« PreviousContinue »
of America, and that their names and crimes be published in the newspapers."
The court found sixteen persons guilty of mutiny and four not guilty. Corp. John Whitley was reduced to the ranks, and he, Amos Fassett and Samuel Smith were sentenced to receive thirty-nine lashes each on the bare back, and be imprisoned one week picking oakum. The others were to be imprisoned one week at the same task, after receiving twenty lashes each on the bare back. This sentence was approved by General St. Clair, with directions that it be put into execution immediately.
In July of the following year, upon the recommendation of General St. Clair, Lyon was restored to the army by General Schuyler, who appointed him Paymaster of a Continental regiment commanded by Seth Warner. The soldiers sentenced by court martial were released on the approach of General Carleton. It was Lyon's contention that the ordering of the troops to Jericho was in response to the urgent plea of certain speculators who had bought for a trifle the crops on the northern frontiers abandoned by the owners, and desired protection. On the other hand, Pliny H. White, a careful student of Vermont history, in an address delivered in 1858, said that some of the officers stationed at Jericho did not scruple to suggest to the soldiers that if they should mutiny and march off, the officers would be under no obligation to remain at Jericho. In any event the episode was a disgraceful one, and furnished another illustration of the lack of subordination which added so materially to the trials of Washington and his subordinate officers during the American Revolution.
Col. Timothy Brownson, on October 23, wrote General Gates that he was detained at Castleton by rumors of "a cursed plan a laying by the Tories below." This plan seems to have been that the people were to be lulled to a false sense of security by General Carleton, who was to allow the northern settlers to "continue on their farms in peace." Brownson adds: "We must return and put another spur to their sides. Shall return about forty or fifty miles, as the Tories begin to grow very bold."
General Schuyler, knowing that "the evil day" merely was postponed, and that another season would witness a formidable British invasion by way of Lake Champlain, was active in attempting to prepare for an attack. Again and again he called the attention of Washington and of Congress to the needs of the northern department. He also labored to conciliate the Indians, and to keep informed regarding the movements of the enemy.
The garrison at Ticonderoga was not large, and some apprehension was felt lest a British expedition might take advantage of the frozen surface of the lake to make a winter attack upon the American works. Carleton, however, made no such attempt. Although normally the garrison numbered about two thousand, five hundred men, the number soon was reduced by sickness to one thousand, seven hundred.
Wayne wrote the Pennsylvania Council of Safety, on December 4, concerning the garrison: "The wretched condition they are now in for want of almost every necessary convenience of life, except flour and bad beef, is shocking to humanity, and beggars all description. We have neither beds nor bedding for our sick to lay
on or under, other than their own clothing; no medicine or regimen suitable for them; the dead and dying mingled together in our hospital, or rather house of carnage, is no uncommon sight." On the same day Col. Joseph Wood also wrote to the Council, saying that although requisition had been made for thirteen thousand men, only nine hundred pairs of shoes had been supplied, and that at least one-third of the poor wretches were obliged to do duty barefooted. He voiced his indignation by saying: "This is shocking to humanity; nay, it cannot be viewed in any milder light than black murder."
It was indeed fortunate for this American garrison that the attack feared from the north, over the ice of Lake Champlain, was not made at this time.
During this period there were "fightings within” as well as “fears without." On the night after Christmas, December 26, a Pennsylvania officer stationed at Ticonderoga, while partially intoxicated, assaulted a Massachusetts Colonel, and this affair led to a riot, in which the Pennsylvanians taunted the "Yankees," and fired upon the Massachusetts men, wounding several. The matter was not made the subject of a court martial and a reconciliation was effected by means of a dinner, a time-honored expedient. The Pennsylvania officer sent his men into the woods on a hunting expedition, where they killed a fat bear. Bruin formed the piece de resistance of a banquet to which the insulted Massachusetts Colonel and his officers were invited; the invitation was accepted, the bear was eaten, and harmony once more reigned in the American camp.
Wayne wrote to Schuyler on February 13, 1777, that a scouting party had secured information showing that there were five hundred British troops at St. Johns; three hundred at Isle aux Noix, with a battery of twelve guns; and twenty at Point au Fer. At le Gran Isle (Grand Isle) they found one hundred Indians and a few regulars, part of the force being posted on the west shore of the lake. On April 13, Wayne wrote from Ticonderoga that three days before a strong party of the enemy was discovered at the group of islands in the lake known as the Four Brothers.
Gates and Schuyler did not get on well together, and there was a question as to whom the command in the Champlain valley belonged. This was settled in Congress on May 22, when Schuyler was elected commander of Albany, Ticonderoga and Fort Stanwix, and their dependencies, by a majority of one State. When Gates received the news he started for Philadelphia to pull the wires for reinstatement.
To Gen. Arthur St. Clair, called the best of the Brigadiers in the North, was assigned, by General Schuyler on June 5, the active command of Ticonderoga. St. Clair, a Scotchman by birth, traced his line of descent from a noble family, and was a kinsman of Gen. Thomas Gage, who commanded the British troops in Boston at the outbreak of the American Revolution. Securing a commission in the army, St. Clair won commendation for his services at Louisburg, under Amherst. He was with General Wolfe at the capture of Quebec, and on the Plains of Abraham he seized the colors from the hand of a dying soldier and carried them to victory. Allied by marriage with the family of Governor Bow
doin of Massachusetts, he had acquired a large property in Pennsylvania and was accounted a wealthy land holder at the outbreak of the Revolution. Joining the American army, he served in the Canadian campaign, and was with Washington in New Jersey during the winter of 1776-77. A man of polished manners, of superior talents, and of upright character, he came to his new task highly recommended for the responsible position.
St. Clair arrived at Ticonderoga on June 12. His estimate of the adequacy of the garrison is expressed as follows: "Had every man I had been disposed of in single file on the different works, and along the lines of defense, they would have been scarcely within reach of each other's voices; but Congress had been persuaded that the enemy would make no attempt in that quarter, and such a number of men only as were judged to be sufficient for completing the works that had been projected, were assigned to me. Those two thousand, half armed and ill equipped every way, I found arranged into many regiments, with their full complement of officers, and three Brigadiers."
With the coming of the summer, and the expectation that the British would attack the fort, great exertions were made to strengthen the works, which had been laid out by Thaddeus Kosciusko, the Polish patriot. Apparently the portion of the fortifications on the Vermont side, at Mount Independence, received the most attention, and really constituted the most important part of the Ticonderoga defences.
To connect the works on opposite sides of the lake, a floating bridge, four hundred yards long, was con