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Burgoyne at Skenesborough-Prepares to Move towards the Hudson-Major Skene the Royalist— Slow March to Fort Anne-Schuyler at Fort Miller -Painted Warriors-Langlade-St. Luc-Honor of the Tomahawk-Tragical History of Miss McCreaIts Results-Burgoyne Advances to Fort EdwardSchuyler at Stillwater-Joined by Lincoln-Burgoyne Deserted by his Indian Allies.
Na preceding chapter we left Burgoyne, early in July, at Skenesborough, of which he had just gained possession. He remained there nearly three weeks, awaiting the arrival of the residue of his troops, with tents, baggage and provisions, and preparing for his grand move toward the Hudson River. Many royalists flocked to his standard. One of the most important was Major Skene, from whom the place was named, being its founder, and the owner of much land in its neighborhood. He had served in the French War, but retired on half pay; bought "sol
diers' grants " of land lying within this township, at a trifling price, had their titles secured by a royal patent, and thus made a fortune. Burgoyne considered him a valuable adjunct and counsellor, and frequently took advice from him in his campaign through this part of the country.
The progress of the army towards the Hudson was slow and difficult, in consequence of the impediments which Schuyler had multiplied in his way during his long halt at Skenesborough. Bridges broken down had to be rebuilt; great trees to be removed which had been felled across the roads and into Wood Creek, which stream was completely choked. It was not until the latter part of July that Burgoyne reached Fort Anne. At his approach, General Schuyler retired from Fort Edward and took post at Fort Milier, a few miles lower down the Hudson.
The Indian allies who had hitherto accompanied the British army had been more troublesome than useful. Neither Burgoyne nor his officers understood their language, but were obliged to communicate with them through Canadian interpreters; too often designing knaves, who played false to both parties. The Indians, too, were of the tribes of Lower Canada, corrupted and debased by intercourse
with white men. It had been found difficult to draw them from the plunder of Ticonderoga, or to restrain their murderous propensities.
A party had recently arrived of a different stamp. Braves of the Ottawa and other tribes from the upper country; painted and decorated with savage magnificence, and bearing trophies of former triumphs. They were, in fact, according to Burgoyne, the very Indians who had aided the French in the defeat of Braddock, and were under the conduct of two French leaders; one, named Langlade, had command of them on that very occasion; the other, named St. Luc, is described by Burgoyne as a Canadian gentleman of honor and abilities, and one of the best partisans of the French in the war of 1756.
Burgoyne trusted to his newly arrived Indians to give a check to the operations of Schuyler, knowing the terror they inspired throughout the country. He thought also to employ them in a wild foray to the Connecticut River, to force a supply of provisions, intercept reinforcements to the American army, and confirm the jealousy which he had, in many ways, endeavored to excite in the New England provinces. He was naturally a humane man, and disliked Indian allies, but these had hitherto served in company with civilized
Bistory of Miss McCrea
troops, and he trusted to the influence possessed over them by St. Luc and Langlade, to keep them within the usages of war. A circumstance occurred, however, which showed how little the wild honor of these warriors of the tomahawk was to be depended upon.
In General Fraser's division was a young officer, Lieutenant David Jones, an American loyalist. His family had their home in the vicinity of Fort Edward before the Revolution. A mutual attachment had taken place between the youth and a beautiful girl, Jane McCrea. She was the daughter of a Scotch Presbyterian clergyman of the Jerseys, some time deceased, and resided with her brother on the banks of the Hudson, a few miles below Fort Edward. The lovers were engaged to be married, when the breaking out of the war severed families and disturbed all the relations of life. The Joneses were royalists; the brother of Miss McCrea was a stanch whig. The former removed to Canada, where David Jones was among the most respectable of those who joined the royal standard, and received a lieutenant's commission.
The attachment between the lovers continued, and it is probable that a correspondence was kept up between them. Lieutenant Jones
was now in Fraser's camp, in his old neighborhood. Miss McCrea was on a visit to a widow lady, Mrs. O'Niel, residing at Fort Edward. The approach of Burgoyne's army had spread an alarm through the country; the inhabitants were flying from their homes. The brother of Miss McCrea determined to remove to Albany, and sent for his sister to return home and make ready to accompany him. She hesitated to obey. He sent a more urgent message, representing the danger of lingering near the fort, which must inevitably fall into the hands of the enemy. Still she lingered. The lady with whom she was a guest was a royalist, a friend of General Fraser; her roof would be respected. Even should Fort Edward be captured, what had Jane to fear? Her lover was in the British camp; the capture of the fort would reunite them.
Her brother's messages now became peremptory. She prepared, reluctantly, to obey, and was to embark in a large bateau which was to convey several families down the river. The very morning when the embarkation was to take place, the neighborhood was a scene of terror. A marauding party of Indians, sent out by Burgoyne to annoy General Schuyler, were harassing the country. Several of them burst into the house of Mrs. O'Niel, sacked