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rebel serpent in twain, and separately crush its New England head and its Southern body.1
The scheme was a good one. It might have adjourned our liberties for fifty years. Who marred that plot? In England, King George and Lord George Germain ; in America, John Burgoyne and Charles Lee. The dull king had a way of meddling in detail with all the business of his great empire. In the British Museum you can read, in his own handwriting, his comments on the plan of Burgoyne, restricting his forces, withholding all discretionary power, and requiring him simply “to join Howe at Albany.' But that equally positive orders were not issued to Howe we may thank Lord George Germain. The Minister called at his office. The dispatch, all written, was not “fair-copied.” So Germain hurried off heedlessly to the country. The unsigned dispatch was pigeonholed, and was found again -- after the surrender at Saratoga.3
There have been worse commanders and not many more polished gentlemen of his style than John Burgoyne.
“A man of wit, fashion, and honor," says Macaulay. He eloped with Lord Derby's daughter, and was forgiven by the family. He wrote elaborate letters, genteel comedies, and flaming proclamations. “The charm of his manner,” it was said, “neither man nor woman could resist.” That was left for the Green Mountain Boys. He wore on his finger a diamond ring given him by the king of Portugal for his gallant dash at Valencia d’Alcantara, and Burgoyne's Light Horse was the favored regiment that George the Third loved often to review. He was a brave officer, a good colonel, and a moderate general. It is useless to extol him greatly as a commander. He did three things that are not done by great commanders. He needlessly underrated his enemy, he lost his best opportunity, and, in the last resort, he declined the responsibility which would have abandoned an expedition and saved an army. Give him credit for a good plan. Another man should have executed the plan. That man was Sir Guy Carleton, his last year's commander, and the governor of Canada. He knew the country, understood the people, and controlled the preparations. Cautious, as well as peaceful, he was all the more formidable because he was wise, conciliatory, and humane.
1 Lord Howe proposed to open the campaign of the Southern army, with 35,000 men in three army corps; one to cover New Jersey; one to act on the side of Rhode Island with a view to reducing Boston; the third to move up the North River to Albany and there join the army of the North.
2 Fonblanque's Political and Military Episodes, pp. 484 and 487. 3 Ibid. p. 236.
But in the high councils of heaven and the small arithmetic of King George it was ordered otherwise. Burgoyne was followed by the sanguine hopes of the British nation. Lord North looked for the "speedy quelling of the rebellion.” Trading Manchester had subscribed for two regiments to conquer a market. The country gentlemen were loudly loyal. The opposition in the Commons was well-nigh silenced. Bishops and clergy breathed out war; the staid pulpits of the Establishment rung with exhortations to smite the rebels, and even the heart of the humane king became ossified
till he could say: "Every means of distressing America must meet with my concurrence.”
Burgoyne was in Montreal a full month before he applied for means of transport, and the inadequacy of his supply at last was a chief cause of his disaster. His body of troops, though smaller than he asked, was a splendid army corps.1 The German soldiers had learned war when Frederick was at his best, and the British
veteran troops of England.” A magnificent park of artillery and a body of picked cannoniers accompanied the march. The officers, Phillips and Riedesel, Frazer and Hamilton, Kingston, Balcarras, and Ackland, were men of brilliant and various distinction. For an army of its size, no finer body could have been set down on this continent.
The general knew, or ought to have known, his foe. He was in Boston when the British army was, as he expressed it, “unrecovered from the consternation of Lexington.” He had directed the firing of the batteries against Bunker Hill, and had handsomely commended the obstinate defense and the orderly retreat. He therefore only imposed on himself when he proclaimed to his army that the enemy were "infinitely inferior to the king's troops in open space and hardy combat.” The event made it even ludicrous in him to announce that they relied only on “entrenchments and rifle pieces,” and “it will be our glory and preservation to storm." And it was a still graver folly to threaten that enemy with “devastation, famine, and every concomitant horror.” For he only exasperated when he sought to terrify. Had he had the “thousands” of Indians of whom he boasted, to do this work, instead of his paltry five hundred, he spoke to men who had heard a louder war-whoop than his. They turned his flaming proclamation into doggerel rhyme and called him “Chrononhotonthologos.”
1 Burgoyne had asked for 8,000 regular troops exclusive of artillery, 2,000 Canadians to act as escorts and working parties, and 1,000 Indians, besides a large number of pro. vincials for
transport duties. He reports his actual force at 7,251 regulars, 148 Canadian militia, and 503 Indians. This, however, is exclusive of 511 artillerymen, and the accession of tories from the state. But he was obliged to leave nearly 1,000 men to garrison Ticonderoga, greatly to his regret. He thought that Carleton should have furnished the garrison, and afterward complained that it “ drained the life-blood of his force.”
Yet there were anxious hearts as he moved towards Lake Champlain. Men called Ticonderoga the “key of North America.” Schuyler had written to New Hampshire that “the loss of it would be dreadful, if not altogether fatal to the liberties of the country.' Washington said that the consequences would be “ir, reparable." Meanwhile the public mind was feverish with excitement and the air thick with alarms. The enemy had entered Newport, headed for Providence. They had landed at Fairfield. They had destroyed Danbury. They were expected at Rye. Eighteen ships were seen above Peekskill. Carleton's boats were said to be at Split Rock, forty miles from Ticonderoga. A cry was raised in New Hampshire and Connecticut of a “diabolical attempt” by the enemy to spread counterfeit money. Entrenching tools were found under a barn in Hollis and firearms at Groton. Half the men of Strafford had joined the regulars. “The tories,” wrote Sullivan, "are everywhere lifting their heads." Secret combinations are discovered in Hillsborough, in western Massachusetts and northern New Hampshire. The New Hampshire Committee of Safety recommend to all persons capable of bearing arms constantly to carry them “to public worship and all places where business leads them; for we know not the day nor the hour” of an attack on the borders, and we must “stop those infernal traitors among ourselves.”
But where get the arms? The same committee, two days later, informed their congressmen that a great number of their militia are without firearms, and in the half-manned fortress of Ticonderoga not one man in ten has a bayonet.
On the first of July a line of fifty gunboats and two frigates hove in sight of Ticonderoga, stretching across the lake from east to west. The garrison declared themselves ready for a "bloody fray,” and Parson Allen was willing to “ leave this body of his a corpse on the spot. On the morning of the fifth day they were amazed to see a body of redcoats planting a battery on Mount Defiance, commanding every corner of their fortress. That night came the order to evacuate. It was received in the fortress literally with curses and with tears, and a cry of execration and lament swept through the country. “Such a retreat," wrote one of the garrison, “was never heard of since the creation of the world.” Men talked of treachery. “We never shall hold a fort,” said stout John Adams, “till we shoot a general.” Burgoyne wrote home: “The rebels have no
men of military science.” King George