History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume I, Page 615
Movement of the Enemy. -- Early in October, to make a diversion in favor of Gen. Burgoyne, Sir Henry Clinton ascended the Hudson with his army, and succeeded, with a severe loss, in storming Forts Montgomery and clinton. He landed his troops some miles below and led them in person through defiles of the forest to attack those defenses in the rear. During the assault upon the former fort, in which Col. Lamb supervised the artillery; Capt. Machin there managed a heavy gun which did fearful execution in the ranks of the assailants. As the army drew near the fort, late in the afternoon, Machin saw a man step from the ranks of the enemy and poise his musket to fire at him. He had just prepared his ordnance for a discharge, loaded to the muzzle with round, grape and double beaded bar shot, the latter projecting from the gun; as he caught the eye of the soldier who had raised his piece to fire on him Machin's gunner in the act of applying the match, was shot down by his side, and the former snatching the linstock from the hand of the fallen hero applied it to the gun, the contents of which mowed a fearful swath, causing the assailants to fall back. At the instant the match was applied, Machin received a bullet in his body, and retired with the wounded. The ball entered his breast and came out under his right shoulder. A man who was aiding the wounded captain, near sundown, in his retreat, was shot and fell upon him, and it was with no little difficulty he extricated himself from his dying comrade. It began to grow dark, when Machin asked a retreating soldier if he could not help him. "It is a d-d good fellow who can help, himself," was the unfeeling reply, as the man passed on. Capt. Machin was soon after taken into a boat and thus made his escape. On the morning following, Capt. Milligan of Orange county, who had been wounded the preceding evening in one knee, was discovered near the river, by the enemy, of whom he begged for quarters; instead of granting which, his unfeeling foes bayoneted and threw him down the rocks. While recovering from his wounds Capt. Machin was entertained at the house of Gov. Clinton, from whose family he received the kindest treatment. The Americans, on losing Forts Montgomery and Clinton, abandoned Fort Constitution and the bill-batteries as untenable, leaving in their retreat considerable booty to the enemy. Gen. Vaughn then ascended the river as far as Kingston, * burning it and destroying a large quantity of military stores there collected; soon after which most of the army returned to New York city; evacuating the captured forts, but retaining and fortifying Stony Point, a few miles below Fort Clinton. The loss sustained by the garrisons at these forts was about 250 men, in killed wounded and prisoners. +
Execution of a British Spy.-On the day after Fort Montgomery
* Tradition says that Richard Everett. an old
tory who died at Poughkeepsie about 1825, piloted the British vessels over
the chevanx-de-frize, on their way to Kingston. This obstruction was not
entirely completed until in the summer of 1778.
+ Holmes' Annals.
fell into the hands of the British, the following incident occurred near the Hudson. Col. Samuel B. Webb's regiment of Connecticut, wore a scarlet uniform much resembling that of the British. Two men who had been deputed to convey to Burgoyne, an account of the success of the enemy in the Highlands, approached a picket guard of Webb's troops, mistaking them for an out-post of their friends. Being told they must be taken to the camp of Gen. Clinton, they said that was what they desired. On being ushered into the presence of Gen. George Clinton, instead of Sir Henry Clinton as they had expected; one of them was observed by Col. Webb, as about to swallow something, which he in vain drew his sword to prevent. He was forced by Gov. Clinton * to take a strong emetic, and disgorged an oblong silver bullet screwed together, which contained in figures, a message from Sir Henry Clinton; which interpreted read as follows:
"FORT MONTGOMERY, Oct. 8th, 1777.
"Nous voici-and nothing between us but Gates. I sincerely hope this little success of ours may facilitate your operations. In answer to your letter of the 28th of Sept. by C. C. I shall only say, I cannot presume to order or even advise, for reasons obvious. I heartily wish you success.
" H. CLINTON.
"To General Burgoyne."
The name of the spy having the bullet and who was executed, was Daniel Taylor, who was hung on the limb of an apple tree at Hurley, near Kingston.-Joseph Balch, an intelligent soldier under Webb, who witnessed the execution. Mr. Balch died in a church in Johnstown, N. Y., at an advanced age, about 1855. An obituary giving his military life, was published by the author, at his death, in the Albany Argus.
* For Clinton's account of this affaIr, see Journal Prov. Convention, vol. 1, p. 1068.
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.