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erations proceeding under the direction of General Phillips.
The American guns kept up a hot fire on Reidesel's force and upon Mount Hope, but without any appreciable results. St. Clair testified at a later date that he had no definite knowledge of the strength of the enemy until July 3, when he obtained information from a prisoner and some deserters. This was confirmed by a spy, who was sent into Burgoyne's camp July 3 and returned July 5. He also learned that plans had been made for a regular siege. This information, St. Clair said, convinced him of the hopelessness of effectually defending the posts.
Great was the astonishment of the Americans, on the morning of July 5, to see the summit of Sugar Hill red with British soldiers. St. Clair harbored no delusions regarding the occupation of that lofty eminence. He knew that the fate of his army was sealed if he remained at Ticonderoga. A council of war was called, those present being Gens. Arthur St. Clair, Roche de Fermoy, Enoch Poor and John Patterson and Col. Pierse Long. General St. Clair reported that his force consisted of two thousand and eighty-nine effective soldiers, rank and file, including one hundred and twenty-four unarmed artificers, besides the corps of artillery, and about nine hundred militia, which had arrived and could remain only a few days. It was shown that the works were nearly surrounded. If the enemy should gain possession of the neck of land between the lake and East Creek, not more than three-quarters of a mile wide, and the narrows between that point and Skenesborough, all communication would be cut off. The possibility of remov
ing the tents to lower ground, where they would be less exposed, and of transferring the entire garrison to Mount Independence, was discussed.
The council decided that under the circumstances it would be impossible with such a meagre force, and with the enemy occupying Mount Defiance, to defend Ticonderoga and Mount Independence, that a retreat should be undertaken as soon as possible and that the officers might consider themselves very fortunate if such a retreat could be effected. News had been received that the place would be completely invested within twentyfour hours and that the narrow neck had been left open, hoping to intercept the cattle intended for the Americans. This decision was reached about three o'clock Saturday afternoon, July 5, but it was impracticable with the enemy occupying a height from which every move in the American camp could be observed, to begin a retreat until evening.
St. Clair was not ignorant of the effect of the abandonment of Ticonderoga upon public opinion, but according to Colonel Wilkinson's statement he informed that officer that he was unwilling to sacrifice the army in order to save his own character.
The water route to Skenesborough was still open, and supposed to be safe, owing to the boom and great chain across the lake, which obstructed navigation. About midnight orders were issued to place the sick, the wounded, and the women on board two hundred long boats. Cannon, provision, and tents were placed in other boats, and about three o'clock on the morning of July 6, convoyed by five armed galleys, all that was left of Arnold's fleet, and accompanied by a guard of
six hundred men commanded by Captain Long, of New Hampshire, the flotilla started for Skenesborough. The moon shone brightly as the boats left Ticonderoga, and later the sun rose upon a beautiful day. Little apprehension was felt, as pursuit was supposed to be practically impossible. Although the army was retreating, the progress of this portion of the forces was not a doleful one, the music of drum and fife enlivening the occasion. Dr. James Thacher, a surgeon, who was on board one of the ships, in his journal describes this voyage, saying: "Among the hospital stores, we found many dozen of choice wine, and breaking off their necks we cheered our hearts with the nectareous contents." Skenesborough was reached at three o'clock in the afternoon, and in less than two hours the Americans were startled by the sound of British guns firing upon the galleys at the wharf. The bridge, boom and chain, erected at such great expense of time and money, had delayed the enemy only a few hours. The Royal George, the Inflexible, and a number of gunboats under Captain Carter, had pursued in haste, Burgoyne accompanying the expedition, and had almost overtaken the American fleet. Three regiments, the Ninth, Twentieth and Twenty-first, were disembarked at the head of South Bay to occupy the road to Fort Edward.
The American officers attempted to rally their men, but this was found impossible. More than "the nectareous contents" of the hospital stores was needed now to cheer the hearts of the soldiers. A panic prevailed and at first the troops fled in all directions, each man seeking his own personal safety.