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MADAME DE RIEDESEL.
stores of provision, even though on short allowance, were every hour dwindling. The horror of these dismal prospects now rose full upon Burgoyne, and every possible chance of extrication was conned over in his anxious and accomplished mind. That the men should cast aside all their impediments, leave behind all their artillery, and commence by night their march to Fort Edward, with only a few days' food upon their backs, was a scheme fraught with hazards; yet seriously considered, and, at one moment, on consultation with his Generals, adopted. Indeed, a party under Colonel Sutherland had been already despatched in that direction to repair the bridges and the roads, but had been recalled to Saratoga, in the expectation of another battle. Nor was the opposite chance forgotten—. that the enemy, in their eagerness to inclose Burgoyne, might perhaps so far reduce their force on the side of Behmus's Heights as to enable him to resume his first design, and make a push for Albany. Of this, however, no reasonable hope appeared.
With the army, at this trying time, were some few ladies — amongst others, the wife of the German General, Biedesel, and her three young children. Many years afterwards, she published an interesting narrative of all that she had suffered and seen. Together with the disabled officers, she had sought shelter in a house near the Hudson; but the Americans, believing that the English Generals had there fixed their post, directed a cannonade against that house from the opposite side of the stream. "Alas," says Madame de Kiedesel, "there were none but wounded and' "women!" Yet, as the same lady has occasion to relate, the hostile troops were by no means wanting in kindness and compassion to the gentler sex. The sufferers had crept, for safety, to the vaulted cellars of the cannonaded house. Here one of their chief miseries was, want of water; since any man who ventured to the stream to fetch them any, became a mark for the unerring rifles of the enemy. At length a poor soldier's wife was found to undertake the dangerous
service; courageously and repeatedly did she walk down with her pitcher to the bank; and, in consideration of her sex, was always spared by the Americans.
To another courageous woman, of far higher rank, an equal courtesy was shown. Major Acland, an English officer, had been, in the last action, wounded and taken. His young wife, Lady Harriet, a daughter of the Earl of IIChester, had accompanied him throughout the campaign. Hearing of his wound, and fearing for his life, and careless of herself, though in want of food, and drenched with rains for twelve hours together, she resolved, at all hazards, and uncertain into whose hands she might first fall, to deliver herself up to the enemy, and entreat permission to share in his captivity. Thus writes General Burgoyne; "The "assistance I was enabled to give, was small indeed; I had "not even a cup of wine to offer her; but I was told she had "found from some kind and fortunate hand, a little rum and "dirty water. All I could furnish to her was, an open boat, "and a few lines written upon dirty wet paper to General "Gates, recommending her to his protection." In the open boat with Lady Harriet, and with a flag of truce, embarked as her escort, the chaplain, Mr. Brudenell, and two or three persons more. It was dark ere the rowers could reach the enemy's outposts on the Hudson. The American sentinel, threatening to fire, refused to let them either pass or come to shore. All that night, which proved wild and stormy, Lady Harriet sat exposed to the inclement skies, and to her own anxious thoughts. Next morning, however, General Gates was no sooner apprised of her approach, than he received her with every possible token of compassion and respect. "Let such," adds Burgoyne, "as are affected by "these circumstances of alarm, hardship and danger, recollect that the subject of them was a woman; of the most "tender and delicate frame; of the gentlest manners; "accustomed to all the soft elegancies and refined enjoy "ments that attend high fortune; and far advanced in a state "in which the tender cares, always due to her sex, become
COUNCILS OF WAR.
"indispensably necessary. Her mind alone was formed for "such trials."*
Meanwhile the fate of the entire army was drawing to an issue. Sorely perplexed, yet still preserving a manly firmness, Burgoyne on the 13th called a Council of War, to which were summoned not only as heretofore the Generals, but all the field officers and the Captains commanding corps. They were already in such evil plight that no spot in their whole position could be found for holding that Council, which was not exposed to cannon or rifle-shot—a significant fact afterwards alleged by Burgoyne in his defence, and confirmed by the testimony of his officers.** By this time, his force was reduced to 3,500 men, of whom not quite 2,000 were British. His stores of provisions might suffice for six days more. Nevertheless the General, after stating to the assembled officers the difficulties of his situation, assured them that nothing could induce him to propose terms to the enemy, except their full concurrence, and that he was ready to take the lead in any measure they should think for the honour of the British arms. The Council was unanimous for treating, provided honourable terms could be obtained. Next day, accordingly, a flag of truce was despatched to the enemy's head-quarters, with a message from Burgoyne. That flag of truce was borne by Mr. George Williams, a young gentleman from Newfoundland, one of the few who had escorted Lady Harriet to the enemy's lines. In after years he became a Colonel in the army, and the first Member of Parliament for Ashton-under-Lyne, and he survived until December 1850 — the very last, in all probability, of Burgoyne's expedition.
The reception of the message, sent with Mr. Williams, gave little hope. Gates's answer was, that "General Bur"goyne's army, being exceedingly reduced, their provisions "exhausted1, their military horses, tents, and baggage
* Review of the Evidence, Ac., p. 174. Madame de Riedesel calls Lady Harriet eine allerliebste Fran, but her husband einen rohen Menschen. .Their descendant is the present Earl of Carnarvon. ** Evidence of Lord Balcarras, May 27. 1779.
"taken or destroyed, their retreat cut off, and their camp "invested, they can only be allowed to surrender prisoners "of war." He therefore required that they should lay down their arms within their lines. When this answer came to be reported to the British Council of War, the officers present resolved unanimously to reject such ignominious terms. They all agreed in the following rejoinder, which Burgoyne proposed to send: "This article is inadmissible in any ex"tremity. Sooner than this army will consent to ground "their arms in their encampment, they will rush on the "enemy, determined to take no quarter."
This rejoinder being brought to General Gates, that officer was found willing to recede from his first pretensions. He rightly judged it unwise to drive to utter despair even a far inferior number of brave and disciplined troops. He felt that the capitulation of such troops on almost any terms, and under almost any circumstances, would be a most solid advantage, and would shed on the arms of the United States a lustre which as yet they had never known. Judging from the event, I am justified in saying, that another motive also may perhaps have weighed with some, at least, of the Americans. It matters little what terms are granted', if it be not intended to fulfil them!
In this conciliatory temper on the victorious side, the terms were no longer hard to be adjusted. New proposals had been transmitted by Burgoyne, unanimously concurred in by his Council; and every one of these proposals was complied with. It was agreed: That the army should march out of the camp with all the honours of war, to an appointed place at the river-side, where, at the word of command from their own officers, their arms were to be piled; That a free passage to Great Britain should be granted them on condition of their not serving again in North America during the present contest; That the port of Boston should admit the transports for that purpose, at any time desired by General Howe; That, meanwhile, during their march to Massachusetts or their stay in quarters, provisions should 1777. NEWS PROM THE SIDE OP NEW YORK. 193
be supplied for their use; That the officers should not be separated from the men; That roll-calling, and other duties of regularity, should not be hindered. The officers were to be admitted on parole, and allowed to wear their side-arms. No baggage was to be searched or molested; General Burgoyne pledging his honour that it contained no public stores. All persons, of whatever country, appertaining to or following the camp, were to be fully comprehended in these terms; the Canadians to be sent back to Canada, bound by the same condition as the British, not to serve again in North America during the present contest. There was another point on which Burgoyne laid great stress, and with which Gates felt no difficulty in complying — that the treaty between them, when concluded and signed, should bear the name not of a "Capitulation," but of a "Contention." In this wish, Burgoyne was prompted by his recollection of the Convention of Closter-Seven, which His Royal Highness of Cumberland, and the officers of his school, had always maintained to be wholly free from the shame of a surrender.
Thus far then was the negotiation advanced; certain proposals had been put forth by the British, and agreed to by the American General, but no formal treaty had as yet been concluded or exchanged. In that position the aspect of affairs was in some measure altered by tidings which Burgoyne received from a spy in the night of the 15th. These tidings were to the effect that the long expected co-operation from Sir Henry Clinton had at length commenced. For the delay which had occurred in it, no blame whatever attaches to Sir Henry. His superior officer, Sir William Howe, with whom personally he was not on cordial terms, had left him but a moderate force, and at the same time the strictest injunctions against endangering his possession of New York. It was therefore necessary for Clinton to await a reinforcement of 1,700 men which had been promised him from England, but which, according to the usual mismanagement of our military affairs at home (for usual at that Mahon, History. VI. 13