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zealous professions of loyalty and adhesion. Others, of Lower Canada, only asked furloughs for parties to return home and gather in their harvests. These were readily granted, and perfect harmony seemed restored. The next day, however, the chivalry of the wilderness deserted by scores, laden with such spoil as they had collected in their maraudings. These desertions continued from day to day, until there remained in the camp scarce a vestige of the savage warriors that had joined the army at Skenesborough.
Difficulties of Burgoyne-Plans an Expedition to
Bennington-St. Leger before Fort Stanwix-General Herkimer at Oriskany–High Words with his Officers-A Dogged March-An Ambuscade-Battle of Oriskany-Johnson's Greens-Death of Herkimer-Spirited Sortie of Colonel Willett-Sir John Johnson Driven to the River-Flight of the Indians -Sacking of Sir John's Camp-Colonel Gansevoort Maintains his Post-Colonel Willett Sent in Quest of Aid-Arrives at Schuyler's Camp.
EW difficulties beset Burgoyne at Fort
Edward. The horses which had been contracted for in Canada, for draft,
burden, and saddle, arrived slowly and scantily; having to come a long distance through the wilderness. Artillery and munitions, too, of all kinds, had to be brought from Ticonderoga by the way of Lake George. These, with a vast number of boats for freight, or to form bridges, it was necessary to transport over the carrying-places between the
lakes; and by land from Fort George to Fort Edward. Unfortunately, the army had not
. the requisite supply of horses and oxen. So far from being able to bring forward provisions for a march, it was with difficulty enough could be furnished to feed the army from day to day.
While thus situated, Burgoyne received intelligence that the part of his army which he had detached from Canada under Colonel St. Leger, to proceed by Lake Ontario and Oswego and make a diversion on the Mohawk, had penetrated to that river, and were actually investing Fort Stanwix, the stronghold of that part of the country.
To carry out the original plan of his campaign, it now behooved him to make a rapid move down the Hudson, so as to be at hand to co-operate with St. Leger on his approach to Albany. But how was he to do this, deficient as he was in horses and vehicles for transportation? In this dilemma Colonel (late major) Skene, the royalist of Skenesborough, to whom, from his knowledge of all this region, he had of late resorted for counsel, informed him that at Bennington, about twenty-four miles east of the Hudson, the Americans had a great depot of horses, carriages, and supplies of all kinds, intended for their Northern army. Erpedition to Bennington
This place, he added, might easily be surprised, being guarded by only a small militia force.
An expedition was immediately set on foot, not only to surprise this place, but to scour the country from Rockingham to Otter Creek; go down the Connecticut as far as Brattleborough, and return by the great road to Albany, there to meet Burgoyne. They were to make prisoners of all officers, civil and military, whom they might meet, acting under Congress; to tax the towns where they halted with everything they stood in need of, and bring off all horses fit for the dragoons, or for battalion service, with as many saddles and bridles as could be found.
They were everywhere to give out that this was the vanguard of the British army, which would soon follow on its way to Boston, and would soon be joined by the army from Rhode Island. Before relating the events of this expedition, we will turn to notice those of the detachment under St. Leger, with which it was intended to co-operate, and which was investing Fort Schuyler.
This Fort, built in 1756, on the site of an old French fortification, and formerly called Fort Stanwix, from a British general of that name, was situated on the right bank of the
Mohawk River, at the head of its navigation, and commanding the carrying-place between it and Wood Creek, whence the boats passed to the Oneida Lake, the Oswego River, and Lake Ontario. It was thus a key to the intercourse between Upper Canada and the valley of the Mohawk. The fort was square, with four bastions, and was originally a place of strength; having bomb-proof magazines, a deep moat and draw-bridge, a sally-port, and covered way. In the long interval of peace subsequent to the French war, it had fallen to decay. Recently it had been repaired by order of General Schuyler, and had received his name. garrisoned by seven hundred and fifty continental troops from New York and Massachusetts, and was under the command of Colonel Gansevoort of the New York line, a stouthearted officer of Dutch descent, who had served under General Montgomery in Canada.
It was a motley force which appeared before it; British, Hessian, Royalist, Canadian, and Indian, about seventeen hundred in all. Among them were St. Leger's rangers and Sir John Johnson's royalist corps, called his greens. Many of the latter had followed Sir John into Canada from the valley of the Mohawk, and were now returned to bring the horrors of war among their former neighbors. The Indians,