Page images
[ocr errors]

Tetreat to Saratoga. The army accordingly began to move at nine o'clock at night ; and though the move. ment was within musket fhot of the enemy, and the army encumbered in the retreat with all its baggage, it was made without loss. A heavy rain which fell that night, and continued on the ensuing day, though it impeded the progress of the army, and increased the difficulties of the march, served at the same time to retard, and in a great meafure to prevent the pursuit of the enemy. In this unhappy necessity, the hospital with the fick and wounded, was of course, and must have been inevitably abandoned. In this instance, as well as in every other which occurred in the course of these tranfaétions, General Gates behaved with ati attention and humanity, to all those whom the fortune of war had thrown into his hands, which does -honour to his character.

On the side of the Americans, the loss in killed and wounded was great; and it is supposed exceeded that of the British. They, however, loft no officer of note ; but the Generals Lincoln and Arnold were both dangerously wounded.

From the impediments in the march which we have mentioned, the army did not pass the fords of the Fish Kill Creek, which lies a little to the northward of Saratoga, until the 10th in the morning. They found a body of the enemy already arrived, and throwing up entrenchments on the heights before them, who retired at their approach over a ford of the Hudson's river, and there joined a greater forcé, which was stacioned to prevent the passage of the army.--

No hope now remained but that of effecting a retreat, at least as far as Fort George, on the way to Canada, For this purpose,

a detachment of artificers under a strong escort, was sent forward to repair the bridges, and open the road ta Fort Edward. But they were not long departed from the camp, when the sudden appearance of the enemy in great force, on the opposite heights, with their apparent preparation to pass the Fim Kill, and bring on an immediate engagement, rendered it neceffary to recal the 47th regiment, and Frazer's marksmen, who, with Mackey's provincials, composed the escort. The workmen had only commenced the repair of the first bridge, when they were aban. doned by their provincial guard, who ran away, and left them to shift for themselves, only upon a very fight attack of an inconsiderable party of the enemy. All the force of discipline, and all the stubbornnels derived from its most confirmed habits, were now necessary to support even the appearance of resolution,

The farther shore of the Hudson's river, was now lined with detachments of the enemy, and the bat. teaux loaded with provisions and neceflaries, which had attended the motions of the army up the river, since its departure from the neighbourhood of Still Water, were exposed, notwithstanding any protection which could poslibiy be afforded, to the continual fire and attacks of these detachments. Many boars were taken, some retaken, and a number of men loft in the skirmishes, upon these occasions. At length it was found that the provilions could only be preserved by landing and bringing them up the hill to the camp; a labour which was accompliled under a heavy fire with difficulty and loss.

In these deplorable circumstances, councils of war were held, to consider of the possibility of a further retreat. The only measure that carried even the ap


pearance of practicability, hard, difficult, and dangerous as it was, was by a'night march to gain Fort Ed. ward, the troops carrying their provisions upon their backs. The impoflibility of repairing the roads and bridges, and of conveying in their present situation the artillery and carriages, were too evident to admit ofą question. It was proposed to force the fords at or near Fort Edward.

Whilst preparations were making for carrying this forlorn and desperate resolve into execution, intelligence was received, that the enemy had already with great foresight, provided for every possible measure, that could be adopted for an escape, and that this final resort was accordingly cut off. Besides, being strong. ly entrenched opposite to the fords which it was in. tended to pass, they had a strong camp, and provided with artillery, on the high and rising grounds, be. tween Fort Edward and Fort George, whilst their parties were every where spread along the opposite Thore of the river, to watch or intercept the motions of the army, and on their own, the enemy's posts were so clofe, that they could scarcely make the smallest movement without discovery.

Nothing could be more deplorably calamitous, than the state and situation of the army, Worn down by a series of hard toil, inceffant efforts, and stubborn action ; abandoned in their utmost necessity and distress by the Indians ;-weakened by ihe defertion, or disappointed and discouraged by the timidity and inefficacy of the Canadians and Provincials; and the regular troops reduced by repeated and heavy losses, of many of their best men and most distinguished officers, to the number of only 3,500 effe&tive fighting men, of whom pot quite 2,000 were British. In these cir


cumstances, and this state of weakness, without a posfibility of retreat, and their provision juit exhausted, they were invested by an army of tour times their own number, whose position extended three parts in four of a circle round them ; who refused to figlit from a knowledge of their condition ; and who from the nature of the ground could riot be attacked in any part.

In this helpless condition, obliged to lie constantly on their arms, whilst a continued cannonade prevaded all the camp, and even rifle and grape shot fell in every part of the lines, the British troops retained their conítancy, temper, and fortitude, in a wonderful and almolt unparalleled manner. As true courage submits with great difficulty to despair, they still Aztered themselves with the hope of succour from their friends on the New York side, or, perhaps with not less fervent wishes, of an attack from the enemy; thereby to quit all scores ar once, and either to have an opportunity of dying gallantly, or extricating themselves with honour. In the mean time, the enemy's force was con. tinually increased by the pouring in of the militia from all parts, who were all eager to partake of the glory, the spoil, or the pleasure of beholding the degradation of those whoin they had so long dreaded, and whom they unhappily conüdered as their molt implacable enemies.

At length, no fuccour appearing, no rational ground ot hope of any kind remaining, an exact account of the provisions was taken on the evening of the 13th of October, when it was found that the whole stock in hand, would afford no more than three days bare subsistence for the army.

A council was immediately called; and the General thinking ir

right and just, in a matter so momentous to individu. als, as well as the whole, to obtain the general opinion and suffrage of the army, fo far as it could with collected, invited, besides the generals and field officers, all the captains commanding corps or divisions, to assist at the council. The result was, an unanimous determination to open a treaty and enter into a convention with General Gates.

Gen. Gates shewed no marks of arrogance, nor betrayed any signs of being carried away by the pre-. fent extraordinary torrent of succefs. The terms were moderate, considering the ruined state and irretrievable circumstances of the army; and that it was already in effect at the enemy's mercy, being equally incapable of subsisting where it was, and of making itš way to a better fituation. The principal difficulty related to a point of military honour, in which the British generals and troops were peremptory, and Gates far from being stiff.

The principal articles of the convention, exclusive of thofe which related to the provision and accommodation of the army, ir its way to Boston, and during its stay at that place, were, That the arzy should march out of the camp with all the honours of war, and its camp artillery, to a fixed place where they were to deposit their arms: tobeallowed a free embarkation and paffage to Europe from Boston, upon condition of their not ferving again in America, during the present war; the army not to be feparared, particuJarly the men from the officers; roll calling and other duties of regularity to be admitted; the officers to be admitted on parole, and to wear their side arms; all private property to be sacred, and the public delia vered upon honour; no baggage to be searched og


« PreviousContinue »