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The first detachments of the British army, accompanied by General Burgoyne, reached Crown Point with some of the ships, on the evening of June 24. General Fraser occupied Chimney Point, June 25, and by means of an abatis strengthened his position, having advanced from Button Mould Bay where he had encamped on June 24. General Reidesel, with the main body of the army, arrived on June 26. Two English brigades occupied the level ground around the fortress. Breymann's corps was stationed on the right bank of the lake "near the windmill," while General Reidesel, with his German brigade, encamped "on the promontory called Chimney Point."
Burgoyne halted here for several days, not only to bring up the rear of the army, but also for the purpose of establishing magazines, and a hospital, and to gain intelligence concerning the task that awaited him. It is evident from his correspondence that he expected that a siege would be a necessary part of his campaign.
On June 30, he ordered General Fraser to take command of the advanced corps, consisting of the British light infantry and grenadiers, the 25th regiment, some Canadians and Indians, and ten pieces of light artillery, and move from Putnam Creek up the west shore of the lake to a point four miles from Ticonderoga. At the same time the German reserve under Lieutenant Colonel Breymann, consisting of the Brunswick chasseurs, light infantry and grenadiers, moved to Richardson's farm, on the west shore opposite Putnam Creek. On the following day, July 12, the whole army moved forward, General Fraser's corps occupying Three Mile Point, a strong post on the west shore, while the left wing, or
German troops, advanced to a point nearly opposite, on the east shore. The frigates Royal George and Inflexible, with the gunboats, were anchored just beyond the range of the guns of the American fortifications, covering the lake from the west to the east shore.
The following description of the American position by General Burgoyne, in a letter, gives a good idea of the disposition of St. Clair's troops: "A brigade occupied the old French lines on the height to the north of the fort of Ticonderoga. These lines were in good repair and had several intrenchments behind them, chiefly calculated to guard the northwest flank, and were further sustained by a blockhouse. They had further to their left a post at the sawmills, which are at the foot of the carrying place to Lake George, and a blockhouse and hospital at the entrance of the lake. Upon the right of the lines, and between them and the old fort, there were two new blockhouses and a considerable battery close to the entrance of the lake. It seemed that the enemy had employed their chief industry and were in the greatest force upon Mount Independence, which is high and circular, and upon the summit, which is a tableland, was a star fort, made of pickets and well supplied with artillery, and a large square of barracks within it. The foot of the hill on the side which projects into the lake, was intrenched and had a strong abatis close to the water. This intrenchment was lined with heavy artillery pointed down to the lake, flanking the water battery above described, and sustained by another battery about half way up the hill. On the west side the hill runs the main river (the lake), and in its passage is joined by the water which comes down from Lake
George. The enemy had here a bridge of communication which could not at this time be reconnoitered. On the east side of the hill the water forms a small bay, into which falls a rivulet after having encircled in its course part of the hill to the southwest. The side to the south could not be seen, but was described as inaccessible."
About nine o'clock on the morning of July 2, the British observed a smoke towards Lake George and the Indians reported that the Americans had set fire to the farther blockhouse and had abandoned their post at the sawmills. The report further stated that the Americans were in considerable force advancing from their lines. toward a bridge upon the road which led from the sawmills toward the right of the British camp. General Fraser, with a portion of the advanced corps, supported by the second brigade and some light artillery, commanded by General Phillips, were ordered to reconnoiter the American position and "to take advantage of any post they might abandon or be driven from." In a slight skirmish near the sawmills, Lord Balcarras, commanding the light infantry, was slightly wounded and his clothes were pierced with thirty bullet holes. Lieutenant Hagget was shot in both eyes and mortally wounded. While Lieutenant Douglass of the 29th regiment was being carried from the field wounded, he was shot through the heart by a sharpshooter.
Captain Fraser, a nephew of General Fraser, was directed to take his marksmen and a body of Indians, to make a circuit to the left of the line of march taken by his uncle's corps, and to attempt to cut off the retreat of the American troops. This attempt failed, according
to Burgoyne's description, on account of the impetuosity of the Indians, who attacked too soon, and in front. Fraser says frankly, "the Indians were mostly drunk." For this reason, the Americans were able to retire within their lines, with the loss of one officer and a few men killed and one officer wounded. St. Clair, suspecting that this attack might be the beginning of a general assault, ordered his men to conceal themselves behind the parapet. Seeing a British soldier firing repeatedly under cover of the brushwood in front of the works, Colonel Wilkinson ordered a Sergeant to rise and shoot him. Thereupon, without orders, the American soldiers rose to their feet and began firing, the artillerymen followed suit, and three rounds were discharged before General St. Clair and his staff officers could stop the firing. When the smoke cleared away, the enemy under Captain Fraser were seen at a distance of three hundred yards retreating in disorder. Two Indians were killed and three were wounded. Lieutenant Houghton and two or three British soldiers were wounded.
On the night of July 2, General Phillips took possession of the eminence to which General Fraser gave the name of Mount Hope, and the next day, July 3, it was occupied in force by General Fraser's entire corps, the first British brigade and two brigades of artillery. The second British brigade encamped upon the left of the first brigade, and a portion of the German troops, the Brigade of Gall, was transferred from the Vermont shore of Lake Champlain to occupy the position vacated by Fraser's brigade. Thus the British line extended on July 3 from Three Mile Point to the western portion of Mount Hope. Meanwhile General Reidesel advanced
his forces on the eastern shore of the lake to a position opposite Three Mile Point, having pushed his reserves forward nearly as far as the rivulet that partially encircled Mount Independence. The Americans abandoned Mount Hope without a contest because their forces were too few to warrant the possibility of successful resistance, although the possession of this height by the British cut off St. Clair's communication by way of Lake George. During the day the American artillery kept up a vigorous cannonade upon the British position on Mount Hope, and upon the camp of the German reserves without accomplishing any apparent results.
Burgoyne issued a bombastic proclamation, on July 4, intended to strike terror to the hearts of the people of the Champlain valley. It began as follows: "By John Burgoyne, Esq., Lieutenant-General of His Majesty's armies in America, Colonel of the Queen's regiment of light dragoons, Governor of Fort William in North Britain, one of the Representatives of the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament and commanding an army and fleet employed on an expedition from Canada, etc., etc., etc."
After setting forth the monstrous wickedness of the rebels, he says: "Determined to strike where necessary, and anxious to spare where possible, I by these presents invite and exhort all persons in all places where the progress of this army may point, and by the blessing of God I will extend it far, to maintain such conduct as may justify me in protecting their lands, habitations and families. *** The domestic, the industrious, the infirm and even the timid inhabitants, I am desirous to protect, provided they remain quietly at their houses;