Three Rivers
Hudson~Mohawk~Schoharie
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

The Pictorial Field-Book of The Revolution
by Benson J. Lossing
Volume l

CHAPTER I.

"Our young wild land, the free, the proud!
Uncrush'd by power, unawed by fear,
Her knee to none but God is bow'd,
For Nature teaches freedom here:
From gloom and snow to light and flowers
Expands this heritage of ours:
Lite with its myriad hopes, pursuits,
Spreads sails, rears roofs, and gathers fruits.
But pass two fleeting centuries back;
This land, a torpid giant, slept,
Wrapp'd in a mantle thick and black
That o'er its mighty frame had crept,
Since stars and angels sang, as earth
Shot, from its Maker, into birth."
STREET.

THE love of country, springing up from the rich soil of the domestic affections, is a feeling coexistent and coextensive with social union itself. Although a dreary climate, barren lands, and unrighteous laws, wickedly administered, may repress the luxuriant growth of this sentiment, it will still maintain firm root in the heart, and bear with patience the most cruel wrongs. Man loves the soil that gave him birth as the child loves the mother, and from the same inherent impulses. When exiled from his father-land, he yearns for it as a child yearns for home; and though he may, by legal oath, disclaim allegiance to his own and swear fealty to another government, the invisible links of patriotism which bind him to his country cannot be severed; his lips and hand bear false witness against his truthful heart.

Stronger far is this sentiment in the bosom of him whose country is a pleasant land, where nature in smiling beauty and rich beneficence woos him on every side; where education quickens into refining activity the intellect of society; and where just laws, righteously administered, impress all possession, whether of property or of character, with the broad seal of security. An honest, justified pride elevates the spirit of the citizen of a land so favored; makes him a vigilant guardian of its rights and honor, and inspires him with a profound reverence for the men and deeds consecrated by the opinions of the just as the basis upon which its glory rests.


34

It was under the influence of this sentiment, so natural to every American, and a strong desire to make a personal visit to the classic grounds of my country, and portray their features before every ancient lineament should be effaced, that, during the sultriness of midsummer, I left behind me the cares of business life within the confines of our commercial metropolis, and commenced a pilgrimage to the most important localities connected with the events of the war for our national independence. For many years, as I occasionally saw some field consecrated by revolutionary blood, or building hallowed as a shelter of the heroes of that war, I have felt emotions of shame, such as every American ought to feel, on seeing the plow leveling the breast-works and batteries where our fathers bled, and those edifices, containing the council-chambers of men who planned the attack, the ambuscade, or the retreat, crumbling into utter ruin. While England erects a monument in honor of the amputated leg of a hero who fought for personal renown, we allow these relics, sanctified by the deeds of soldiers who were more than heroes as the world regards heroism, to pass away and be forgotten. Acquisitiveness is pulling down walled fortresses; the careless agriculturist, unmindful of the sacredness of the ditch and mound that scar his fields, is sowing and reaping where marble monuments should stand; and improvement, a very Cambyses among achievements of labor of former times, under the fair mask of refined taste, is leveling nearly all that remains of the architecture of the Revolution. To delineate with pen and pencil what is left of the physical features of that period, and thus to rescue from oblivion, before it should be too late, the mementoes which another generation will appreciate, was my employment for several months; and a desire to place the result of those journeyings, with a record of past events inseparably connected with what I have delineated, in an enduring form before my countrymen, has given birth to these pages.

I resolved to visit the scenes of the northern campaIgns during the summer and early autumn. With the exception of the historic grounds lying around New York and among the Hudson Highlands, the fields of Saratoga, in point of importance and distance, invited the initial visit.

I left New York on the evening of the 24th of July for Poughkeepsie, on the banks of the Hudson, there to be joined by a young lady, my traveling companion for the 1848 summer. For many days the hot sun had been unclouded, and neither shower nor dew imparted grateful moisture to town or country.

" The whispering waves were half asleep,
The clouds were gone to play,
And on the woods and on the deep
The smiles of Heaven lay."
SHELLEY.

During the afternoon the barometer indicated a change, and portents of a gathering storm arose in the west. At twilight we entered the great amphitheater of the Highlands, and darkness came down suddenly upon us as a tempest of wind, thunder, and rain burst over the Dunderberg and the neighboring heights. A thunder-storm at night in the Hudson Highlands! It is a scene of grandeur and sublimity vouchsafed to few, and never to be forgotten. The darkness became intense, and echo confused the thunder-peals into one continuous roar. The outlines of the hills disappeared in the gloom, and our vessel seemed the only object wrapped in the bosom of the tempest, except when, at every flash of lightning, high wooded cones, or lofty ranges, or rocky cliffs burst into view like a sudden creation of the Omnipotent fiat, and then melted into chaos again. The storm continued until we passed West Point. The clouds then broke, and as we emerged from the upper gate of the Highlands into the beautiful expanse of Newburgh Bay, the moon came forth, like a queen from her pavilion, in beauty and majesty, the winds were quiet, the waters placid, and the starry sky serene, for

"The thunder, tramping deep and loud
Had left no foot-marks there."


35

The next morning the air was clear and cool as in September. At noon we took passage in one of those floating palaces which are the pride of the Hudson River. What a contrast to the awkward contrivance-the mere germ of the steam-boat of the present day that gave such glory to Fulton, and astonished the world.(1) Her saloon, like a ducal drawing-room; her table, spread as with a royal banquet; her speed, like that of the swift bird, are all the creations of one generation, and seem like works of magic. Among the passingers there were a few-plain and few indeed-who attracted general attention. They were a remnant of a regiment of Volunteers returning home, weary and spirit-broken, from the battle-fields of Mexico. Of the scores who went with them, these alone returned to ten of havoc in battle and slaughter by the deadly vomito. They were young, but the lesson of sad experience might be read on each brow, and the natural joy of the homeward-bound beamed not in their eyes. To them military glory was a bubble burst; and the recollections of the recent past brought not to them that joy which the soldier feels who has battled in defense of country and home. At Albany preparations had been made to receive them, and for half a mile the wharves, bridges, vessels, and houses were thickly covered with people anxious to see the returning heroes. We landed with difficulty in the midst of the excitement and noise, for cannon-peals, and drum and fife, and the rattle of military accouterments, and wild huzzas of the crowd, and the coaxing and swearing of porters and coach. men, were enough to confound confusion itself. How changed was the scene when we returned, a few weeks later. Wharves, bridges, and houses had been swept by conflagration, and acres of the dense city were strewn with smoking ruins.

Early on the morning of the 26th we left Albany for Bemis's Heights, near the village of Stillwater. An omnibus ride of an hour, over a fine McAdam road, placed us in Troy, where we took stage for the Waterford ferry at Lansingburgh, four miles above. The day was excessively warm, and eleven passengers occupied" seats for nine." Not a zephyr stirred the waters or the leaves. A funny little water-man, full of wine and wit, or something stronger and coarser, offered to row us across in his rickety skiff. I demanded the price for ferriage.


1 For the gratification of the curious, I here present a drawing of the "CLERMONT," Fulton's experiment boat, with some notices of her earlier voyages.

It was constructed under the personal supervision of Fulton, in 1807. It was one hundred feet long, twelve feet wide, and seven feet deep. In 1808 it was lengthened to one hundred and fifty feet, widened to eighteen, and its name changed to NORTH RIVER. The engine was constructed by Watt & Bolton, England, and the hull by David Brown, of New York. In August, 1807, the boat was propelled from the East River to the Jersey shore; and about the first of September it was started on it. first trip to Albany.

The following advertisement appeared in the Albany Gazette, September 1st, 1807:

"The North River steam-boat will leave Paulus's Hook [Jersey City] on Friday, the 4th of September, at 9 in the morning, and arrive at Albany on Saturday, at 9 in the afternoon. Provisions, good berths, and accommodations are provided. The charge to each passenger is' as follows:

THE CLERMONT.

To Newburgh, dolls. 3, time 14 honrs.
"Ponghkeepsie, " 4, " 17 "
" Esopus, "5," 20 "
" Hudson, "5 1/2, " 30 "
" Albany "7, " 36 " "

It is noticed in the same paper, of October 5th, 1807; that" Mr. Fulton's new steam-boat left New York on the 2d, at 10 o'clock A.M., against a strong tide, very rough water, and a violent gale from the north. She made a headway against the most sanguine expectations, and without being rocked by the waves." What a change in about forty years! Forty years ago a steam-boat voyage from Albany to New York, one hundred and sixty miles, was accomplished in thirty-six hours, at an expense of seven dollars, exclusive of cost of meals. Now the passage is easily and often made in nine and a half hours, at the cost of one dollar, and frequently for less. Now our first class steam-boats are nearly four hundred feet long, and of proportionate depth and breadth of beam.


36

"Five thousand dollars," hiccoughed the Charon. I did not object to the price, but valuing safety at a higher figure, sought the owner of a pretty craft near by, while the little votary of Bacchus was tugging manfully, but unsuccessfully, at a huge trunk, to lift it into his boat. Before he was fairly conscious that he was not yet toiling at our luggage, we were out upon the stream in the" Lady of the Lake." I compensated the tipsy boatman for his labor of love by a brief temperance lecture; but the seed doubtless fell upon" stony ground," for he had the hard-heartedness to consign me to the safe keeping of him whom

"The old painters limned with a hoof and a horn,
A beak and a scorpion tail."

We pushed across the Hudson to the upper mouth or "sprout" of the Mohawk, and, gliding under the rail-road bridge and along a sluice of the Champlain Canal, clambered up a high bank, and reached the packet office at Waterford(1) toward noon. The suppressed roar of Cohoes' Falls, two miles distant, wooed us to the pleasures of that fashionable resort, to while away the three hours before the arrival of the canal packet.

These falls, though not so grand as many others either in volume or altitude of cataract, or in the natural scenery around, nevertheless present many points of beauty and sublimity exceedingly attractive to the tourist. The Mohawk is here more than one hundred yards wide, and perfectly rock-ribbed on both sides. The fall is nearly seventy feet perpendicular, in addition to the turbulent rapids above and below. A bridge, eight hundred feet long, spans the river half a mile below the falls, from which a fine view may be obtained of the whole scene.

Before entering the Hudson, the river is divided into four mouths or sprouts, as they are called, by three rocky islands, Haver's, Van Schaick's or Cohoes', and Green's or Tibbetts's Islands, which form a scene that is singularly picturesque. It is generally supposed that Henry Hudson, the discoverer of the river bearing his name, ascended as far as this point in 1609, and that he and his boat's crew were the first white men who beheld the cataract of Cohoes.

The mouth of the Mohawk was a point of much interest toward the close of the summer of 1777, when Van Schaick's Island was fortified by General Schuyler, then in command of the northern division of the Continental army. Properly to understand the position of affairs at that period, it is necessary to take a brief view of events immediately antecedent to, and intimately connected with, the military operations at this point, and at Stillwater a few weeks later.

Incensed at the audacity of the American Congress in declaring the colonies free and independent states; piqued at the consummate statesmanship displayed by the members of that Congress, and foiled in every attempt to cajole the Americans by delusive promises, or to crush the spirit of resistance by force of arms, the British ministry, backed by the stubborn king and a strong majority in both Houses of Parliament, determined to open the campaign of 1777 with such vigor, and to give to the service in America such material, as should not fail to put down the rebellion by midsummer, and thus vindicate British valor, which seemed to be losing its invincibility. So long as the Americans were tolerably united; so long as there remained a free communication between Massachusetts and Virginia, or, in other words, between the Eastern and the Middle and Southern States, permanent success £If the British arms in America was very questionable. The rebellion was hydra-headed, springing into new life and vigor suddenly and powerfully, from the inherent energies of union, in places where it seemed to be subdued and destroyed. To sever that union, and to paralyze the vitality dependent thereon, was a matter of great importance, and to effect this was a paramount object of the British government.

General Howe was then in the quiet possession of the city of New York and its vicinity;


1 Waterford is on the west bank of the Hudson, at the head of sloop navigation.


37

a strong British force occupied Rhode Island and overawed the eastern coast; the patriot insurgents had been driven out of Canada by General Carleton, and nothing remained to complete the separation of the two sections of the American States but to march an invading army from the north, which, forming a junction with Howe, should secure the country and the strong-holds upon Lakes Champlain and George and. the Hudson River.(l) Such an expedition was planned jointly by the king, Lord George Germain, and General Burgoyne, and agreed upon in council.(2) The general command was intrusted to Burgoyne, who was a natural son of Lord Bingley, and at that time high in the confidence of the king and his advisers.(3) He was brave, skillful, and humane, proud of distinction, sanguine of success, and eager for military renown. If the tactics of European warfare had been appropriate for the expedition, success might have attended his efforts. But in his appointment, as well as in the minute and positive instructions given him, without reference to any contingency that might demand a wide departure from their letter and spirit, the British ministry, always at fault in the management of


1 Lord George Germain, then colonial secretary, in a letter to Governor Carleton, of Canada, dated March 26th, 1777, observes, "With a view of quelling the rebellion as soon as possible, it is become highly necessary that the most speedy junction of the two armies should be effected [the forces from Canada and those of General Howe at New York]; and, therefore, as the security and good government of Canada absolutely require your presence there, it is the king's determination to leave about 3000 men under your command for the defense and duties of that province, and to employ the remainder of your army upon two expeditions, the one under the command of Lieutenant General Burgoyne, who is to force his way to Albany, and the other under Lieutenant Colonel St. Leger, who is to make a diversion on the Mohawk River."-Burgoyne's Statement of the Expedition from Canada, &c. (Appendix), p. xiii., London, 1780.
2 Pictorial History of George III., vol. i.,p. 306.
3 Lieutenant General Burgoyne was an illegitimate son of Lord Bingley. He entered the army at an early age, and his education and the influence of his father soon placed him in the line of promotion. In 1762 he was sent into Portugal with an English force to assist in thc defense of that kingdom against the Spaniards. He then held the commission of a brigadier, and distinguished himself in the capture of the garrison of Almeida. After his return to England, he became a privy councilor, and was elected to a seat in Parliament as representative for Preston, in Lancashire. He came over to America in 1775, and was at Boston at the time of the battle of Bunker Hill. He was sent to Canada the same year, but earl in 1776 returned to England. Through the influence of the king and Lord George Germain, he was appointed to the command of the northern British army in America in the spring of 1777. After some successes, he was captured, with all his army, at Saratoga, in October of that year. After some delay, he was allowed to return to England on parole, and he was actually engaged in debates upon the floor of the British House of Commons at the very tIme he was a prisoner to the Americans. His misfortunes lost him the friendship of the king, and he was denied access to his presence. In 1780 he published a narrative of his Expedition, together with the proceedings of his trial before a committee of Parliament, in which he well vindicated his character. He soon afterward resigned his emoluments from government, amounting to $15,000 a year. In 1781 he joined the opposition in Parliament, and opposed the further prosecution of the war against the Americans as impolitic and cruel. From the conclusion of peace until his death, he devoted his time to pleasure and literary pursuits. He died of an attack of gout, on the 4th of August, 1792. Among his literary productions are The Maid of the Oaks, Bon Ton, and The Heinss, dramas which at one time were highly popular. Benevolence and humanity were strong features in Burgoyne's character, and I think the fierce anathema of Philip Freneau, a poet of the Revolution, was altogether too severe. After giving Burgoyne several hard rubs in the course of his epic, he describes an ice-bound, fog-covered, dreary island north of Scotland, and there consigns the Tories, with Burgoyne at their head, as follows:

"There, Loyal., there, with loyal hearts retire,
There pitch your tents, and kindle there your fire.
There desert Nature will her stings display,
And fiercest hunger on your vitals prey;
And with yourselves let John Burgoyne retire,
To reign your monarch, whom your hearts desire."
FRENEAU'S Poems. p. 246


38

American affairs, made a most egregious blunder. Sir Guy Carleton, then Governor of Canada, and perfectly acquainted with the people and country, should have been placed in command. Burgoyne was almost totally ignorant of the Canadians and Indians, who formed a large part of his force, and he knew absolutely nothing of the true character and temper of the people he was sent to oppose and oppress.

Burgoyne arrived at Quebec in March, 1777, bearing the commission of a lieutenant general. Carleton, though greatly aggrieved, nobly aided Burgoyne in preparing the expedition. By extraordinary activity, vessels were constructed, stores were collected, and a force of more than seven thousand men was mustered at St. John's, at the foot of Lake Champlain, on the first of June. Lieutenant Colonel St. Leger, with a detachment of seven hundred Rangers, was sent up the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario to Oswego, to penetrate the country from that point, arouse and conciliate the Indians, capture Fort Schuyler, (1) sweep the valley of the Mohawk with the aid of Johnson and his Tories, and join Burgoyne at Albany when Lake Champlain and the valley of the Upper Hudson should lie prostrate at his feet.

As soon as Congress perceived the storm that was gathering on the northern frontier, they felt the necessity of prompt action and the services of an influential commander. Fear, loyalty, British gold, would undoubtedly lead the van of the invading army, and none but a wise and tried man could quiet the alarm of the people and command the fidelity of the militia.

Philip Schuyler,(2) a gentleman of fortune, and possessed of military skill, experience, sound judgment, prudent service to the colony forethought, and lofty patriotism, was reappointed to the command of the forces of the north, in which position he had been superseded, in effect, a few weeks before, by Horatio Gates, the Adjutant General of the Continental army. No appointment could have been more popular with the people of Northern New York, who were in a state of great excitement and alarm. In the late campaigns against the French and Indians upon Lakes George and Champlain, he had rendered essential service to the colony and to the people of the northern frontier, and his many virtues endeared him to all who knew him. His large estate was lying directly in the path of the invader; and if a mercenary feeling could have existed in a soul so noble as his, the defense of his own broad acres and costly mansion would have made him vigilant and brave.

General Schulyer arrived in Albany on the third day of June, (1777) where he met General Gates and, with all the frankness of a generous and unsuspecting


1 Fort Schuyler stood at the head of boat navigation, on the Mohawk, where the village of Rome now is. It was erected in 1758, and was then called Fort Stanwix. It wa's repaired in 1776, and named Fort Schuyler, in honor of General Schuyler, in whose military department it was located.

2 General Philip Schuyler was born at Albany, on the 22d, of November, 1733. His grandfather, Peter Schuyler, was Mayor of Albany, and commander of the northern militia in 1690. His father, John Schuyler, married Cornelia Van Courtlandt, a woman of strong mind, and Philip was their eldest son. By virtue of primogeniture law, he inherited the real estate of his father at his death, but he generously shared it. with his brothers and sisters. His father died when Philip was young, and to the thorough training of


39

nature, sought the aid of his counsel and his sword. But he encountered a smaller mind than his own, and both counsel and sword were refused. He was coldly received by the adjutant general, who was deeply offended because Congress had not allowed him to retain his command. A brave soldier always seeks the post of greatest danger; and General Schuyler, not doubting the courage or devotion of Gates, offered him the command of Ticonderoga, the point where the first conflict with Burgoyne would inevitably take place, and where the first laurels were to be won. But the pride of Gates stifled his patriotism. He refused to serve under Schuyler, and, at his own request, had leave to withdraw from the department, where, indeed, he had done literally nothing.

All was terror and alarm among the inhabitants of the north, as Burgoyne victoriously swept Champlain from St. John's to Crown Point, and with his formidable force. daily augmented by loyalists and savage allies, prepared to beleaguer the strong fortress of Ticonderoga. Mount Hope, commanding the road to Lake George, was occupied; the American outposts were driven in; the lake was studded with armed vessels, and the formidable height of Mount Defiance was scaled, and artillery planted upon its very summit, seven hundred feet above the fort below.

General St. Clair, who commanded the garrison, when he saw the battery above him, and the girdle of strong battalions that was closing around him, knew that resistance would be madness. Under cover of night, he retreated across to Mount Independence, and, with the small garrison there, fled toward Fort Edward by the way of Castleton and Skenesborough, leaving the stores and ammunition behind. The British eagerly pursued the flying Americans. The battle of Hubbardton, so disastrous to the patriots, was fought. The boom across the lake at Ticonderoga was broken, and a free passage made for the vessels of the enemy. They swept the lake to Skenesborough (now Whitehall), when the American works and the stores that were left became an easy prey to the invaders.

The army under General Schuyler was in a wretched condition, and daily diminishing. Food, clothing, ammunition, and artillery were all wanting. The pecuniary resources and credit of Congress were daily failing, and all the future seemed dark, and foreboding of evil. The Eastern militia, sick and disheartened by late reverses, became restless and insubod-


his gifted mother he was greatly indebted for his success in life. He entered the army against the French and Indians in 1755, and commanded a company which attended Sir Wi1liam Johnson to Fort Edward and Lake George. He soon attracted the attention of Lord Howe, who commanded the first division of the British army against the forts on Lake George and Lake Champlain, and was placed in the commissariat department. When Lord Howe fell at Ticonderoga, to Colonel Schuyler was intrusted the duty of conveying the body of that greatly-beloved young nobleman to Albany for sepulture. After the peace of 1763, he was much in active service in the civil government of his state. In the Colonial Assembly of New York, he was one of the warmest opponents of the British government in its attempts to tax the colonies without their consent. He was elected a delegate to the Continental Congress which assembled in May, 1775, and in June following he was appointed by that body one of the major generals (the third) of the American army. He was charged by Washington with the command of the army in the province of New York, and directed to secure the lakes and prepare for invading Canada. He was taken sick, and the command devolved on Montgomery. During 1776, he was active in Indian affairs, and in perfecting the order and discipline of the northern army. For causes quite inexplicable, he was superseded, in effect, by Gates in March, 1777, but was reinstated in May. Again, when Burgoyne drove St. Clair from Ticonderoga, and prudence caused General Schuyler to retreat with his army from Fort Edward down the Hudson River, calumny, that had successfully poisoned the minds of the Eastern people and the militia, became so clamorous for his removal, that Congress placed Gates again in charge of the army in August. Injured and insulted, the patriot still continued to devote his services and his fortune in aid of his country. He demanded a court of inquiry, and its verdict, acquitting him of all blame, conferred as much honor upon him as his successes won at Saratoga. He was urged by Washington to accept military command, but he preferred to lend his aid to his country in another way. He was a member of the old Congress under the Confederation; and after the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, he was a senator from New York, with Rufus King. He was again a senator, in place of Aaron Burr, in 1797. He died at Albany, November 18th, 1804, aged 71 years. He has two daughters still living-Elizabeth, the venerable widow of General Alexander Hamilton, and now (1849) ninety-two years of age; and Catharine, his youngest daughter, widow of the late Major Cochrane, of Oswego, son of Dr. Cochrane, the distinguished Surgeon General of the Revolutionary Army. See page 199 Vol. II.


40

nate, and nearly all of them left the army and returned home. These things were exceedingly discouraging to the commander, yet his stout heart never failed. " Should it be asked " he said, in a letter to the Albany Committee, from Moses's Creek, four miles below (July 24. 1777.) Fort Edward, "what line of conduct I mean to hold amid this variety of difficulties and distress, I would answer, to dispute every inch of ground with General Burgoyne, and retard his descent into the country as long as possible."

Burgoyne's force, in the mean while, was constantly augmented by accessions from the families of the loyal and the timid. Slowly and surely he advanced from Skenesborough to Fort Anne, and was pressing onward, in the midst of fearful obstacles, toward the Hudson.

Under all these circumstances, General Schuyler thought it prudent to retreat until new recruits, or a re-enforcement from Washington, should give more strength to his army. He accordingly fell back from Fort Edward, the general rendezvous of his forces after the evacuation of Ticonderoga, Mount Independence, and Fort George. As Burgoyne approached, the people fled, in terror and dismay, toward Albany, leaving their ripe harvest fields and pleasant homes to be trodden down or burned by the enemy. Burgoyne at length reached Fort Edward; and as he marched slowly down the valley of the Hudson, Schuyler retreated in good order to Saratoga, then to Stillwater, and finally to Cohoes' Falls.

In the mean while the people in the Mohawk Valley were in the greatest consternation. St. Leger had arrived from Oswego, and was besieging Fort Schuyler, while the Tories and Indians were spreading death and desolation on every hand. Colonel Gansevoort, with a handful of men, was closely shut up in the fort; General Herkimer, with the brave militia of Tryon county, had been defeated at Oriskany, and the people below hourly expected (August 6.) the flood of destroyers to pour down upon them. It was a fearful emergency. Without aid all must be lost. Brave hearts were ready for bold deeds, and during a night of fearful tempest of thunder and rain, Colonel Willett and Lieutenant Stockwell crept stealthily from the fort, through groups of sleeping besiegers, beyond their lines, and at dawn on the second day, mounted upon fleet horses, sped down the valley to the headquarters of General Schuyler, at Stillwater, and, in the name of the beleaguered garrison and the people of Tryon county, implored assistance.

Not a moment was to be lost. The subjugation of the whole valley would inevitably follow the surrender of Fort Schuyler, and the victors, gathering strength, would fall like an avalanche upon Albany, or, by junction, swell the approaching army of Burgoyne, The prudent foresight and far-reaching humanity of General Schuyler at once dictated his course. He called a council,(1) and proposed sending a detachment immediately to the relief of Fort Schuyler. His officers opposed him, with the plea that his whole force was not then sufficient to stay the oncoming of Burgoyne. The clearer judgment of Schuyler made him persist in his opinion, and he earnestly besought them to agree with him. While pacing the floor in anxious solicitude, he overheard the half-whispered remark, "He means to weaken the army.(2)" Treason in the heart of Philip Schuyler! Never was a thought more foul


1 General Schuyler was then quartered in the house of Derrick Swart, 'Esq., at Stillwater. The house is still standing, just at the foot of the hill.-Charles Neilson, Esq.
2 At this time jealousy had created secret enemies for General Schuyler, and he was even charged with being associated with St. Clair in preliminary acts of treason, about the time the latter evacuated Ticonderoga. The ridiculous story got abroad that they had been paid for their treason by the enemy in silver halls, shot from Burgoyne's guns into the American camp!-See Thatcher's Military Journal, p. 86.
NOTE.-It will be observed that, in this rapid view of events connected with the American encampment at the mouth of the Mohawk, I have avoided all details, where, perhaps, the reader may have wished more minute information. The necessity for this course arises from the nature of the plan of my work, which is to notice in detail the various .important localities, in the order in which I visited them, and not in chronological succession, as the mere historian would do. For example. I visited Cohoes' and Bemis's Heights before Fort Edward and Ticonderoga. I therefore describe the scenery and events of the former places minutely, and reserve similar minute details concerning the latter until, in the order of the narrative of my tour, 1 reach them. This explanation is necessary, as some might suppose that important places are to be slightly noticed, while others of less moment have an undue share of attention. I have visited all the


41

or charge more wicked. Wheeling suddenly toward the slanderer and those around him, and unconsciously biting into several pieces a pipe he was smoking, he indignantly exclaimed, "Gentlemen, I shall take the responsibility upon myself; where is the brigadier that will take command of the relief? I shall beat up for volunteers to-morrow." The brave and impulsive Arnold, ever ready for deeds of daring, at once stepped forward and offered his services. The next morning the drum beat, and eight hundred stalwart men were enrolled for the service before meridian. Fort Schuyler was saved, and the (August 15, 1777.) forces of St. Leger scattered to the winds. In after years the recollection of those burning words of calumny always stirred the breast of the veteran patriot with violent emotions If ever a bosom glowed with true devotion to country, it was that of Philip Schuyler.

Such, in brief, were the events which placed the remnant of the main army of the north at the mouth of the Mohawk in August, 1777, and caused Van Sehaick's and Haver's Islands to be fortified. That seemed to be the most eligible point at which to make a stand in defense of Albany against the approaches of the enemy from the north and from the west. Nowhere else could the comparatively feeble force of the Americans so effectually oppose the overwhelming number of the invaders. At that time there were no bridges across the Hudson or the Mohawk, and both streams were too deep to be fordable except in seasons of extreme drought. There was a ferry across the Mohawk, five miles above the falls,(1) and one across the Hudson at Half Moon Point,(2) or Waterford. The "sprouts" of the Mohawk, between the islands, were usually fordable; and as Burgoyne would. not, of course, cross the Hudson, or attempt the ferry upon the Mohawk, where a few resolute men could successfully oppose him, his path was of necessity directly across the mouth of the river. Fortifications were accordingly thrown up on the islands and upon the main land, faint traces of which are still visible.

In this position, with his headquarters at Stillwater, in advance of his army, General Schuyler brought all his energies and resources into requisition for the augmentation and discipline of his troops, preparatory to a first determined conflict with Burgoyne. His private purse was freely opened,(3) and by unwearied exertions day and night the army rapidly improved in numbers, discipline, and spirits. His correspondence at that time with men of every degree, from the President of Congress and the commander-in-chief to subordinate officers and private gentlemen, was very extensive, all having relation to the one great wish of his heart, the checking of the progress of the British army. He addressed the civil and military authorities in every direction, urging them to assist him with men and arms. The Council of Safety, at Albany, was appealed to. " Every militia-man," he said, "ought to turn out without delay in a crisis the most alarming since the contest began." He appealed to the Eastern States. "If," he said, in a letter to Governor Trumbull, of Connecticut, "the Eastern militia do not turn out with spirit and behave better, we shall be ruined." To Washington he repeated, in substance, what he had said on the 12th of July previous. " If my countrymen will support me with vigor and dexterity, and do not meanly despond,


most important localities of the Revolution, and each in its turn, in the course of the work, will receive its full share of notice.
It is my intention to give in notes, in the course of the work, brief biographical sketches of all the most important actors in our Revolutionary war, both domestic and foreign. These sketches will be introduced at points where the record exhibits the most prominent events in the life of the subject. Prominent mer will, therefore, be mentioned often before a biography will be given; but the reader may rely upon finding it in the work, if a memoir can be found.
1 Loudon's ferry. At this place the left wing of the army rested, under the command of General Arnold.
2 So called from the name of Henry Hudson's ship, the Half Moon.
3 General Schuyler never allowed his private interest to interfere in the least degree with the public good. When the Continental army was retreating from Fort Edward, Mrs. Schuyler rode up from Albany to their beautiful country seat at Saratoga, and superintended the removal of their furniture. While there she received direction from her husband to set fire with her own hands to his extensive fields of wheat, and to request his tenants to do the same, rather than suffer them to be reaped by the enemy.- Women of the Revolution, vol. i., p. 60.


42

we shall be able to prevent the enemy from penetrating much further into the country." At the same time all was life and activity in his camp. From his own state recruits were constantly filling his thinned regiments, and the heart of the patriot was cheered with the prospect of soon winning back those laurels which, by the late reverses and the events of the last campaign, had been, in a measure, stripped from his brow.

But secret enemies had been for some time plotting his disgrace by poisoning the minds of the Eastern people, and raising a clamor in favor of the reinstatement of Gates, who as yet, for obvious reasons, had met with no reverses. The friends of that officer were an active faction in Congress at that time, sub rosa, but the next year were far more undisguised in favoring the scheme for giving Gates the chief command in place of Washington. We are so accustomed to look upon all the men of the Revolution who took sides with the friends of America as pure and holy in all their thoughts and actions, that we reluctantly yield to the conviction that they were ever actuated by motives less worthy and exalted than those of the loftiest patriotism. This is claiming too much for human nature. While we may award to them all that is noble and disinterested in feeling, when the good of the common cause demanded personal sacrifice and pliancy of opinion, it is folly to deny that the spirit of faction was rife among the members of the Old Continental Congress, and that selfish motives often controlled their actions. Congress, listening to the clamors from the East, the importunities of Gates's friends, and the suggestions of a false military philosophy, deprived General Schuyler of his command just as he was about to lead his troops to victory.

General Gates, with his new commission, arrived at Van Schaick's on the 19th of August, three days after the battle of Bennington, a battle which, in its effect upon the British army, gave full assurance of future victory to the Americans. How nobly did the conduct of Schuyler on this occasion contrast with that of Gates a few weeks previous. On Gates's arrival, without the slightest indication of ill humor, the patriot resigned his command, communicated all the intelligence he possessed, and put every interesting paper into his hands simply adding, "I have done all that could be done, as far as the means were in my power, to injure the enemy, and to inspire confidence in the soldiers of our own army, and, I flatter myself, with some success; but the palm of victory is denied me, and it is left to you, general, to reap the fruit of my labors. I will not fail, however, to second your views; and my devotion to my country will cause me with alacrity to obey all your orders.'" "I am sensible," he said, in a letter to Congress, "of the indignity of being ordered from the command of the army at the time when an engagement must soon take place;" yet he preferred to suffer reproach in silence rather than allow his bleeding country to be injured by the withdrawal of a single arm from its support. Although disgraced by the act of Congress, he persevered assiduously in strengthening the army and preparing for the corning conflict. "I shall go on," he said to Washington, "in doing my duty and endeavoring to deserve your esteem." And when General Gates arrived, he cordially proffered his co-operation, was very active in promoting the success of the battles which soon after took place, was present at Saratoga when Burgoyne surrendered his sword, and rejoiced, because his country was the gainer, when the laurels which should have graced his brow were placed upon that of another. Warmed by such impulses, who can doubt that the bosom of the generous patriot on that day heaved with nobler pride and purer joy than that of the lauded victor?


1 Garden, p. 359.


Copyright 1998, -- 2004. Berry Enterprises. All rights reserved. All items on the site are copyrighted. While we welcome you to use the information provided on this web site by copying it, or downloading it; this information is copyrighted and not to be reproduced for distribution, sale, or profit.