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Bravery of General Arnold. Assault on the German Works. Arnold Wounded. Gates and Sir Francis Clarke.
camp. The tumultuous retreat was covered by Phillips and Reidesel. The Americans pursued them up to their very intrenchments in the face of a furious storm of grape-shot and musket-balls, and assaulted their works vigorously without the aid of field pieces or other artillery. The conflict was now terrible indeed, and in the midst of the flame, and smoke, and metal hail, Arnold was conspicuous. His voice, clear as a trumpet, animated the soldiers, and, as if ubiquitous, he seemed to be every where amid the perils at the same moment. With a part of the brigades of Patterson and Glover, he assaulted the works occupied by the light infantry under Earl Balcarras, and at the point of the bayonet drove the enemy from a strong abatis, through which he attempted to force his way into the camp. He was obliged to abandon the effort, and, dashing forward toward the right flank of the enemy, exposed to the cross-fire of the contending armies, he met Learned's brigade advancing to make an assault upon the British works at an opening in the abatis, between Balcarras's light infantry and the German right flank defense under Colonel Breyman. Canadians and loyalists defended this part of the line, and were flanked by a stockade redoubt on each side. Arnold placed himself at the head of the brigade, and moved rapidly on to the attack. He directed Colonel Brooks to assault the redoubt, while the remainder of the brigade fell upon the front. The contest was furious, and the enemy at length gave way, leaving Breyman and his Germans completely exposed. At this moment Arnold galloped to the left, and ordered the regiments of Wesson and Livingston, and Morgan's corps of riflemen, to advance and make a general assault. At the head of Brooks's regiment, he attacked the German works. Having found the sally-port, he rushed within the enemy's intrenchments. The Germans, who had seen him upon his steed in the thickest of the fight for more than two hours, terrified at his approach, fled in dismay, delivering a volley in their retreat, which killed Arnold's horse under him, and wounded the general himself very severely, in the same leg which had been badly lacerated by a musket-ball at the storming of Quebec, two years before. Here, wounded and disabled, at the head of conquering troops led on by his valor to the threshold of victory, Arnold was overtaken by Major Armstrong, who delivered to him Gates's order to return to camp, fearing he “might do some rash thing !” He indeed did a rash thing in the eye of military discipline. He led troops to victory without an order from his commander. His conduct was rash indeed, compared with the stately method of General Gates, who directed by orders from his camp what his presence should have sanctioned. While Arnold was wielding the fierce sickle of war without, and reaping golden sheaves for Gates's garner, the latter (according to Wilkinson) was within his camp, more intent upon discussing the merits of the Revolution with Sir Francis Clarke, Burgoyne's aid-de-camp, who had been wounded and taken prisoner, and was lying upon the commander's bed at his quarters, than upon winning a battle, all-important to the ultimate triumph of those principles for which he professed so warm an attachment. When one of Gates's aids came up from the field of battle for orders, he found the general very angry because Sir Francis would not allow the force of his arguments. He left the room, and, calling his aid after him, asked, as they went out, “Did you ever hear so impudent a son of a b—h !" Poor Sir Francis died that night upon Gates's bed. “It is a curious fact,” says Sparks, “that an officer who really had not command in the army was the leader of one of the most spirited and important battles of the Revolution. His madness, or rashness, or whatever it may be called, resulted most fortunately for himself. The wound he received at the moment of rushing into the arms of danger and of death added fresh luster 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, an indignity and offense which might justly have been retaliated upon the spot in the most fatal manner. The officer forbore; and the next day, when he demanded redress, Arnold declared his entire ignorance of the act, and expressed his regret.”
* Life of Arnold, p. 118.
Retreat of the Germans, and Close of the Battle. Preparations of Burgoyne to Retreat. The Killed and Wounded.
It was twilight when Arnold was wounded and conveyed by Major Armstrong and a sergeant (Samuel Woodruff) from the field. The Germans who fled at his approach, finding the assault general, threw down their arms and retreated to the interior of the camp, leaving their commander, Colonel Breyman, mortally wounded. The camp of Burgoyne was thus left exposed at a strong point. He endeavored to rally the panic-stricken Germans in the midst of the increasing darkness, but they could not be again brought into action.” In truth, both armies were thoroughly fatigued, and the Americans were as loth to follow up the advantage thus presented as were the British to repair their discomfiture. As night drew its curtain over the scene, the conflict ended, the clangor of battle was hushed, and all was silent except the groans of the wounded, an occasional word of command, and the heavy tread of retiring columns, seeking for a place of repose. About midnight, General Lincoln, with his division, which had remained in camp during the action, marched out to relieve those upon the field, and to maintain the ground acquired. Perceiving this, and knowing the advantage the Americans would possess with fresh troops and such an easy access to his camp, Burgoyne felt the necessity of guarding against the peril at once by changing his position. Before dawn he removed the whole of his army, camp, and artillery about a mile north of his first position, above Wilbur's Basin, whence he contemplated a speedy retreat toward Fort Edward. October, Early on the morning of the 8th the Americans took possession of the evacuated * British camp, and skirmishes took place between detachments from the two armies during the day, in one of which General Lincoln was badly wounded in the leg. As the news that the British had retreated spread over the surrounding country, a great number of men, women, and children came flocking into camp to join in the general joy, or to perform the more sorrowful duty of seeking for relatives or friends among the wounded and slain. The loss of the Americans in killed and wounded did not exceed one hundred and fifty. Arnold was the only commissioned officer who received a wound. The British army suf. fered severely, and their loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners was about seven hundred.” Among the officers killed were the gallant Fraser, Sir Francis Clarke Burgoyne's aid-decamp, Colonel Breyman, and Lieutenant Reynell. The latter two died on the field; Sir Francis Clarke was taken prisoner and carried to Gates's quarters, where he died that night. Major Ackland, who was severely wounded, was also taken prisoner, and, with Major Williams, was carried into the American camp; and Fraser, who was conveyed to the house of John Taylor, near Wilbur's Basin, expired the next morning at about eight o'clock Burgoyne had several narrow escapes. One ball passed through his hat and another his coat. The house in which General Fraser died stood until 1846, upon the right bank of the Hudson, about three miles above Bemis's Heights, near Ensign's store, and exhibited the marks of the con
House IN which GENERAL - -
* Evidence of Captain Money before a committee of Parliament in the case of Burgoyne.
* “The British and Hessian troops killed in the foregoing actions were slightly covered with earth and brush on the battle-field. It was not uncom- - grape-shot, tomahawks, arrow-heads, mon, after the land was cleared and cul- No. 1. No. 2. buttons, knives, &c., and among them tivated, to see many, sometimes twen- - were some teeth, evidently front ones, ty, human skulls piled upon stumps in but double. It is supposed that they the fields. I have myself, when a boy, belonged to the Hessians, for it is said seen human bones thickly strewn about that many of them had double teeth all the ground, which had been turned around, in both jaws. The annexed up by the plow.”—C. Neilson. Bur- are drawings of two tomahawks in my goyne's Campaign, p. 182. possession. No. 1 is made of iron, No
I saw, in the possession of Mr. | 2 of stone. It is graywacke, and is Neilson, many relics plowed up from creased for the purpose of securing the the battle-field, such as cannon-balls, of . handle by a string or by green withes.
Place of General Fraser's Death. Account of his Death by the Baroness Reidesel. Fraser's last Request granted.
for quarters when he first pitched his camp there, and it was a shelter to several ladies attached to the British army, among whom were the Baroness Reidesel and Lady Harriet Ackland. General Fraser was laid upon a camp-bed near the first window on the right of the door, where he expired. I can not narrate this event and its attendant circumstances better than by quoting the simple language of the Baroness Reidesel. “But,” she says, “severer trials awaited us, and on the 7th of October our misfortunes began. I was at breakfast with my husband, and heard that something was intended. On the same day I expected Generals Burgoyne, Phillips, and Fraser to dine with us. I saw a great movement among the troops; my husband told me it was merely a reconnoissance, which gave me no concern, as it often happened. I walked out of the house, and met several Indians in their war dresses, with guns in their hands. When I asked them where they were going, they cried out, ' War ! war !’ meaning that they were going to battle. This filled me with apprehension, and I had scarcely got home before I heard reports of cannon and musketry, which grew louder by degrees, till at last the noise became excessive. “About four o'clock in the afternoon, instead of the guests whom I expected, General Fraser was brought on a litter, mortally wounded. The table, which was already set, was instantly removed, and a bed placed in its stead for the wounded general. I sat trembling in a corner; the noise grew louder, and the alarm increased; the thought that my husband might, perhaps, be brought in, wounded in the same manner, was terrible to me, and distressed me exceedingly. General Fraser said to the surgeon, ‘Tell me if my wound is mortal; do not flatter me.’ The ball had passed through his body, and, unhappily for the general, he had eaten a very hearty breakfast, by which the stomach was distended, and the ball, as the surgeon said, had passed through it. I heard him often exclaim, with a sigh, O fatal ambition / Poor General Burgoyne / Oh! my poor wife.” He was asked if he had any request to make, to which he replied that, if General Burgoyne would permit it, he should like to be buried at six o'clock in the evening, on the top of a mountain, in a redoubt which had been built there. I did not know which way to turn; all the other rooms were full of sick. Toward evening I saw my husband coming ; then I forgot all my sorrows, and thanked God that he was spared to me. He ate in great haste, with me and his aid-de-camp, behind the house. We had been told that we had the advantage over the enemy, but the sorrowful faces I beheld told a different tale; and before my husband went away, he took me aside, and said every thing was going very badly, and that I must keep myself in readiness to leave the place, but not to mention it to any one. I made the pretense that I would move the next morning into my new house, and had every thing packed up ready. “I could not go to sleep, as I had General Fraser and all the other wounded gentlemen in my room, and I was sadly afraid my children would wake, and, by their crying, disturb the dying man in his last moments, who often addressed me and apologized for the trouble he gave me.' About three o'clock in the morning I was told that he could not hold out much longer; I had desired to be informed of the near approach of this sad crisis, and I then wrapped up my children in their clothes, and went with them into the room below. About eight o'clock in the morning he died. “After he was laid out, and his corpse wrapped up in a sheet, we came again into the room, and had this sorrowful sight before us the whole day; and, to add to the melancholy scene, almost every moment some officer of my acquaintance was brought in wounded. The cannonade commenced again; a retreat was spoken of, but not the smallest motion was made toward it. About four o'clock in the afternoon I saw the house which had just been built for me in flames, and the enemy was now not far off. We knew that General Burgoyne would not refuse the last request of General Fraser, though, by his acceding to it, an unnecessary delay was occasioned, by which the inconvenience of the army was much increased. At six o'clock the corpse was brought out, and we saw all the generals attend it to the mountain. The chaplain, Mr. Brudenell, performed the funeral service, rendered E
Burial of Fraser. Humanity of the Americans. Lady Harriet Ackland.
unusually solemn and awful from its being accompanied by constant peals from the enemy's artillery. Many cannon-balls flew close by me, but I had my eyes directed toward the mountain' where my husband was standing amid the fire of the enemy, and of course I could not think of my own danger.” It was just at sunset, on that calm October evening, that the corpse of General Fraser was carried up the hill to the place of burial within the “great redoubt.” It was attended only by the members of his military family and Mr. Brudenell, the chaplain; yet the eyes of hundreds of both armies followed the solemn procession, while the Americans, ignorant of its true character, kept up a constant cannonade upon the redoubt. The chaplain, unawed by the danger to which he was exposed, as the cannon* balls that struck the hill threw the loose soil over him, pronounced the impressive funeral service of the Church of England with an unfaltering voice.” The growing dark. FRASER's BURIAL-PLACE.” ness added solemnity to the scene. Suddenly the irregular firing ceased, and the solemn voice of a single cannon, at measured intervals, boomed along the valley, and awakened the responses of the hills. It was a minute-gun fired by the Americans in honor of the gallant dead. The moment information was given that the gathering at the redoubt was a funeral company, fulfilling, amid imminent perils, the last-breathed wishes of the noble Fraser, orders were issued to withhold the cannonade with balls, and to render military homage to the fallen brave. How such incidents smooth the rough features of war! In contrast with fiercer ages gone by, when human sympathy never formed a holy communion between enemies on the battlefield, they seem to reflect the radiance of the future, and exhibit a glimpse of the time to which a hopeful faith directs our vision, when “nation shall not war against nation,” when “one law shall bind all people, kindreds, and tongues, and that law shall be the law of UNIvERsAL BRothERHood.” The case of Major Ackland and his heroic wife presents kindred features. He belonged to the corps of grenadiers, and was an accomplished soldier. His wife accompanied him to Canada in 1776, and during the whole campaign of that year, and until his return to England after the surrender of Burgoyne, in the autumn of 1777, endured all the hardships, dangers, and privations of an active campaign in an enemy's country. At Chambly, on the Sorel, she attended him in illness, in a miserable hut ; and when he was wounded in the battle of Hubbardton, Vermont, she hastened to him at Skenesborough from Montreal, where she had been persuaded to remain, and resolved to follow the army thereafter. Just before crossing the Hudson, she and her husband came near losing their lives in consequence of their tent taking fire from a candle overturned by a pet dog. During the terrible engagement of the 7th of October she heard all the tumult and dreadful thunder of the battle in which her husband was engaged; and when, on the morning of the 8th, the British fell
* The height occupied by Burgoyne on the 18th, which ran parallel with the river till it approached General Gates's camp.
* The hill on which the “great redoubt” was erected, and where General Fraser was buried, is about one hundred feet high, and almost directly west from the house wherein he died. The relative situation of this eminence to the Hudson will be best understood by looking at the view of Burgoyne's encampment, page 57. The center hill in that drawing is the one here represented. The grave is within the inclosure on the summit of the hill.
* Burgoyne's “State of the Expedition,” p. 169. Lieutenant Kingston's Evidence, p. 107.
Courage and Fortitude of Lady Harriet Ackland. Burgoyne's Request and Gates's Generosity.
back in confusion to Wilbur's Basin, she, with the other women, was obliged to take refuge among the dead and dying, for the tents were all struck, and hardly a shed was left standing. Her husband was wounded, and a prisoner in the American camp. That gallant officer was shot through both legs when Poor and Learned's troops assaulted the grenadiers and artillery on the British left, on the afternoon of the 7th. Wilkinson, Gates's adjutant general, while pursuing the flying enemy when they abandoned their battery, heard a feeble voice exclaim, “Protect me, sir, against that boy.” He turned and saw a lad with a musket, taking deliberate aim at a wounded British officer, lying in a corner of a worm fence. Wilkinson ordered the boy to desist, and discovered the wounded man to be Major Ackland. He had him conveyed to the quarters of General Poor (now the residence of Mr. Neilson), on the heights, where every attention was paid to his wants. When the intelligence that he was wounded and a prisoner reached his wife, she was greatly distressed, and, by the advice of her friend, the Baroness Reidesel, resolved to visit the American camp, and implore the favor of a personal attendance upon her husband. On the 9th she sent a message to Burgoyne by Lord Petersham, his aid, asking per- october, mission to depart. “Though I was ready to believe,” says Burgoyne, “that pa- ". tience and fortitude, in a supreme degree, were to be found, as well as every other virtue, under the most tender forms, I was astonished at this proposal. After so long an agitation of spirits, exhausted not only for want of rest, but absolutely want of food, drenched in rains for twelve hours together, that a woman should be capable of such an undertaking as delivering herself to an enemy, probably in the night, and uncertain of what hands she might fall into, appeared an effort above human nature. The assistance I was enabled to give was small indeed; I had not even a cup of wine to offer her; but I was told she had found, from some kind and fortunate hand, a little rum and dirty water. All I could furnish to her was an open boat and a few lines, written upon dirty wet paper, to General Gates, recommending her to his protection.” She set out in an open boat upon the Hudson, accompanied by Mr. Brudenell the chap. lain, Sarah Pollard her waiting-maid, and her husband's valet, who had been severely wounded while searching for his master upon the battle-field. It was about sunset when they started, and a violent storm of rain and wind, which had been increasing since morning, rendered the voyage tedious and perilous in the extreme. It was long after dark when they reached the American outposts. The sentinel heard their oars and hailed them. Lady Harriet returned the answer herself. The clear, silvery tones of a woman's voice amid the darkness filled the soldier on duty with superstitious fear, and he called a comrade to accompany him to the river bank. The errand of the voyagers was made known, but the faithful guard, apprehensive of treachery, would not allow them to land until they sent for Major Dearborn. This delay was only for a few minutes, not “seven or eight dark and cold hours,” as asserted by Burgoyne. They were invited by that officer to his quarters, where a cup of tea and other comforts were provided; and Lady Harriet was also comforted by the joyful tidings that her husband was safe. In the morning she experienced parental tenderness from General Gates, who sent her to her husband at Poor's quarters, under a suitable escort. There she remained until he was removed to Albany.”
* The following is a copy of the note from Burgoyne to General Gates: “Sir—Lady Harriet Ackland, a lady of the first distinction of family, rank, and personal virtues, is under such concern on account of Major Ackland, her husband, wounded and a prisoner in your hands, that I can not refuse her request to commit her to your protection. Whatever general impropriety there may be in persons in my situation and yours to solicit favors, I can not see the uncommon perseverance in every female grace and exaltation of character of this lady, and her very hard fortune, without testifying that your attentions to her will lay me under obligations. “I am, sir, your obedient servant,
* J. BURGoyNE.”*
* Major Ackland reciprocated the generous treatment here extended, by doing all in his power, while
on parole in New York, to alleviate the condition of distinguished American prisoners there. After his
* The original is among Gates's papers (vol. x.), in the possession of the New York Historical Society, from which this was