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ATROCITIES OF THE INDIANS.
must no longer reckon on the co-operation which he had hoped, on the side of the Mohawk river. Colonel St. Leger had been despatched from Canada with a small body of light troops, to reduce Fort Stanwix (or Fort Schuyler, as the Americans termed it), and from thence make his way to Burgoyne; but St. Leger was baffled by the steadiness of the garrison, and compelled to retire with loss. Perhaps, however , the principal disappointment of Burgoyne lay in the ill conduct of his Indians. So early as the 11th of July we may observe him complain as follows, to the Secretary of State: "Confidentially to your Lordship, I may acknowledge "that in several instances, I have found the Indians little "more than a name. If, under the management of their "conductors, they are indulged for interested reasons in all "the caprices and humours of spoiled children, likethem they "grow more unreasonable and importunate upon every new "favour. Were they left to themselves, enormities too "horrid to think of would ensue; guilty and innocent, women "and infants, would be a common prey."
It is due to Burgoyne to state, that from the first he had made most strenuous exertions, both by word and deed, to prevent any such enormities. The testimony, for example, of his aide-de-camp, Lord Petersham, when examined before the House of Commons, is clear and precise upon that point.* But, in spite of all restraints, the cruel temper and the lawless habits of these savages wouldsometimesburstforth — sometimes not more fatally to their enemies than to their friends. The tragical fate of Miss Mac Rea raised one loud cry of pity and of indignation on both sides of the Atlantic. This lady, in the bloom of youth and beauty, the daughter of an American loyalist, was betrothed to an officer in the British provincial troops. Anxious for her security, the
* See Burgoyne's Narrative and Collection of Documents, pp. 65, 66. seconded. Charles Stanhope, Lord Petersham, succeeded as third Earl of Harrington in 1779, and survived till 1829. Let me say — what all who knew him would, I believe, most readily attest — that in his long career, and many high commands, few officers were ever more respected and beloved.
officer engaged some Indians to escort her from her home, and convey her to the British camp, where her marriage would be solemnised. As a further precaution, he promised to reward the person who should bring her safe to him, with a barrel of rum. But this very precaution, as it seemed to be, was the cause of the disaster which ensued. Two of the Indians, who took charge of her, began a quarrel on the way, which of them should first present her to her bridegroom. Each was eager for the rum; each resolute that his companion should not receive it in his place. At last one cf them, in sudden fury, raising his tomahawk,, struck Miss Mac Rea upon the head, and laid her a corpse at his feet. General Burgoyne, at this news, displayed the utmost resentment and concern. He compelled the Indians to deliver up the murderer, and designed to put him to death. He was only induced to spare his life upon the Indians agreeing to terms, which the General thought would be more effectual than any execution, in deterring them from similar barbarities. Deterred, indeed, they were. But when they found themselves precluded from their expected delights of plundering and scalping, they began to desert, and go home. Of nearly five hundred, who at the outset joined Burgoyne, less than three score at last remained beneath his banner.
It may well be imagined, that while Burgoyne was advancing, declamations against his and the Indians' cruelty (for no distinction was admitted) were rife on the Americans' side. In the same spirit a manifesto had been issued by General Schuyler, recounting with great exaggeration the acts of violence committed last winter in the Jerseys by the British troops. By such means, and still more, perhaps, by the natural spirit of a freeborn people when threatened with invasion , a resolute energy against Burgoyne was roused in the New England States. In all these the Militia was called out, and hastened to obey the call. But in a great number of cases such forms were deemed tedious, and dispensed with. Many a hardy yeoman, hearing of "the Britishers'" advance, waited for no further summons; he took down his 1777.
gun from the wall, he drew forth his horse from the stable, and rode off at once to the scene of danger. The families that had no men to spare were only the more eager to send supplies. An officer ofBurgoyne's army, passing through Massachusetts as a prisoner a short time afterwards, observes, that "In many poor habitations they have parted with "one of their blankets, where they had only two, for the use "of their soldiers."* Thus in frorrt of Burgoyne a large force was quickly mustered, which, by accessions from other provinces, grew at last to 13,000men; men deficient, indeed, in discipline and order, but, as their adversaries after they had tried them owned, resolute and brave, and in one respect, namely, as skilful marksmen with the rifle, not to be surpassed.
For the command of this rising force a new appointment was sanctioned by the Congress. The gentlemen seated at their ease in the town of York wholly overlooked the deficiencies and difficulties caused in great part by their own neglect. They reprobated in the strongest terms the evacuation of Ticonderoga, and the retreat of their army down the Hudson; they could assign to it no better motive than either cowardice or treachery. Under such impressions they recalled the General Officers in the Northern department, and ordered an inquiry into their conduct. At the close of that inquiry some time afterwards, St. Clair and the other persons thus set aside were acquitted, and acknowledged to be wholly free from blame. Meanwhile the chief command in this quarter was intrusted to General Gates. The talents of that officer did not rise above mediocrity; but under him was serving Arnold, — Arnold, the bold, the skilful, and the enterprising, and, as yet, the warm and thorough enemy of England.
From Fort Edward General Burgoyne constructed a bridge of rafts across the Hudson, and sent over a division of his army, under General Frazer, to take post on the
* Letter from Cambridge, November 25. 1777. Travels by Lieutenant Anburey, vol. 11. p. 45. ed. 1789.
heights of Saratoga. At the same time he had in view another enterprise on the opposite side. He had learnt that the enemy were collecting large supplies at Bennington, in part of live cattle, and in part of corn. To obtain these supplies for the use of his own soldiers was in his situation an object of paramount importance. He despatched for this purpose an expedition commanded by Colonel Baum, and consisting of 200 Germans and dismounted dragoons, and a very few English, with some Indians and Canadian 'volunteers — in all about 500 men. At a later period Burgoyne was blamed, perhaps hypercritically, for not having sent English, instead of Germans, on this critical service, where success would depend so much on early and exact intelligence. As Baum marched onwards, he found himself joined by a party of American loyalists. In his Report, of which he says himself, "Pray pardon the hurry of this letter; it is written on the "head of a barrel:" he observes, "People are flocking in "hourly, but want to be armed; the savages cannot be con"trolled; they ruin and take every thing they please." *
On drawing nigh to Bennington, Colonel Baum found that the force opposed to him was far greater than his own, the American General Stark having unexpectedly arrived at the head of the Militia from New Hampshire. Burgoyne had no sooner received the express to apprise him of this event, than he hastened to detach a second division of Germans, under Colonel Breyman, to support the first. But before this second division could reach the ground, the first was attacked by Stark. "We will gain the victory," said he to his men, "or, Molly Stark shall be a widow to-night!" It is acknowledged by American writers that Baum made a brave and resolute defence.** Nevertheless he was overpowered, and compelled to give way. When Baum's troops were already put to flight, the division under Breyman came up, and the conflict was renewed, but with no different result. In these two engagements the loss of the Americans was incon
* See Appendix to General Burgoyne's Narrative, p. 71. ed. 1780. ** Life of Stark, by Mr. Edward Everett, p. 86.
1777. GROWING DIFFICULTIES OF BURGOYNE. 183
siderable, while on the British side there were upwards of .200 killed, and 700 prisoners; among the latter Baum himself, who shortly afterwards died of his wounds.
The disaster at Bennington exerted a fatal influence over the rest of this campaign. To the Americans it gave new hope and self-reliance. On the other side, it disheartened more especially the loyalists of the province, open or concealed. Till now they had promised, nay begun, to join the British standards. Henceforth they kept quiet and aloof. Moreover, at nearly the same time, Burgoyne sustained nearly an equal diminution of his numbers from another quarter, since he found it requisite to leave behind a garrison forTiconderoga, which he had hoped that Sir Guy Carleton might afford from the force in Canada. Under such circumstances he determined to call in the detachment of General Fraser from Saratoga. The bridge of rafts had been carried away by heavy rains, and Frazer's men had to repass the Hudson as they best might by boats and canoes. Nevertheless Burgoyne had not relinquished the hope and intention of advancing. From Fort Edward to the town of Albany the distance was but fifty miles; and, once at Albany, he might be able to obtain round him adequate supplies, and patiently await the promised but tardy co-operation from New York.* Considering, however, the Mohawk river, the enemy's camp, and the other obstacles upon his route, he resolved not to move one step forward until he had collected stores of provision in advance for thirty days; and in bringing up these stores nearly a whole month was employed, —. a month of delay, perhaps necessary to himself, but certainly advantageous to his enemies.
In his letters to the Secretary of State, GeneralBurgoyne was far from concealing his embarrassments. Thus he writes: "The prospect of the campaign is much less
* "It was generally believed, and I believe it myself firmly, that if the "army had got to Albany, we should have found a number of loyal subjects "that would have joined and done every thing in their power to have "established the army at that place." (Evidence of Captain Money, before the House of Commons, May 27. 1779.)