Page images

the widest part of the lake it was remarkably fine and clear, not a breeze stirring, when the whole army appeared at one view in such perfect regularity as to form the most complete and splendid regatta ever beheld. In the front the Indians went in their birch canoes containing twenty or thirty in each; then the advanced corps in a regular line with the gunboats; then followed the Royal George and Inflexible, towing large booms which are to be thrown across two points of land, with the other brigs and sloops following; after them the brigades in their order."

By midday the army arrived at its camp in Ligonier Bay, on the Willsboro shore. General Fraser had left with his brigade for the mouth of the Boquet River a day in advance of the main body of the army, and Burgoyne hurried to overtake him, leaving General Reidesel in command.

At the mouth of the Boquet, on June 21, Burgoyne halted to give a great war feast, being joined by four hundred Iroquois, Algonquins, Abenakis and Ottawas. In his speech on this occasion the British commander poured contempt upon the rebels, and added: "Warriors, you are free-go forth in the might of your valor and your cause-strike at the common enemies of Great Britain and America, disturbers of public order, peace and happiness, destroyers of commerce, parricides of the state. ***Be it our task from the dictates of our religion, the laws of our warfare, and the principles and interest of our policy, to regulate your passions when they overbear, to point out when it is nobler to spare than to revenge, to discriminate degrees of guilt, to suspend the uplifted stroke, to chastise and not to destroy."

He laid down these rules for his savage allies: "I positively forbid bloodshed when you are not opposed in arms. Aged men, women, children and prisoners must be held sacred from the knife or hatchet, even in the time of actual conflict. You shall receive compensation for the prisoners you take; but you shall be called to account for scalps.

"In conformity and indulgence to your customs, which have affixed an idea of honor to such badges of victory, you shall be allowed to take the scalps of the dead when killed by your fire, and in fair opposition; but on no account or pretence, or subtlety or prevarication are they to be taken from the wounded, or even dying; and still less pardonable, if possible, will it be held, to kill men in that condition on purpose, and upon a supposition that this protection to the wounded would be thereby evaded.

"Base lurking assassins, incendiaries, ravagers and plunderers of the country, to whatever army they may belong, shall be treated with less reserve; but the latitude must be given you by order, and I must be the judge of the occasion.

"Should the enemy on their part dare to countenance acts of barbarity towards those who may fall into their hands, it shall be yours also to retaliate."

In Parliament, Fox, Burke, and Chatham, in the most vigorous terms, condemned the employment of the Indians. In the House of Commons, Burke held up to ridicule Burgoyne's speech to his savage allies, saying: "Suppose there was a riot on Tower Hill. What would the keeper of His Majesty's lions do? Would he not fling open the dens of the wild beasts, and address them thus: 'My gentle lions, my humane bears—my tender

hearted hyneas, go forth! But I exhort you as you are Christians and members of civil society, to take care not to hurt any man, woman or child'."

Reidesel attempted to get under way with the main body of the army on the morning of June 23, but after several unsuccessful attempts to round Point Ligonier in a violent gale, he was obliged to wait until the following morning. After the expedition had started a severe thunder storm arose which was succeeded by a fog so dense that it was necessary to beat the drums continually in order that the fleet might be kept together. If "the stars in their courses" did not fight against the British army and its German commander on this occasion, the elements certainly did. The fog was followed by a tempestuous wind, which drove five vessels out of their course, and their occupants were forced to land on one of the group of islands known as the Four Brothers, to which the French had given the more poetic name of the Islands of the Four Winds. Reidesel was able, on June 25, to get his fleet past the mouth of the Boquet River, and on the following day the army arrived at Crown Point, a portion of the troops which started before the main body having arrived on the same day.

General St. Clair received word on June 26 from the Otter Creek region that a large party of Indians and Tories, reported to number five hundred, had gone up that stream on June 23. They captured some cattle, and halted two miles above Middlebury Falls. Their plan was supposed to be to cut off American communication by way of Skenesborough, and it was expected that the raiders would reach the new road near Castleton the night of June 26. The force had been sent out by Gen

eral Fraser, under command of his nephew, Captain Fraser, with orders to join him at Chimney Point.

St. Clair sent Colonel Warner to the New Hampshire Grants on June 27 to raise a body of men to oppose the incursion, to attack the raiders, and to join the main army as soon as possible. Warner performed his task of rallying the militia, and from Rutland, on July 2, sent the following characteristic letter to the convention of delegates representing the people of the New Hampshire Grants, then in session at Windsor: "I have last evening received an express from the General commanding at Ticonderoga who informs me the enemy have come on with seventeen sloops and other craft, and lie at the Three Mile Point, and the General expects an attack every hour. The enemy put to land on said point, and they have had a skirmish, but the General informs me to no great purpose. Orders me to send for the militia to join him as soon as possibly they can get there, from this State, and the Massachusetts and New Hampshire. I have sent an express to Col. Simons, went off last night. Col. Robinson and Col. Williams is now at Hubbardton waiting to be joined by Col. Bellows who is now with me. When the whole join they will make in No. about 700 or 800 men. I know not where to apply but to you to raise the militia on the east side of the Mountain. Shall expect that you send on all the men that can possibly be raised, and that you will do what lies in your power to supply the troops at Ticonderoga with beef, as if the siege should be long, they will absolutely be in want of meat kind except the country exert themselves-if 40 or 50 head of cattle could be brought on with the militia they will be paid for by the com

issary on their arrival. The safety of that post consists much on the exertions of the country. I should be glad a few hills of corn unhoed should not be a motive sufficient to detain men at home considering the loss of such an important post can hardly be recovered. I am, gentlemen, in the greatest respect your most obedient and very humble serv't,


Colonel Warner was not the only officer during the long struggle for American Independence to whom the problem of the leaving of "a few hills of corn unhoed" brought great vexation of spirit; nor was this problem peculiar to the New Hampshire Grants. The attempt to conduct farm operations and perform the duties of a soldier at different periods during the same season, was attended with many difficulties, probably for the farm, and certainly for the army. But the absolute dependence of a large portion of the population for their very existence upon the raising and harvesting of crops should not be overlooked; and not a few American victories were won during the conflict by "embattled farmers," who laid aside, temporarily, the hoe or the scythe, to take up the rifle.

There is no record to show that Warner encountered the Indian and Tory raiders, but he returned to Ticonderoga July 5, bringing, according to Hiland Hall, nine hundred militia, mostly Vermonters.

Captain Fraser had returned to the British lines with a few prisoners, but with no cattle, and had reported "that all the inhabitants of the country through which he passed were exceedingly disaffected and had assisted to drive their cattle from the King's troops."

« PreviousContinue »