History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Campaign of Lieut. Gen. John Burgoyne
and The Expedition of Lieut. Col. Barry St. Leger.
by William L. Stone.
Albany, NY, Joel Munsell. 1877.
In their final retreat, the Brunswickers turned and delivered a parting volley, which killed Arnold's horse. Just at this moment, a wounded Brunswicker fired at Arnold and wounded him in the same leg that had been injured by a musket ball at the storming of Quebec, two years previously. A private, by the name of John Redman, seeing his general wounded, at once ran up to bayonet the offender, but was prevented by Arnold, who, with true chivalry, exclaimed, " He's a fine fellow-don't hurt him!" 2 At this instant, while Arnold
2 This was told in 1848 to Mr. Jeptha R. Simms by Nicholas Stoner, the celebrated scout, who was an eye witness of the circumstance. The Germans, he says, always continued to fight after they were down, because they had been assured by their employers that the Americans would give no quarter.
Nicholas Stoner, one of the most noted trappers of Central New York, was among those who followed Arnold into Breymann's camp. He was wounded in this charge in a singular manner. " A cannon shot," says Sirnms, who had it from the scout, "from the breastwork killed a soldier near Stoner, named Tyrrell. The ball demolished his head, sending its fragments into the face of Stoner, which was literally covered with brains, hair and fragments of the skull. He fell senseless, with the right of his head about the ear severely cut by portions of the skull bone, which injury still affects  his hearing in that ear. Shortly after, as the young fifer [Stoner was a fifer] was missing, one Sweeny, an Irish soldier, was sent to seek out and bear him from the field; but a cannon shot whizzed so near his own head, that he soon returned without the object of his search. Col. Livingston asked Sweeny where the lad Stoner was ? 'Jasus! Colonel, replied the soldier, * a goose has laid an egg there, and you don't catch me staying there !* Lieut. Wm. Wallace then proceeded to the spot indicated by the Irishman, and found our hero with his head reclining upon Tynell's thigh; and taking him in his arms, bore him to the American camp. When young Stoner was found, a portion of the brim of his hat, say about one-fourth the size of a nine pound-shot, was observed to have been cut off very smoothly; the rest of it was covered with the ruins of the head of Tyrrell, who, to use the words of Stoner, ' did not know what hurt him.'"
striving to extricate himself from his saddle, Major Armstrong rode up and
delivered to him an order from Gates to return to camp, fearing he u might
do some rash thing." " He indeed," says Mr. Lossing, "
did a rash thing in the eves of military discipline. He led troops to victory
without an order from his commander." " It is a curious fact,"
says Sparks, " that an officer, who had really no command in the army,
was the leader in one of the most spirited and important battles of the Revolution.
His madness or rashness, or whatever it may be called, resulted most fortunately
himself. The wounds he received at the moment of rushing into the very arms of danger and death, added fresh lustre to his military glory, and was a new claim to public favor and applause." In the heat of the action, he struck an officer on the head with his sword and wounded him, an indignity which might justly have been retaliated on the spot, and in the most fatal manner. The officer did, indeed, raise his gun to shoot him, but he forebore, and on the next day when he demanded redress, Arnold declared his entire ignorance of the act, and expressed his regret. Wilkinson ascribed his rashness to intoxication, but Major Armstrong, who, with Samuel Woodruff assisted in removing him from the field, was satisfied that this was not the case. Others ascribed it to opium. This, however, is conjecture unsustained by proofs of any kind, and consequently improbable. His vagaries may perhaps be sufficiently explained by the extraordinary circumstances of wounded pride, anger and desperation in which he was placed. But his actions were certainly rash, when compared with "the stately, method of the commader-in-chief, who directed by orders from his camp, what his presence should have sanctioned in the field."
Indeed, the conduct of Gates does not compare favorably either with that of his own generals, or of his opponents. While Arnold and Burgoyne were in the hottest of the fight boldly facing danger and almost meeting face to face. Gates, according to the statement of his adjutant general, was discussing the merits of the Revolution with Sir Francis Clerke, Burgoyne's aid-de-camp, who, wounded and a prisoner, was lying upon the commander's bed seemingly more intent upon winning the verbal than the actual battle. Gates became incensed because Sir Francis would not admit the force of his argument, and calling his aid out of the room, asked him if " he had ever heard so impudent a son of a b-h ?" A few days afterward Sir Francis died.'
Gates has been suspected of a lack of personal courage."
1 " Sir Francis, who was I think a member of parliament, appeared to be an impetuous, high-minded, frank, fearless fellow, for suddenly changing the conversation he enquired of me, * whether our surgeons were good for anything, as he did not like the direction of his wound, and was desirous to know whether it was mortal or not ?' . . Sir Francis died, I think the 13th; and the day before, questioned Doctor Townshend, who attended him, as to the probable result of his wound. The doctor feeling a reluctance in announcing his doom, he observed it, and remarked, * Doctor why do you pause ? Do you think I am afraid to die ?' The doctor then advised him, as an act of prudence, to arrange his private affairs. ' Thank you, doctor,' replied he, ' I understand you. As to my private affairs, my father settled them for me, and I have only a few legacies to bequeath.' Among them he gave twenty guineas to the matron of our hospital, who had paid particular attention to him. Some time after the conversation, the matron presented her claim to Captain Money, the British deputy-quarter-master general, who discharged it in Continental hills then at a considerable depreciation. The woman complained of the circumstance, and was recommended to General Burgoyne, who expressed his abhorrence of the act, directed the woman to hold the Continental bills and obliged Money to atone for the imposition, by paying the egacy in hard guineas of British coinage, without reference to the sum he bad already paid her - which a due regard to justice and the memory of his much lamented friend would not permit him to consider as the accomplishment of Sir Francis's intention."- Wilklnson.
2" ' I will bring the rascals back with me into line,' exclaimed Gates, as the militia broke and fled at Camden; and, leaving Kalb to bear the brunt of the attack, he spurred after them, not drawing rein till he reached Charlotte, sixty miles from the field of battle !- Green's German Element in the War of American Independence.
He certainly looked forward to a possible retreat; and, while he cannot be censured for guarding against every emergency, he, to say the least, was not animated by the spirit which led Cortez to burn his ships behind him. At the beginning of the battle Quarter Master General Lewis was directed to take eight men with him to the field to convey to Gates information from time to time concerning the progress of the action. At the same time, the baggage trains were all loaded up ready to move at a moment's notice. The first information that arrived, represented the British troops to exceed the Americans, and the trains were ordered to move on ; but by the time they were under motion, more favorable news was received, and the order was countermanded. Thus they continued to move on and halt alternately until the joyful news - " The British have retreated " - rang through the camp, which reaching the attentive guard of the teamsters, they all with one accord swung their hats, and gave three long and loud cheers. The glad tidings were transmitted with such rapidity from one to another that by the time the victorious troops had returned to their quarters, the American camp was thronged with inhabitants from the surrounding country and formed a scene of the greatest exultation.
From the foregoing account it will be seen that the term Battle of Bemis's Heights, used to designate the action of October 7th is erroneous, and calculated to mislead. The original maps show that the second engagement began on ground two hundred and twenty-five rods southwest of the site of the first (known as the battle of Freeman's farm) and ended on the same ground on which that action was fought. The only interest, in fact, that attaches to Bemis's heights - fully one mile and a quarter south of the battle ground - is, that they were the head-quarters of Gates during, and a short time previous, to the battle. This is called variously the " Battle of Stillwater, Bemis's Heights, and of Saratoga."
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