« PreviousContinue »
tion of the capture by these very rebels of a whole Brit
A cursory inspection of the map of the United States will suffice to shew, that for the purpose of their subjugation it was at this period of high importance to the British to form a communication with Canada by means of Hudson river. This would have intersected the insurgent provinces, and by cutting off their intercourse with each other, and by hemming in the eastern States, which the British ministry regarded as the soul of the rebellious confederacy, would have exposed them to be overrun and conquered in detail. General Howe, therefore, was directed by the ministry to operate with a part of his army northwards from New York, whilst General Burgoyne was instructed to enter the state of New York by its north-western frontier, and to make his way good to Albany, where it was intended that he should form a junction with the forces which Howe should send to co-operate with him. The expediency of this plan was so obvious that it did not escape the foresight of the Americans, who, in order to obviate it, had strongly fortified Ticonderoga, and the adjacent height of Mount Independence. They had also taken measures to obstruct the passage from Lake Champlain, and had moreover strengthened the defences of the Mohawk river. For garrisoning these posts, and for conducting the requisite operations in the field, they gave orders to raise an army of 13,600 men.
How was their exultation damped?
The British army destined to act under Burgoyne consisted of 7000 regulars, furnished with every requisite for war, especially with a fine train of artillery. These were supported by a number of Canadians, and a considerable body of Indians. It was arranged in the plan of the campaign, that whilst Burgoyne, at the head of these forces should
pour into the State of New York, from Lake Champlain, a detachment under the command of Col. St. Leger should march towards Lake Ontario, and penetrate in the direction of Albany, by the Mohawk river, which falls into the Hudson a little above that town.
General Burgoyne arrived at Quebec on the 6th of May, and immediately putting himself at the head of his army, he proceeded up Lake Champlain to Crown Point. Here he was joined by the Indians, to whom he made a speech, in which he inculcated upon them the virtue of mildness, and strictly forbade them to destroy any persons except in battle. An ancient Iroquois chieftain, in the name of his comrades, promised strict compliance with the general's injunctions. From Crown Point the royal army directed its march to Ticonderoga. Here General Burgoyne expected to encounter a powerful opposition, as he well knew that the Americans had flattered themselves that by the fortifications which they had erected on it, they had rendered it almost impregnable. But the forces which had been destined to its defence had not arrived. General St. Clair had not men enough to man his lines. He saw his position nearly surrounded by the enemy, who were erect
Describe Gen. Burgoyne's army.
ing a battery on a hill which commanded his entrenchments. In these circumstances, a council of war unanimously recommended to their commander the evacuation of Ticonderoga, which he effected with such good order and secrecy, that he was enabled to bring off a great part of the public stores. He left behind him, however, ninetythree pieces of ordnance, which fell into the hands of the British. The retreating Americans took the road to Skeensborough, which is situated at the southern extremity of Lake George. In their flight they were briskly pursued by General Fraser by land, whilst Burgoyne attacked and destroyed their flotilla on Lake George; and so closely were they pressed by this combined movement, that they were compelled to set fire to their stores and boats at Skeensborough, and take refuge in Fort Anne, a few miles to the southward of that place. Here, however, they did not long find shelter. Their rear guard was attacked and routed by Colonel Fraser, at Hubbardton; and LieutenantColonel Hill having been sent forward from Skeensborough, by General Burgoyne, with the 9th regiment of foot, to make an assault on Fort Anne, the provincials, after a short, but brisk engagement, withdrew to Fort Edward, which is situated on the Hudson river. Here their scattered forces being collected, were found to amount to no more than 4400 men, who being unable to cope with their victorious pursuers, soon found themselves under the necessity of making another retrograde movement in the direction of Albany. This long series of successes filled the minds of the British with exultation. They had beaten the enemy
What did the council of war advise him to do?
in every encounter; had forced them from their fastnesses, and entertained sanguine hopes of driving them before them till the co-operating force which they presumed General Howe was sending up the Hudson should intercept their retreat, and put them between two fires. Burgoyne issued proclamations in the style of a conqueror, summoning the inhabitants of the district in which he was operating to aid his pursuit of the fugitive rebels. The assistance which he called for was very necessary, not for pursuit, but defence—his difficulties were now commencing. Instead of falling back from Skeensborough to Ticonderoga, and advancing from the latter place by Lake George, (a movement which he declined, as having the appearance of a retreat,) he determined to march across the country from Skeensborough to Fort Edward; but the road was so broken up-it was so intersected with creeks and rivulets, the bridges over which had been broken down, and so much embarrassed with trees cut down on each side, and thrown across it with entangled branches, that it was with immense labor he could advance a mile a day. When he had at length penetrated to Fort Edward, which he reached on the 30th of July, he found it abandoned by the enemy, who by their retreat left free his communication with Lake George, from which he obtained supplies of stores and provisions conveyed by land from Fort George to Hudson river, and thence floated down to his camp.
What was the character of Burgoyne's proclamation?
FAILURE OF BURGOYNE'S EXPEDITION.
The delay gave the Americans time to recover from the consternation into which they had been thrown by the loss of Ticonderoga, and the subsequent misfortunes of their army. Determined to make amends for their previous dilatoriness by instant activity, they flew to arms. The plundering of Jersey had taught them that peaceable conduct and submission afforded no protection against British rapine; and they were persuaded, that whatever might be the wishes of General Burgoyne, he had not power to restrain his Indian auxiliaries from practising their accustomed
savage mode of warfare. Looking for safety, then, only to their swords, and judging from their knowledge of the country, that the farther the British commander advanced, the greater would be his difficulties, they hastened their reinforcements from every town and hamlet in the vicinity of the seat of war, and soon increased the army
of St. Clair to the number of 13,000 men.
Whilst General Burgoyne was making his way to the Hudson, Lieutenant-Colonel St. Leger had arrived at the Mohawk river, and was laying siege to Fort Schuyler. Receiving intelligence that General Herkimer was hastening at the head of a body of troops to the relief of the place, he sent a detachment with instructions to lie in ambush on his line of march, and to cut him off. These instructions were so well obeyed, that Herkimer fell into the snare,
troops were dispersed, and he himself was killed. St. Leger now entertained sanguine hopes of
What motives produced such an increase of Gen. St. Clair's army?