The Baroness Riedesel.--The wife of Baron Riedesel, one of Burgoyne's ablest generals, who accompanied her husband throughout the memorable Saratoga campaign, was a woman of rare beauty and accomplishments. She kept an elaborate diary that gives a remarkable insight into the daily life of the army. She tells how the soldiers at first were "very merry, singing songs, and panting for action," and how terrible was the suffering just before the surrender. From this diary, describing incidents of the surrender, we take the following: "As I passed through the American [lines] I observed, and this was a great consolation to me, that no one eyed us with looks of resentment but they all greeted us and even showed compassion. When I drew near the tents, a handsome man approached me, took my children and hugged and kissed them. 'You tremble,' said he, addressing himself to me. 'be not afraid....You will be very much embarmased to eat with all these gentlemen come with your children to my tent. . . . 'You are certainly a husband and a father,' I answered; 'you have shown me so much kindness.' I now found that he was General Schuyler. Some days after this we arrived at Albany, where we so often wished ourselves; but we did not enter it as we expected we should--victors! We were received by the good General Schuyler, his wife, and daughters, not as enemies, but kind friends and they treated us with the most marked attention and politeness, as they did General Burgoyne, who had caused General Schuyler's beautifully finished house to be burnt. In fact, they behaved like persons of exalted minds, who determined to bury all recollections of their own injuries in the contemplatlon of our misfortunes. General Burgoyne was struck with General Schuyler's generosity, and said to him, 'You show me great kindness, though I have done you much injury.' 'That was the fate of war,' replied the brave man; 'let us say no more about it.'"
Arnold's Strategy. Immediately after the battle of Oriskany, Schuyler sent Benedict Arnold with twelve hundred men to the rescue of Fort Stanwix. While en route he captured several Tory spies, among whom was a half-witted fellow named Yan Yost Cuyler. All were condemned to death. The mother and brother of Cuyler, hearing of this, hastened to the camp to plead for his life. At length Arnold offered him his freedom if he would go to the camp of St. Leger and spread the report that Burgoyne was totally defeated and that a great American army was coming to the rescue of Fort Stanwix. Cuyler agreed, and his brother was detained as a hostage to be put to death in case of his failure. Cuyler did his part well. With a dozen bullet holes in his coat he ran into the British camp and declared that a great American host was close at hand, and that he had barely escaped with his life. He was known to many of the British as a Tory, and they readily believed his story. The Indians instantly took fright and began to desert. The panic soon spread to the regulars, the camp became a pandemonium, and, ere noon of next day, the whole army was in full flight to Canada. See Fiske, Vol. I, p.294.The Surrendered Army.--In the convention between Gates and Burgoyne, the former agreed that the British soldiers be transported to England on the condition that they were not to serve again during the war. But erelong the belief gained ground that they would be used in Europe to take the place of other troops who would be sent to America. Congress, therefore, found one excuse after another for not carrying out the convention. First, it demanded pay for the soldiers' subsistence since the surrender, not in Continental money, but in British gold. Congress thus made a spectacle to the world by refusing to accept its own money. It next imposed an impossible condition by demanding that Burgoyne make out a descriptive list of all the officers and men of the army. So in various ways Congress evaded carrying out the agreement. The British soldiers were in fact never sent home. After being kept a year in New England they were sent to Charlotteville in Virginia, making the overland march of seven hundred miles in midwinter. Here a village of cottages was built for them. When, in 1780, Virginia became the seat of war, they were scattered, some being sent to Maryland, and others to Pennsylvania. Meantime their number had constantly diminished by desertion, death, and exchange. At the close of the war most of the Germans remained in America. Burgoyne was permitted to return to England soon after the surrender. He resumed his seat in Parliament, where he proved himself a gentleman of the highest honor. If not an open friend of the Americans, he at least never failed to do them justice.
History of the United States of America, by Henry William Elson, The MacMillan Company, New York, 1904. Chapter XIII p. 288-289
Transcribed by Kathy Leigh
The Revolution--From Saratoga to Monmouth
Created September 24, 2000
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