We have seen how, owing to the gross negligence of Lord George Germaine, discretionary power had been left to Howe, while entirely taken away from Burgoyne. The latter had no choice but to move down the Hudson. The former was instructed to move up the Hudson, but at the same time was left free to depart from the strict letter of his instructions, should there be any manifest advantage in so doing. Nevertheless, the movement up the Hudson was so clearly prescribed by all sound military considerations that everybody wondered why Howe did not attempt it. Why he should have left his brother general in the lurch, and gone sailing off to Chesapeake Bay, was a mystery which no one was able to unravel, until some thirty years ago a document was discovered which has thrown much light upon the question. Here there steps again upon the scene that miserable intriguer, whose presence in the American army had so nearly wrecked the fortunes of the patriot cause, and who now, in captivity, proceeded to act the part of a doubly-dyed traitor. A marplot and mischief-maker from beginning to end, Charles Lee never failed to work injury to whichever party
his selfish vanity or craven fear inclined him for the moment to serve. We have seen how, on the day when he was captured and taken to the British camp, his first thought was for his personal safety, which he might well suppose to be in some jeopardy, since he had formerly held the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the British army. He was taken to New York and con-fined in the City Hall, where he was treated with ordinary courtesy; but there is no doubt that Sir William Howe looked upon him as a deserter, and was more than half inclined to hang him without ceremony. Fearing, however, as he said, that he might "fall into a law scrape," should he act too hastily, Sir William Howe wrote home for instructions, and in reply was directed by Lord George Germaine to send his prisoner to England for trial. In pursuance of this order, Lee had already been carried on board ship, when a letter from Washington put a stop to these proceedings. The letter informed General Howe that Washington held five Hessian field-officers as hostages for Lee's personal safety, and that all exchange prison-ers would be suspended until due assurance should be received that Lee was to be recognized as a prisoner of war. After reading this letter General Howe did not dare to send Lee to England for trial, for fear of possible evil consequences to the five Hessian officers, which might cause serious disaffection among the German troops. The king approved of this cautious behaviour, and so Lee was kept in New York, with his fate undecided until it had become clear that neither arguments nor threats could avail one jot to
shake Washington's determination. When Lord George Germaine had become convinced of this, he persuaded the reluctant king to yield the point; and Howe was accordingly instructed that Lee, although worthy of condign punishment, should be deemed a prisoner of war, and might be exchanged as such, whenever convenient.
All this discussion necessitated the exchange of several letters between London and New York so that a whole year elapsed before the question was settled. It was not until December 12, 1777, that Howe received these final instructions. But Lee had not been idle all this time while his fate was in suspense. Hardly had the key been turned upon him in his rooms at the City Hall when he began his intriques. First, he assured Lord Howe and his brother that he had always opposed the declaration of independence and even now cherished hopes that by a juciciously arranged interview with some of the delegates in Congress, he might persuade the misguided people of America to return to their old allegiance. Lord Howe, who always kept one hand on the olive-branch, eagerly caught at the suggestion and permitted Lee to send a letter to Congress urging that a committee be sent to confer with him, as he had "important communications to make." Could such a conference be brought about, he thought, his zeal for effecting a reconciliation would interest the Howes in his favour, and might save his precious neck. Congress, however, flatly refused to listen to the proposal, and then the wretch, without further ado, went over to the enemy and
began to counsel with the British commanders how they might best subdue the Americans in the summer campaign. He went so far as to write out for the brothers Howe a plan of operations, giving them the advantage of what was supposed to be his intimate knowledge of the condi-tions of the case. This document the Howes did not care to show after the disastrous event of the campaign, and it remained hidden for eighty years until it was found among the do-mestic archives of the Strachey family, at Sutton Court in Somerset. The first Sir Henry Strachey was secretary to the Howes from 1775 to 1778. The document is in Lee's well-known handwriting and is indorsed by Strachey as "Mr. Lee's plan, March 29, 1777." In this docu-ment Lee maintains that if the state of Maryland could be overawed, and the people of Virg-inia prevented from sending aid to Pennsylvania, then Philadelphia might be taken and held, and the operations of the "rebel government" paralyzed. The Tory party was known to be strong in Pennsylvania, and the circumstances under which Maryland had declared for inde-pendence, last of all the colonies save New York, were such as to make it seem probable that there also the loyalist feeling was very powerful. Lee did not hesitate to assert as of his own personal knowledge, that the people of Maryland and Pennsylvania were nearly all loyalists, who only awaited the arrival of a British army in order to declare themselves. He therefore recommended that 14,000 men should drive Washington out of New Jersey and capture Philadelphia, while the remainder of
Howe's army, 4,000 in number should go around by sea to Chesapeake Bay, and occupy Alexandria and Annapolis. From these points, if Lord Howe were to issue a proclamation of amnesty, the pacification of the "central colonies" might be effected in less than two months; and so confident of all this did the writer feel that he declared himself ready "to stake his life upon the issue," a remark which betrays, perhaps, what was uppermost in his mind throughout the whole proceeding. At the same time, he argued that offensive operations toward the north could not "answer any sort of purpose," since the northern provinces "are at present neither the seat of government, strength, nor politics; and the apprehensions from General Carleton's army will, I am confident, keep the New Englanders at home, or at least confine them to the east side the [Hudson] river."
It will be observed that this plan of Lee's was similar to that of Lord George Germaine, in so far as it aimed at thrusting the British power like a wedge into the centre of the confederacy, and thus cutting asunder New England and Virginia, the two chief centres of the rebellion. But instead of aiming his blow at the Hudson river, Lee aims it at Phila-delphia as the "rebel capital;" and his reason for doing this shows how little he under-stood American affairs, and how strictly he viewed them in the light of his military ex-perience in Europe. In European warfare it is customary to strike at the enemy's capital city, in order to get control of his whole system of administration; but that the
possession of an enemy's capital is not always decisive, the wars of Napoleon have most abundantly proved. The battles of Austerlitz in 1805 and Wagram in 1809 were fought by Napoleon after he had entered Vienna; it was not his acquisition of Berlin in 1806 but his victory at Friedland in the following summer, that completed the overthrow of Prussia; and where he had to contend against a strong and united national feeling, as in Spain and Russia, the possession of the capital did not help him in the least. Nevertheless, in European countries, where the systems of adminstration are highly centralized, it is usually advisable to move upon the enemy's capital. But to apply such a principle to Philadelphia in 1777 was the height of absurdity. Philadelphia had been selected for the meetings of the Continental Congress because of its geographical position. It was the most centrally situ-ated of our large towns, but it was in no sense the centre of a vast administrative machin-ery. If taken by an enemy, it was only necessary for Congress to move to any other town, and everything would go on as before. As it was not an administrative, so neither was it a military centre. It commanded no great system of interior highways, and it was compara-tively difficult to protect by the fleet. It might be argued, on the other hand, that be-cause Philadelphia was the largest town in the United States, and possessed of a certain preeminence as the seat of Congress, the acquisition of it by the invaders would give them a certain moral advantage. It would help the Tory party, and discourage the
patriots. Such a gain, however, would be trifling compared with the loss which might come from Howe's failure to cooperate with Burgoyne; and so the event most signally proved.
Just how far the Howes were persuaded b Lee's arguments must be a matter of inference. The course which they ultimately pursued, in close conformity with the suggestions of this re-markable document, was so disastrous to the British cause that the author might almost seem to have been intentionally luring them off on a false scent. One would gladly take so charitable a view of the matter, were it not both inconsistent with what we have already seen of Lee, and utterly negatived by his scandalous behavior the following year, after his restoration to his command in the American army. We cannot doubt that Lee gave his advice in sober earnest. That considerable weight was attached to it is shown by a secret letter from Sir William Howe to Lord George Germaine, dated the 2d of April, or four days after the date of Lee's extraordinary document. In this letter, Howe initmates for the first time that he has an expedition in mind which may modify the scheme for a joint campaign with the northern army along the line of the Hudson. To this suggestion Lord George replied on the 18th of May: "I trust that whatever you may meditate will be executed in time for you to cooperate with the army to proceed from Canada." It was a few days after this that Lord George, perhaps feeling a little uneasy about the matter, wrote that imperative order which lay in its pigeon-hole in London until all the damage was done.
With these data at our command, it becomes easy to comprehend General Howe's movements during the spring and summer. His first intention was to push across New Jersey with the great body of his army, and occupy Philadelphia; and since he had twice as many men as Washington, he might hope to do this in time to get back to the Hudson as soon as he was likely to be needed there. He began his march on the 12th of June, five days before Bur-goyne's flotilla started southward on Lake Champlain. The enterprise did not seem haz-ardous, but Howe was completely foiled by Washngton's superior strategy. Before the British commander had fairly begun to move, Washington, from various symptoms, divined his purpose, and coming down from his lair at Morristown, planted himself on the heights of Middlebrook within ten miles of New Brunswick, close upon the flank of Howe's line of march. Such a position, occupied by 8,000 men under such a general, was equivalent to a fortress which it would not do for Howe to pass by and leave in his rear. But the position was so strong that to try to storm it would be to invite defeat. It remained to be seen what could be done by manoeuvring. The British army of 18,000 men was concentrated at New Brunswick, with plenty of boats for crossing the Delaware river, when that obstacle should be reached. But the really insuperable obstacle was close at hand. A campaign of eighteen days ensued, con-sisting of wily marches and counter-marches, the result of which showed that Washington's advantage of position
could not be wrested from him. Howe could neither get by him nor outwit him, and was too prudent to attack him; and accordingly, on the last day of June, he abandoned his first plan and evacuated New Jersey, taking his whole army over to Staten Island.
This campaign has attracted far less attention than it deserves, mainly, no doubt, because it contained no battles or other striking devices. But in point of military skill, it was, perhaps as remarkable as anything that Washington ever did, and it certainly occupies a cardinal position in the history of the overthrow of Burgoyne. For if Howe had been able to take Philadelphia early in the summer, it is difficult to see what could have prevented him from returning and ascending the Hudson, in accordance with the plan of the ministry. Now the month of June was gone, and Burgoyne was approaching Ticonderoga. Howe ought to have held himself in readiness to aid him, but he could not seem to get Philadelphia, the "rebel capital" out of his mind. His next plan coincided remarkably with the other half of Lee's scheme. He decided to go around to Philadelphia by sea, but he was slow in starting, and seems to have paused for a moment to watch the course of events at the north. He began early in July to put his men on board ship, but confided his plans to no one but Cornwallis and Grant; and his own army, as well as the Americans, believed that this show of going to sea was only a feint to disguise his real intention.
Every one supposed that he would go up the Hudson. As soon as New Jersey was evacuated Washington moved back to Morristown and threw his advance, under Sullivan, as far north as Pompton, so as to be ready to cooperate with Putnam in the Highlands, at a moment's notice. As soon as it became known that Ticonderoga had fallen, Washington, supposing that his adversary would do what a good general ought to do, advanced into the Ramapo Clove, a rugged defile in the Highlands, near Haverstraw, and actually sent the divisions of Sullivan and Stirling across the river to Peekskill.
All this while Howe kept moving some of his ships, now up the Hudson, now into the Sound, now off from Sandy Hooke, so that people might doubt whether his destination were the Highlands, or Boston, or Philadelphia. Probably his own mind was not fully made up until after the news from Ticonderoga. Then, amid the general exultation, he seems to have con-cluded that Burgoyne would be able to take care of himself, at least with such cooperation as he might get from Sir Henry Clinton. In this mood he wrote to Burgoyne as follows: "I have heard from the rebel army of your being in possession of Ticonderoga, which is a great event, carried without loss....Washington is waiting our motions here, and has detached Sullivan with about 2,500 men, as I learn, to Albany. My intention is for Pennsylvania, where I expect to meet Washington; but if he goes to the northward, contrary to my expectations, and you can keep him at bay, be assured I
shall soon be after him to relieve you. After your arrival at Albany, the movements of the enemy will guide yours; but my wishes are that the enemy be drove [sic] out of this province before any operation takes place in Connecticut. Sir Henry Clinton remains in the command here, and will act as occurrences may direct. Putnam is in the Highlands with about 4,000 men. Success be ever with you."
This letter, which was written on very narrow strips of thin paper, and conveyed in a quill, did not reach Burgoyne till the middle of September, when things wore a very different aspect from that which they wore in the middle of July. Nothing could better illustrate the rash, overconfident spirit in which Howe proceeded to carry out his southern scheme. A few days afterward he put to sea with the fleet of 228 sail, carrying an army of 18,000 men, while 7,000 were left in New York, under Sir Henry Clinton, to garrison the city and act according to circumstances. Just before sailing Howe wrote a letter to Burgoyne, stating that the desination of his fleet was Boston, and he artfully contrived that this letter should fall into Washington's hands. But Washington was a difficult person to hoodwink. On reading the letter he rightly inferred that Howe had gone southward. Accordingly, recalling Sullivan and Stirling to the west side of the Hudson, he set out for the Delaware, but proceeded very cautiously, lest Howe should suddenly retrace his course, and dart up the Hudson. To guard against such an emergency, he let Sullivan advance no farther than Morristown, and kept everything in readiness for an instant counter-
march. In a letter of July 30th he writes, "Howe's in a manner abandoning Burgoyne is so unaccountable a matter that, till I am fully assured of it, I cannot help casting my eyes continually behind me." Next day, learning that the fleet had arrived at the Capes of Delaware, he advanced to Germantown; but on the day after, when he heard that the fleet had put out to sea again, he suspected that the whole movement had been a feint. He believed that Howe would at once return to the Hudson, and immediately ordered Sulli-van to counter-march, while he held himself ready to follow at a moment's notice. His best generals entertained the same opinion. "I cannot persuade myself," said Greene, "that General Burgoyne would dare to push with such rapidity towards Albany if he did not expect support from General Howe." A similar view of the military exigencies of the case was taken by the British officers, who, almost to a man, disapproved ot the southward movement. They knew as well as Greene that, however fine a city Philadelphia might be, it was "an object of far less military importance than the Hudson river."
No wonder that the American generals were wide of the mark in their conjectures, for the folly of Howe's movements after reaching the mouth of the Delaware was quite beyond credence and would be inexplicable today except as the result of the wild advice of the marplot, Lee. Howe alleged as his reason for turning away from the Delaware that there were obstructions in the river and forts to pass and
accordingly he thought it best to go around by way of Chesapeake Bay, and land his army at Elkton. Now he might easily have gone a little way up the Delaware river without en-countering any obstruction whatever, and landed his troops at a point only thirteen miles east of Elkton. Instead of attempting this, he wasted twenty-four days in a voyage of four hundred miles, mostly against headwinds, in order to reach the same point! No sensible antagonist could be expected to understand such eccentric behaviour. No wonder that, after it had become clear that the fleet had gone southward, Washington should have supposed an attack on Charleston to be intended. A council of war on the 21st decided that this must be the case, and since an overland march of seven hundred miles could not be accomplished in time to prevent such an attack, it was decided to go back to New York, and operate against Sir Henry Clinton. But before this decision was acted on Howe appeared at the head of the Chesapeake Bay, where he landed his forces at Elkton. It was now the 25th of August, - nine days after the battle of Bennington and three days after the flight of St. Leger. Since entering Chesapeake Bay, Howe had received Lord George Germaine's letter if May 18th, telling him that whatever he had to do ought to be done in time for him to cooperate with Burgoyne. Now Burgoyne's situation had become dangerous, and here was Howe at Elkton, fifty miles southwest of Philadelphia, with Washington's army in front of him, and more than three hundred miles away from Burgoyne!
On hearing of Howe's arrival at the head of Chesapeake Bay, Washington had advanced as far as Wilmington to meet him. The first proceeding of the British general, on landing at Elkton, was to issue his proclamation of amnesty; but it did not bring him many recruits. A counter-proclamation drawn up by Luther Martin, sufficed to neutralize it. Though there were many people in the neighborhood who cared little for the cause of independence, there were but few who sympathized with the invaders enough to render them any valuable assistance. It was through a country indifferent, perhaps, but not friendly in feeling, that the British army cautiously pushed its way northward for a fortnight, until it reached the village of Kennett Square, six miles west of the Brandywine Creek, behind which Wash-ington had planted himself to oppose its progress.
The time had arrived when Washington felt it necessary to offer battle, even though such a step might not be justified from purely military reasons. The people were weary of a Fabian policy which they did not comprehend, and Washington saw that even if he were de-feated, the moral effect upon the country would not be so bad as if her were to abandon Philadelphia without a blow. A victory he was hardly entitled to expect, since he had but 11,000 men against Howe's 18,000, and since the British were still greatly superior in equipment and discipline. Under these circumstances, Washington chose his ground with his usual sagacity, and took possession of it by a swift and masterly movement.
The Brandywine Creek ran directly athwart Howe's line of march to Philadelphia. Though large enough to serve as a military obstacle, - in England it would be called a river, -it was crossed by numerous fords, of which the principal one, Chadd's Ford, lay in Howe's way. Washington placed the centre of his army just behind Chadd's Ford and across the road. His centre was defended in front by a corps of artillery under Wayne, while Greene, on some high ground in the rear, was stationed as a reserve. Below Chadd's Ford, the Brandywine becomes a roaring torrent, shut in between steep, high cliffs, so that the American left, resting upon these natural defences, was sufficiently guarded by the Penn-sylvania militia under Armstrong. The right wing, stretching two miles up the stream, into an uneven and thickly wooded country, was commanded by Sullivan.
This was a very strong position. On the left it was practically inacessible. To try storming it in front would be a doubtful experiment, sure to result in terrible loss of life. The only weak point was the right, which could be taken in flank by a long circuit-ous march through the woods. Accordingly, on the morning of the 11th of September, the British right wing, under Knyphausen, began skirmishing and occupying Washington's attention at Chadd's Ford; while the left column, under the energetic Cornwallis, marched up the Lancaster road, crossed the forks of the Brandywine, and turned southward toward Birming-ham church, with the
intention of striking the rear of the American right wing. It was similar to the flanking movement which had been tried so sucessfully at the battle of Long Island a year before. It was quite like the splendid movement of Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville, eighty-five years afterward. In Howe's time such flanking marches were eminently fashionable. It was in this way that the great Frederick had won some of his most astonishing victories. They were, nevertheless, then as always, dangerous expeditions as the stupendous overthrow of the Austro-Russian army at Austerlitz was by and by to show. There is always a serious chance that the tables may be turned. Such flanking movements are comparatively safe, however, when the attacking army greatly outnumbers the army attacked, as at the Brandy-wine. But in all cases the chief element in their success is secrecy; above all things, the party attacked must be kept in the dark.
These point are admirably illustrated in the battle of the Brandywine. The danger of a flank attack upon his right wing was well understood by Washington; and as soon as he heard that Cornwallis was marching up the Lancaster road, he considered the feasibleness of doing what Frederick would probably have done, - of crossing quickly at Chadd's and Brinton's fords, in full force, and crushing Knyphausen's division. This he could doubtless have accomplished, had he been so fortunate as to have inherited an army trained by the father of Frederick the Great. But Washington's army was not yet well trained and its
Map - Battle of Brandywine September 11, 1777
numerically inferiority was such that Knyphausen's division might of itself be regarded as a fair match for it. The British movement was, therefore, well considered, and it was doubtless right that Washington did not return the offensive by crossing the creek. More-over, the organization of his staff was far from complete. He was puzzled by conflicting reports as to the enemy's movements. While considering the question of throwing his whole force against Knyphausen, he was stopped by a false report that Cornwallis was not moving upon his flank. So great was the delay in getting intelligence that Cornwallis had accomplished his long march of eighteen miles and was approaching Birmingham church, before it was well known where he was. Nevertheless, his intention of dealing a death-blow to the American army was forestalled and partially checked. Before he had reached our right wing, Washington had ordered Sullivan to form a new front and advance toward Birmingham church. Owing to the imperfect discipline of the troops, Sullivan executed the movement rather clumsily, but enough was accomplished to save the army from rout. In the obstinate and murderous flight which ensued near Birmingham church between Cornwallis and Sullivan, the latter was a length slowly pushed back in the direction of Dilworth. To save the army from being broken in two, it was now necessary for the centre to retreat upon Chester by way of Dilworth, and this movement was accomplished by Greene with consumate skill. It was now possible for Knyphausen to advance across Chadd's Ford against Wayne's
position; and he did so, aided by the right wing of Cornwallis's division, which, instead of joining in the oblique pursuit toward Dilworth, kept straight onward, and came down upon Wayne's rear. Nothing was left for Wayne or Armstrong but to retreat and join the rest of the army at Chester, and so the battle of Brandywine came to an end.
This famous battle was admirably conducted on both sides. The risk assumed in the long flanking march of Cornwallis was fully justified. The poor organization of the American army was of course well known to the British commanders, and they took advantage of the fact. Had they been dealing with an organization as efficient as their own, their course would have been foolhardy. On the other hand, when we consider the relative strength of the two armies, it is clear that the bold move of Cornwallis ought not simply to have won the field of battle. It ought to have annihilated the American army had not its worst consequences been averted by Washington's promptness aided by Sullivan's obstinate bravery and Greene's masterly conduct of the retreat upon Dilworth. As it was, the American soldiers came out of the fight in good order. Nothing could be more absurd than the careless statement, so often made, that the Americans were "routed" at Brandywine. Their organization was preserved, and at Chester, next day, they were as ready for fight as ever. They had exacted from the enemy a round price for the victory. The American loss ws a little more than 1,000, incurred chiefly in Sullivan's gallant struggle;
rolls afterward captured at Germantown showed that the British loss considerably exceeded that figure.
So far as the possession of Philadelphia was concerned, the British victory was decisive. When the news came, next morning, that the army had retreated upon Chester, there was great consternation in the "rebel capital." Some timid people left their homes and sought refuge in the mountains. Congress fled to Lancaster, first clothing Washington for sixty days with the same extraordinary powers which had been granted him the year before. Yet there was no need of such unseemly haste for Washington detained the victorious enemy a fortnight on the march of only twenty-six miles; a feat which not even Napolean could have performed with an army that had just been "routed." He had now heard of Stark's victory and St. Leger's flight and his letters show how clearly he foresaw Burgoyne's fate, provided Howe could be kept away from him. To keep Howe's whole force employed near Philadelphia as long as possi-ble was of the utmost importance. Accordingly, during the fortnight following the battle of the Brandywine, every day saw manoeuvres or skirmishes, on one of which General Wayne was defeated by Sir Charles Grey with a loss of three hundred men. On the 26th while Howe established his headquarters at Germantown, Cornwallis entered Philadelphia in triumph marching with bands of music and flying colours, and all the troops decked out in their finest scarlet array.
Having got possession of the "rebel capital," the question now arose whether it would be possible to hold it through the winter. The Delaware river, below the city, had been care-fully obstructed by chevaux-de-frise, which were guarded by two strong fortresses - Fort Mifflin on an island in mid-stream, and Fort Mercer on the Jersey shore. The river was her about two miles in width, but it was impossible for ships to pas until the forts should have been reduced. About the first of October, after a rough return voyage of four hundred miles, Lord Howe's fleet appeared at the mouth of the Delaware. It was absolutely necessary to gain control of the river, in order that the city might get supplies by sea; for so long as Washington's army remained unbroken, the Americans were quite able to cut off all supplies by land. Sir William Howe, therefore, threw a portion of his forces across the river, to aid his brother in reducing the forts. The quick eye of Washington now saw an opportunity for attacking the main British army, while thus temporarily weakened; and he forthwith planned a brilliant battle, which was fated to be lost, at the very moment of victory, by an extraordinary accident.
The village of Germantown, on the bank of the Schuylkill river, was then separated from Philadelphia by about six miles of open country. The village consisted chiefly of a single street, about two miles in length, with stone houses on either side, standing about a hundred yards apart from each other, and
surrounded by gardens and orchards. Near the upper end of the street, in the midst of ornamental shrubbery, vases and statues, arranged in a French style of landscape gardening stood the massively built house of Benjamin Chew, formerly Chief Justice of Pennsylvania. About a mile below, at the Market House, the main street was crossed at right angles by the Old School Lane. Beside the main street, running over Chestnut Hill, the village was approached from the northward by three roads. The Monatawny road ran down by the bank of the Schuylkill and crossing the Old School Lane, bore on toward Philadelphia. The Limekiln road coming from the northeast, became continuous with the Old School Lane. The Old York road, still further eastward joined the main street at the Rising Sun tavern, about two miles below the Market House.
The British army lay encamped just behind the Old School Lane, in the lower part of the village: the left wing under Knyphausen, to the west of the main street; the right, under Grant, to the east. A stong detachment of chasseurs, under Sir Charles Grey, covered the left wing. About a mile in advance of the army, Colonel Musgrave's regiment lay in a field opposite Judge Chew's house; and yet a mile farther forward a battalion of light infantry was stationed on the slight eminence known as Mount Airy, where a small battery commanded the road to the north.
Washington's plan of attack seems to have contemplated nothing less than the destruction or capture of the British army. His forces were to advance
from the north by all four roads at once, and converge upon the British at the Market House. The American right wing, under Sullivan, and consisting of Sullivan's own brigade, with those of Conway, Wayne, Maxwell and Nash, was to march down the main street, overwhelm the advanced parties of the British, and engage their left wing in front; while Armstrong, with the Pennsylvania militia, was to move down the Monatawny road, and take the same wing in flank. The American left wing, commmanded by Greene, was also to proceed in two columns. Greene, with his own brigade supported by Stephen and McDougal, was to march down the Lime-kiln road and assail the British right wing in front and in flank; while Smallwood and Forman, coming down the Old York road, were to strike the same wing in the rear. The flank attack upon the British left, entrusted as it was to militia, was intended merely as a demonstration. The attack upon their right, conducted by more than half of the American army, including its best troops, was inteneded to crush that wing, and folding back the whole British army upon the Schuylkill river, compel it to surrender.
Considering that the Americans had not even yet a superiority in numbers, this was a most audacious plan. No better instance could be given of the spirit of wild and venturous daring which was as conspicuous in Washington as his cautious vigilance, whenever any fit occasion arose for displaying it. The scheme came surprisingly near to success; so near as to redeem it from the imputation
Map - Battle of Germantown October 4, 1777
of foolhardiness, and to show that here, as in all Washington's military movements, cool judgment went along with fiery dash. At seven in the evening of the 3d of October, the night march upon Germantown began, Washington accompanying Sullivan's column. At sunrise, a heavy fog came and, and the darkness went on increasing. Soon after the hour of day-break the light infantry upon Mount Airy were surprised and routed, and the battery was captured. Musgrave was next overwhelmed by the heavy American column; but he, with a small force, took refuge in Judge Chew's house, and set up a brisk fire from the windows. The Americans opened an artillery-fire upon the house, but its stone walls were too solid to be beaten down by the three-pound and six-pound field-pieces of that day; and so Maxwell's brigade was left behind to besiege the house, while the rest of the column rushed on down the street. The chief effect of this incident was to warn the enemy, while retarding and somewhat weakening the American charge. Nevertheless, the fury of the attack was such as to disconcert Knyphausen's veterans, and the British left wing slowly gave way before Sullivan. At this moment, Greene, who had also been delayed, attacked the right wing with such vigor as presently to force it back toward the Market House. The British ranks were falling into confusion, and Smallwood's column had already arrived upon their right flank, when the accident occurred which changed the fortunes of the day. From the beginning the dense fog had been a source of confusion
to both armies, and had seriously interfered with the solidity of the American advance. Now, as Stephen's brigade, on the right of Greene's column, came into the village, the heavy firing at Judge Chew's seems to have caused him to diverge more and more to the west, in the belief that there was the thick of the battle. At the same time, Wayne, in driving the enemy before him, had swayed somewhat to the east, so that his brigade stood almost directly in the line of Stephen's progress. In this position he was attacked by Stephen, who mis-took him for the enemy. This lamentable blunder instantly ruined the battle. Wayne's men thus fiercely attacked in the rear, and struggling to extricate themselves, were thrown upon the left flank of Sullivan's brigade, and a panice suddenly ran through the army. The confusion grew worse and worse, till a general retreat began and Grey, who had come up to support the crumbling right wing of the British, was now able to lead in the pursuit of the Americans. He was joined by Cornwallis, who had sprung from his bed in Philadelphia at the first sound of the cannon and had brought up two battalions with him at double-quick. But the panic had subsided almost as soon as the golden moment of victory was lost, and the retreat was conducted in excellent order. One regiment in Greene's column was surrounded and captured, but the army brought away all its cannon and wounded with several cannon taken from the enemy. The loss of the Americans in killed and wounded was 673 and the loss of the British was 535.
The fog which enshrouded the village of Germantown on that eventful morning has been hardly less confusing to historians than it was to the armies engaged. The reports of different observers conflicted in many details, and particularly as to the immediate occasion of fatal panic. The best accounts agree, however, that the entanglement of Stephen with Wayne was chiefly responsible for the disaster. It was charged against Stepehn that he had taken too many pulls at his canteen on the long damp night march, and he was tried by court-martial and dismissed from the service. The chagrin of the Americans at losing the prize so nearly grasped was profound. The total rout of Howe, coming at the same time with the surrender of Burgoyne, would probably have been too much for Lord North's ministry to bear, and might have brought the war to a sudden close. As it was, the British took an undue amount of comfort in the acquisition of Philadelphia, though so long as Washington's army remained defiant it was of small military value to them. On the other hand, the genius and audacity shown by Washington, in thus planning and so nearly accomplishing the ruin of the British army only three weeks after the defeat at the Brandywine, produced a profound impression upon military critics in Europe. Frederick of Prussia saw that presently, when American soldiers should come to be disciplined veterans, they would become a very formidable instrument in the hands of their great commander; and the French court, in making up its mind that the Americans would prove efficient allies, is said to
have been influenced almost as much by the battle of Germantown as by the surrender of Burgoyne. Having thus escaped the catastrophe which Washington had designed for him, the British commander was now able to put forth his utmost efforts for the capture of the forts on the Delaware. His utmost efforts were needed, for in the first attack on Fort Mercer, October 22, the Hessians were totally defeated, with the loss of Count Donop and 400 men, while the Americans lost but 37. But after a month of hard work, with the aid of 6,000 more men sent from New York by Clinton, both forts were reduced, and the command of the Delaware was wrested from the Americans. Another month of manoeuvring and skirmishing followed, and then Washington took his army into winter quarters at Valley Forge. The events which attended his sojourn in that natural stronghold belong to a later period of the war. We must now return to the upper waters of the Hudson, and show how the whole period, which may be most fitly described as a struggle for the control of the great central state of New York, was brought to an end by the complete and overwhelming victory of the Americans.
We have seen how it became impossible for Howe to act upon Lord George Germaine's order, received in August, in Chesapeake Bay, and get back to the Hudson in time to be of any use to Burgoyne. We have also seen how critical was the situation in which the northern general was left
after the destruction of Baum and St. Leger, and the accumulation of New England yeomanry in his rear. Burgoyne now fully acknowledged the terrible mistake of the ministry in assuming that the resistance of the Americans was due to the machinations of a few wily demagogues, and that the people would hail the approach of the king's troops as deliverers. "The great bulk of the country," said he, "is undoubtedly with the Congress in principle and zeal, and their measures are executed with a secrecy and dispatch that are not to be equalled. The Hampshire Grants, in particular, a country unpeopled and almost unknown last war, now abounds in the most active and most rebellious race on the continent, and hangs like a gathering storm upon my left." The situation had, indeed, become so alarming that it is hard to say what Burgoyne ought to have done. A retreat upon Ticonderoga would have been fraught with peril, while to cross the Hudson and advance upon Albany would be doing like Cortes, when he scuttled his ships. But Burgoyne was a man of chivalrous nature. He did not think it right or prudent to abandon Sir William Howe whom he still supposed to be coming up the river to meet him. In a letter to Lord George Germaine, written three days after the surrender, he says, "The difficulty of a retreat upon Canada was clearly foreseen, as was the dilemma, should the retreat be effected, of leaving at liberty such an army as General Gates's to operate against Sir William Howe. This considerattion operated forcibly to determine me to
abide events as long as possible, and I reasoned thus: the expedition which I commanded was at first evidently intended to be hazarded; circumstances might required it should be devoted."
Influenced by these views, which were supported by all his generals except Riedesel, Burgoyne threw a bridge of boats across the Hudson, and passed over with his whole army on the 13th of September. The Americans had taken a strong position on Bemis Heights where Kosciusko had skilfully fortified their camp with batteries and redoubts. Burgoyne felt that the time for desperate fighting had now come, and it seemed to him that the American position might be turned and carried by an attack upon its left flank. On the morning of the 19th, he advanced through the woods with the centre of his army, toward the point where the Quaker road passes Bemis Heights. The right wing, under Fraser, pro-ceeded somewhat more circuitously toward the same point, the plan being that they should join forces and strike the rear of the American camp, while Riedesel and Phillips, with the left wing and the artillery, marching down the river road, should assail it in front.
Three heavy guns, announcing to the left wing the junction of Burgoyne and Fraser, were to give the signal for a general assault. American scouts, lurking among the upper branches of tall trees that grew on steep hillsides presently caught glimpses of bright scarlet flitting through the green depths of the forest, while the long sunbeams that found their wasy through the foliage sent back
Map - Battle at Freeman's Farm September 19, 1777
quick burning flashes from a thousand bayonets. By noon the course of the British march and their plan of attack had been fully deciphered, and the intelligence was carried to Arnold, who commanded the left wing of the American army. Gates appears to have been unwilling to let any of the forces descend from their strong position; but the fiery Arnold urged and implored until he got permission to take Morgan's riflemen and Dearborn's infantry and go forth to attack the enemy. Arnold's advance, under Morgan, first fell upon Burgoyne's advance, at Freeman's Farm, and checked its progress. Fraser then, hearing the musketry, turned eastward to the rescue, while Arnold, moving upon Fraser's left, sought to cut him asunder from Burgoyne. He seemed to be winning the day, when he was attacked in flank by Riedesel, who had hurried up from the river road. Arnold had already sent to Gates for reinforcements, which were refused him. Arnold maintained that this was a gross blunder on the part of the commanding general, and that with 2,000 more men he could now easily have crushed the British centre and defeated their army. In this opinion he was probably right, since even as it was he held his own, in a desperate fight for two hours until darkness put an end to the struggle. The losses on each side are variously estimated at from 600 to 1,000, or one fifth to one fourth of the forces engaged which indicates severe fighting. Arnold's command had numbered about 3,000 and he had been engaged in the course of the afternoon, with at least 4,000 of Burgoyne's army; yet all this
while some 11,000 Americans - most of the army in short, had been kept idle on Bemis Heights by the incompetent Gates. Burgoyne tried to console himself with the idea that he had won a victory, because his army slept that night at Freeman's Farm; but in his testimony given afterward before the House of Commons, he rightly maintained that his plan of attack had been utterly defeated by the bold and skilful tactics of "Mr. Arnold."
In the dispatches which he now sent to Congress, Gates took to himself all the credit of this affair, and did not even mention Arnold's name. The army, however, rang with praise of the fighting general, until Gates, who never could bear to hear anyone but himself well spoken of, waxed wroth and revengeful. Arnold, moreover, freely blamed Gates for not supporting him and for refusing to renew the battle on the next morning, while the enemy were still disconcerted. Arnold's warm friendship with Schuyler gave further offence to the commander; and three days after the battle he sought to wreak his spite by withdrawing Morgan's riflemen and Dearborn's light infantry from Arnold's division. A fierce quarrel ensued; and Gates told Arnold that as soon as Lincoln should arrive he would have no further use for him and he might go back to Washington's camp as soon as he liked. Arnold, white with rage, said he would go and asked for a pass, which his enemy promptly gave him; but having received it, second thoughts prevented him from going. All the general officers
except Lincoln, who seems to have refrained from unwillingness to give umbrage to a commander so high in the good graces of Massachusetts as Gates, united in signing a letter entreating Arnold to remain. He had been sent here by WAshington to aid the northern army with all his might, and clearly it would be wrong to leave it now, on the eve of a decisive battle. So the proud, fiery soldier, smarting uner an accumulation of injuries, made up his mind once more to swallow the affront, and wait for a chance to make himself useful. He stayed in his quarters, awaiting the day of battle, though it was not clear how far he was entitled, under the circumstances, to excercise command and Gates took no more notice of him than if he ahd been a dog.
Nothing more was done for eighteen days. Just before the crossing of the Hudson by the northern army, Sir Henry Clinton, acting "as circumstances may direct," had planned an expedition up the river in aid of it; and Burgoyne, hearing of this the day after the battle at Freeman's Farm, thought it best to wait awhile before undertaking another assault upon the American lines. But things were swiftly coming to such a pass that it would not do to wait. On the 21st news came to the British camp that a detachment of Lincoln's troops had laid siege to Ticonderoga and, while holding the garrison in check, had captured several ships and taken 300 prisoners. A day or two later came the news that these New Englanders had embarked on Lake George in ships they had captured and were
cutting off the last sources of supply. And now, while even on shortest rations there was barely three week's food for the army, Lincoln's main force appeared in front, thus swelling the numbers of the American army to more than 16,000. The case had become as desperate as that of the Athenians at Syracuse before their last dreadful battle in the harbour. So, after eighteen weary days no word yet coming from Clinton, the gallant Burgoyne attempted, by a furious effort to break through the lines of an army that now outnumbered them three to one.
On the morning of October 7th, leaving the rest of his army in camp, Burgoyne advanced with 1,500 picked men to turn the American left. Small as the force was, its quality was superb, and with it were the best commanders, - Phillips, Riedesel, Fraser, Balcarras and Ackland. Such a compact force, so ably led might manoeuvre quickly. If, on sounding the American position on the left, they should find it too strong to be forced, they might swiftly retreat. At all events, the movement would cover a foraging party which Burgoyne had sent out, and this was no small matter. Arnold, too, the fighting general, it was reported, held no command; and Gates was known to be a sluggard. Such thoughts may have helped to shape the conduct of the British commander on this critical morning. But the scheme was swiftly overturned. As the British came on, their right was suddenly attacked by Morgan, while the New England regulars with 3,000 New York militia
assailed them in front. After a short, sharp fight against overwhelming numbers, their whole line was broken, and Fraser sought to form a second line a little farther back and on the west border of Freeman's Farm, though the ranks were badly disordered and all their cannon were lost. At this moment, Arnold, who had been watching from the heights saw that a well directed blow might not only ruin this retreating column, but also shatter the whole British army. Quick as thought he sprang upon his horse and galloped to the scene of action. He was greeted with deafening hurrahs, and the men, leaping with exultation at sight of their beloved commander, rushed upon Fraser's half-formed line. At the same moment, while Morgan was still pressing on the British right, one of his marksmen shot General Fraser who fell, mortally wounded just as Arnold charged with made fury upon his line. The British, thus assailed in front and flank, were soon pushed off the field. Arnold next attacked Lord Balcarras, who had retired behind intrenchments at the north of Freeman's Farm; but finding the resistance here too strong, he swept by and charged upon the Canadian auxiliaries, who occupied a position just north of Balcarras and covered the left wing of Breymann's forces at the extreme right of the British camp. The Canadians soon fled leaving Breymann uncovered; and Arnold forthwith rushed against Breymann on the left, just as Morgan who had prolonged his flanking march, assailed him on the right. Breymann was slain and his force routed; the British right wing was crushed and their whole
position taken in reverse and made untenable. Just at this moment, a wounded German soldier lying on the ground took aim at Arnold and slew his horse while the ball passed through the general's left leg, that had been wounded at Quebec and fractured a bone a little above the knee. As Arnold fell one of his men rushed up to bayonet the wounded soldier who had shot him when the prostrate general cried, "For God's sake, dont hurt him, he is a fine fellow.!" The poor German was saved and it has been well said that this was the hour when Benedict Arnold should have died. His fall and the gathering twilight stopped the progress of the battle but the American victory was complete and decisive. Nothing was left for Burgoyne but to get the wreck of his army out of the way as quickly as possible and the next day he did so, making a skilful retreat upon Saratoga, in the course of which, during the skirmish his soldiers burned General Schuyler's princely country-house with its barns and granaries.
As the British retreated, General Gates steadily closed in upon them with his overwhelming forces which now numbered nearly 20,000. Gates - to give him due credit - knew how to be active after the victory, although, when fighting was going on, he was a general of sedentary habits. When Arnold rushed down, at the critical moment to complete the victory of Saratoga, Gates sent out Major Armstrong to stop him. "Call back that fellow," said Gates, "or he will be doing something rash!" But the eager Arnold had outgalloped the messenger and came back
Map of Second Battle at Freeman's Farm, Called Battle of Bemis Heights, or of Stillwater. October 7, 1777
only when his leg was broken and the victory won. In the meantime Gates sat at his headquarters, forgetful of the battle that was raging below, while he argued the merits of the American Revolution with a wounded British officer, Sir Francis Clarke, who had been brought in and laid upon the commander's bed to die. Losing his temper in the discussion Gates called to his adjutant, Wilkinson, out of the room and asked him "Did you ever hear so impudent a son of a bitch?" And this seems to have been all that the commanding general contributed to the crowning victory of Saratoga.
When Burgoyne reache the place where he had crossed the Hudson, he found a force of 3,000 Americans, with several batteries of cannon occupying the hills on the other side, so that it was now impossible to cross. A council of war decided to abandon all the artillery and baggage, push through the woods by night, and effect a crossing higher up, by Fort Edward where the great river begins to be fordable. But no sooner had this plan been made than word was brought that the Americans were guarding all the fords and had also planted detachments in a strong position to the northward, between Fort Edward and Fort George. The British army in short was surrounded. A brisk cannonade was opened upon it from the east and south while Morgan's sharpshooters kept up a galling fire in the rear. Some of the women and wounded men were sent for safety to a large house in the neighborhood where they took refuge in the cellar; and
there the Baroness Riedesel tells us how she passed six dismal nights and days, crouching in a corner near the doorway, with her three little children clinging about her, while every now and then, with hideous crashing, a heavy cannon-ball passed through the room overhead. The cellar became crowded with cripped and dying men. But little food could be obtained, and the suffering from thirst was dreadful. It was only a few steps to the river, but every man who ventured out with a bucket was shot dead by Virginia rifles that never missed their aim. At last the brave wife of a British soldier volunteered to go; and thus the water was brought again and again for the Americans would not fire at a woman.
And now, while Burgoyne's last ray of hope was dying, and while the veteran Phillips de-clared himself hearbroken at the misery which he could not relieve, where was Sir Henry Clinton? He had not thought it prudent to leave New York until after the arrival of 3,000 soldiers whom he expected from England. These men arrived on the 29th of September but six days more elapsed before Sir Henry had taken them up the river and landed them near Putnam's headquarters at Peekskill. In a campaign of three days he outwitted that general carried two of the forts after obstinate resistance and compelled the Americans to abandon the others; and thus laid open the river so that British ships might go up to Albany. On the 8th of October, Sir Henry wrote to Burgoyne from Fort Montgomery: "Nous y voici, and nothing between us and Gates.
"I sincerely hope this little success of ours will facilitate your operations." This dispatch was written on a scrap of very thin paper and encased in an oval silver bullet, which opened with a tiny screw in the middle. Sir Henry then sent General Vaughan with several frigates and the greater part of his force, to make all haste for Albany. As they passed up the river, the next day, they could not resist the temptation to land and set fire to the pretty village of Kingston, then the seat of the state legislature. George Clinton, governor of the state, just retreating from his able defence of the captured forts, hastened to protect the village, but came up only in time to see it in flames from one end to the other. Just then Sir Henry's messenger, as he skulked by the roadside, was caught and taken to the governor. He had been seen swallowing something so they gave him an emetic and obtained the silver bullet. The dispatch was read; the bearer was hanged to an apple-tree and Burgoyne, weary with waiting for the news that never came, at last sent a flag of truce to General Gates inquiring what terms of surrender would be accepted.
Gates first demanded an unconditional surrender, but on Burgoyne's indignant refusal, he consented to make terms and the more readily, no doubt, since he knew what had just happened in the Highlands though his adversary did not. After three days of discussion the terms of surrender were agreed upon. Just as Burgoyne was about to sign the articles, a Tory made his way into camp with hearsay news that
part of Clinton's army was approaching Albany. The subject was then anxiously reconsidered by the British officers and an interesting discussion ensued as to whether they could not in honour draw back. The majority of the council decided that their faith was irrevocably pledged and Burgoyne yielded to this opinion, though he did not share it, for he did not feel quite clear that the rumoured advance of Clinton could no avail to save him in any case. In this he was undoubtedly right. The American army, with its daily accretions of militia, had now grown to more than 20,000 and armed yeomanry were still pouring in by the hundred. A diversion threatened by less than 3,000 men, who were still more than fifty miles distant, could hardly have averted the doom of the British army. The only effect which it did produce was, perhaps, to work upon the timid Gates, and induce him to offer easy terms in order to hasten th surrender. On the 17th of October, accordingly, the articles were signed, exchanged and put into execution. It was agreed that the British army should march out of camp with the honours of war, and pile their arms at an appointed place; they should then march through Massachusetts to Boston from which port they might sail for Europe, it being understood that none of them should serve again in America during the war; all the officers might retain their small arms, and no one's private luggage should be searched or molested. At Burgoyne's earnest solicitation the American general consented that these proceedings
Map Surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga October 17, 1777
should be styled a "convention" instead of a surrender, in imitation of the famous Convention of Kloster-Seven, by which the Duke of Cumberland, twenty years before, had sought to save his feelings while losing his army, beleaguered by the French of Hanover. The soothing phrase has been well remembered by British historians, who to this day, continue to speak of Burgoyne's surrender as the "Convention of Saratoga."
In carrying out the terms of the convention, both Gates and his soldiers showed praise-worthy delicacy. As the British marched down off to a meadow by the riverside and laid down their arms, the Americans remained within their lines, refusing to add to the humilia-tions of a gallant enemy by standing and looking on. As the disarmed soldiers then passed by the American lines, says Lieutenant Anbury, one of the captured officers, "I did not observe the least disrespect or even a taunting look, but all was mute astonishment and pity." Burgoyne stepped up and handed his sword to Gates, simply saying, "The fortune of war, General Gates, has made me your prisoner." The American General instantly returned the sword, replying, "I shall always be ready to testify that it has not been through any fault of your excellency." When Baron Riedesel had been presented to Gates and the other generals, he sent for his wife and children. Set free at last from the dreadful cellar the barones came with some trepidation into the enemy's camp; but the only look she saw upon any face was one of sympathy. "As I approached the tents," she says, "a noble-
looking gentleman came toward me, and took the children out of the wagon; embraced and kissed them; and then, with tears in his eyes, helped me to alight. Presently he said, "It may be embarassing to you to dine with so many gentlemen. If you will come with your children to my tent, I will give you a frugal meal but one that will at least be seasoned with good wishes." "Oh, Sir," I cried, "you must surely be a husband and a father, since you show me so much kindness!" "I then learned that it was General Schuyler."
Schuyler had indeed come with unruffled soul to look on while the fruit which he had sown with the gallant aid of Stark and Herkimer, Arnold and Morgan, was plucked by an unworthy rival. He now met Burgoyne who was naturally pained and embarassed at the recollection of the beautiful house which his men had burned a few days before. In a speech in the House of Commons some months later, Burgoyne told how Schuyler received him. "I expressed to General Schuyler," says Burgoyne,"my regret at the event which had happened and the reasons which had occasioned it. He desired me to think no more of it, saying that the occasion justified it, according to the rules of war. He did more - he sent an aide-de-camp to conduct me to Albany, in order, as he expressed it, to procure me better quarters than a stranger might be able to find. This gentleman conducted me to a very elegant house and to my great surprise, presented me to Mrs. Schuyler and her family; and in this general's
house I remained during my whole stay at Albany, with a table of more than twenty covers for me and my friends and every other possible demonstration of hospitality." Madam Riedesel was also invited to stay with the Schuylers; and when first she arrived in the house, one of her little girls exclaimed, "Oh mamma!" "Is this the palace that papa was to have when he came to America?" As the Schuylers understood German, the baroness coloured, but all laughed pleasantly and put her at ease.
With the generosity and delicacy thus shown alike by generals and soldiers, it is painful, though instructive, to contrast the coarseness and bad faith with which Congress proceeded to treat the captured army. The presence of the troops in and about Boston was felt to be a hardship and General Heath, who commanded there, wrote to Washington, saying that if they were to stay till cold weather he hardly knew how to find shelter and fuel for them. Washinton replied that they would not likely to stay long, since it was clearly for Howe's interest to send them back to England as soon as possible, in order that they might replace other soldiers who would be sent over to America for the spring campaign. Congress caught up this suggestion with avidity, and put it to uses the furthest possible removed from Washington's meaning. When Sir William Howe proposed Newport as a point from which the soldiers might more speedily be shipped, Washington, for sound and obvious reasons, urged
that there should be no departure from the strict letter of the convention. Congress forthwith not only acted upon this suggestion so far as to refuse Sir William Howe's request, but it went on gratuitously and absurdly to charge the British general with bad faith. It was hinted that he secretly intended to bring the troops to New York for immediate service, in defiance of the convention, and Congress proceeded to make this imputed treachery the ground for really false dealing on its own part. When Lord Howe's transports reached Boston, it was not only ordered that no troops should be allowed to embark until all the accounts for their subsistence should have been settled but it was also required that these accounts should be liquidated in gold. In the in-structions given to General Washington a year before, a refusal on the part of anybody to receive the Continental paper money was to be treated as a high misdemeanour. Now Congress refused to take its own money, which had depreciated till it was worth barely thirty cents on a dollar. The captured army was supplied with provisions and fuel that were paid for by General Heath with Continental paper, and now Congress insisted that General Burgoyne should make his repayment dollar for dollar in British gold, worth three times as much. In fairness to the delegates, we may admit that in all probability they did not realize the baseness of this conduct. They were no doubt misled by one of those wonderful bits of financial sophistry by which the enacting mind of our countrymen has so often been hopelessly confused. In an amusing
letter to Washington, honest General Heath naively exclaims, "What an opinion must General Burgoyne have of the authority of these states, to suppose that his money would be received at any higher rate than our own in public payment! Such payment would at once be decpreciating our currency with a witness." Washington was seriously annoyed and mortified by these vagaries, - the more so that he was at this very time endeavoring to arrange with Howe a general cartel for the exchange of prisoners; and he knew that the attempt to make thirty cents equal to a dollar would, as he said, "destroy the very idea of a cartel."
While these discussions were going on, Congress like the wicked king in the fairy tale anxious to impose conditions unlikely to be fulfilled, demanded that General Burgoyne should make out a descriptive list of all the officers and soldiers in his army, in order that if any of them should thereafter be found serving against the United States they might be punished accordingly. As no such provision was contained in the convention upon the faith of which Burgoyne had surrendered, he naturally regarded the demand as insulting and at first refused to comply with it. He afterwards yielded the point, in his eagerness to liberate his soldiers; but meanwhile, in a letter to Gates, he had incautiously let fall the expresssion, "The publick faith is broke [sic];" and this remark, coming to the ears of Congress, was immediatley laid hold of as a pretext for repudiating the convention altogether. It was argued that Burgoyne had
charged the United States with bad faith, in order to have an excuse for repudiating the convention on his own part; and on the 8th of January, Congress accordingly re-solved, "that the embarkation of Lieutenant General Burgoyne and the troops under his command be suspended till a distinct and explicit ratification of the Convention of Saratoga shall be properly notified by the court of Great Britain to Congress." Now as the British government could not give the required ratification without implicitly recognizing the independence of the United States, no further steps were taken in the matter, the "publick faith" was really broken, and the captured army was never sent home.
In this wretched affair, Congress deliberately sacrificed principle to policy. It re-fused on paltry pretexts to carry out a solemn engagement which had been made by its accredited agent; and it did so simply through the fear that the British army might indirectly gain a possible reinforcement. Its conduct can be justified upon no grounds save such as would equally justify firing upon flags of truce. Nor can it be paliated even upon the lowest grounds of expediency, for, as it has been well said, "to a people struggling for political life the moral support derivable from the maintenance of honour and good faith was worth a dozen material victories." This sacrifice to principle to policy has served only to call down the condemnation of impartial historians and to dim the lustre of the magnificent victory which the valour of our soldiers and the self-devotion of our people had won in the field. It was one out of
many instances which show that under any form of government, the moral sense of the governing body is likely to fall far below the highest moral standard recognized in the community.
The captured army was never sent home. The officers were treated as prisoners of war and from time to time were exchanged. Burgoyne was allowed to go to England in the spring, and while still a prisoner on parole, he took his seat in Parliament and became conspicuous among the defenders of the American cause. The troops were detained in the neighborhood of Boston until the autumn of 1778, when they were all transferred to Charlottsville in Virginia. Here a rude village was built on the brow of a pleasant ridge of hills and gardens were laid out and planted. Much kind assistance was rendered in all this work by Thomas Jefferson, who was then living close by, on his estate at Monticello and did everything in his power to make things comfortable for soldiers and officers. Two years afterward, when Virginia became the seat of war, some of them were removed to Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley to Frederick in Maryland and to Lancaster in Pennsylvania. Those who wished to return to Europe were exchanged or allowed to escape. The greater number especially the Germans preferred to stay in this country and become American citizens. Before the end of 1780 they were dispersed in all direction.
Such was the strange sequel of a campaign which, whether we consider the picturesqueness of
its incidents or the magnitude of its results, was one of the most memorable in the history of mankind. Its varied scenes, framed in landscapes of grand and stirring beauty, had brought together such types of manhood as the feathered Mohawk sachem, the helmeted Brunswick dragoon, and the blue frocked yeoman of New England, - types of ancient barbarism, of the militancy bequeathed from the Middle Ages, and of the industrial democracy that is to possess and control the future of the world. These men had mingled in a deadly struggle for the strategic centre of the Atlantic coast of North America and now the fight had ended in the complete and overwhelming defeat of the forces of George III. Four years, indeed, four years of sore distress and hope deferred, were yet to pass before the fruits of this great victory could be gathered. The independence of the United States was not yet won; but the triumph at Saratoga set in motion a train of events from which the winning of independence was destined surely to follows.
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