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PLAN OF THE ATTACK ON FORTS CLINTON AND MONTGOMERY BY THE BRITISH FORCES UNDER SIR HENRY
CLINTON, IN OCTOBER, 1777.
make a passage would be compelled to break the boom, and would also be subjected to a fire from both the forts
any attempt to send reinforcements to Albany. In addition to Forts Clinton and Montgomery, about four or five CLINTON CAPTURES FORTS CLINTON AND MONTGOMERY.
miles below on the opposite side of tended to attack. This part of Clinthe river, stood Fort Independence, ton's march was exceedingly careless, while six miles above the boom on an for if the Americans had been cogisland on the eastern bank stood Fort nizant of the object of his attack, they Constitution. Just below Fort In- could have concealed sufficient forces dependence on the same side of the in the defiles of the mountains to have river was Peekskill, headquarters of completely overwhelmed Clinton's the commanding general. At this troops. As it was, however, his time General Putnam was in com- progress was not discovered until he mand here, his force consisting of had reached the vicinity of the forts. about 1,500 men. *
There he encountered the pickets of On October 5 Clinton made a land- the American army who immediately ing at Verplank's Point a little below sounded a warning. The attack was Peekskill on the same side of the made on both forts simultaneously; river. Believing that the intention Fort Montgomery was quickly taken, was to attack Fort Independence and but most of the garrison, under the to march through the Highlands on cover of darkness, made their escape. the east side of the river toward An obstinate resistance was made by Albany, Putnam retired to the heights the troops at Fort Clinton, but the in his rear. He had no suspicion as British stormed it and took a large to the real point of attack, and conse- portion of the garrison prisoners. As quently failed to strengthen the garri- soon as he comprehended the real obsons of the forts on the western ject of the British, Putnam endeavbank.f In order to conceal the real ored to send reinforcements to the object of their attack, the British beleagured garrison, but his efforts fleet moved higher up the river, and were too late to be of any avail. In on the evening of October 5 Clinton this affray the British lost about 40 embarked more than 2,000 of his men, killed and 150 wounded; the American leaving the rest to guard Verplank's loss was about double that of the Point. Early on the morning of the British.* 6th he landed at Stony Point on the The forts having been taken, the west side of the river and then began boom and other obstructions in the his march over the mountains toward river were useless and were easily dethe forts, which he had originally in- stroyed. The American vessels, there
* About 1,200 Continental troops and 300 mili tia.- Carrington, Battles of the Revolution, p. 357. On his conduct of affairs, see Livingston, Life of Putnam, pp. 344–354.
† Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. i., p. 733. See also Putnam's letter to Washington, quoted in Livingston's Life of Putnam, p. 355.
* Carrington, Battles of the Revolution, p. 359. See also Putnam's reports to Washington, in Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution, vol. i., pp. 438–442; his letters to Gates in ibid, vol. ii., pp. 538–539; the particulars in Sparks' ed. of Washington's Writings, vol. V., p. 471; Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. i., pp. 733-736.
42 ESOPUS BURNED; BURGOYNE URGES CLINTON TO HASTEN.
fore, being unable to make their es- accomplish the defeat of the Americape were set on fire to prevent their cans or to make good his escape. But capture by the British. * Stedman he failed to respond to Burgoyne's says:
“ The flames suddenly burst entreaties, and the latter was forced forth, and, as every sail was set, the to surrender.** vessels soon became magnificent
While Clinton was engaged in pyramids of fire. The reflection on capturing the forts on the lower river, the steep side of the opposite moun- Burgoyne was unable to extricate tain, and the long train of ruddy light himself from his critical situation. which shone upon the waters for a He saw that it was a case of fight or prodigious distance, had a wonderful starve, and he determined upon the effect; while the air was filled with former. It was
former. It was now the 7th of the continual echoes from the rocky October and he dispatched a note to shores, as the flames gradually Clinton saying that it was impossible reached the loaded cannons. The to hold out beyond the 12th, urging whole was sublimely terminated by him, therefore, to use all possible the explosions, which left all again in speed in pushing up the river.Burdarkness." The next morning the goyne thought if he struck a deBritish fleet began the work of de
cisive blow, he might find some stroying the boom, after which Fort means of escaping from the trap in Constitution was easily taken and the which he had been caught. He deemed road was clear along the river shore it unwise to detach a large body of to Albany.† The British now despatched a predatory expedition into Gordon, American Revolution, vol. ii.,
558, 579 (ed. 1788); Jones, New York in the Rev. the contiguous territory; they de
olution, vol. i., pp. 219, 704; Ford's ed. of Washstroyed everything in the neighbor- ington's Writings, vol. vi., pp. 111, 129, 164; hood, and, sailing up the river as far Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. i.,
At this very time Gates as Esopus, burned it to the ground. according honorable, and even courteous, conIt must ever remain a matter of sideration to Burgoyne and his army, and
these outrages greatly aggravated the feelings of conjecture as to why Clinton failed to
the Americans. Gates wrote a sharp letter to push forward to Albany with all pos- John Vaughan, the British general, concluding it sible speed. Had he done so, undoubt
as follows: "Is it thus that the generals of the
king expect to make converts to the royal cause ? edly he could have fallen upon the
Their cruelties operate a contrary effect: inderear of the American army under pendence is founded upon the universal disgust of
the people. The fortune of war has delivered into Gates, and if he did not defeat it,
my hands older and abler generals than General might at least have distracted the at- Vaughan is reputed to be; their condition may tention of a sufficient number of
one day become his, and then no human power can
save him from the just vengeance of an offended troops to enable Burgoyne either to
† Lowell, Hessians in the Revolution. * Heath's Memoirs, p. 120 (Abbatt's ed.).
Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. i., * Lamb, City of New York, vol. ii., p. 182.
TIIE BATTLE OF BEHMUS'S HEIGIITS.
troops from the main army, for fear like a spirit of war incarnate, seemed that if he did so, these troops would to be everywhere on the field of battle be cut off by the Americans and his urging on the men.* General Fraser main force weakened just so much. was mortally wounded, and perceivOn the other hand, his troops were ing that his forces were completely insufficient to make any successful at- overpowered, and that if he did not tack on the main body of the Ameri- retire the superior marksmanship of cans, but as it was necessary for him the Americans would result in a total to choose the lesser of the two evils, rout, Burgoyne determined to withhe decided on the 7th of October to draw his forces and regain his camp. make a forward movement. On the He was obliged, however, to leave his morning of that day, partly to cover a field pieces on the scene of action and foraging party and partly to turn the most of his artillery corps were lost. † American's left, which had been con- Colonel Breymann was killedt and siderably strengthened since the first Major Williams and Major Ackland, battle,* he set out, and after some
the latter being wounded, were preliminary skirmishing, engaged in among the prisoners captured by the a general conflict with the Americans. Americans.)! The American loss was The centre of the British army was
Carrington, Battles of the Revolution, pp. 347– under Generals Phillips and Riedesel,
348; Arnold, Life of Arnold, pp. 191-211; Sparks, the right under Earl Balcarres, the Life of Arnold, p. 118 et seq.
† Fiske, American Revolution, vol. i., p. 330 left under Major John D. Ackland
et seq.; Lossing, vol. i., pp. 61–65; Trevelyan, (or Acland), and the artillery under American Rerolution, vol. iv., p. 177 et seq.; Major Williams. General Fraser had
Stone, Campaign of General Burgoyne, 324 et command of 500 picked men, and at # Lowell, Hessians in the Revolution, pp. 157– the critical moment was to fall upon
158. the left flank of the American army.
|| Regarding the wife of Major Ackland, Lady
Harriet Ackland, Thacher says: “ This heroic Perceiving this design, Gates de- lady, from conjugal affection, was induced to fol. tached Morgan with his rifle corps
low the fortune of her husband during the whole
campaign through the wilderness. Having been and other troops to the number of
habituated to a mode of life with which those of about 1,500 to overwhelm Fraser, rank and fortune are peculiarly favored, her deli
cate frame was illcalculated to sustain the indewhile another large force attacked the
scribable privations and hardships to which she British left.f The battle was fought was unavoidably exposed during an active camby both sides with great bravery; time, a small two-wheeled tumbril
, drawn by a
paign. Her vehicle of conveyance was, part of the throughout the whole day the conflict single horse, over roads almost impassable. Soon raged with unabated fury. Arnold,
after she received the affecting intelligence that her husband had received a wound, and was a
prisoner, she manifested the greatest tenderness * Drake, Burgoyne's Invasion, pp. 118-120; and affection, and resolved to visit him in our Lossing, p. 60.
camp to console and alleviate his sufferings. With † Bancroft, vol. v., p. 187; Lossing, p. 60; Tre. this view she obtained a letter from Burgoyne to velyan, American Revolution, vol. iv., p. 177. General Gates, and not permitting the prospect of
Great Fall Core
Bormar & CoNY
tant from the British. It was their intention to finish the work so well
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 outpost in the night, in a suffering condition, from extreme wet and cold. The sentinel, faithful to his duty, detained them in the boat till Major 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 guardhouse. 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, sex, character and circumstances required. She was soon conveyed to Albany, where she found her wounded husband."
– Military Journal, pp. 110, 349 et seq. See also Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. i., pp. 66-68.
* For further details, see Hildreth, vol. iii., pp. 207–210; Carrington, Battle of the Revolution, pp. 345–350; Wilkinson's Memoirs, vol. i., chap. vii.