PICTORIAL FIELD BOOK OF THE REVOLUTION.
BY BENSON J. LOSSING
Ticonderoga and its Associations. – Visit to the Ruins of the Fort. – A living Soldier of the Revolution. – Isaac Rice. – Position of Affairs in the Colonies at the beginning of 1775. – Secret Agent sent to Canada. – Report of the Secret Agent. – Plan formed in Connecticut to Capture Ticonderoga. – Expedition under Ethan Allen. – Expedition against Ticonderoga. – Arnold joins Allen at Castleton. – Dispute about Rank. – Surprise of the Garrison. – Interview between Allen and Delaplace. – Allen’s Order to surrender obeyed. – Trouble with Arnold about command. – Forbearance of the Colonists. – Consistent Course of their Delegates in Congress. – Various Addresses of the second Congress. – Military Preparations made by Congress. – The Continental Army. – Spirit of the People. – Ticonderoga. – Present Appearance of Fort Ticonderoga and Vicinity. – The Bakery. – Grenadiers’ Battery. – The floating Bridge. – View of the Ruins by Moonlight. – The old Patriot, his Memories and Hopes. – Trip to Mount Defiance. – Ascent of the Mountain. – An English Major and Provincial Subaltern. – View from the Top of Mount Defiance. – Mount Independence, Ticonderoga, the Lake, and the Green Mountains. – Crown Point and Ticonderoga invested by Burgoyne. – Material of his Army. – Weakness of the Garrison at Ticonderoga. – Outposts undefended. – Fort on Mount Independence. – Tardiness of Congress in supplying Men and Munitions. – Ticonderoga invested by the British. – Council of War in the American Camp. – The British on Mount Defiance. – Retreat of the Americans from Ticonderoga and Mount Independence. – Imprudence of Fermoy. – Pursuit by the Enemy. – Washington’s Recommendation of Arnold. – Acquittal of Schuyler and St. Clair of Blame. – Return to Ticonderoga. – Arrival at Whitehall or old Skenesborough. – Historical Notice of the Place. – Capture of Major Skene and his People. – Destruction of American Vessels at Skenesborough. – Flight of the Americans toward Fort Anne. – Major Skene. – Whitehall in 1814. – Ride to Fort Anne Village. – Site of the Fort. – Present Appearance of the Locality. – Putnam and Rogers near Fort Anne. – Ambush of French and Indians. – Desperate Battle. – Perilous Situation of Putnam. – Humanity of Putnam’s Captor. – Preparation for Torture. – Interposition of Molang. – Battle-ground near Fort Anne. – Battle near Fort Anne. – Return to Whitehall. – Visit to "Putnam’s Rock." – View of the Scene. – Putnam and Rogers on Lake Champlain. – Attack of the former on the French and Indians. – The Saratoga and Confiance. – Departure from Whitehall. – Sholes’s Landing. – Ride to the Battle-ground of Hubbardton. – Picturesque Scenery. – View of the Battle-ground. – The Battle. – Retreat and Surrender of Colonel Hale. – His reasonable Excuse. – Battle of Hubbardton. – Defeat of the Americans. – Death of Colonel Francis. – General Schuyler’s Forces at Fort Edward. – Return to Lake Champlain. – An old Soldier. – Mount Independence. – Present Appearance of Mount Independence. – Graves of Soldiers. – Vandalism. – Money-digging. – Return to Sholes’s. – Darkness on the Lake. – View from Sholes’s Landing.
"I’m not romantic, but, upon my word,
Nature always finds a chord of sympathy in the human heart harmoniously respondent to her own sweet music; and when her mute but eloquent language weaves in with its teachings associations of the past, or when, in the midst of her beauties, some crumbling monument of history stands hoary and oracular, stoicism loses its potency, and the bosom of the veriest churl is opened to the genial warmth of the sun of sentiment. Broken arches and ruined ramparts are always eloquent and suggestive of valiant deeds, even where their special teachings are not comprehended; but manifold greater are the impressions which they make when the patriotism we adore has hallowed them. To impressions like these the American heart is plastic while tarrying among the ruins of Ticonderoga, for there the first trophy of our war for independence was won, and there a soldier of the British realm first stooped a prisoner to the aroused colonists, driven to rebellion by unnatural oppression.
A glimpse from the coach, of the gray old ruins of the fortress of "Ty," as we neared the Pavilion, made us impatient as children to be among them. Our own curiosity was shared by a few others, and a small party of us left early and ascended the breast-works, over scattered fragments of the walls, and eagerly sought out the most interesting localities, by the aid of a small plan of the fort which I had copied for the occasion. Without a competent guide, our identifications were not very reliable, and our opinions were as numerous and diverse as the members of our party. We were about to send to the Pavilion for a guide and umpire, when a venerable, white-haired man, supported by a rude staff, and bearing the insignia of the "Order of Poverty," came out from the ruins of the northern line of barracks, and offered his services in elucidating the confused subject before us. He was kind and intelligent, and I lingered with him among the ruins long after the rest of the party had left, and listened with pleasure and profit to the relation of his personal experience, and of his familiar knowledge of the scene around us.
Isaac Rice was the name of our octogenarian guide, whose form and features, presented upon the next page, I sketched for preservation.1 Like scores of those who fought our battles for freedom, and lived the allotted term of human life, he is left in his evening twilight to depend upon the cold friendship for sustenance, and to feel the practical ingratitude of a people reveling in the enjoyment which his privations in early manhood contributed to secure. He performed garrison duty at Ticonderoga under St. Clair, was in the field at Saratoga in 1777, and served a regular term in the army; but, in consequence of some lack of documents or some technical error, he lost his legal title to a pension, and at eighty-five years of age that feeble old soldier was obtaining a precarious support for himself from the free-will offerings of visitors to the ruins of the fortress where he was garrisoned when it stood in the pride of its strength, before Burgoyne scaled the heights of Mount Defiance. He is now alone, his family and kindred having all gone down into the grave. His elder brother, and the last of his race, who died in 1838, was one of the little band who, under Colonel Ethan Allen, surprised and captured Fort Ticonderoga in the spring of 1775. We will consider that event and its consequences before further examining the old ruins around us.
The contempt with which the loyal and respectful addresses of the first Continental Congress of 1774 were treated by the British ministry and a majority in Parliament; the harsh measures adopted by the government early in 1775, to coerce the colonists into submission, and the methodical tyranny of General Gage at Boston, and of other colonial governors, convinced the Americans that an appeal to arms was inevitable. They were convinced, also, that the province of Quebec, or Canada, would remain loyal,2 and that there would be a place of rendezvous for British troops when the colonies should unite in open and avowed rebellion. The strong fortresses of Ticonderoga and Crown Point formed the key of all communication between New York and Canada, and the vigilant patriots of Massachusetts, then the very hot-bed of rebellion, early perceived the necessity of securing these posts the moment hostilities should commence. Early in March, Samuel Adams and Joseph Warren, members of the Committee of Correspondence of Boston, sent a secret agent into Canada to ascertain the opinions and temper of the people of that province concerning the great questions at issue and the momentous events then pending. After a diligent but cautious performance of his delicate task, the agent sent word to them from Montreal that the people were, at best, lukewarm, and advised that, the moment hostilities commenced, Ticonderoga and its garrison should be seized. This advice was coupled with the positive assertion that the people of the New Hampshire Grants were ready to undertake the bold enterprise. 3
Within three weeks after this information was received by Adams and Warren, the battle of Lexington occurred[April 19, 1775.]. The event aroused the whole country, and the patriots flocked to the neighborhood of Boston from all quarters. The provincial Assembly of Connecticut was then in session, and several of its members 4 concerted and agreed upon a plan to seize the munitions of war at Ticonderoga, for the use of the army gathering at Cambridge and Roxbury. They appointed Edward Mott and Noah Phelps a committee to proceed to the frontier towns, ascertain the condition of the fort and the strength of the garrison, and, if they thought it expedient, to raise men and attempt the surprise and capture of the post. One thousand dollars were advanced from the provincial treasury to pay the expenses of the expedition.
The whole plan and proceedings were of a private character, without the public sanction of the Assembly, but with its full knowledge and tacit approbation. Mott and Phelps collected sixteen men as they passed through Connecticut; and in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, they laid their plans before Colonel Easton and John Brown (the latter was afterward the Colonel Brown whose exploits on Lake George have been noticed), who agreed to join them. Colonel Easton enlisted volunteers from his regiment of militia as he passed through the country, and about forty had been engaged when he reached Bennington. There Colonel Ethan Allen, a man of strong mind, vigorous frame, upright in all his ways, fearless in the discharge of his duty, and a zealous patriot, joined the expedition with his Green Mountain Boys, and the whole party, two hundred and seventy men, reached Castleton, fourteen miles east of Skenesborough, or Whitehall, at dusk on the 7th of May. A council of war was immediately held, and Allen was appointed commander of the expedition, Colonel James Easton, second in command, and Seth Warner, third. It was arranged that Allen and the principal officers, with the main body, should march to Shoreham, opposite Ticonderoga; that Captain Herrick, with thirty men, should push on to Skenesborough, and capture the young Major Skene (son of the governor, who was then in England), confine his people, and, seizing all the boats they might find there, hasten to join Allen at Shoreham; and that Captain Douglas should proceed to Panton, beyond Crown Point, and secure every boat or bateau that should fall in his way.
Benedict Arnold, who joined the army about this time, doubtless received a hint of this expedition before he left New Haven, for the moment he arrived at Cambridge with the company of which he was captain, he presented himself to the Committee of Safety, and proposed a similar expedition in the same direction. He made the thing appear so feasible, that the committee eagerly accepted his proposal[May 3, 1775.], granted him a colonel’s commission, and gave him the chief command of troops, not exceeding four hundred in number, which he might raise to accompany him on an expedition against the lake fortresses. Not doubting his success, Arnold was instructed to leave a sufficient garrison at Ticonderoga, and with the rest of the troops return to Cambridge with the arms and military stores that should fall into his possession. He was also supplied with one hundred pounds in cash, two hundred pounds weight each of gunpowder and leaden balls, one thousand flints, and ten horses, by the provincial Congress of Massachusetts. His instructions were to raise men in Western Massachusetts, but, on reaching Stockbridge, he was disappointed in finding that another expedition had anticipated him, and was on its way to the lake. He remained only long enough to engage a few officers and men to follow him, and then hastened onward and joined the other expedition at Castleton [May 9, 1775.]. He introduced himself to the officers, pulled a bit of parchment from his pocket, and, by virtue of what he averred was a superior commission, as it was from the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, claimed the supreme command. This was objected to, for he came single-handed, without officers or troops; and the soldiers, a large proportion of whom were Green Mountain Boys, and who were much attached to Allen, declared that they would shoulder their muskets and march home rather than to serve under any other leader. Arnold made a virtue of necessity, and united himself to the expedition as a volunteer, maintaining his rank, but having no command.
The momentary interruption of Arnold produced no change in the plans, and Allen marched to the shore of the lake, opposite Ticonderoga, during the night. He applied to a farmer in Shoreham, named Beman, for a guide, who offered his son Nathan, a lad who passed a good deal of time within the fort, with the boys of the garrison, and was well acquainted with every secret way that led to or within the fortress.5 But a serious difficulty now occurred. They had but a few boats, and none had been sent from Skenesborough or Panton. The day [May 10, 1775.] began to dawn, and only the officers and eighty-three men had crossed the lake. Delay was hazardous, for the garrison, if aroused, would make stout resistance. Allen, therefore, resolved not to wait for the rear division to cross, but to attack the fort at once. He drew up his men in three ranks upon the shore, directly in front of where the Pavilion now stands, and in a low but distinct tone briefly harangued them; and then, placing himself at their head, with Arnold by his side, they marched quickly but stealthily up the height to the sally port. The sentinel snapped his fusee at the commander, but it missed fire, and he retreated within the fort under a covered way. The Americans followed close upon his heels, and were thus guided by the alarmed fugitive directly to the parade within the barracks. There another sentinel made a thrust at Easton, but a blow upon the head from Allen’s sword made him beg for quarter, and the patriots met with no further resistance.
As the troops rushed into the parade under the covered way, they gave a tremendous shout, and, filing off into two divisions, formed a line of forty men each along the southwestern and northeastern range of barracks. The aroused garrison leaped from their pallets, seized their arms, and rushed for the parade, but only to be made prisoners by the intrepid New Englanders. At the same moment Allen, with young Beman at his elbow as guide, ascended the steps to the door of the quarters of Captain Delaplace, the commandant of the garrison, and, giving three loud raps with the hilt of his sword, with a voice of particular power, ordered him to appear, or the whole garrison would be sacrificed. It was about four o’clock in the morning. The loud shout of the invaders had awakened the captain and his wife, both of whom sprang to the door just as Allen made his strange demand. Delaplace appeared in shirt and drawers, with the frightened face of his pretty wife peering over his shoulder. He and Allen had been old friends, and, upon recognition, the captain assumed boldness, and authoritatively demanded his disturber’s errand. Allen pointed to his men and sternly exclaimed, "I order you instantly to surrender." "By what authority do you demand it?" said Delaplace. "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!"6 thundered Allen, and, raising his sword over the head of the captain, who was about to speak, ordered him to be silent and surrender immediately. There was no alternative. Delaplace had about as much respect for the "Continental Congress" as Allen had for "Jehovah," and they respectively relied upon and feared powder and ball more than either. In fact, the Continental Congress was but a shadow, for it did not meet for organization until six hours afterward, 7 and its "authority" was yet scarcely acknowledged even by the patriots in the field. But Delaplace ordered his troops to parade without arms, the garrison of forty-eight men were surrendered prisoners of war, and, with the women and children, were sent to Hartford, in Connecticut. The spoils were one hundred and twenty pieces of iron cannon, fifty swivels, two ten-inch mortars, one howitzer, one cohorn, ten tons of musket-balls, three cart-loads of flints, thirty new carriages, a considerable quantity of shells, a ware-house full of material for boat building, one hundred stand of small arms, ten casks of poor powder, two brass cannon, thirty barrels of flour, eighteen barrels of pork, and some beans and peas.
Warner crossed the lake with the rear division, and marched up to the fort just after the surrender was made. As soon as the prisoners were secured, and all had breakfasted, he was sent off with a detachment of men in boats to take Crown Point; but a strong head wind drove them back, and they slept that night at Ticonderoga. Another and successful attempt was made on the 12th, and both fortresses fell into the hands of the patriots without bloodshed.
Arnold, who yielded his claims to supreme command at Castleton, assumed control the moment the fort was surrendered. But his orders were not heeded, and the Connecticut Committee,8 of semi-official origin, which accompanied the expedition, interposed, formally installed Colonel Allen in the command of Ticonderoga and its dependencies, and authorized him to remain as such until the Connecticut Assembly or the Continental Congress should send him instructions. They affirmed that the government of Massachusetts had no part in the transaction; that the men from Pittsfield were paid by Connecticut; and that Arnold could be considered only as a volunteer. Finding his commands unheeded, and unwilling to allow personal considerations to affect, inimically, the public good, Arnold again yielded. He sent a written protest, with a statement of his grievances, to the Massachusetts Legislature. The Connecticut Committee also sent a statement to the same body. The appointment of Allen was confirmed, and the Assembly of Massachusetts directed Arnold not to interfere. He soon afterward went down the lake to seize a British sloop of war at St. John’s, and to seek other occasions where glory might be won in the service of his country.
The capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point was an event wholly unlooked for by the Continental Congress, then in session at Philadelphia, and many members were alarmed at the serious aspect of affairs at the east and north, for as yet the Americans had harbored no distinct thought or wish derogatory to the truest loyalty. They were aggrieved by the rulers and legislators of the parent country, and were earnestly seeking redress. Ten years they had been petitioning the king and Parliament to exercise righteousness and equity toward them, but their prayers were unheeded and their warnings were scoffed at and answered by new oppressions. Yet the colonists remained loyal, and never breathed an aspiration for political independence. The colonial Assemblies, as well as the mass of the people, looked forward with anxiety for a reconciliation, for they felt proud of their connection with the British realm, whose government was then among the most powerful upon earth.9
When the news of the capture of the forts on Champlain reached Congress, they recommended to the committees of New York and Albany to remove the cannon and stores to the south end of Lake George, and to erect a strong post at that place. They also directed an exact inventory of the cannon and military stores to be taken, "in order," as the dispatch said, "that they may be safely returned when the restoration of harmony between Great Britain and the colonies, so ardently desired by the latter, shall render it prudent and consistent with the over-ruling law of self-preservation."10
The delegates of the first Continental Congress, who met in September of the previous year[1774.], while they exhibited rare firmness of purpose in tone and manner, again and again avowed their loyalty, and made most humble petitions to the king and the Legislature for a redress of grievances. And those of the Congress in session when the first hostile movements on Lake Champlain occurred, while they saw clearly that nothing but a general resort to arms was now left for the colonists, resolved to make fresh appeals to the king and Parliament before taking decidedly offensive steps in acts of open hostility. They felt quite certain, however, that the haughtiness of power would not bend so long as its pride was wounded, and that it would never yield to an agreement for a reconciliation upon terms other than the absolute submission of the insurgents. Congress, therefore, correctly representing the public sentiment, resolved to be, at the same time, free men and loyal subjects as long as a link of consistency should bind those conditions in unity. They adopted an address to the inhabitants of Canada [May 29, 1775.]; a declaration, setting forth the causes and the necessity for the colonies to take up arms [July 6.]; an humble petition to the king [July 8.]; an address to the Assembly of Jamaica [July 25.]; 11 and an address to the people of Ireland [July 28.]. 12 To the king they expressed their continued devotion to his person, and their deep regret that circumstances had in the least weakened their attachment to the crown. To the people of Great Britain they truthfully declared that their acts were wholly defensive; that the charge which had been made of them, of seeking absolute independence, was a malicious slander; and that they had never, directly or indirectly, applied to a foreign power for countenance or aid in prosecuting a rebellion. They truly set forth that the rejection of their petitions and the accumulation of oppressive acts of Parliament were the causes that placed them in the attitude of resistance which they then assumed – an attitude at once necessary and justifiable, and worthy of the free character of subjects of the British realm. "While we revere," they said, "the memory of our gallant and virtuous ancestors; we never can surrender these glorious privileges for which they fought, bled, and conquered: your fleets and armies can destroy our towns and ravage our coasts; these are inconsiderable objects – things of no moment to men whose bosoms glow with the ardor of liberty. We can retire beyond the reach of your navy, and, without any sensible diminution of the necessaries of life, enjoy a luxury which, from that period, you will want – the luxury of being free."
While petitions and addresses were in course of preparation and adoption, Congress proceeded to make extensive military arrangements. The militia of the various colonies, and such volunteers as could be obtained, were mustered into service under the title of the CONTINENTAL ARMY; and the troops which had flocked to the vicinity of Boston from all parts of New England after the skirmishes at Lexington and Concord[April 19, 1775.], and were then investing that city, were adopted and enrolled under the same title [June, 1775.]. Congress voted to issue bills of credit, or paper money, to the amount of three millions of dollars, for the pay of the army, and also took measures for the establishment of provisional Assemblies in the several colonies instead of the royal governments; for acts of Parliament, declaring the colonies in a state of rebellion, and providing for the destruction of the commerce of several sea-port towns, and for the sending of fleets and armies to enforce submission, were regarded by the Americans as virtual acknowledgements of the abdication of all power here. 13 Thus, while the colonists kept the door of reconciliation wide open, they prepared to maintain the righteous position which they had assumed at all hazards.
TICONDEROGA AT SUNSET.
Let us for a moment close the chronicles of the past, and consider one of the most interesting relics of the Revolution yet remaining – the ruins of Ticonderoga. I lingered with the old soldier among the fragments of the fortress until sunset; and just as the luminary went down behind Mount Defiance I made the preceding sketch, which may be relied upon as a faithful portraiture of the present features of Fort Ticonderoga. The view is from the remains of the counterscarp, near the southern range of barracks, looking northward. The barracks or quarters for the officers and soldiers were very substantially built of limestone, two stories high, and formed a quadrangle. The space within was the parade. Upon the good authority of his brother, our venerable guide pointed out the various localities of interest, and, having no doubt as to the correctness of his information, I shall accord it as truth. The most distinct and best-preserved building seen in the sketch is the one in which the commandant of the garrison was asleep when Allen and his men entered the fort. On the left of the group of figures in the fore-ground is the passage leading from the covered way into the parade, through which the provincials passed. The two lines of forty men each were drawn up along the range of buildings, the remains of which are seen on the right and left of the picture. The most distant building was the officers’ quarters. A wooden piazza, or sort of balcony, extended along the second story, and was reached from the ground by a flight of stairs at the left end. The first door in the second story, on the left, was the entrance to Delaplace’s apartment. It was up those rickety steps, with young Beman at his side, that Colonel Allen ascended; and at that door he thundered with his sword-hilt, confronted the astonished captain, and demanded his surrender. Between the ruined walls on the extreme left is seen Mount Defiance, and on the right is Mount Hope. The distant wall in the direction of Mount Hope is a part of the ramparts or out-works, and the woods beyond it mark the location of the remains of the "French lines," the mounds and ditches of which are still very conspicuous.
Near the southeastern angle of the range of barracks is the bakery; it is an under-ground arched room, and was beneath the glacis, perfectly bomb-proof, and protected from all danger from without. This room is very well preserved, as the annexed sketch of it testifies; but the entrance steps are much broken, and the passage is so filled with rubbish that a descent into it is difficult. It is about twelve feet wide and thirty long. On the right is a window, and at the end were a fire-place and chimney, now in ruins. On either side of the fire-place are the ovens, ten feet deep. We had no light to explore them, but they seemed to be in good condition. This bakery and the ovens are the best-preserved portions of the fortress. For more than half a century the walls of the fort have been common spoil for all who chose to avail themselves of such a convenient quarry; and the proximity of the lake affords rare facility for builders to carry off the plunder. The guide informed me that sixty-four years ago he assisted in the labor of loading a vessel with bricks and stones taken from the fort, to build an earthen-ware factory on Missisqui Bay, the eastern fork of the lower end of Lake Champlain. Year after year the ruins dwindle, and, unless government shall prohibit the robbery, this venerable landmark of history will soon have no abiding-place among us. The foundation is almost a bare rock, earthed sufficient to give sustenance to mullens, rag-weed, and stinted grass only, so that the plowshare can have no effect; but desecrating avarice, with its wicked broom, may sweep the bare rock still barer, for the site is a glorious one for a summer hotel for invalids. I shall, doubtless, receive posthumous laudation for this suggestion from the money-getter who here shall erect the colonnade, sell cooked fish and flavored ices, and coin wealth by the magic of the fiddle-string.
On the point of the promontory, just above the steam-boat landing, are the remains of the "Grenadiers’ Battery," a strong redoubt built of earth and stone. It was constructed by the French, and enlarged by the English. It commanded the narrow part of the lake, between that point and Mount Independence, and covered the bridge, which was made by the Americans, extending across to the latter eminence. The bridge was supported by twenty-two sunken piers of large timber, at nearly equal distances; the space between was made of separate floats, each about fifty feet long and twelve feet wide, strongly fastened together by chains and rivets, and also fastened to the sunken piers. Before this bridge was a boom, made of very large pieces of timber, fastened together by riveted bolts and chains of iron, an inch and a half square.14 There was a battery at the foot of Mount Independence, which covered that end of the bridge; another half way up the hill; and upon the table-land summit was a star fort well picketed. Here, strongly stationed, the Americans held undisputed possession from the 10th of May, 1775, until the 5th of July, 1777, when they were dislodged by Burgoyne, who began to plant a battery upon Sugar Hill, or Mount Defiance. This event we shall consider presently.
I went up in the evening to view the solitary ruins by moonlight, and sat upon the green sward of the old esplanade near the magazine. All was hushed, and association, with its busy pencil, wrought many a startling picture. The broken ruins around me, the lofty hills adjacent, the quiet lake at my feet, all fading into chaos as the evening shadows came on, were in consonance with the gravity of thought induced by the place and its traditions.
"The darkening woods, the fading trees,
So smoothly ran the current of thought, that I was almost dreaming, when a footstep startled me. It was that of the old patriot, who came and sat beside me. He always spends the pleasant moonlight evenings here, for he has no companions of the present, and the sight of the old walls kept sluggish memory awake to the recollections of the light and love of other days. "I am alone in the world," he said, "poor and friendless; none for me to care for, and none to care for me. Father, mother, brothers, sisters, wife, and children have all passed away, and the busy world has forgotten me. I have been for almost eighty years a toiler for bread for myself and loved ones, yet I have never lacked for comforts. I can say with David, ‘Once I was young, but now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging bread.’ I began to feel my strength giving way last spring, and looked fearfully toward the poor-house, when I heard that the old man who lived here, to show visitors about, was dead, and so I came down to take his place and die also." He brushed away a tear with his hard and shriveled hand, and, with a more cheerful tone, talked of his future prospects. How true it is that blessed
"Hope springs immortal in the human breast,"
for this poor, friendless, aged man had bright visions of a better earthly condition even in the midst of his poverty and loneliness. He took me to an opening in the broken wall, which fronted a small room near the spot where the provincials entered, and with a low voice, as if afraid some rival might hear his business plans, explained how he intended, another year, to clear away the rubbish, cover the room over with boards and brush, arrange a sleeping-place in the rear, erect a rude counter in front, and there, during the summer, sell cakes, beer, and fruit to visitors. Here I saw my fancied hotel in embryo. He estimated the cash capital necessary for the enterprise at eight dollars, which sum he hoped to save from his season’s earnings, for the French woman who gave him food and shelter charged him but a trifling weekly sum for his comforts. He calculated upon large profits and extensive sales, and hoped, if no opposition marred his plans, to make enough to keep him comfortable through life. He entertained me more than an hour with a relation of his own and his father’s adventures, 15 and it was late in the evening when I bade him a final adieu. "God bless you, my son," he said, as he grasped my hand at parting. "We may never meet here again, but I hope we may in heaven!"
Early the next morning [August 1, 1848.] I started for Mount Defiance in company with an English gentleman, a resident of Boston. We rode to the "lower village," or Ticonderoga, where we left our ladies to return by the same stage, while we climbed the rugged heights. We hired a horse and vehicle, and a lad to drive, who professed to know all about the route to the foot of the mountain. We soon found that he was bewildered; and, unwilling to waste time by losing the way, we employed an aged resident near the western slope to pilot us to the top of the eminence. He was exceedingly garrulous, and boasted, with much self-gratulation, of having assisted in dragging a heavy six pounder up to the top of the mountain, five years ago, for the purpose of celebrating the "glorious Fourth" on the very spot where Burgoyne planted his cannon sixty-six years before. We followed him along a devious cattle-path that skirted a deep ravine, until we came to a spring that bubbled up from beneath a huge shelving rock whose face was smooth and mossy. The trickling of the water through the crevices within, by which the fountain below was supplied, could be distinctly heard. From a cup of maple-leaves we took a cool draught, rested a moment, and then pursued our toilsome journey.
Our guide, professing to know every rock and tree in the mountain, now left the cattle-path for a "shorter cut," but we soon wished ourselves back again in the beaten track. The old man was evidently "out of his reckoning," but had too much "grit" to acknowledge it. For nearly an hour we followed him through thickets tangled with vines, over the trunks of huge trees leveled by the wind, and across a dry morass covered with brakes and wire-grass shoulder high, where every trill of the grasshopper sounded to our suspicious and vigilant ears like the warning of a rattle-snake, until at length we were confronted by a wall of huge broken rocks, almost perpendicular, and at least fifty feet high. It seemed to extend north and south indefinitely, and we almost despaired of scaling it. The guide insisted upon the profundity of his knowledge of the route, and we, being unable to contradict his positive assertions that he was in the right way, followed him up the precipice. It was a toilsome and dangerous ascent, but fortunately the sun was yet eastward of meridian, and we were in shadow. We at last reached a broad ledge near the summit, where, exhausted, we sat down and regaled ourselves with some mulberries which we had gathered by the way. A large wolf-dog, belonging to our guide, had managed to follow his master, and seemed quite as weary as ourselves when he reached us. Another scramble of about twenty minutes, over broken rocks and ledges like a giant’s stair-case, brought us upon the bold, rocky summit of the mountain. The view from this lofty hill is one of great interest and beauty, including almost every variety of natural scenery, and a region abounding with historical associations.
VIEW FROM THE TOP OF MOUNT DEFIANCE.
The fore-ground of the picture represents the spot whereupon Burgoyne began the erection of a battery; and a shallow hole, drilled for the purpose of making fastenings for the cannon, may still be seen. The sheet of water toward the left is the outlet of Lake George, where it joins Lake Champlain, which sweeps around the promontory in the middle ground, whereon Fort Ticonderoga is situated. Gray, like the almost bald rock on which they stand, the ruins were scarcely discernible from that height, and the Pavilion appeared like a small white spot among the green foliage that embowers it. On the point which the steam-boat is approaching is the Grenadiers’ Battery already mentioned, and on the extreme right is seen a portion of Mount Independence at the mouth of East Creek. This eminence is in Vermont – Mount Defiance and Fort Ticonderoga are in New York. The point beyond the small vessel with a white sail is the spot whence the Americans under Allen and Arnold crossed the lake to attack the fort; and between Mount Independence and the Grenadiers’ Battery is the place where the bridge was erected. The lake here is quite narrow, and, sweeping in serpentine curves around the two points, it flows northward on the left, and expands gradually into a sheet of water several miles wide. The hills seen in the far distance are the Green Mountains of Vermont, between which lofty range and the lake is a beautifully diversified and fertile agricultural country twelve miles wide, a portion of the famous New Hampshire Grants. From this height the eye takes in a range along the lake of more than thirty miles, and a more beautiful rural panorama can not often be found. Let us retreat to the cool shadow of the shrubbery on the left, for the summer sun is at meridian; and, while gathering new strength to make our toilsome descent, let us open again the volume of history, and read the page on which are recorded the stirring events that were enacted within the range of our vision.
Lieutenant-general Burgoyne, with a strong and well-appointed army of more than seven thousand men,16 including Indians, came up Lake Champlain and appeared before Crown Point on the 27th of June [1777.]. The few Americans in garrison there abandoned the fort and retreated to Ticonderoga. The British quietly took possession, and, after establishing a magazine, hospital, and stores there, proceeded to invest Ticonderoga on the 30th. Some light infantry, grenadiers, Canadians, and Indians, with ten pieces of light artillery, under Brigadier-general Fraser, were encamped on the west side of the lake, at the mouth of Putnam’s Creek. These moved up the shore to Four Mile Point, so called from being that distance from Ticonderoga. The German reserve, consisting of the chasseurs, light infantry, and grenadiers, under Lieutenant-colonel Breyman, were moved at the same time along the eastern shore, while the remainder of the army, under the immediate command of Burgoyne himself, were on board the Royal George and Inflexible frigates and several gun-boats, which moved up the lake between the two strong wings on land. The land force halted, and the naval force was anchored just beyond cannon-shot from the American works.
Major-general Arthur St. Clair17 was in command of the American garrison at Ticonderoga, a post of honor which Schuyler had offered to Gates. He found the garrison only about two thousand strong; and so much were the stores reduced, that he was afraid to make any considerable addition to his force from the militia who were coming in from the east, until a replenishment of provisions could be effected. Had the garrison been well supplied with stores, six or eight thousand men might have been collected there before the arrival of the enemy.
St. Clair was an officer of acknowledged bravery and prudence, yet he was far from being an expert and skillful military leader. His self-reliance and his confidence in the valor and strength of those under him often caused him to be less vigilant than necessity demanded; and it was this fault, in connection with the weakness of the garrison, which gave Burgoyne his only advantage at Ticonderoga. He soon perceived, through the vigilance of his scouts, that St. Clair had neglected to secure those two important eminences, Mount Hope and Sugar Loaf Hill (Mount Defiance), and, instead of making a direct assault upon the fortress, the British general essayed to possess himself of these valuable points.
When Burgoyne approached, a small detachment of Americans occupied the old French lines north of the fort, which were well repaired and guarded by a block-house. They also had an outpost at the saw-mills (now the village of Ticonderoga), another just above the mills, and a block-house and hospital at the entrance of the lake. Between the lines and the old fort were two block-houses, and the Grenadiers’ Battery on the point was manned.
The garrison in the star fort, on Mount Independence, was rather stronger that that at Ticonderoga, and better provisioned. The fort was supplied with artillery, strongly picketed, and its approaches were well guarded by batteries. The foot of the hill on the northwestern side was intrenched, and had a strong abatis next to the water. Artillery was placed in the intrenchments, pointing down the lake, and at the point, near the mouth of East Creek, was a strong circular battery. The general defenses of the Americans were formidable to an enemy, but the tardiness of Congress in supplying the garrison with food, clothing, ammunition, and re-enforcements, made them quite weak.18 Their lines and works were extensive, and instead of a full complement of men to man and defend them, and to occupy Sugar Loaf Hill and Mount Hope, the whole force consisted of only two thousand five hundred and forty-six Continentals and nine hundred militia. Of the latter not one tenth had bayonets. 19 In his proclamation the British commander set forth the terrible character of the Indians that accompanied him, greatly exaggerated their numbers, and magnified their eagerness to be let loose upon the republicans, whether found in battle array or in the bosom of their families. "I have," he said, "but to give stretch to the Indian forces under my direction, and they amount to thousands, to overtake the hardened enemies of Great Britain and America. I consider them the same wherever they may lurk." Protection and security, clogged with conditions, were held out to the peaceable who remained in their habitations. All the outrages of war, arrayed in their most terrific forms, were denounced against those who persisted in their hostility. But the people at large, and particularly the firm republicans, were so far from being frightened, that they treated the proclamation with contempt, as a complete model of pomposity. 20
On the 2d of July[1777.] the right wing of the British army moved forward, and General St. Clair believed and hoped that they intended to make a direct assault upon the fort. The small American detachments that occupied the outposts toward Lake George made but a feeble resistance, and then set fire to and abandoned their works. Generals Phillips and Fraser, with an advanced corps of infantry and some light artillery, immediately took possession of Mount Hope, which completely commanded the road to Lake George, and thus cut off all supplies to the patriot garrison from that quarter. This accomplished, extraordinary energy and activity were manifested by the enemy in bringing up their artillery, ammunition, and stores to fortify the post gained, and on the 4th [July.] Fraser’s whole corps occupied Mount Hope. 21 In the mean while Sugar Loaf Hill had been reconnoitered by Lieutenant Twiss, the chief engineer, who reported that its summit had complete command of the whole American works at Ticonderoga and Mount Independence, and that a road to the top, suitable for the conveyance of cannons, though difficult, might be made in twenty-four hours. It was resolved to erect a battery on the height, and, by arduous and prolonged labor, a road was cleared on the night of the 4th. The Thunderer, carrying the battery train and stores, arrived in the afternoon, and light twelve pounders, medium twelves, and eight-inch howitzers were landed.
So completely did the enemy occupy the ground between the lake, Mount Hope, and Sugar Loaf Hill, that this important movement was concealed from the garrison; and when, at dawn on the morning of the 5th, the summit of Mount Defiance22 glowed with the scarlet uniforms of the British troops, and heavy artillery stood threateningly in their midst, the Americans were paralyzed with astonishment, for that array seemed more like the lingering apparitions of a night vision than the terrible reality they were forced to acknowledge. From that height the enemy could look down into the fortress, count every man, inspect all their movements, and with eye and cannon command all the extensive works of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence. St. Clair immediately called a council of war, and presented to them the alarming facts, that the whole effective strength of the garrison was not sufficient to man one half the works; that, as the whole must be constantly on duty, they could not long endure the fatigue; that General Schuyler, then at Fort Edward, had not sufficient troops to re-enforce or relieve them; that the enemy’s batteries were nearly ready to open upon them, and that a complete investment of the place would be accomplished within twenty-four hours. It seemed plain that nothing could save the troops but evacuation, and the step was proposed by the commander and agreed to by his officers. It was a critical and trying moment for St. Clair. To remain would be to lose his army, to evacuate would be to lose his character. He chose to make a self-sacrifice, and at about two o’clock on the following morning [July 6, 1777.] the troops were put in motion.
As every movement of the Americans could be seen through the day from Mount Defiance, no visible preparations for leaving the fort were made until after dark, and the purpose of the council was concealed from the troops until the evening order was given. It was arranged to place the baggage, and such ammunition and stores as might be expedient, on board two hundred bateaux, to be dispatched, under a convoy of five armed galleys, up the lake to Skenesborough (Whitehall), and the main body of the army to proceed by land to the same destination, by way of Castleton. The cannons that could not be moved were to be spiked; previous to striking the tents, every light was to be extinguished; each soldier was to provide himself with several days’ provisions; and, to allay any suspicions on the part of the enemy of such a movement, a continued cannonade was to be kept up from one of the batteries in the direction of Mount Hope until the moment of departure.
These arrangements were all completed, yet so short was the notice that a good deal of confusion ensued. The garrison of Ticonderoga crossed the bridge to Mount Independence at about three o’clock in the morning, the enemy all the while unconscious of the escape of their prey. The moon was shining brightly, yet her pale light was insufficient to betray the toiling Americans in their preparations and flight, and they felt certain that, before daylight should discover their withdrawal, they would be too far advanced to invite pursuit. But General de Fermoy, who commanded on Mount Independence, regardless of express orders, set fire to the house he had occupied as the troops left. The light of the conflagration revealed the whole scene and every movement to the enemy, and the consciousness of discovery added to the confusion and disorder of the retreating republicans. The rear-guard, under Colonel Francis, left the mount at about four o’clock in the morning, and the whole body pressed onward in irregular order toward Hubbardton, where, through the energy and skill of the officers, they were pretty well organized after a halt of two hours. The main army then proceeded to Castleton, six miles further, and the rear-guard, with stragglers picked up by the way, were placed under the command of Colonel Seth Warner, and remained at Hubbardton until some, who were left behind, should come up. Here a desperate, and, to the Americans, a disastrous battle was fought the next morning, the details of which will be given hereafter.
As soon as the movement of the Americans was perceived by the British, General Fraser commenced an eager pursuit with his pickets, leaving orders for his brigade to follow. At daylight he unfurled the British flag over Ticonderoga, and before sunrise he had passed the bridge and Mount Independence, and was in close pursuit of the flying patriots.23 Major-general Reidesel and Colonel Breyman, with their Germans and Hessians, soon followed to sustain Fraser, while Burgoyne, who was on board the Royal George, prepared for an immediate pursuit of the bateaux and convoy by water. The Americans placed great reliance upon their strong boom at Ticonderoga, and regarded pursuit by water as almost impossible; but the boom and bridge were speedily cleft by the enemy. Long before noon a free passage was made for the gun-boats and frigates, and the whole flotilla were crowding all sail to overtake the American bateaux. These, with the baggage and stores, were all destroyed at Skenesborough before sunset.
The evacuation of Ticonderoga, without efforts at defense, was loudly condemned throughout the country, and brought down a storm of indignant abuse upon the heads of Generals St. Clair and Schuyler, for much of the responsibility was laid upon the latter because he was the commander-in-chief of the northern department. The weakness of the garrison, the commanding position of the enemy upon Mount Defiance, where they could not be reached by the guns of the fort, and the scarcity of stores and ammunition, were not take into the account, and, consequently, the verdict of an excited public was very unjust toward these unfortunate officers. Washington had placed great reliance upon them both; nor did the event destroy his confidence in their ability and bravery, yet he was perplexed,24 and clearly foresaw that some other leader would be necessary to inspire sufficient confidence in the minds of the Eastern militia to cause them to turn out in sufficient force to oppose the progress of Burgoyne. Accordingly, he recommended to Congress to send an "active, spirited officer to conduct and lead them (the militia) on." 25 But Congress went further. Unwisely listening to and heeding the popular clamor, they suspended St. Clair from command, and appointed Adjutant-general Gates to supersede General Schuyler. St. Clair did not leave the army, but was with Washington at the battle of Brandywine. By a general court-martial, held in the autumn of 1778, he was acquitted of all blame, with the highest honor, and this decision was fully confirmed by Congress in December following. The noble conduct of General Schuyler toward Gates, and his continued patriotic efforts in behalf of his country after suffering the injustice inflicted by Congress, have been mentioned in another chapter. After the lapse of several months, and, before the close of the war, both generals were fully reinstated in the confidence of the people.
Our historic picnic upon the mountain-top is ended, and, being well rested, let us "gather up the fragments, that nothing be lost," and descend to the village of "Ty," by the way of the military road which was made impromptu by General Phillips for his cannon, up the northern slope of Defiance. Very slight traces of it are now visible, and these consist chiefly of a second growth of timber, standing where the road was cut.
We parted with our guide at the foot of the mountain. Our boy-driver and the vehicle had disappeared, and we were obliged to walk in the hot sun to the village. Our good tempers were not at all improved when we learned the fact that the stage from Lake George had passed nearly an hour before, and that no conveyance could be procured until toward evening to take us to the fort, unless the boy, who had not returned, should make his appearance; and where he had gone was a mystery. Dinner at the Pavilion was an event only a half hour in the future, and two miles in distance stretched between us and the viands. So we stopped grumbling, trudged on, and, whiling away the moments by pleasant conversation, we reached the Pavilion in time to take our places at table, too much heated and fatigued, however, to enjoy the luxuries set before us. Our Boston friends left that afternoon, but we tarried until two o’clock the next morning, when we departed on the Burlington for Whitehall.
The air was cool and the sky unclouded when we left Ticonderoga. The moon had gone down, and it was too dark to see more than the outlines of the romantic shores by which we were gliding, so we took seats upon the upper deck and surveyed the clear heavens, jeweled with stars. The Pleiades were glowing in the southern sky, and beautiful Orion was upon the verge of the eastern horizon. Who can look upward on a clear night and not feel the spirit of worship stirring within! Who can contemplate those silent watchers in the firmament and not feel the impulses of adoration!
"I know they must be holy things
Just as the day dawned tiny spiral columns of vapor began to rise from the lake, and before sunrise we were completely wrapped in a dense fog. After passing the bay south of Mount Independence, the lake becomes very narrow, and the channel is so sinuous that our vessel proceeded very cautiously in the dense mist. At the Elbow, half a mile from Whitehall Landing, a rocky point containing "Putnam’s Ledge" projects from the west, and occasions such a short and narrow turn in the lake, that it is with much difficulty that large class steam-boats make their way through. It can only be done by the use of hawsers attached to the bow and stern, and this process requires an annoying delay. We reached Whitehall, at the mouth of Wood Creek,26 at the head of the lake, about seven in the evening, and found comfortable quarters at a well-conducted temperance hotel near the landing. 27
This is ancient Skenesborough, and was a point of considerable importance during the wars on our northern frontier, from 1745 till the close of the Revolution. Here armies halted, and provisions, ammunition, and stores were collected and distributed. A picketed fort was erected here during the French and Indian war, upon the brow of the hill east of Church-street. Soon after the peace of Paris, in 1763, Philip K. Skene, an English major under half pay, purchased several soldiers’ grants located here, and, to make his title secure, procured a royal patent. He effected a small settlement at this point, and named it Skenesborough, which title it bore until after the Revolution. He had procured a second patent, and became possessor of the whole of the land comprised within the present township of Whitehall, except four thousand acres on its eastern border. He was a magistrate of the crown, the owner of black slaves, and was sometimes honored with the title of governor, on account of having held the office of Lieutenant-governor of Crown Point and Ticonderoga. In addition to a stone residence, he erected another stone edifice, one hundred and thirty feet long, for a military garrison and depôt, upon the spot used as a garden by the family of the late Judge Wheeler. Near the east end was an arched gateway, the key-stone of which is now in the north basement wall of the Baptist Church, and bears the initials "P. K. S.," and date "1770."
Skenesborough was a point included in the programme of operations against Ticonderoga, in the expedition under Colonel Allen in 1775. The council held at Castleton, where Allen was appointed commander-in-chief, resolved to send thirty men, under Captain Herrick, to surprise Skenesborough, capture the son of the proprietor (the latter was then in Europe), his negroes and tenantry, seize all of the boats and other vessels that might be found there, and hasten down the lake with them to Shoreham. The surprise was so complete, that the plan was all accomplished without bloodshed. Major Skene the younger was captured while out shooting; the twelve negroes and fifty tenants were secured, and the governor’s strong stone buildings were taken possession of by the captors. In the cellar of his house was found the body of wife of the elder Skene, where it had been preserved many years to secure to the husband an annuity devised to her "while she remained above ground!" The Americans buried the body in the rear of the house, and, embarking on board a schooner in the harbor, belonging to Skene, they sailed down the lake to join Allen at Shoreham.28
A garrison was stationed at Skenesborough in 1776, and there the vessels of the little fleet which Arnold commanded in an action on the lake, below Crown Point, were constructed and partially armed. The Americans strengthened the military works there, and made it quite a strong post. This was the stipulated point for rendezvous of the army under St. Clair, on its retreat from Ticonderoga in 1777. I have already observed that those who escaped by water were unsuspicious of pursuit, and that the flotilla was scarcely moored at Skenesborough before the frigates appeared and attacked the galleys. Two of them were captured, and the other three were blown up. Unsupported by the feeble garrison at Skenesborough or by detachments from the army retreating by land,29 and conscious of the futility of contention with such a force as Burgoyne presented, the Americans abandoned their bateaux, set fire to them, together with the fort, mills, block-houses, &c., and fled toward the camp of General Schuyler at Fort Edward. 30 At Fort Anne they were joined by a few other troops sent forward with provisions and ammunition by General Schuyler, but it was a feeble re-enforcement, for he had with him at Fort Edward only about seven hundred Continentals and fifteen hundred militia. The supplies which he sent so reduced the ammunition and stores of his garrison, that they were several days without lead, except a small quantity which they received from Albany, and which was obtained by stripping the windows.
The troops borne by the flotilla under Burgoyne, and those that marched from Ticonderoga in pursuit of the Americans, conjoined at Skenesborough, where the British commander resolved to make thorough preparations for pushing forward to the Hudson River. He was informed by the people at Skenesborough that the Americans were retreating toward Fort Edward. Lieutenant-colonel Hill, of the ninth regiment, was sent forward on the 7th[July, 1777.] to take post at Fort Anne and watch the movements of the republicans. The rest of the British army were encamped at Skenesborough and vicinity, where they remained nearly three weeks, while detachments were repairing the roads and bridges, and constructing new ones on the way to Fort Anne. Burgoyne and his staff were entertained at the mansion of Major Skene, whose familiarity with the country and the people caused him to be introduced into the military family of the commander. He was considered a valuable acquisition, but the result proved otherwise. He advised the disastrous expedition to Bennington, and accompanied the enemy there. He was personally known to many of the Americans engaged in that affair, who made great efforts to capture him alive. Four horses were shot under him, but, mounting a fifth, he made his escape, although the poor animal fell and expired from the effects of a shot, after carrying his rider beyond the reach of his foes. Skene was with Burgoyne when his army surrendered at Saratoga. He dared not return home under his parole, but went to England. He ordered his house to be burned, to prevent its falling into the hands of the Americans. His lands were confiscated and sold by the state, 31 and soon after the Revolution the name of Skenesborough was repudiated by the people [1788.], and that of Whitehall substituted. Hardly a vestige of the Revolution is now left there. When another war was waged against us by the same enemy, in 1812, this was again the theater of hostile preparations. The block-house within the old fort was repaired, furnished with artillery, and garrisoned for the defense of the place. Intrenchments and a magazine were constructed on an island a few hundred yards north of the village, and barracks were erected on the brow of the hill west of Church Street, the remains of which have but recently been demolished. The American fleet engaged in the battle of Plattsburgh [September 11, 1814.], with the vessels captured from the enemy in that engagement, were anchored in the harbor at Whitehall soon after that event; and the remains of some of the vessels of both nations may now be seen decaying together in the lake, a short distance from the harbor.
SITE OF FORT ANNE.32
After breakfast, on the morning of our arrival at Whitehall[August 3, 1848.], I rode to Fort Anne Village, eleven miles south, accompanied by the editor of the "Democrat," 33 whose kind attentions and free communications of valuable knowledge concerning historical localities in the vicinity contributed much to the pleasure and instruction of the journey thither. It is a pleasant little village, situated upon a gently undulating plain near the junction of Wood Creek and East Creek, and exhibited a charming picture of quiet and prosperity. There I found a venerable kinsman, nearly eighty years of age, who, in the vigor of manhood, fifty years ago, purchased an extensive tract of land in this then almost unbroken wilderness. 34 His dwelling, store-house, and barns occupy the site of Fort Anne, the only traces of which are the stumps of the strong nine pickets with which it was stockaded. It was built by the English, under General Nicholson, in 1757, two years after the construction of Fort Edward. It was a small fortress, and was never the scene of any fierce hostility. Although ninety years had elapsed since its pickets were set in the ground, what remained of them exhibited but slight tokens of decay, and the odor of turpentine was almost as strong and fresh when one was split as if had been planted but a year ago.
About a mile northwest of Fort Anne is the place where a severe battle was fought[August, 1758.] between a corps of five hundred Rangers, English and provincials, under Putnam and Rogers, and about the same number of French and Indians, under the famous partisan Molang. Putnam and Rogers were sent by Abercrombie to watch the enemy in the neighborhood of Ticonderoga. When they arrived at South Bay, an expansion of Lake Champlain near Whitehall, the two leaders separated, taking with them their respective divisions, but, being discovered by the watchful Molang, they deemed it expedient to reunite and return immediately to Fort Edward. Their troops were marched in three divisions, the right commanded by Rogers, the left by Putnam, and the center by Captain Dalzell (sometimes written D’Ell). They halted at evening on the border of Clear River, a fork of Wood Creek before its junction with East Creek, and within a mile of Fort Anne. Early in the morning, while the lines were forming, Major Rogers, regardless of the teachings of the Ranger’s great virtue, precaution, amused himself by firing at a target with a British officer. The sound reached the vigilant ears of Molang and his Indian allies, who, unknown to the Americans, were then encamped within a mile of them. He had been searching for the Rangers to intercept them, and the firing was a sure guide. His men were posted in ambush along the paths which he knew they must take, and as the Americans, just at sunrise, emerged from a dense thicket into the open woods, Molang and his followers fell upon them with great fury. Rogers seemed to be appalled by the fierce onslaught and fell back, but Putnam and Dalzell sustained their position and returned the fire. The conflict became desperate. At length Putnam’s fusee missed fire when the muzzle was within a few inches of the breast of a giant savage, who thrust it aside and fell upon the major with the fierceness of a panther, made him prisoner, bound him firmly to a tree, and then returned to the battle. Captain Dalzell now assumed the command. The provincials fell back a little, but, rallying, the fight continued with great vigor. The tree to which Putnam was bound was about midway between the combatants, and he stood in the center of the hottest fire of both, utterly unable to move body or limb, so firmly had the savage secured him. His garments were riddled by bullets, but not one touched his person. For an hour he remained in this horrible position, until the enemy were obliged to retreat, when he was unbound and carried off by his savage captors. 35
MAJOR ISRAEL PUTNAM IN BRITISH UNIFORM.
From an old picture in the possession of a gentleman in New London, Connecticut.
Wounded, exhausted, and dispirited, Putnam was forced to make a weary march over a rough country, led on by the savages, who had tied cords so tightly around his wrists that his hands were swollen and dreadfully tortured. He begged for release either from the pain or from life. A French officer interposed and unbound the cords; and just then his captor came up, and, with a sort of savage humanity, supplied him with moccasins, and expressed great indignation because of the harsh treatment his prisoner had endured. I say savage humanity, for it was present kindness, exercised while a dark and atrocious intention for the future made the Indian complaisant – the prisoner was reserved for the stake, and all those exquisite tortures with which savage cruelty imbitters the death of its victims. Deep in the forest he was stripped naked, and with green withes was bound fast to a sapling. The wood was piled high around him, and the wild death-songs of the savages, mingled with fierce yells, were chanted. The torch was applied, and the crackling flame began to curl around the fagots, when a black cloud, that for an hour had been rising in the west, poured down such a volume of water that the flames were nearly extinguished. But they burst forth again in fiercer intensity, and Putnam lost all hope of escape, when a French officer dashed through the crowd of savages, scattered the burning wood, and cut the cords of the victim. It was Molang himself. Some relenting savage had told him of the horrid orgies in the forest, and he flew to the rescue of Putnam, just in time to save him. After enduring much suffering, he was delivered to Montcalm at Ticonderoga, and by him sent to Montreal, where he experienced great kindness from Colonel Peter Schuyler, a fellow-prisoner, through whose influence he was exchanged for a prisoner taken by Colonel Bradstreet at Fort Frontenac.36
BATTLE-GROUND NEAR FORT ANNE.37
About three fourths of a mile north of Fort Anne is a narrow, rocky defile, through which Wood Creek and the Champlain Canal flow and the rail-road is laid. Art has widened the defile by excavation, and cultivation has swept away much of the primitive forest. Here in this rocky gorge, then just wide enough for the stream and a narrow pathway, a severe engagement occurred[July 8, 1777.] between the ninth British regiment, under Lieutenant-colonel Hill, and a detachment of Americans, under Colonel Long. This officer, with about five hundred republicans, principally of the invalids and convalescents of the army, was posted at Fort Anne by General Schuyler, with directions to defend it. Warned of the approach of the enemy, Colonel Long prepared not only for defense, but to go out and meet him. The Americans fit for duty were mustered, and early in the morning they marched up to the southern edge of the defile. "At half past ten in the morning," said Major Forbes in his testimony on the trial of Burgoyne, "they attacked us in front with a heavy and well-directed fire; a large body of them passed the creek on the left, and fired from a thick wood across the creek on the left flank of the regiment; they then began to recross the creek and attack us in the rear; we then found it necessary to change our ground, to prevent the regiment being surrounded; we took post on a high hill to our right. As soon as we had taken post, the enemy made a very vigorous attack, which continued upward of two hours; and they certainly would have forced us, had it not been for some Indians that arrived and gave the Indian hoop, which we answered with three cheers; the rebels soon after that gave way. 38 The major’s facts are correct, but his inferences are wide of the mark. The Americans were not frightened by the Indian war-hoop, for it was a sound very familiar to their ears, but they "gave way" because their ammunition gave out. Had Colonel Long been well supplied with powder and ball, the British troops would have been destroyed or made prisoners. Captain Montgomery, of Hill’s regiment, was severely wounded and captured by the Americans, who, when they gave way, set fire to Fort Anne and retreated to the headquarters of General Schuyler at Fort Edward.
VIEW AT PUTNAM’S ROCK.
We returned to Whitehall toward evening. The ride was delightful through a country ever-changing and picturesque, particularly when approaching the lake. On the left rise the lofty summits of the hills on Lake George; on the east those of Vermont and Massachusetts; and down the lake, northward, Mount Defiance may be plainly seen. After an early evening meal, I procured a water-man and his boat, and, accompanied by my traveling companion and Mr. M., proceeded to "Put’s Rock," near "the Elbow," a mile from the landing, and near the entrance of South Bay.39 The lake is here very narrow, and the shores on either side are abrupt, rocky, and wooded. It was about sunset when we arrived at the scene of Putnam’s exploit, and the deep shadows that gathered upon the western shore, where the famous ledge is situated, heightened the picturesque character of the scenery and the force of the historical associations which lionize the spot. Upon the rough ledge of rocks seen on the right of the picture Major Putnam and fifty men boldly opened a musket battery upon about five hundred French and Indian warriors under the famous Molang, who were in canoes upon the water. 40 This event occurred a few days previous to the unfortunate battle near Fort Anne, where Putnam was taken prisoner. Major Rogers, who was also sent by Abercrombie to watch the movements of the enemy, had taken a station twelve miles distant, and Putnam and his fifty rangers composed the whole force at this point. Near the front of the ledge he constructed a parapet of stone, and placed young pine trees before it in such a natural manner that they seemed to have grown there, and completely hid the defense from observers on the water below. Fifteen of his men, disabled by sickness, were sent back to the camp at Fort Edward, and with his thirty-five he resolved to attack whatever force might appear upon the lake. Four days he anxiously awaited the appearance of the enemy, when early one evening he was gratified by the intelligence that a large fleet of canoes, filled with warriors, was leisurely approaching from South Bay. It was the time of full moon, the sky was unclouded, and from his hiding-place every movement of the Indians could be distinctly seen. Putnam called in all his sentinels, and in silence every man was stationed where his fire might be most effective. Not a musket was to be moved until orders were given by the commander. The advanced canoes had passed the parapet, when one of the soldiers hit his firelock against a stone. The sound was caught by the watchful ears of Molang and his followers. The canoes in the van halted, and the whole fleet was crowded in confusion and alarm directly beneath the ledge. A brief consultation ensued, and then they turned their prows back toward South Bay. As they wheeled the voice of Putnam shouted "Fire," and with sure aim each bullet reached a victim. The enemy returned the fire, but without effect, and for a time the carnage produced by the Rangers was dreadful in that dense mass upon the waters. Molang soon perceived by the firing that his assailants were few, and detached a portion of his men to land below and attack the provincials in the rear. Putnam had perceived this movement, and sent a party of twelve men, under Lieutenant Durkee, who easily repulsed them when they attempted to land. About daybreak he learned that the enemy had actually debarked at a point below, and was marching to surround him. This fact, and the failure of his ammunition, warned him to retreat. Nearly half the number of the enemy perished on that fatal night, while Putnam lost but two men, who were wounded. 41 While retreating through the thick forest, an unexpected enemy fired upon them, but wounded only one man. Putnam instantly ordered his men to charge, when his voice was recognized by the other leader, who cried out, "Hold, we are friends!" " Friends or foes," shouted Putnam, "you deserve to perish for doing so little execution with so fair a shot." The party proved to be a detachment sent to cover their retreat.
It was late in the evening twilight before I finished my sketch, but our obliging waterman would not consent to row us back until we should go to his house near by and see his "pullet and chickens" – his wife and children. His dwelling was at the foot of the steep Vermont shore, completely hemmed in by rocks and water, but embowered in shrubbery. His children brought us fruit, and we were refreshed by draughts of water from a mountain spring close by, of icy coldness. The moon was shining brightly when we passed the Elbow on our return, and by its pale light we could see the ribs and other decaying timber of the British ship of war Confiance and the American ship Saratoga. The former was sunk there in 1814, and the latter, which was afterward used as a store-ship, was scuttled by some miscreants while her officers and crew were at the village participating in a Fourth of July celebration. It was about nine in the evening when we reached the hotel. There I met that distinguished and venerable divine, Rev. Mr. Pierce, of Brookline, Massachusetts, and was charmed and edified by his conversation for more than an hour.42 His memory was richly stored with historic learning, and our intercourse was to me a pleasant and profitable appendix to the events and studies of the day.
Early the next morning we left Whitehall on the steamer Saranac, and landed at Chipman’s Point, or Sholes’s Landing, the port of Orwell, and the most eligible point whence to reach the battle-ground of Hubbardton. The morning was delightful, and the ride in a light wagon, accompanied by the intelligent son of Mr. Sholes, proved to be one of peculiar pleasure. Our route was through the pleasant little village of Orwell, five miles southeast of the landing. There we turned southward, and followed the margin of the broad ravine or valley through which the retreating Americans and pursuing British passed when St. Clair evacuated Ticonderoga. The road was made very tortuous to avoid the high ridges and deep valleys which intersect in all directions, while at the same time it gradually ascends for several miles. I never passed through a more picturesque country. The slopes and valleys were smiling with cultivation, and in every direction small lakes were sparkling in the noonday sun. Within about six miles of the battle-ground we descended into a romantic valley imbosomed in a spur of the Green Mountains. We passed several small lakes, lying one below another, over which arose rough and lofty precipices, their summits crowned with cedar, hemlock, pine, and spruce. The tall trunks of the pines, black and branchless, scathed by lightning and the tempest, arose above the surrounding forests like mighty sentinels, and added much to the wild grandeur of the scene. From the rough and narrow valley we ascended to a high, rolling table-land, well cultivated; and upon the highest part of this tract, surrounded on the south and east by loftier hills, the battle of Hubbardton occurred[July 7, 1777.].
THE BATTLE-GROUND AT HUBBARDTON.
General Fraser, whom I have already mentioned as having started after the Americans from Ticonderoga[July 6.], continued his pursuit of St. Clair and his army through the day, and, learning from some Tory scouts that they were not far in advance, he ordered his men to lie that night upon their arms, to be ready to push forward at daybreak. About three in the morning his troops were put in motion, and about five o’clock his advanced scouts discovered the American sentries, who discharged their pieces and retreated to the main body of the detachment, which was left behind by St. Clair, under the command of Colonels Warner and Francis. Their place of encampment was in the southeast part of Hubbardton, Rutland county, near the Pittsford line, upon the farm of John Selleck, 43 not far from the place where the Baptist meeting-house now stands. The land is now owned by a son of Captain Barber, who was in the engagement. He kindly accompanied me to the spot, and pointed out the localities, according to the instructions of his patriotic father. The engraving on the opposite page represents the general view of the place of encampment and the battle-ground. When the British advanced guard discovered the Americans, they were breakfasting near a dwelling which stood close by the Baptist meeting-house, the two-story building seen in the center of the picture. The dark spot near the fence, seen between the larger trees in the foreground (I in the map of the battle), marks the remains of the cellar of the old house. The road on the right is that leading toward Ticonderoga; and the roofs of the houses, seen over the orchard on the right, mark the direction of the road leading down the valley toward Castleton. The large boulder in front is famed by local tradition as the observatory of the first man of the British van who discovered the Americans; and it is related that he was shot by a sentinel before he could leap down. The range of hills in the distance are the Pittsford Mountains, over which a portion of the Americans fled toward Rutland. A small branch of a tributary of Castleton Creek runs through the intervale between the meeting-house and the hills beyond. The hottest of the fight occurred upon the slope between the large tree and the meeting-house. It was covered with ripe grain when I visited it [August, 1848.], and the achievements of the tiller gathering his sheaves seemed more truly great than all the honors and renown which wholesale slaughter ever procured for a warrior chieftain.
It was an excessively hot morning in July[July 7, 1777.] when the battle of Hubbardton commenced. The American force consisted of the three regiments of Warner, Francis, and Hale, and such stragglers from the main army then at Castleton (six miles in advance) as had been picked up on the way. The Americans were about thirteen hundred strong, and the British, under Fraser, about eight hundred. Reidesel and his Germans were still in the rear, but, expecting his arrival every moment, Fraser began the attack at seven in the morning, fearing that the Americans might escape if he delayed. The charge of the enemy was well received, and the battle raged furiously. Had Warner been well sustained by the militia regiment under Colonel Hale, he might have secured a victory; but that officer, with his troops, fled toward Castleton, hoping to join the main army there under St. Clair, leaving the commander with only seven hundred men to oppose the enemy. On the way, Hale and his men fell in with an inconsiderable party of British soldiers, to whom they surrendered, without offering any resistance, although the numbers were about equal. 44 They were well stationed upon the brow of the bill, but so sudden and unexpected was the attack, that no other breast-works could be thrown up than such as a few trees afforded. For a long time the conflict was severe, for Reidesel still did not make his appearance. The British grenadiers occupied the Castleton road, and prevented the Americans from retreating in that direction; but the republicans poured in such a galling fire upon them, that they gave way, and victory was almost within the grasp of the patriots. At that moment Reidesel with his companions appeared, his drums beating and banners flying. The firing reaching his ears, he had pressed on as rapidly as the rough forest road would allow. His Chasseurs, under Major Barner, were immediately brought into action in support of Fraser’s left flank. At that moment the whole British line made a bayonet charge upon the Americans with terrible effect. The latter, supposing that the Germans in full force were coming upon them, broke and fled with great precipitation, some over the Pittsford Mountains toward Rutland, and others down the valley toward Castleton. 45 The Americans lost three hundred and twenty-four in killed, wounded, and prisoners. The brave Colonel Francis was slain while gallantly fighting at the head of his regiment, and twelve officers were made prisoners. The British loss was one hundred and eighty-three, among whom were Major Pratt and about twenty inferior officers. 46 The British also captured about two hundred stand of arms.
EXPLANATION OF THE MAP.
A, advanced corps of General Fraser, attacked at B; C, position of the corps while it was forming; D, Earl of Balcarras detached to cover the right wing; E, the van-guard and Brunswick company of Chasseurs coming up with General Reidesel; F, position of the Americans after Reidesel arrived. The lines extending downward show the course of the retreat of the Americans over the Pittsford Mountains. H, position of the British after the action; I, house where the wounded were carried, mentioned in thedescription of the picture on page 144; O, position of the Americans previous to the action. This map is a reduced copy of one drawn by P. Gerlach, Burgoyne’s deputy quartermaster general.
When General St. Clair heard the firing at Hubbardton, he attempted to send a force to the relief of Warner, but the militia absolutely refused to go, and the regulars and others were too far on their way to Fort Edward to be recalled. St. Clair had just learned, too, that Burgoyne was at Skenesborough, and he hastened forward to join General Schuyler, which he did on the 12th[July, 1777.], with his troops worn down by fatigue and lack of provisions. The loss to the Americans by the evacuation of these posts on the lake was one hundred and twenty-eight pieces of cannon and a considerable quantity of ammunition and stores. In every respect the event was disastrous, and, as we have seen, produced much discontent in the army and disappointment throughout the country.
General Schuyler summoned the fragments of the broken armies to his camp at Fort Edward. All united, numbered only four thousand four hundred men, and this was the whole effective force opposed to the southward progress of Burgoyne. Nearly one half of these deserted, not to the enemy, but to their homes, before the end of the month. Yet the general neither despaired nor remained idle. He kept his men busily engaged in destroying bridges, felling trees, digging deep trenches, and making other obstructions in the forest paths from Fort Anne to Fort Edward, to delay the progress of the enemy; and this labor resulted in greatly impeding Burgoyne’s march, and in delaying his arrival upon the Hudson. The subsequent events connected with these two armies, exceptingthe battle of Bennington and the expedition of St. Leger, have already been noticed in detail. The latter will be considered in their proper order.
I lingered upon the battle-ground in Hubbardton as long as time would allow, for the view from that lofty table-land is both beautiful and grand, particularly in the direction of Castleton, on the southwest. A broad valley, bounded on either side by ranges of high hills, cultivated to their summits, and diversified by rich intervales covered with ripe harvests and dark green corn, spread out below us, a lovely picture of peace and prosperity. The view at its further extremity is bounded by the high hills near the Hudson, and on the left some of the higher summits were dark with spruce and cedar trees. We returned to Sholes’s by the way of Hyde’s, in Sudbury, where we dined. As usual, every delicacy of the season was upon his table. Indeed, "a table equal to Hyde’s" has become a proverbial expression of praise among tourists, for it is his justifiable boast that he spreads the choicest repasts that are given between Montreal and New Orleans. His beautifully embowered mansion is near the base of the Green Mountains, by the margin of a charming lake, on the borders of a rich valley, about twelve miles east of Lake Champlain, and a more delightful summer retreat can not well be imagined. Our route thither was over a rough mountain road. Among the rugged hills we met a venerable, white-haired man leaning upon two canes, and greatly bowed by the weight of years. I accosted him with reverence, and, in answer to my inquiry whether he was a soldier of the Revolution, he informed me that he was with General Sullivan on Rhode Island, and was on duty in the fort on Butt’s Hill at the time of the engagement there on the 29th of August, 1778, known asthe battle of Quaker Hill.
We arrived at Sholes’s between five and six o’clock in the evening. Our excellent host and his neighbor and friend, living at the foot of Mount Independence, anticipating my wishes, had a skiff in readiness to convey us across the bay to visit that memorable spot. Although I had ridden forty miles during the day, and storm-clouds had been gathering thick and fast for two hours, and now threatened a speedy down-pouring, I was too anxious for the visit to allow fatigue or rain to thwart my purpose. Accompanied by my companion and another young lady, the daughter of Mr. S., we pushed across the bay – five of us in a light skiff, and the wind rising – to the foot of Mount Independence, on its steep southern side.
We ascended by the old road constructed in 1776. The top of the summit is flat table-land, and afforded a very eligible site for strong military works. It was first occupied by the Americans early in 1776, when they commenced the erection of batteries, barracks, and houses, with the view of making it a place of general rendezvous, and a recruiting station for the army of the north.47 It was heavily timbered when they took possession of it, but almost all the trees were felled for building purposes and for fuel. A second growth of timber now covers it, except where the parades were. The trees are chiefly maple, some of them twenty inches in diameter. There are about two hundred of them on the mount, large enough for the extraction of sap for sugar. The young shoots never sprang up where the old parades were, and they present bald spots, bearing only stinted vegetation.
During the summer and autumn of 1776 the Americans were diligent in fortifying this spot. They erected a picketed fort and several batteries, dug many wells, and constructed nearly three hundred houses for the use of the soldiers. The remains of these are scattered in all directions upon the mount; and the foundation walls of the hospital, just commenced when the evacuation in 1777 took place, are now nearly as perfect as when first laid. Narrow ditches, indicating the line of pickets on the north part of the mount, and running in various directions and at every angle, are distinctly seen; and the remains of the "horseshoe battery," on the extreme north end, are very prominent. Near this battery is a flint quarry, which seems to have been well known and used by the Indians, for arrow-heads in every stage of manufacture, from the almost unshapen flint to the perfect weapon, are found there, I was told, in abundance. Toward the close of 1776 a fatal epidemic prevailed in the garrison there, called the "camp distemper," and the graves of the victims are thickly strewn among the trees. At one time the deaths were so numerous that it was found impossible to dig a grave for each, and the spot was shown to me where fourteen bodies were deposited in a single broad grave, about daylight one morning. Among the hundreds of these mounds of the dead, scattered over the mount, there was only one individualized by an inscribed stone.
The rude monument is a rough limestone, and the inscription, "M. Richardson Stoddard," appeared as if carved with the point of a bayonet. The tenant was probably an officer of militia from a town formerly named Stoddard, in Vermont. Already some Vandal visitor had broken off a "relic" from its diminutive bulk and ere this some patriotic antiquary has doubtless slipped the whole stone into his pocket, and secured a legacy of rare value for his wondering children! A propensity to appropriate to private use a fragment of public monuments, and a pitiful ambition, allied in kind to that of the Ephesian incendiary, to associate one’s name by pencil or penknife inscription with places of public resort, have already greatly marred and disfigured a large proportion of our few monuments, and can not be too severely condemned. Charity, that "covereth the multitude of sins," has not a mantle broad enough to hide this iniquity, for none but heartless knaves or brainless fools would thus deface even the meanest grave-stone in a church-yard. Wolfe’s monument on the Plains of Abraham, and the monuments at Red Bank and Paoli, bear mournful testimony of this barbarism which is abroad.
At various times Mount Independence, as well as Crown Point and other localities in the neighborhood of Lake Champlain, has been scarred by money-diggers. In 1815 a company came hither from Northern Vermont, to search for military treasures which wise seers and the divining rod declared were buried there. The chief of the party, entertaining misgivings on his arrival as to the success of money-digging, purchased land in the neighborhood, and while his more credulous companions were digging deep into the mount, he was plowing deep into his land. He raised grain and esculent roots – they raised gravel and worthless clay. When their patience and money were exhausted, they shouldered their picks and departed for Western New York. He remained, became a thrifty farmer, and, by the unerring divining rod of industry, found the treasure. Credulous people still dig at these localities, and several pits were pointed out to me which had been recently excavated.48
Darkness came on, and the rain pattered upon the leaves before we descended to the shore; and by the time we were fairly out upon the lake our destined haven was invisible. The wind was fresh and the waters rough. One of the ladies guided the helm, but her bright eyes could not discern the distant shore, and her nautical skill was unavailing. The son of Mr. S., anticipating such a dilemma, discharged a small swivel at the landing, and by its beacon flash we were safely guided until we came within the rays of the candles at the house. Wet and weary, we supped and retired early, to resume our journey in the morning.
VIEW FROM SHOLES’S LANDING.49
1 Mr. Rice sat down in the cool shadow of the gable of the western line of barracks while I sketched his person and the scenery in the distance. He is leaning against the wall, within a few feet of the entrance of the covert-way to the parade-ground, through which Allen and his men penetrated. In the middle ground is seen the wall of the ramparts, and beyond is the lake sweeping around the western extremity of Mount Independence, on the left beyond the steam-boat. For a correct apprehension of the relative position of Mount Independence to Ticonderoga, the reader is referred to themap, ante page 115.
2 On the 26th of October, 1774, the Congress adopted an address to the people of Canada, recounting the grievances of the American colonies suffered at the hands of the parent country, and including that province in the category of the oppressed, urging them to affiliate in a common resistance. But its Legislative Assembly made no response, and Congress construed their silence into a negative. – Journals of Congress, i., 55.
3 By the grant of Charles II. to his brother James, duke of York, the tract in America called New York was bounded on the east by the Connecticut River, while the charters of Massachusetts and Connecticut gave those provinces a westward extent to the "South Sea" or the Pacific Ocean. When, toward the middle of the last century, settlements began to be made westward of the Connecticut River, disputes arose, and the line between Connecticut and New York was finally drawn, by mutual agreement, twenty miles east of the Hudson. Massachusetts claimed a continuation of the Connecticut line as its western boundary, but New York contested the claim as interfering with prior grants to that colony. New Hampshire, lying north of Massachusetts, was not yet disturbed by these disputes, for the country west of the Green Mountains was a wilderness, and had never been surveyed. When Benning Wentworth was made Governor of New Hampshire, he was authorized to issue patents for unimproved lands within his province, and in 1749 applications were made to him for grants beyond the mountains. He gave a patent that year for a township six miles square, having its western line twenty miles east of the Hudson, and in his honor it was named Bennington. The Governor and Council of New York remonstrated against this grant, yet Wentworth continued to issue patents; and in 1754 fourteen townships of this kind were laid out and settlements commenced. During the French and Indian war settlements increased tardily, but after the victory of Wolfe at Quebec numerous applications for grants were made; and at the time of the peace, in 1763, one hundred and thirty-eight townships were surveyed west of the Connecticut River, and these were termed the New Hampshire Grants. The controversy between New York and the Grants became so violent that military organizations took place in the latter section to resist the civil power of New York, and about 1772 the military thus enrolled were first called Green Mountain Boys; among the most active and daring of whom were Ethan and Ira Allen and Remember Baker, men of whom I shall have occasion to speak hereafter. – See Sparks’s Life of Ethan Allen, and Thompson’s Vermont, part ii.
4 Among these were Silas Deane, David Wooster, Samuel H. Parsons, and Edward Stevens, all distinguished men during the Revolution.
5 He died in December, 1846, in Franklin county, New York, when nearly ninety years old. He had lived to see our confederacy increase from thirteen to thirty states, and from three millions of people to twenty millions.
6 According to Mr. Rice, history has omitted the suffix to this demand, which in those days was considered a necessary clincher to all solemn averments. It is characteristic of the man and the times. Rice’s brother was within a few feet of Allen, and said he exclaimed, "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress, by God."
7 The second Continental Congress assembled at Philadelphia at ten o’clock that day (May 10th), and chose Peyton Randolph President, and Charles Thompson Secretary.
8 One of the committee, Mr. Phelps, visited the fort, in disguise, the day before Allen and his men arrived. He pretended to be a countryman wishing to be shaved, and, while looking about for the garrison barber, observed every thing carefully, and saw the dilapidation of the walls and the laxity of duty and discipline, particularly as to sentinels.
9 The affections of the people of the colonies were very much alienated by the grievances of the Stamp Act in 1765, and kindred measures, yet they still had a strong attachment to the mother country, even when the Revolution finally broke out. Dr. Franklin’s testimony in 1766 may be quoted as illustrative of the temper of the people nearly ten years later. In answer to the question concerning the feelings of the people of America toward Great Britain before the passage of the Stamp Act, he said, "They had not only a respect but an affection for Great Britain, for its laws, its customs, and its manners, and even a fondness for its fashions, that greatly increased the commerce. Natives of Britain were always treated with particular regard; and to be an Old Englandman was itself a character of some respect, and gave a kind of rank among us." – Examination of Dr. Franklin before the British House of Commons relative to the Repeal of the American Stamp Act.
10 Pitkin, i., 355.
11 Jamaica, one of the West India Islands, was then a British colony, with a provincial Legislature like those on the American Continent.
12 See Journals of Congress, i., p. 100-168.
13 See Parliamentary Register (1775), p. 6-69.
14 Burgoyne’s Narrative, Appendix, p. xxx.
15 His father was a lieutenant in the English service, and belonged to the Connecticut troops that were with Amherst when he took Ticonderoga. While the English had possession of that post, before seizing Crown Point, he was much annoyed by a swaggering English major, who boasted that no American in the country could lay him upon his back. Lieutenant Rice accepted the general challenge. For twenty minutes it was doubtful who the successful wrestler would be. Rice was the more agile of the two, and, by a dexterous movement, tripped his adversary and brought him upon his back. The burly major was greatly nettled, and declared the act unfair and unmanly. Rice made a rejoinder, and hard words passed, which ended in a challenge from the major for a duel. It was accepted, and the place and time of meeting were appointed. But the fact having reached the ears of Amherst, he interposed his persuasion. The Englishman was resolved on fighting, and would listen to no remonstrance until Amherst touched his national and military pride. "Consider," he said, "how glorious is our conquest. We have taken this strong fortress without shedding one drop of blood. Shall Britons be such savages, that, when they can not spill the blood of enemies, they will shed that of each other?" The appeal had the desired effect, and the parties sealed their reconciliation and pledged new friendship over a glass of grog. They then tried their strength again. The major was prostrated in an instant by a fair exertion of superior strength, and from that hour he was Rice’s warmest friend. The major’s name was Church. He was a lieutenant colonel under Prevost, and was killed at Savannah on the 16th of September, 1779.
16 The day when the British army encamped before Ticonderoga (July 1st), the troops consisted of British, rank and file, three thousand seven hundred and twenty-four; Germans, rank and file, three thousand and sixteen; Canadians and provincials about two hundred and fifty, and Indians about four hundred, making a total of seven thousand four hundred and ninety.
17 Arthur St. Clair was a native of Edinburgh, in Scotland. He was born in 1734, and came to America with Admiral Boscawen in 1755. He served in Canada in 1759 and 1760, as a lieutenant under General Wolfe, and, after the peace of 1763, was appointed to the command of Fort Ligonier, in Pennsylvania. In January, 1776, he was appointed a colonel in the Continental army, and was ordered to raise a regiment destined for service in Canada. Within six weeks from his appointment his regiment was on its march. He was appointed a brigadier in August of that year, and was an active participant in the engagements at Trenton and Princeton. In February, 1777, he received the appointment of major general, and on the 5th of June was ordered by General Schuyler to the command of Ticonderoga. He reached that post on the 12th, and found a garrison of two thousand men, badly equipped and very short of ammunition and stores. He was obliged to evacuate the post on the 5th of July following. In 1780 he was ordered to Rhode Island, but circumstances prevented him from going thither. When the allied armies marched toward Virginia, in 1781, to attack Cornwallis, St. Clair was directed to remain at Philadelphia with the recruits of the Pennsylvania line, for the protection of Congress. He was, however, soon afterward allowed to join the army, and reached Yorktown during the siege. From Yorktown he was sent with a considerable force to join Greene, which he did at Jacksonville, near Savannah. He resided in Pennsylvania after the peace; was elected to Congress in 1786, and was president of that body in 1787. Upon the erection of the Northwestern Territory into a government in 1788, he was appointed governor, which office he held until 1802, when Ohio was admitted as a state into the Union, and he declined an election to the post he had held. His military operations within his territory against the Indians were disastrous, and when he retired from office he was almost ruined in fortune. He made unsuccessful applications to Congress for the payment of certain claims, and finally died almost penniless, at Laurel Hill, near Philadelphia, August 31st, 1818, aged 84 years.
18 It was generally believed, until Burgoyne appeared at St. John’s, that the military preparations in progress at Quebec were intended for an expedition by sea against the coast towns still in possession of the Americans; and influenced by this belief, as well as by the pressing demands for men to keep General Howe and his army from Philadelphia, Congress made but little exertion to strengthen the posts on Lake Champlain. This was a fatal mistake, and it was perceived too late for remedy.
19 This swaggering proclamation commenced as follows: By John Burgoyne, Esquire, lieutenant general of his majesty’s forces in America, colonel of the Queen’s regiment of Light Dragoons, governor of Fort William, in North Britain, one of the Commons of Great Britain in Parliament, and commanding an army and fleet employed on an expedition from Canada," &c. "From the pompous manner in which he has arrayed his titles," says Dr. Thatcher, "we are led to suppose that he considers them as more than a match for all the military force which we can bring against them." – Military Journal. P. 82.
General Washington, from his camp at Middlebrook, in New Jersey, issued a manifesto or counter proclamation, which, in sincerity and dignity, was infinitely superior to that issued by Burgoyne. He alluded to the purity of motives and devotion of the patriots, the righteousness of their cause, and the evident guardianship of an overruling Providence in the direction of affairs, and closed by saying, "Harassed as we are by unrelenting persecution, obliged by every tie to repel violence by force, urged by self-preservation to exert the strength which Providence has given us to defend our natural rights against the aggressor, we appeal to the hearts of all mankind for the justice of our cause; its event we leave to Him who speaks the fate of nations, in humble confidence that as his omniscient eye taketh note even of the sparrow that falleth to the ground, so he will not withdraw his countenance from a people who humbly array themselves under his banner in defense of the noblest principles with which he has adorned humanity."
20 Gordon, ii., 205.
21 This title was given to it by General Fraser, in allusion to the hope they entertained of dislodging the Americans.
22 I was informed by an old man, ninety years of age, residing at Pittsford, not far from the battle-ground at Hubbardton, that the British gave the name of Mount Defiance to Sugar Loaf Hill on the day when they erected their battery upon it, for from that height they defied the Americans either to resist or dislodge them. The old man was one of the British regulars under Burgoyne, but soon afterward deserted to the Continentals.
23 This was the third time in consecutive order that the fortress was captured by an enemy to the garrison without bloodshed, namely, in 1759, by the English under General Amherst; in 1775, by the New England provincials under Colonel Ethan Allen, and now (1777) by the British under Lieutenant-general Burgoyne.
24 The chief thus wrote to General Schuyler on hearing of the disaster: "The evacuation of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence is an event of chagrin and surprise not apprehended nor within the compass of my reasoning. I know not upon what principle it was founded, and I should suppose it would be still more difficult to be accounted for if the garrison amounted to five thousand men in high spirits, healthy, well supplied with provisions and ammunition, and the Eastern militia were marching to their succor, as you mentioned in your letter of the 9th [June] to the Council of Safety of New York."
25 In his letter to Congress (from which this sentence is quoted), dated at Morristown, July 10th, 1777, Washington continues, "If General Arnold has settled his affairs, and can be spared from Philadelphia, I would recommend him for this business, and that he should immediately set out for the northern department. He is active, judicious, and brave, and an officer in whom the militia will repose great confidence. Besides this, he is well acquainted with that country, and with the routes and most important passes and defiles in it. I do not think he can render more signal services, or be more usefully employed at this time, than in this way. I am persuaded his presence and activity will animate the militia greatly, and spur them on to a becoming conduct." Arnold was sent accordingly, and his signal services at Bemis’s Heights we have already considered.
26 In the older histories and in the geographies of the state of New York the whole narrow part of Lake Champlain south of Ticonderoga was called respectively Wood Creek and South River. For fifty years these names for that portion of the lake have become obsolete, and as historians write for the future, they should be careful to note these changes, so as not to mislead the student. Mr. Headly carelessly observes, when speaking of the retreat from Ticonderoga, that "their long procession of boats began by moonlight to wind up Wood Creek," &c. Again, speaking of Putnam’s position when he attacked the French and Indians in their canoes, he represents the place as upon "Wood Creek where it falls into the lake." He says again, "A whole fleet of canoes, filled with soldiers, was entering the mouth of the creek." The mouth of the creek being a cascade, it would have been difficult for the canoes to enter it. Wood Creek proper rises in French Pond, in Warren county, and, flowing by Fort Anne in a deep and sluggish stream, receives the waters of the Pawlet, and falls into Lake Champlain at Whitehall.
27 Whitehall is a growing and flourishing village. It is within a rocky ravine at the foot of a high eminence called Skene’s Mountain, at the mouth of Wood Creek and the northern terminus of the Champlain Canal and Rail-road. It has a beautiful agricultural country behind it, and the natural scenery in the vicinity is very picturesque. The Indian name of the locality, when the whites first explored the neighborhood, was Kah-cho-qua-na, which, literally interpreted, is, "place where dip fish."
28 See Reverend Lewis Kellogg’s Historical Discourse, Whitehall, 1847.
29 At Castleton St. Clair was informed of the approach of Burgoyne by water, and, instead of marching to Skenesborough, he struck off into the woods on the left, fearing that he might be intercepted by the enemy at Fort Anne.
30 General Mattoon, late of Amherst, Massachusetts, was a subaltern in the American convoy. According to his account, there were then only four houses at Skenesborough, besides those belonging to Skene. While he was in one of them, occupied by a French family, and just in the act of partaking of some refreshments, a cannon-ball from the enemy’s fleet entered, crushed the table, and scattered the victuals in all directions over the room. – Kellogg’s Discourse, p. 6.
31 The place was very unhealthy at that time. The mortality from sickness among the troops stationed there during the Revolution was fearful; and so bad was the reputation of Whitehall in this particular at the close of the war, that, when the lands of Skene were offered for sale, no competitor appeared, and 29,000 acres were struck off at the first offer of £14 10s. to an agent of the purchasers, John Williams, Joseph Stringham, and John Murray. – Kellogg’s Discourse, p. 14.
A remarkable case of longevity occurred near Whitehall. Henry Francisco, a native of England, died near there in November, 1820, aged one hundred and thirty-four years. He was present at the coronation of Queen Anne, March 8th, 1702. He served in the French wars and in the Revolution, and lived in this country nearly ninety years.
32 This view is from the bridge which crosses Wood Creek, looking south. The distant building on the right is the dwelling of Mr. Moore. Nearer is his store-house, and on the left are his out-houses. The stumps of the pickets may be traced in a circular line from his dwelling along the road to the crook in the fence, and so on to the barns and in their yards.
33 D. S. Murray, Esq.
34 William A. Moore, Esq., president of the Whitehall Bank.
35 At one time, when the provincials fell back, and the Indians were near him, a young warrior amused himself by trying his skill in throwing his tomahawk as near Putnam’s head as possible without hitting him. When he was tired of his amusement, a French subaltern, more savage than the Indian, leveled his musket at Putnam’s breast, but it missed fire. The major claimed the consideration due a prisoner of war, but the barbarous Frenchman was unmoved, and, after striking him a violent blow upon his cheek with the butt end of his musket, left him to die, as he thought.
36 See Humphrey’s and Peabody’s Biographies of Putnam.
37 This sketch was taken from the rail-road, looking north. The forest upon the left is the "thick wood" of the Revolution, but on the right cultivated fields have taken the place of the forest to a considerable extent. On the right is seen the Champlain Canal, here occupying the bed of Wood Creek. The fence on the left indicates the place of the public road between Fort Anne and Whitehall. When this sketch was made (1848) the rail-road was unfinished.
38 Burgoyne’s State of the Expedition, &c., p. 81.
39 Here I will correct a serious geographical error which I find in Peabody’s Life of Putnam. He says, "Abercrombie ordered Major Putnam to proceed with fifty men to South Bay, in Lake George." Again, "The detachment marched to Wood Creek, near the point where it flows into South Bay." South Bay is in Lake Champlain, and Wood Creek does not flow into it at all. Seenote respecting Wood Creek, ante, page 137.
40 The view is taken from the Vermont shore, where rafts of timber and piles of lumber (as seen on the left) betoken the chief article of commerce here. The ledge of rocks, which rises about fourteen feet in height, is on the New York side. From the perpendicular point, rugged and broken, there is a gentle slope thickly covered with timber and shrubbery, and affording an excellent place for an ambuscade. The small trees in the distance mark the point at the Elbow, and the hill beyond is a portion of Skene’s Mountain, which overlooks the harbor at Whitehall.
41 These men, one a provincial, the other an Indian, were placed under an escort of two others, and sent toward the camp. They were pursued and overtaken by the Indians. The wounded men told the escort to leave them to their fate, which they did. When the savages came up, the provincial, knowing that he would be put to death, fired and killed three. He was instantly tomahawked. The Indian was kept a prisoner, and from him Putnam learned the above facts when they met some time afterward in Canada.
42 Mr. Pierce was seventy-five years old. He distinctly remembered Washington’s visit to Boston in 1789. The cavalcade halted near the entrance to the city, and Washington was obliged to sit on horseback two hours, while the state authorities and the selectmen decided a point of etiquette – whose province it was to receive him. The selectmen carried the day. He explained to me the nature of the apparent error in the registration of the birth and christening of Dr. Franklin. The entries of both events are upon the same day, Sunday, 17th of January, 1706. An old man, who remembered the circumstance well, for it caused some gossip at the time, told him that Dr. Franklin’s mother went to church and received the communion in the morning, gave birth to her son at noon, and in the afternoon the child was christened.
43 The first settlement in this town was in the spring of 1774, and consisted of only two families. In 1775 seven other families joined them, among whom was Mr. Selleck, and these nine constituted the whole population of the town when the battle occurred. On the day previous a party of Indians and Tories, under Captain Sherwood, came upon the inhabitants and made prisoners of two farmers named Hickock, and their families, and two young men named Keeler and Kellogg. They captured two or three others, and carried them all off to Ticonderoga, leaving their families to shift for themselves. The sorrowing wives and children made a toilsome journey over the mountains to Connecticut, whence they had emigrated. The men remained prisoners at Ticonderoga (except two who escaped) until after the surrender of Burgoyne in October, when that fortress was retaken by the Americans. – See Thompson’s Gazetteer of Vermont.
44 Colonel Hale has been severely censured for this act of apparent cowardice, but when every circumstance is taken into account, there is much to induce a mitigation of blame. Himself and a large portion of his men were in feeble health, and quite unfit for active service, and his movement was one of precaution rather than of cowardly alarm. Rivals, soon after he surrendered, circulated reports unfavorable to his reputation. On hearing of them, he wrote to General Washington, asking him to obtain his exchange, that he might vindicate his character by a court-martial; but before this could be accomplished he died, while a prisoner on Long Island, in September, 1780.
45 Many of the Americans, in their precipitate retreat, threw away their muskets to rid themselves of the encumbrance. Some have been found, within a few years, in the woods on the line of the retreat. One of them, of American manufacture, is in my possession, and dated 1774. The bayonet is fixed, the flint is in the lock, and the powder and ball are still in the barrel.
46 The statements concerning the loss in this battle are various and contradictory. Some accounts say that nearly six hundred, who were wounded, crawled off into the woods and died; and others, again, put the American loss down at less than three hundred. There is a preponderance of testimony in favor of the number I have given, and it is, doubtless, near the truth.
47 Mount Independence is situated in the southwest corner of Orwell, in Vermont, one mile north of Sholes’s Landing, and contains about two hundred and fifty acres of land, some of which is arable. The troops stationed there in 1776 received the news of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, by the Continental Congress, with the most extravagant demonstrations of joy. It was just after the reveille, on the morning of the 18th of July, that a courier arrived with the glad tidings; and, by a general order, a gala day for the soldiers ensued. At sunset they fired a salute of thirteen guns, in honor of the confederation. and named the place on which they were encamped Mount Independence, in commemoration of the event.
48 Three or four years ago the white wife of a negro dreamed three times – the cabalistic number – that at a certain place on Mount Independence immense treasures were buried when the Americans evacuated that post. They were, doubtless, the identical silver balls which calumny asserted Burgoyne fired into St. Clair’s camp as the price of treason. The negro procured aid, and a pure white dog to watch them while digging. A moonlight night was the chosen time. The secret leaked into the ears of some boys, and set their mischievous wits at work. A large pumpkin was emptied of its seeds, and staring eyes, wide nostrils, and grinning teeth were cut out of the rind, and a lighted candle was placed within the sphere. This hideous head, with its fiery eyes and nostrils, was placed on the caput of a bold boy, who marched up to the pit where the money-diggers were at work. The dog first discovered the grinning specter, and, with a loud yell, leaped from the cavity and ran for life. The men followed, leaving pick, spade, hat, and coat behind, quite sure that the "gentleman in black" was close upon their heels; and they have ever since believed that he guards the treasures, and sometimes takes an evening stroll on Mount Independence.
49 This is a view from Chipman’s Point, or Sholes’s Landing, looking north. The high ridge on the right, in the distance, is Mount Independence. The higher and more distant hill on the left, over the cedar, is Mount Defiance, and the elevation beyond is Mount Hope. Fort Ticonderoga is on the other side of Mount Independence, in a line with the highest part.
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