sanguine spirit of its author had contemplated. Though he threatened us with all the outrages of war, arrayed in terrific forms, aided by savages eager to be let loose on their prey, yet the proclamation has been viewed rather as a curious model of an ostentatious display of self-importance than a formidable weapon calculated to awe a free people into submission.

      August 8th

      We have just been apprised, by express from the Mohawk country, that Colonel St. Leger and Sir John Johnson, with a body of Britons, Canadians, tories and Indians, had invested Fort Schuyler, one hundred and ten miles from Albany;. that General Herkimer, with about eight hundred militia, was advancing to disperse this motley collection, and to relieve the garrison; but unfortunately he fell into an ambuscade and suffered a considerable loss. Being himself wounded in both legs, he was seen sitting on a stump, and courageously encouraging his men, by which they maintained their ground and did great execution among the enemy. Several of the Indian chiefs were slain by the first fire, which so disheartened the remainder, that they were thrown into the greatest confusion, and turning on the tories and other white people, a warm contention ensued between them, and many of the whites were killed. Colonel Gansevort, the commander of the fort, sent out Lieutenant-Colonel Willet with two hundred and fifty men, who bravely routed the Indians and tories, destroyed their provisions and took their kettles, blankets, muskets, tomahawks, deer-skins, &c. with five colors, and returned to the fort. The brave General Herkimer soon died of his wounds, and one hundred and sixty of his militia-men, having fought like lions, were killed, besides a great number wounded. St. Leger’s victory over our militia was purchased at a dear price, more than seventy of his Indians were slain, and among them a large proportion of their most distinguished and favorite warriors, and the survivors were exceedingly dissatisfied. The object of the expedition was far from being accomplished; the commander did not, however, despair of getting possession of the fort; for this purpose he sent in a flag demanding a surrender. He greatly magnified his own strength, asserted that Burgoyne was at Albany; and threatened that on refusal his Indians would destroy all the inhabitants in the vicinity, and so soon as they could enter the fort every man would be sacrificed. Colonel Gansevort nobly replied in the negative, being determined to defend the fort at every hazard. Aware, however, of his perilous situation, he found means of sending to General Schuyler at Stillwater for assistance. General Arnold was now despatched with a brigade of troops to attack the besiegers; but finding their force greatly superior to his own, he sent back for a reinforcement of one thousand light troops.

      An object which cannot be accomplished by force is often obtained by means of stratagem. Lieutenant-Colonel John Brooks, an intelligent officer from Massachusetts, being in advance with a small detachment, fortunately found one Major Butler, a noted officer among the Indians, endeavoring to influence the inhabitants in their favor, and he was immediately secured. A man also by the name of Cuyler, who was proprietor of a handsome estate in the vicinity, was taken up as a spy. Colonel Brooks proposed that he should be employed as a deceptive messenger to spread the alarm and induce the enemy to retreat. General Arnold soon after arrived, and approved the scheme of Colonel Brooks; it was accordingly agreed that Cuyler should be liberated and his estate secured to him on the condition that he would return to the enemy and make such exaggerated report of General Arnold’s force as to alarm and put them to flight. Several friendly Indians being present, one of their head men advised that Cuyler’s coat should be shot through in two or three places to add credibility to his story. Matters being thus adjusted, the impostor proceeded directly to the Indian camp, where he was well known, and informed their warriors that Major Butler was taken, and that himself narrowly escaped, several shot having passed through his coat, and that General Arnold with a vast force was advancing rapidly toward them. In aid of the project, a friendly Indian followed, and arrived about an hour after with a confirmation of Cuyler’s report. This stratagem was successful: the Indians instantly determined to quit their ground, and make their escape, nor was it in the power of St. Leger and Sir John, with all their art of persuasion, to prevent it. When St. Leger remonstrated with them, the reply of the chiefs was, “When we marched down, you told us there would be no fighting for us Indians; we might go down and smoke our pipes; but now a number of our warriors have been killed, and you mean to sacrifice us.” The consequence was, that St. Leger, finding himself deserted by his Indians, to the number of seven or eight hundred, deemed his situation so hazardous that he decamped in the greatest hurry and confusion, leaving his tents with most of his artillery and stores in the field. General Arnold with his detachment was now at liberty to return to the main army at Stillwater; and thus have we clipped the right wing of General Burgoyne. In the evening, while on their retreat, St. Leger and Sir John got into a warm altercation, criminating each other for the ill success of the expedition. Two sachems, observing this, resolved to have a laugh at their expense. In their front was a bog of clay and mud; they directed a young warrior to loiter in the rear, and then, of a sudden, run as if alarmed, calling out, They are coming, they are coming! On hearing this, the two commanders in a fright took to their heels, rushing into the bog, frequently falling and sticking in the mud, and the men threw away their packs and hurried off. This and other jokes were several times repeated during the night for many miles.

      August 30th

      The city of Albany is situated on the west bank of the Hudson, or North river, one hundred and sixty miles north from New York, and the river admits of sloop navigation between these two cities. It consists of about three hundred houses, chiefly in the gothic style, the gable ends to the street. There is an ancient Dutch church of stone, a Congregational church, and a decent edifice called City Hall, which accommodates occasionally their general assembly and courts of justice. The hospital was erected during the last French war; it is situated on an eminence overlooking the city. It is two stories high, having a wing at each end and a piazza in front above and below. It contains forty wards, capable of accommodating five hundred patients, besides the rooms appropriated to the use of surgeons and other officers., stores, &c.

      Our army under General Schuyler have left their unimportant station at Fort Edward, and having made a stand for a few days at Saratoga, they fell back to Stillwater, twenty-five miles above Albany, where they have taken their station, and are daily receiving reinforcements of militia and some continental troops. On the retreat of our army from Fort Edward, Major Hull commanded the rear guard, and being two miles in the rear, was attacked by a large body of the enemy, and after a severe contest, in which he lost thirty or forty of his men, he was compelled to retreat. He received the thanks of General Schuyler for his brave and judicious conduct. General Burgoyne, we learn, is extremely embarrassed, and his march greatly impeded by the obstructions in the roads effected by order of Gen. Schuyler; he has at length, however, surmounted numerous difficulties, and reached the vicinity of Saratoga. Finding himself in want of provisions, horses to mount his cavalry, and teams to transport his stores and baggage, he resorted to one of the most chimerical and romantic projects that could enter the imagination of man. Being informed that a large quantity of stores, corn, cattle, &c., were deposited at Bennington, in the New Hampshire grants, he planned an expedition for the purpose of possessing himself of this treasure. Presuming, probably, that his late success and his manifesto had produced such wonderful effects, that no more opposition would be made to his progress in the country, he despatched Col. Baum, a German officer, with five hundred Hessians and tories and one hundred Indians with two field-pieces. The colonel was furnished with the following curious instructions, which fell into the hands of General Stark:

      “To proceed through the New Hampshire grants, cross the mountains, scour the country, with Peter’s corps (tories) and the Indians, from Rockingham to Otter creek, to get horses, carriages, and cattle, and mount Reidesel’s regiment of dragoons, to go down Connecticut river as far as Brattleborough, and return by the great road to Albany, there to meet General Burgoyne, to endeavor to make the country believe it was the advanced body of the General’s army who was to cross Connecticut river and proceed to Boston; and that at Springfield they were to be joined by the troops from Rhode Island. All officers, civil and military, acting under the Congress, were to be made prisoners. To tax the towns where they halted, with such articles as they wanted, and take hostages for the performance, &c. You are to bring all horses fit to mount the dragoons or to serve as battalion horses for the troops, with as many saddles and bridles as can be found. The number of horses requisite besides those for the dragoons ought to be thirteen hundred, if you can bring more, so much the better. The horses must be tied in strings of ten each, in order that one man may lead ten horses.”

      This redoubtable commander surely must be one of the happiest men of the age, to imagine that such prodigious achievements were at his command: that such invaluable resources were within his grasp. But, alas! the wisest of men are liable to disappointment in their sanguine calculations, and to have their favorite projects frustrated by the casualties of war. This is remarkably verified in the present instance. Preceded by the manifesto, and having his commission in his pocket, Colonel Baum marched, on the 14th of August, at the head of his command, to execute the orders of his general; he proceeded about twelve or thirteen miles, where he halted, and secured himself by intrenchments. It was a providential circumstance that General Stark was at or near Bennington, with about eight hundred New England militia, part of whom being from the New Hampshire grants, are called Green Mountain Boys. He advanced towards the enemy to reconnoitre their position, and some skirmishing ensued, in which thirty of them with two Indian chiefs were killed and wounded, with little loss on our side. Colonel Baum, alarmed at his situation, despatched a messenger to Burgoyne for a reinforcement. The 15th being a very rainy day, there was only some skirmishing in small parties. On the 16th, General Stark, assisted by Colonel Warner, matured his arrangements for battle; he divided his troops into three divisions, and ordered Colonel Nichols, with two hundred and fifty men, to gain the rear of the left wing, of the enemy, and Colonel Hendrick the rear of their right wing, with three hundred men, while he attacked their front. The Indians, alarmed, at the appearance of being surrounded, endeavored to make their escape in a single file between the two parties, with their horrid yells and jingling of cowbells. The flanking parties approaching each other in their rear, and General Stark making a bold and furious onset in front, a general and close conflict ensued, and continued with more or less severity for about two hours. Though Colonel Baum had nearly twice their numbers, and was defended by breastworks, the force opposed to them proved irresistible, forcing their breastworks at the muzzles of their guns, and obliging them to ground their arms and surrender at discretion, so that the victory on our part was complete. We took two pieces of brass cannon, and a number of prisoners, with baggage, &c. This was hardly accomplished, when Colonel Breyman, with one thousand German troops, arrived with two field-pieces, to reinforce Colonel Baum, who had just been defeated. General Stark’s troops were now scattered, some attending the wounded, some guarding the prisoners, and still more in pursuit of plunder; and all exhausted by extreme hunger and fatigue. At this critical moment, Colonel Warner’s regiment arrived, and the other troops being rallied, the whole were ordered to advance. A field-piece had been taken from Baum in the forenoon, and Stark ordered it to be drawn to the scene of action, but his men having never seen a cannon, knew not how to load it; the general dismounted, and taught them by loading it himself. An action soon commenced, and proved warm and desperate, in which both sides displayed the most daring bravery, till night approached, when the enemy yielded a second time in one day to their Yankee conquerors. The German troops being totally routed, availed themselves of the darkness of night to effect their retreat. The whole number of killed, wounded and prisoners, was nine hundred and thirty-four, including one hundred and fifty-seven tories; of this number, six hundred and fifty-four are prisoners. Colonel Baum received a mortal wound, of which he soon after died. Besides the above, one thousand stand of arms, four brass field-pieces, two hundred and fifty dragoon swords, eight loads of baggage, and twenty horses fell into our hands. The loss on our side is not more than one hundred in the whole. The officers and men engaged in this splendid enterprise merit all the praise which a grateful country can bestow; they fought disciplined troops completely accoutred, while they wielded their ordinary firelocks with scarce a bayonet, and at first without cannon. The consequences must be most auspicious as respects our affairs in the northern department. Burgoyne must feel the clipping of another wing, and it must diminish his confidence in his successful career. The event will also be productive of the happiest effects on the spirits of our militia, by increasing their confidence in their own prowess. The following anecdote deserves to be noticed for the honor of the person who is the subject of it, though his name has not been ascertained. A venerable old man had five sons in the field of battle near Bennington, and being told that be had been unfortunate in one of his sons, replied, “What! has he misbehaved? did he desert his post, or shrink from the charge?” “No, sir,” says the informant, “worse than that: he is among the slain; he fell contending mightily in the cause.” “Then I am satisfied,” replied the good old man; “bring him in, and lay him before me, that I may behold and survey the darling of my soul.” On which the corpse was brought in and laid before him. He then called for a bowl of water and a napkin, and with his own bands washed the gore and dirt from his son’s corpse, and wiped his gaping wounds, with a complacency, as he himself expressed it, which before he had never felt or experienced.

      Major-General Horatio Gates has superseded General Schuyler as commander-in-chief of the northern department, and has passed through this city on his way to Stillwater. This appointment will be very satisfactory to our army, as General Gates has the respect and confidence of the New England troops.


      September 2nd

      General Gates has issued a proclamation to counteract any influence which Burgoyne’s sanguinary manifesto might have produced, interdicting all communication with the royal army, and endeavoring to calm the fears of the inhabitants, by promising them all the protection in his power. Burgoyne’s manifesto, however, denouncing fire and sword, instead of alarming into submission, excites universal indignation and contempt; instead of conciliating, and increasing the number of his friends, serves only to exasperate and augment our means of resistance and opposition to his views. It was not long indeed before some innocent persons were made victims of savage barbarity, by means of the tomahawk and scalping-knife, in the bands of the barbarians under his command. Among the first of these victims, was Miss Jenny McCrea, who was murdered in a manner extremely shocking to the feelings of humanity. The father of Miss McCrea was friendly towards the royalists, and the young lady was engaged to marry a refugee officer in Burgoyne’s army, by the name of Jones, and waited his arrival in order to have the marriage consummated. When our army retreated from Fort Edward, Miss McCrea had the indiscretion to remain behind, probably with the expectation of meeting her lover. The Indians, however, soon made her their prisoner, and on their return towards Burgoyne’s camp, a quarrel arose to decide who should hold possession of the fair prize. During the controversy, one of the monsters struck his tomahawk into her skull, and immediately stripped off her scalp.

      General Gates complains to General Burgoyne of this and other outrages in the following words: “A young lady, Miss McCrea, lovely to the sight, of virtuous character and amiable disposition, engaged to be married to an officer in your army, was, with other women and children, taken out of a house near Fort Edward, carried into the woods, and there scalped and mangled in a most shocking manner. Two parents with their six children, were all treated with the same inhumanity, while quietly residing in their own happy and peaceful dwellings. The miserable fate of Miss McCrea was peculiarly aggravated by her being dressed to receive her promised husband – but met her murderer, employed by you. Upwards of one hundred men, women and children, have perished by the hands of ruffians, to whom it is asserted you have paid the price of blood.” This appears since to be rather an exaggerated charge. In General Burgoyne’s reply, be says, “The fact was no premeditated barbarity: on the contrary, two chiefs who had brought Miss McCrea off, for the purpose of security, not of violence to her person, disputed which should be her guard, and in a fit of savage passion, in the one from whose hands she was snatched, the unhappy woman became the victim.” He expressed sorrow and regret for the tragic scenes, and further stated that he obliged the Indians to give up the murderer into his hands, and he certainly should have suffered an ignominious death, had he not been convinced that a pardon on his terms would be more efficacious than an execution, to prevent further mischief. That he paid for scalps, he denies; but the Indians were to receive compensation for prisoners. This cruel conduct of the royalists is contemplated with horror and detestation by all ranks of people, except wit their friends and adherents. It is impossible not to detest that cause and that army which accepts the aid of savage auxiliaries, and encourages them in inhuman slaughter and bloodshed. This measure was certainly countenanced and recommended by his majesty and his ministers, and General Burgoyne acknowledges that he allowed the Indians to take the scalps of the dead. It must be most painful for the impartial historian to record, and it will require the strongest faith of the reader in future ages to credit the disgraceful story that Britons, who pride themselves on their civility and humanity, employed the wild savages of the wilderness in a war against a people united to them by the ties of consanguinity. That age, and the helpless invalid, women, and children at the breast, are all alike subjected to the merciless fury of barbarians. That British generals should be so regardless of the dignity of their station, and the voice of humanity, as to receive from the hands of these ferocious wretches the scalps torn from the skulls of innocent persons!

      September 13th

      There is a constant intercourse kept up between this city and our army near Stillwater, by which we are regularly apprised of daily occurrences. It is now ascertained that Burgoyne has crossed the Hudson, and encamped at Saratoga, about thirty-six miles above Albany.

      September 17th

      -General Gates, reposing full confidence in the courage and strength of his army, seems to have determined to march and confront his formidable enemy, and endeavor to force him and his troops back to Canada, which, in his orders, issued to inspire his troops with ardor, he says, “has been successfully begun by General Stark and Colonel Warner at the eastward; and by General Herkimer and Colonel Gansevort at the westward; and cannot, with the blessing of Heaven, fail to be equally prosperous in the hands of the generals and soldiers appointed to face the enemy’s main army at the northward. If the murder of aged parents, with their innocent children; if mangling the blooming virgin, and inoffensive youth, are inducements to revenge – if the righteous cause of freedom, and the happiness of posterity, are motives to stimulate to conquer their mercenary and merciless foes, the time is now come, when they are called on by their country, by their general, and by every thing divine and human, to vanquish the foe.”

      September 18th and 19th

      Our army is advancing towards the enemy in three columns, under Generals Lincoln and Arnold, General Gates in the centre. A terrible conflict is daily expected; both parties appear to be determined to commence the work of destruction.

      September 20th

      By express arrived in this city last night, it is announced that the two armies fought in the field, yesterday, a very sanguinary battle, the particulars of which are not fully understood; but it is reported that from the closeness and obstinacy of the combat, the carnage on both sides was prodigious. It is with inexpressible satisfaction that we learn our troops behaved with that undaunted bravery which has secured to them the victory, and were it not for the darkness of the evening when the battle closed, it would have been more complete.

      September 21st and 22nd

      A considerable number of officers and soldiers who were wounded in the late battle, have been brought here to be accommodated in our hospital, or in private houses in this city. Several of these unfortunate but brave men have received wounds of a very formidable and dangerous nature, and many of them must be subjected to capital operations.

      September 23rd

      From the officers who were engaged in the battle, I have obtained the following particulars. Our army, under the command of General Gates, was stationed in the vicinity of Stillwater, when they advanced towards the enemy and offered them battle, Colonel Morgan’s regiment of riflemen, and Major Dearborn’s light infantry, being in front, received the first fire about noon, on the 19th instant. General Burgoyne was at the head of his army, and Generals Phillips, Reidesel and Frazer, with their respective commands, were actively engaged. At about three o’clock, both armies being formed in a line of battle, the action became general, and the combatants on both sides evinced that ardor and gallantry which shows a determination to conquer or die. The firing for about three hours was incessant, with continued tremendous roar and blaze, filling the field with carnage and death. Few battles have been more obstinate and unyielding – at one point the British are overpowered; but being reinforced, the Americans are baffled; these, being supported and renewing their efforts, regain their advantages; the same ground is occupied alternately, the dead and wounded of both parties are mingled together. The British resort repeatedly to their bayonets without effect – the Americans resist and foil their attempts. Captain Jones, of the British artillery, had the command of four pieces of cannon, which he conducted with great skill and valor till he fell, and thirty-six out of forty-eight of his artillery men were killed or wounded; his cannon were repeatedly taken and retaken, but finally remained with the enemy for the want of horses to bring them off. During the engagement, a number of our soldiers placed themselves in the boughs of high trees, in the rear and flanks, and took every opportunity of destroying the British officers by single shot; in one instance, General Burgoyne was the object, but the aid-de-camp of General Phillips received the ball through his arm, while delivering a message to Burgoyne; the mistake, it is said, was occasioned by having his saddle furnished with rich lace, and was supposed by the marksman to be the British commander. In the dusk of evening the battle terminated, the British in one quarter silently retreating, the Americans in another give way, and quit the long-contested field. Lieutenant-Colonel Brooks, with the eighth Massachusetts regiment, remained in the field till about eleven o’clock, and was the last who retired. Major Hull commanded a detachment of three hundred men, who fought with such signal ardor, that more than half of them were killed or wounded. The whole number of Americans engaged in this action, was about two thousand five hundred; the remainder of the army, from its unfavorable situation, took little or no part in the action. The British have suffered a loss, as is supposed, of more than five hundred in killed, wounded and prisoners. On the side of the Americans, sixty-four were killed, two hundred and seventeen wounded, and thirty-eight missing. Among the killed, are Colonels Adams and Colburn, two valuable officers, much regretted. The victory on this important occasion is claimed by the enemy, but the advantages are most decidedly on the side of the Americans; they were the assailants – they held their ground during the day, and at the close retired to their encampment without being pursued. The royal army lay all the ensuing night on their arms at some distance from the field of battle.

      September 24th

      General Lincoln having the command of a body of New England militia, detached Colonel Brown with five hundred men to the landing at Lake George, about three miles from Ticonderoga, and more than forty miles in the rear of the British army. Two other detachments were also sent towards Mount Independence, Fort Anne and Fort Edward. These expeditions being faithfully executed, were attended with complete success. Colonel Brown had the address to surprise all the out-posts in the vicinity of Ticonderoga, and took immediate possession of Mount Defiance, Mount Hope, and a block-house, with two hundred batteaux, an armed sloop, and several gunboats, about three hundred prisoners, with their small arms, and released one hundred American prisoners from their confinement.


      October 1st

      The situation of the royal army under Burgoyne, is now considered extremely precarious; his march to Albany is deemed absolutely impracticable, and a retreat to Canada must be attended with insurmountable difficulties and dangers. It is well understood, that he calculates on the cooperation of Sir Henry Clinton, by sending from New York a force up the North river to endeavor to effect a passage to Albany, or at least to occasion such alarm, as to draw off a part of General Gates’ army from before him. Messengers or persons in the character of spies, are frequently suspected of passing from one British commander to the other. A man, by name Nathan Palmer, was, a few days since, seized in General Putnam’s camp, at Peekskill, under suspicious circumstances, and on trial was found to be a lieutenant in the tory new levies, and he was executed as a spy (For General Putnam’s letter to Governor Tryon, respecting Palmer, see life of Putnam in the Appendix.)

      October 4th

      By intelligence from camp, it appears that Burgoyne has thrown up a line of intrenchments in front of his camp, and is making every possible effort to strengthen his position and prepare for another conflict. The Canadians and his savage allies being greatly dissatisfied and discouraged, have deserted his standard since the last battle. The advantages obtained over the enemy on this occasion, excites the greatest exultation and rejoicing throughout our army and country. It is indeed a remarkable fact which must animate the heart of every friend to the cause of America, that our troops, so little accustomed to encounter the prowess of European veterans, and the peculiar warfare of the savages, should face these enemies with such undaunted courage and intrepidity. Sanguine hopes are now entertained that we shall, by the help of Providence, be finally enabled to destroy or capture the whole British army. Our troops are panting for another opportunity of displaying their valor, and another dreadful conflict is daily expected; alternate hopes and fears continually agitate our minds, and create the greatest anxiety and solicitude. What can excite ideas more noble and sublime, than impending military events, on which depend the destiny of a nation?

      October 6th

      An express passed through this city, on his way to General Gates’ head-quarters, with the information that a detachment of troops from New York, supposed to be about four thousand, under command of Sir Henry Clinton and General Vaughan, have undertaken an expedition up the North river. Their object undoubtedly is, to possess themselves of Fort Montgomery and Fort Clinton, in the highlands, and to make a diversion in favor of Burgoyne. General Putnam was stationed at Peekskill with a small force, but being totally unable to cope with the enemy, has retired to some distance. Should this expedition be crowned with success, it will be in the power of Sir Henry Clinton to convey his army to this city, and even to our camp, at Stillwater, which will place our army between two fires. Should General Gates detach a part of his troops to oppose the march of General Clinton, it will liberate Burgoyne, and he would probably force his way to this city. In either event, the consequences must be exceedingly disastrous to our country. We tremble with apprehensions.

      October 8th

      The anticipated important intelligence has just reached us, that a most severe engagement took place yesterday, between the two armies, at a place between Stillwater and Saratoga called Bemis’ Heights. It is supposed to be the hardest fought battle, and the most honorable to our army, of any since the commencement of hostilities. The enemy was completely repulsed in every quarter, and his defeat was attended with irreparable loss of officers, men, artillery, tents and baggage. Our officers and men acquired the highest honor; they fought like heroes, and their loss is very inconsiderable. General Arnold has received a wound in his leg. I am impatient to receive the particular details of this capital event.

      October 9th and 10th

      I am fortunate enough to obtain from our officers, a particular account of the glorious event of the 7th instant. The advanced parties of the two armies came into contact, about three o’clock on Tuesday afternoon, and immediately displayed their hostile attitude. The Americans soon approached the royal army, and each party in defiance awaited the deadly blow. The gallant Colonel Morgan, at the head of his famous rifle corps, and Major Dearborn, leading a detachment of infantry, commenced the action, and rushed courageously on the British grenadiers, commanded by Major Ackland; and the furious attack was most firmly resisted. In all parts of the field, the conflict became extremely arduous and obstinate; an unconquerable spirit on each side disdaining to yield the palm of victory. Death appeared to have lost his terrors; breaches in the ranks were no sooner made than supplied by fresh combatants awaiting a similar fate. At length the Americans press forward with renewed strength and ardor, and compel the whole British line, commanded by Burgoyne himself, to yield to their deadly fire, and they retreat in disorder. The German troops remain firmly posted at their lines; these were now boldly assaulted by Brigadier-General Learned and Lieutenant-Colonel Brooks, at the head of their respective commands, with such intrepidity, that the works were carried, and their brave commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Breyman, was slain. The Germans were pursued to their encampment, which, with all the equipage of the brigade, fell into our hands. Colonel Cilley, of General Poor’s brigade, having acquitted himself honorably, was seen astride on a brass field-piece, exulting in the capture. Major Hull, of the Massachusetts line, was among those who so bravely stormed the enemy’s intrenchment and acted a conspicuous part. General Arnold, in consequence of a serious misunderstanding with General Gates, was not vested with any command, by which he was exceedingly chagrined and irritated. He entered the field, however, and his conduct was marked with intemperate rashness; flourishing his sword and animating the troops, he struck an officer on the head without cause, and gave him a considerable wound. He exposed himself to every danger, and with a small party of riflemen, rushed into the rear of the enemy, where he received a ball which fractured his leg, and his horse was killed under him. Nightfall put a stop to our brilliant career, though the victory was most decisive, and it is with pride and exultation that we recount the triumph of American bravery. Besides Lieutenant-Colonel Breyman slain, General Frazer, one of the most valuable officers in the British service, was mortally wounded, and survived but a few hours.

      The death of General Frazer, from Professor Silliman’s Travels. “In the action of 7th October, 1777, Frazer was the soul of the British army, and was just changing the disposition of a part of the troops to repel a strong impression which the Americans had made, and were still making, on the British right, when Morgan called together two or three of his best marksmen, and pointing to Frazer, said, ‘Do you see that gallant officer? – that is General Frazer – I respect and honor him; but it is necessary he should die.’ This was enough. Frazer immediately received his mortal wound, and was carried off the field.” See the Appendix.

      Sir Francis Clark, aid-de-camp to General Burgoyne, was brought into our camp with a mortal wound, and Major Ackland, who commanded the British grenadiers, was wounded through both legs, and is our prisoner. Several other officers and about two hundred privates are prisoners in our hands, with nine pieces of cannon and a considerable supply of ammunition, which was much wanted for our troops. The loss on our side is supposed not to exceed thirty killed and one hundred wounded, in obtaining this signal victory.

      October 11th

      The night after the battle, Burgoyne silently moved from his position, and on the 8th there was considerable skirmishing through the day, with some loss on both sides. We have to lament the misfortune of Major-General Lincoln, who, while reconnoitring the enemy, advanced so near, that a whole volley of musketry was discharged at him, and he received a dangerous wound in his leg. It is reported, that, the day after the battle, upwards of one hundred of the enemy’s dead were found unburied in the field, General Gates having detached a body of troops, to get into the rear of the British army, Burgoyne took the alarm, and resolved to retreat, immediately to Saratoga; accordingly in, the night of the 9th instant, he silently moved off, leaving in our possession his hospital, containing three hundred sick and wounded, with medicinal stores, and two hundred barrels of flour, &c. It is a fact, both unaccountable and disgraceful, that on their retreat they committed the most wanton devastations, burning and destroying almost every house within their reach; the elegant and valuable country seat of General Schuyler, near Saratoga, did not escape their fury. The situation of the royal army is now extremely deplorable, and there is scarcely a possibility of their final escape. General Gates has so arranged his forces as to cut off their retreat, and is endeavoring to surround them on every quarter. May the Almighty Ruler grant that our efforts may be crowned with still more glorious success!

      October 12th

      The wounded officers and soldiers of our army, and those of the enemy who have fallen into our hands, are crowding into our hospital, and require our constant attention. The last night I watched with the celebrated General Arnold, whose leg was badly fractured by a musket-ball while in the engagement with the enemy on the 7th instant. He is very peevish, and impatient under his misfortunes, but I devoted all hour in writing a letter to a friend in Boston, detailing the particulars of the late battle.

      In the severe battle of the 7th, General Burgoyne himself, it is now ascertained, had a hair breadth escape, having one bullet pass through his hat and another tore his waistcoat.

      The following anecdote shows the imminent danger to which a part of General Gates’ army was at one time exposed. General Gates had received what he supposed to be certain intelligence that the main body of Burgoyne’s army had marched off for Fort Edward, and that a rear guard only was left in the camp, who after a while were to push off as fast as possible, leaving the heavy baggage behind. On this it was concluded to advance and attack the camp in half an hour. General Nixon’s being the eldest brigade, crossed the Saratoga Creek first: unknown to the Americans, Burgoyne had a line formed behind a parcel of brushwood to support the post of artillery where the attack was to be made. General Glover with his brigade was on the point of following Nixon. Just as he entered the water, he saw a British soldier crossing, whom he called and examined. This soldier was a deserter, and communicated the very important fact, that the whole British army were in their encampment. Nixon was immediately stopped, and the intelligence conveyed to Gates, who countermanded his orders for the assault, and called back his troops, not without sustaining some loss from the British artillery. – Gordon and Marshal.

      N.B. General Wilkinson, who acted as General Gates’ adjutant-general, asserts in his memoirs, that he first discovered the British at their post, through a thick fog while his horse halted to drink in fording the creek, and that he instantly arrested the march of our troops, and thereby saved them from destruction. He makes no mention of the deserter. It is known that Burgoyne has frequently expressed his extreme disappointment that he was baffled in this stratagem; and Americans ought never to forget the remarkable Providential escape.

      We have the most flattering accounts from camp. Our army is now posted within musket-shot of the enemy at Saratoga, and are forming a circle round them. Some skirmishing takes place every day, in which we have taken one hundred and twenty prisoners, and have received one hundred and sixty deserters. A party of our men have taken fifty batteaux loaded with provisions, stores, and medicines, among which are one thousand barrels of pork and beef. This must be to the enemy an irreparable loss, and a blow which must hasten the destruction or surrender of their whole army.

      October 14th

      We have now a confirmation of the intelligence that Sir Henry Clinton and General Vaughan have pushed up the North river, and made a successful attack on our forts at the highlands. Fort Montgomery and Fort Clinton are near to each other, on the western bank of the Hudson. They have been considered of great importance as defensive posts, against the passage of the enemy up the river. In addition to these forts, a strong boom and an iron chain of immense size were stretched across the river, and a frigate and two gallies were stationed above them. By these means it was always supposed that the position was invulnerable, provided a proper number of troops were posted in the forts; but it unfortunately happened that most of the continental troops were necessarily called off to join General Gates’ army. The forts were defended by Governor George Clinton and his brother, General James Clinton, of New York, having about six hundred militia-men – a force greatly inadequate to the defence of the works. The enemy came up the river, landed, and appeared unexpectedly, and demanded a surrender of the forts, which being resolutely refused, were taken by assault, though not without a firm and brave resistance. General James Clinton received a bayonet wound in his thigh, but he and the governor with a part of the garrison made their escape, leaving about two hundred and fifty men killed, wounded and prisoners. The enemy suffered severe loss of three field-officers killed, and their dead and wounded is estimated at about three hundred. General Putnam, who commanded at Peekskill in the vicinity, having a small force only to guard the deposit of stores, was obliged to retire, and the barracks, stores and provisions, to a very considerable amount, fell into the hands of the enemy and were destroyed. With wanton cruelty they set fire to the houses and buildings of every description, and spread ruin and devastation to the extent of their power. To consummate their destructive scheme, General Vaughan destroyed by conflagration the beautiful town of Esopus, with the church, and every other building it contained. Thus we experience the horrid effects of malice and revenge; where they cannot conquer, they wantonly exterminate and destroy. They are well apprised of the disastrous and desperate situation of their boastful General Burgoyne, and if they dare not march to his relief, they can cowardly retaliate by conflagration with impunity. It is the prevalent opinion here, that by taking advantage of wind and tide, it is in the power of Sir Henry Clinton to convey his, forces to this city within the space of five or six hours, and having arrived here, a march of about twenty miles will carry him without opposition to Stillwater, which must involve General Gates in inexpressible embarrassment and difficulty, by placing him between two armies, and thereby extricating Burgoyne from his perilous situation. We have been tremblingly alive to this menacing prospect, but our tears are in a measure allayed by the following singular incident. After the capture of Fort Montgomery, Sir Henry Clinton despatched a messenger, by the name of Daniel Taylor, to Burgoyne with the intelligence; fortunately he was taken on his way as a spy, and finding himself in danger, he was seen to turn aside and take something from his pocket and swallow it. General George Clinton, into whose hands he had fallen, ordered a severe dose of emetic tartar to be administered; this produced the happiest effect as respects the prescriber; but it proved fatal to the patient. He discharged a small silver bullet, which, being unscrewed, was found to inclose a letter from Sir Henry Clinton to Burgoyne. “Out of thine own mouth thou shalt be condemned.” The spy was tried, convicted and executed. The following is an exact copy of the letter inclosed:

      Fort Montgomery, October 8th, 1777.
      Nous voici – and nothing between us but Gates. I sincerely hope this little success of ours may facilitate your operations. In answer to your letter of the 28th of September by C. C. I shall only say, I cannot presume to order, or even advise, for reasons obvious. I heartily wish you success. Faithfully yours,
      H. CLINTON.
      To General Burgoyne.

      An express from camp. Burgoyne has this day made proposals to General Gates to enter into a treaty for the surrrender of his army. He desires a cessation of arms till the preliminary terms can be settled, to which General Gates has assented. The glorious event is about to be consummated.

      October 15th and 16th

      Burgoyne’s message to General Gates by the hands of Major Kingston is as follows:

      “October 14th, 1777.
      “After having fought you twice, Lieutenant-General Burgoyne has waited some days, in his present position, determined to try a third conflict against any force you could bring to attack him.
      “He is apprised of the superiority of your numbers, and the disposition of your troops to impede his supplies and render his retreat a scene of carnage on both sides. In this situation he is impelled by humanity, and thinks himself justified by established principles and precedents of state and of war, to spare the lives of brave men on honorable terms: should Major-General Gates be inclined to treat on this idea, General Burgoyne would propose a cessation of arms during the time necessary to communicate the preliminary terms, by which, in any extremity, he and his army mean to abide.”

      A convention was in consequence opened, and two days were spent in a discussion and interchange of articles between the two commanders. It was agreed that the articles should be mutually signed and exchanged to-morrow morning the 17th instant, at nine o’clock; and the troops under Lieutenant-General Burgoyne are to march out of their intrenchments at three o’clock in the afternoon.

      The substance of the treaty is, that the troops under the command of General Burgoyne shall march out of their camp with the honors of war and their field-artillery, to the place assigned, where their arms and artillery shall be piled at the command of their own officers.

      That the troops be allowed to return to England, on condition that they shall not serve again in America during the present war. That the officers be allowed to wear their side-arms, and be treated according to their rank. That the European troops march immediately for Boston, to be in readiness to embark when transports shall be sent for them, and that the Canadians be permitted to return home immediately, on the sole condition of their not arming again against the United States.

      October 18th

      At the appointed hour yesterday morning the Americans marched into the lines of the British to the tune of Yankee Doodle, where they continued till the royal army had marched to the place appointed and deposited their arms according to the treaty.

      It is a circumstance characteristic of the amiable and benevolent disposition of General Gates, that, unwilling to aggravate the painful feelings of the royal troops, he would not permit the American soldiery to witness the degrading act of piling their arms. This instance of delicacy and politeness, at the moment of triumph, towards an enemy who had committed the most unprecedented outrages, is a mark of true magnanimity, and deserves the highest praise, though it deprives our army of the satisfaction to which they are justly entitled.

      The preliminaries having been acceded to by the two commanders, Lieutenant-Colonel Wilkinson, deputy adjutant-general, and Brigadier-General Whipple, of the militia, on our part, and Lieutenant-Colonel Sutherland, Major Kingston, and Captain Craig, on the part of the British, were appointed to stipulate and arrange the particular articles of capitulation. So very tenacious were the British of the trivial points of military honor, that, after they had signed the “treaty of capitulation,” as it was termed, they required that the term should be altered to “treaty of convention,” in which they were indulged by General Gates, as being of little consequence on our part. During the pending negotiation, several hundred of the New York militia, whose term of service had expired, marched off the ground without permission from General Gates; and the same night Burgoyne received intelligence by a spy that Sir H. Clinton, having taken Fort Montgomery, would attempt to force his way to Albany. Though the articles of convention were fully adjusted, signed and exchanged, by those appointed for the purpose, and the hour stipulated by the parties for Burgoyne to affix his signature, he addressed a note to General Gates, purporting that he should recede from the treaty, on the ground that a part of the American force had been detached from the army during the negotiation; and with a bold effrontery, required that he might be permitted to send two officers to our camp to ascertain the fact. This dishonorable conduct, as may be supposed, raised the ire of our spirited commander, who sent Lieutenant-Colonel Wilkinson to have a personal interview with Burgoyne, and to insist that hostilities should recommence, if the treaty was not immediately ratified. This, after much hesitation on the part of Burgoyne and his officers, produced the desired effect. His contemplated alternative was, to abandon his camp, artillery, heavy baggage and sick; and, by a desperate effort in the night, to force his way through our army, and make a rapid march to Albany with the hope of meeting General Sir H. Clinton. It is considered singular that it was not demanded of the captured general to deliver up his military chest, colors, and soldiers’ accoutrements; but the success of General Clinton in reducing Fort Montgomery, and the serious apprehensions of General Gates that he would force his way to Albany, and the desire of the latter to spare the effusion of blood, are the substantial causes which procured for Burgoyne the favorable terms which he enjoys. It is satisfactory to learn that the British officers, in general, candidly acknowledged that the American troops conducted on all occasions with the greatest bravery, and when, after their surrender, they visited and took a view of our camp, expressed much surprise at the military order and economy which were conspicuous in every, part and said that they never had seen, even in Germany, an encampment more systematically and properly disposed. The trophies which we have achieved by this great event, are, officers and soldiers, five thousand seven hundred and ninety-one. It has been estimated that Burgoyne’s army, at the commencement of the campaign, was full ten thousand strong; the deficiency now, must be accounted for by the killed, loss by sickness, prisoners and deserters. Among the officers taken, are six members of the British Parliament. The train of brass artillery and other ordnance are immensely valuable, consisting of forty-two pieces of brass ordnance, besides seven thousand muskets, with six thousand dozen cartridges and an ample supply of shot, shells, &c. To these are added, clothing for seven thousand men, a large number of tents and other military stores. Thus we witness the incalculable reverse of fortune, and the extraordinary vicissitudes of military events, as ordained by Divine Providence. The same haughty commander, who but a few weeks since, flushed with victory, was harassing our retreating army in every direction; that proud, assuming foe, who so often threatened to lay waste our cities and country, and who said in his orders, early in the campaign, “this army must not retreat,” is now reduced to the mortifying alternative of suing for terms of surrender, to those powers whom he affected to treat with sovereign contempt. It must be doubly mortifying to contrast his present humble condition with that when he published his pompous and bombastic proclamation, calling on towns and people to send delegates to supplicate his favor and clemency, and threatening vengeance against all those who should dare to disobey his commands, or oppose his authority. There are perhaps few examples in the annals of warfare, of a whole army under a celebrated general, and officers of the first character; gentlemen of noble families, and military merit, being reduced to the mortifying condition of captives, led through a country which it was designed should have been devoted to their all-conquering power. The intelligence of these events to the British government, must affect them like the shock of a thunderbolt, and demonstrate to them the invincibility of a people united in the noble cause of liberty and the rights of man. This event will make one of the most brilliant pages of American history. General Gates has crowned himself with unfading laurels and immortal honor; he has vanquished a commander of established military fame, at the head of a veteran army. He has displayed the qualities of a general, the magnanimity of a philanthropist, and the amiable and polite civilities of a gentleman. No less dignified and brave as a commander, than beneficent and generous as a conqueror, he is remarkable for his humanity to prisoners, and a desire to mitigate the sufferings of the unfortunate. Among the objects in distress, which claimed his attention, was the lady of Major Ackland, commander of the British grenadiers, who was dangerously wounded and captured during the battle of the 7th of October. This heroic lady, from conjugal affection, was induced to follow the fortune of her husband during the whole campaign through the wilderness. Having been habituated to a mode of life with which those of rank and fortune are peculiarly favored, her delicate frame is ill-calculated to sustain the indescribable privations and hardships to which she was unavoidably exposed during an active campaign. Her vehicle of conveyance was, part of the time, a small twowheeled tumbril, drawn by a single horse, over roads almost impassable. Soon after she received the affecting intelligence that her husband had received a wound, and was a prisoner, she manifested the greatest tenderness and affection, and resolved to visit him in our camp to console and alleviate his sufferings. With this view she obtained a letter from Burgoyne to General Gates, and not permitting the prospect of being out in the night, and drenched in rain, to repress her zeal, she proceeded in an open boat, with a few attendants, and arrived at our out-post in the night, in a suffering condition, from extreme wet and cold. The sentinel, faithful to his duty, detained them in the boat till Maj\or Dearborn, the officer of the guard, could arrive. He permitted them to land, and afforded Lady Ackland the best accommodations in his power, and treated her with a cup of tea in his guard-house. When General Gates, in the morning, was informed of the unhappy situation of Lady Ackland, he immediately ordered her a safe escort, and treated her himself with the tenderness of a parent, directing that every attention should be bestowed which her rank, or sex, character and circumstances required. She was soon conveyed to Albany, where she found her wounded husband. For further particulars respecting this highly respectable and interesting lady, the reader is referred to the Appendix.

      In the military transactions in the northern department, the labors and efforts of Major-General Schuyler are acknowledged to be eminently important and useful. He is undoubtedly entitled to the character of an intelligent and meritorious officer. As a private gentleman he is dignified, but courteous, his manners are urbane, and his hospitality is unbounded. He is justly considered as one of our most distinguished champions of liberty, and his noble mind has soared above despair, even at a period when he experienced injustice from the public, and when darkness and gloom overspread our land. Though he was not invested with any active command, he was present at the surrender of the British army, which was near the spot where his elegant country-seat had been demolished. Here he sought an interview with the Baroness Reidesel, who with her three children, for she was entrusted with this charge during the campaign, he politely accommodated in his own tent, and invited her to become his guest at his residence at Albany. On the day of the surrender, all the captive generals dined with General Gates, and received from him the kindest civilities and attention.

      We have now brought to a glorious termination a military campaign, pregnant with remarkable vicissitudes and momentous events; the result of which, seemed for a time to poise on a pinnacle of sanguine hopes and expectations on the one side, and the most appalling apprehensions on the other. All gratitude and praise be ascribed to Him who alone limits the extent of human power, and decrees the destiny of nations!

      October 21st

      The captive Generals Burgoyne, Phillips, Reidesel, &c. with a number of ladies of high rank, arrived last evening at the hospitable mansion of General Schuyler in this city. His seat is about one mile out of town, and I have frequently made it a walk for amusement. It is a house of two stories, in elegant ancient style, and fancifully ornamented. I am informed that it has for several generations been celebrated for the great respectability and generous hospitality of its inhabitants, During the last French war, it was almost a general resort for British officers, as well as strangers and travellers of note.

      October 22nd

      The magnanimous General Schuyler, with his lady and daughters, have given their unfortunate guests a friendly and polite reception, characteristic of this noble spirited family. Notwithstanding General Burgoyne destroyed their beautiful villa at Saratoga, they appear disposed to console them in their misfortune by all the civilities and attention in their power.

      October 23rd

      General Burgoyne gratefully acknowledged the generous treatment received from General Schuyler, and observed to him, “You show me great kindness, sir, though I have done you much injury.” To which he magnanimously replied, “That was the fate of war! let us say no more about it.”

      October 24th

      This hospital is now crowded with officers and soldiers from the field of battle; those belonging to the British and Hessian troops, are accommodated in the same hospital with our own men, and receive equal care and attention. The foreigners are under the care and management of their own surgeons. I have been present at some of their capital operations, and remarked that the English surgeons perform with skill and dexterity, but the Germans, with a few exceptions, do no credit to their profession; some of them are the most uncouth and clumsy operators I ever witnessed, and appear to be destitute of all sympathy and tenderness towards the suffering patient. Not less than one thousand wounded and sick are now in this city; the Dutch church, and several private houses are occupied as hospitals. We have about thirty surgeons, and mates; and all are constantly employed. I am obliged to devote the whole of my time, from eight o’clock in the morning to a late hour in the evening, to the care of our patients. Here is a fine field for professional improvement. Amputating limbs, trepanning fractured skulls, and dressing the most formidable wounds, have familiarized my mind to scenes of woe. A military hospital is peculiarly calculated to afford examples for profitable contemplation, and to interest our sympathy and commisseration. If I turn from beholding mutilated bodies, mangled limbs and bleeding, incurable wounds, a spectacle no less revolting is presented, of miserable objects, languishing under afflicting diseases of every description – here, are those in a mournful state of despair, exhibiting the awful harbingers of approaching dissolution – there, are those with emaciated bodies and ghastly visage, who begin to triumph over grim disease and just lift their feeble heads from the pillow of sorrow. No parent, wife or sister, to wipe the tear of anguish from their eyes, or to soothe the pillow of death, they look up to the physician as their only earthly friend and comforter, and trust the hands of a stranger to perform the last mournful duties. Frequently have I remarked their confidence in my friendship, as though I was endeared to them by brotherly ties. Viewing these unfortunate men as the faithful defenders of the liberties of our country, far separated from their dearest friends, who would be so lost to the duties of humanity, patriotism, and benevolence, as not to minister to their comfort, and pour into their wounds the healing balm of consolation? It is my lot to have twenty wounded men committed to my care, by Dr. Potts, our surgeon-general; one of whom, a young man, received a musket-ball through his cheeks, cutting its way through the teeth on each side, and the substance of the tongue; his sufferings have been great, but he now begins to articulate tolerably well. Another had the whole side of his face torn off by a cannon-ball, laying his mouth and throat open to view. A brave soldier received a musket-ball in his forehead, observing that it did not penetrate deep, it was imagined that the ball rebounded and fell out; but after several days, on examination, I detected the ball laying flat on the bone, and spread under the skin, which I removed. No one can doubt but he received his wound while facing the enemy, and it is fortunate for the brave fellow that his skull proved too thick for the ball to penetrate. But in another instance, a soldier’s wound was not so honorable; he received a ball in the bottom of his foot, which could not have happened unless when in the act of running from the enemy. This poor fellow is held in derision by his comrades, and is made a subject of their wit for having the mark of a coward. Among the most remarkable occurrences which came under my observation, the following is deserving of particular notice. Captain Greg, of one of the New York regiments, while stationed at Fort Stanwix, on the Mohawk river, went with two of his soldiers into the woods a short distance to shoot pigeons; a party of Indians started suddenly from concealment in the bushes, shot them all down, tomahawked and scalped them, and left them for dead. The captain, after some time, revived, and perceiving his men were killed, himself robbed of his scalp, and suffering extreme agony from his numerous wounds, made an effort to move, and lay his bleeding head on one of the dead bodies, expecting soon to expire. A faithful dog who accompanied him, manifested great agitation, and in the tenderest manner licked his wounds, which afforded him great relief from exquisite distress. He then directed the dog, as if a human being, to go in search of some person to come to his relief. The animal, with every appearance of anxiety, ran about a mile, when he met with two men fishing in the river, and endeavored in the most moving manner, by whining and piteous cries, to prevail on them to follow him into the woods; struck with the singular conduct of the dog, they were induced to follow him part of the way, but fearing some decoy or danger, they were about to return, when the dog, fixing his eyes on them, renewed his entreaties by his cries, and taking bold of their clothes with his teeth, prevailed on them to follow him to the fatal spot. Such was the remarkable fidelity and sagacity of this animal. Captain Greg was immediately carried to the fort, where his wounds were dressed; he was afterwards removed to our hospital, and put under my care. He was a most frightful spectacle, the whole of his scalp was removed; in two places on the fore part of his head, the tomahawk had penetrated through the skull; there was a wound on his back with the same instrument, besides a wound in his side and another through his arm by a musket-ball. This unfortunate man, after suffering extremely for a long time, finally recovered, and appeared to be well satisfied in having his scalp restored to him, though uncovered with hair. The Indian mode of scalping their victims is this – with a knife they make a circular cut from the forehead, quite round, just above the ears, then taking hold of the skin with their teeth, they tear off the whole hairy scalp in an instant, with wonderful dexterity. This they carefully dry and preserve as a trophy, showing the number of their victims, and they have a method of painting on the dried scalp, different figures and Colors, to designate the sex and age of the victim, and also the manner and circumstances of the murder.


      November 10th

      I witnessed yesterday the singular ceremony performed at a treaty with the Six Nations of Indians. General Schuyler, and two other gentlemen, were the commissioners on our part. Of the Indians, about two hundred men and women attended. In the morning, I walked into the woods near this city, and was amused to see them occupied in dressing and ornamenting themselves for the ceremony; painting their faces, adjusting their hair, putting jewels into their ears, noses, &c. The face was painted of various colors; in general red, spotted with black and white in a fanciful manner. The men had their hair cut close to the skin, except a lock on the top of the head. The women wore long hair, ornamented with beads and other trinkets. The bodies and limbs of both sexes were decently covered in the Indian style, and some displayed large silver rings round the arm, and a profusion of party-colored beads, fancifully arranged about the legs and feet. Several of the young men and girls were furnished with little bells about their feet, to make a jingling when dancing. About eleven o’clock, the ceremony commenced on the common; the Indians arranged themselves, by sitting on the ground in a circle, the men on one side, the women on the other, leaving a vacancy for our commissioners, who were seated in chairs. In the centre of the circle was a fire, over which a large pot containing meat broth, or soup, was placed. The speakers were three elderly chiefs; their speeches or talks were short, and at the close of each, the speaker delivered to the commissioners a belt or string of wampum, curiously worked with porcupine quills, and handsomely painted, as a pledge of sincerity. The interpreter explained in English. In the intervals between the talks, the whole of the Indians and squaws threw their bodies into odd motions, and at the same time a noise came from their throats very similar to the grunting of swine, which, I suppose, was a token of approbation. They next commenced dancing, by uniting hands two or three at a time, and jumping merrily round the pot over the fire, animated by the music of a small drum resembling a keg covered with a skin, and the jingling of the bells attached to their legs and feet. The interpreter, by desire of the chiefs, requested that our commissioners would not be offended at the liberty which they were about to take. One of the chiefs then took the commissioners, one at a time, by the hand, and danced them round the circle; then rubbing his hand about the grease and blacking of the pot, he blackened the face, first of General Schuyler, and then the other gentlemen, which excited much laughter. Whether this was a trick to excite a laugh, or a part of their national ceremony, I was unable to ascertain. The Indians continued dancing round the fire, drinking the soup from the pot, and regaling themselves with rum all night, and many of them were found drunk in the morning.

      My professional duties have been so pressing as to preclude the possibility of journalizing to the full extent of my wishes. The numerous important events which have occurred to our main army under General, Washington, in the Jerseys and Pennsylvania, have been from time to time announced in the public papers, and in our general orders. A very brief retrospect of the most interesting occurrences during the campaign in that quarter must suffice me.

      General Washington, having ascertained that it was the great object of Sir William Howe to possess himself of the city of Philadelphia, put in requisition every effort in his power to counteract his measures for this purpose. His force during the whole campaign was considerably inferior to that of the enemy. Battles and skirmishing of more or less importance were frequent, but not decisive, though attended by no inconsiderable loss of human lives. On the 11th of September the two armies approached each other in the order of battle, and a general action took place at Brandywine, in which the officers and soldiers of both armies displayed a spirit of intrepidity and heroism, scarcely ever exceeded. The British claim the victory; but it was only a partial one, and, besides a prodigious sacrifice of lives, they failed in their main object, that of forcing their way to Philadelphia. It is stated, that from particular circumstances, little more than one-half of General Washington’s force was opposed to nearly the whole strength of the enemy. Our loss is mentioned in round numbers at one thousand. The Marquis de la Fayette and General Woodford were slightly wounded. The loss of the royalists, according to accounts published, greatly exceeds that of the Americans.

      On the 16th of September, Monsieur de Condry, an officer of rank and distinction in the French service, and acting as a volunteer in our army, having occasion to cross the Schuylkill ferry, rode a high-spirited horse into the boat, which, taking fright, leaped into the river, and the rider was unfortunately drowned. Congress resolved that the corpse of Monsieur de Condry be interred at the expense of the United States, and with the honors of war.

      Sir William Howe, on the 26th of September, after much manoeuvring and skirmishing, accomplished his great enterprise, and made his triumphal entry into the city of Philadelphia, where he met with a cordial welcome from the Quakers, and a considerable number of the inhabitants, who have long been known to be in favor of the royalists.

      On the 4th of October, General Washington planned an attack on the main body of the enemy stationed at Germantown, near Philadelphia. The enterprise was planned with such judgment and skill, as to afford promise of a complete victory. The execution of it was conducted by his excellency, who attacks like a hero and retreats like a general, and whose presence infuses into the ranks the spirit of heroism and enthusiasm. Were it not for some unfortunate incidents, and the faulty conduct of a few individuals, his most sanguine hopes would have been realized. The enemy was actually taken by surprise, and in one point a party was routed, and one hundred and ten made prisoners, but were afterwards retaken. Almost the whole force of both armies was involved in the tremendous contest, in which British and American bravery were equally conspicuous, and sealed the fate of many valiant officers and men. “The morning,” says General Washington’s letter to Congress, “was extremely foggy, which prevented our improving the advantage we had gained, so well as we otherwise should have done. This circumstance, by concealing from us the true situation of the enemy, obliged us to act with more caution and less expedition than we could have wished, and gave the enemy time to recover from the effects of our first impression; and what was still more unfortunate, it served to keep our different parties in ignorance of each other’s movements, and hindered their acting in concert; it also occasioned them to mistake one another for the enemy, which I believe more than any thing else, contributed to the misfortunes which ensued. In the midst of the most promising appearances, when every thing gave the most flattering hopes of victory, the troops began suddenly to retreat, and entirely left the field, in spite of every effort that could be made to rally them. On the whole, it may be said, this day was rather unfortunate than injurious. The principal impediment to our success was, that at the moment of victory, the enemy threw a party into Mr. Chew’s stone house, who were in a situation not easily to be forced; and had it in their power, from the windows, to give us considerable annoyance, and in a measure to obstruct our advance.”

      A general officer who was engaged in the battle says: “Fortune smiled on our arms for hours. The enemy were broken, dispersed and flying on all quarters: we were in possession of their whole encampment, together with their artillery park, &c. But confusion at last ensued, and we ran away from the arms of victory ready to receive us.” It is not to be concealed, however, that our army suffered a very considerable loss, the whole number is not ascertained. General Nash, of North Carolina, received a mortal wound, and General Sullivan’s two aids were killed. On the side of the royalists, General Agnew, General de Heister’s son, and several other officers were killed. General Kniphausen was wounded, and a great number of rank and file were wounded and slain.

      The Americans have erected several forts and redoubts on the banks of the Delaware river, and on Mud Island, to guard against the passage of the British fleet up this river to Philadelphia. In one of these forts at Red Bank, Colonel Greene, of Rhode Island, was posted with about four hundred men. General Howe, perceiving the great importance of reducing these works, detached Count Donop, an officer held in high estimation in the royal army, with twelve or fifteen hundred Hessian troops, well supplied with artillery, to take possession of it. Having arrived near the redoubts, he summoned the commander to surrender, to which he resolutely replied, he would defend the place to the last extremity. This fort being originally constructed on a large scale, it was found necessary to run a line across the middle, and divide it into two, so that the external part was left without defence. The Hessian commander ordered his troops to advance under cover of the smoke of his cannon and storm the redoubt; they soon gained the unoccupied part with loud huzzas on their supposed victory; but on approaching the new lines within, where our troops were stationed, the brave garrison poured on them such hot and well-directed fire for about forty minutes, that they were completely overpowered, and fled in every direction. Colonel Donop, their commander, was mortally wounded and taken, and more than one hundred were killed on the spot, and a greater number wounded and prisoners. The enemy retreated with great precipitation, leaving many of their wounded on the road, and returned to Philadelphia with the loss of one-half their party. Colonel Greene, and his brave troops, acquired great honor for their gallant defence of the fort, which is a key to other posts on the river. Congress have rewarded the colonel with an elegant sword. The British army found it difficult to procure the necessary supplies in Philadelphia, and the continental galleys and strong chevaux de frize in the Delaware, rendered a passage of their ships up to the city almost impossible. Admiral Lord Howe determined to attempt the removal of these formidable obstructions, and he ordered six of his ships to engage in this service. They were so unmercifully handled by our galleys, and from Fort Mifflin, at Mud Island, that two of them, one of sixty-four guns, run aground and were set on fire by the crews, who deserted them, and soon after they blew up.


      Fort Mifflin, on Mud Island, has been evacuated by the continental garrison, after having been bravely defended against the prodigious force of the enemy’s shipping. Our troops secured all their stores, destroyed the block-houses, and demolished the bank, to let in the water, by which the island is entirely inundated. The fort at Red Bank is also abandoned, and the continental fleet has been burned, to prevent its falling into the hands of the enemy. The British are now in full possession of the city of Philadelphia, and their fleet has obtained access to it by way of the Delaware river. The continental army, since the close of the campaign, has retired for winter-quarters to a place called Valley Forge, about twenty miles from Philadelphia. Here they are subjected to the fatigue and labor of clearing the woods and constructing log huts for their accommodation during the winter.

      An occurrence of a very singular complexion has lately been published in a Pennsylvania newspaper, which occasions much indignant speculation. The Reverend Jacob Duche, a popular Episcopal minister in Philadelphia, was the first chaplain appointed by Congress. He performed his official duties to general acceptance, frequently and fervently imploring Heaven to succeed the American cause. Whether from alarm at the success of the royalists, or from any change in his sentiments respecting the justice of our cause, is uncertain, but after having officiated about three months, he gave in his resignation. He left Philadelphia, and “took shelter under the arm of that power which from the sacred pulpit he had exhorted his hearers to oppose,” But it is no less extraordinary, that this apostate addressed a letter to his Excellency General Washington, with whom he was on terms of friendship, in which, to use the author’s own words, “he has spoken freely of Congress, and of the army.” He enjoins it on his excellency to abandon the American cause, and resign his command of the army; or at the head of it, to force Congress immediately to desist from hostilities and to rescind their declaration of Independence. If this is not done, he says, “You have an infallible resource still left, negotiate for America at the head of your army.” He represents the Congress in the most despicable point of view, as consisting of weak, obscure persons, not fit associates for his excellency, and the very dregs of the first Congress. The New England delegates he treats with the greatest indelicacy. The officers and men which compose our army, he describes as destitute of principle and courage; undisciplined, taken from the lowest of the people, unfit for a seat at his excellency’s table, &c., &c. Thus has this vile calumniator disgraced his profession, and involved his own character in that ignominy which he designed for his superiors. His excellency in noticing this transaction in a letter of October the 16th, observes, “To Mr. Duche’s ridiculous, illiberal performance, I made a very short reply, by desiring the bearer, Mrs. Ferguson, if she should hereafter, by any accident meet with Mr. Duche, to tell him I should have returned his letter unopened if I had had any idea of its contents.

      The following is the form of prayer made use of by the Reverend Mr. Duche in the Congress after Independence was declared: “O Lord! our heavenly Father, high and mighty, King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth, and reignest with power supreme and uncontroled over all kingdoms, empires and governments. Look down in mercy, we beseech thee, on these our American states, who have fled to thee from the rod of the oppressor, and thrown themselves on thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on thee; to thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to thee do they now took up for that countenance and support, which thou alone canst give; take them, therefore, heavenly Father, under thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in council, and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their cause, and if they still persist in their sanguinary purposes, O! let the voice of thine own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle. Be thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly: enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation, that the scene of blood may be speedily closed, that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst thy people; preserve the health of their bodies and the vigor of their minds; shower down on them, and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings, as thou seest expedient for them in this world, and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name, and through the merits of Jesus Christ thy Son and our Saviour. AMEN.”

      December 20th

      The wounded soldiers committed to my care in October last, have all recovered, and as a compliment for my assiduity, and attention to my patients, I have received from Dr. Potts, our surgeon-general, a generous and handsome present. The duties of our hospital being now greatly diminished, I have obtained a furlough for forty days, and shall to-morrow commence my journey to visit my friends in New England.

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