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They Were There:

July 2024
3min read

“we could do no other than treat with the enemy”

General John Burgoyne, British Army:

No possibility of communication with your lordship [George Germain] having existed since the beginning of September … I have to report to your lordship the proceedings of the army under my command from that period; a series of hard toil, incessant effort, stubborn action; till disabled in the collateral branches of the army by the total defection of the Indians; the desertion or timidity of the Canadians and Provincials, some individuals excepted; disappointed in the last hope of any timely co-operation from other armies; the regular troops reduced by losses from the best part to three thousand five hundred fighting men, not two thousand of which were British; only three days’ provisions upon short allowance in store … I was induced to open a treaty with Major-general Gates. …

[On September 18] The enemy appeared in considerable force to … draw on an action where artillery could not be employed …

Captain Benjamin Warren, Continental Army:

Friday 19th . Received intelligence that the enemy was nigh. … About two o’clock the action began on our left, between their advanced guard and Capt. Morgan’s, who was a flanking party; he beat them back to the main body. … The engagement began again at 25 minutes after three o’clock with great spirit on both sides, we beat them back three times and they reinforced and recovered their ground again, till after sunset without any intermission when both parties retired and left the field …

General Burgoyne:

It was soon found that no fruits (honor excepted) were attained by the preceding victory, the enemy working with redoubled ardor to strengthen their left; their right was already unattackable.

On our side it became expedient to erect strong redoubts. … In this situation things continued till the seventh, when … it was judged advisable to make a movement to the enemy’s left…

Ebenezer Mattoon, Continental Army:

Gen. [Benjamin] Lincoln says, “Gen. Gates, the firing at the river is merely a feint; their object is your left. …”

Gates replied, “I will send Morgan with his riflemen, and [Major Henry] Dearborn’s infantry.”

Arnold says, “That is nothing; you must send a strong force.”

Gates replied, “Gen. Arnold, I have nothing for you to do; you have no business here.”

Arnold’s reply was reproachful and severe.

Gen. Lincoln says, “You must send a strong force to support Morgan and Dearborn, at least three regiments.” Two regiments … were then ordered to that station and to defend it at all hazards. …

We then advanced into the line of infantry. … During this time, a tremendous firing was heard on our left. We poured in upon them our canister shot as fast as possible, and the whole line, from left to right, became engaged. … Col. Johnson’s regiment, coming up, threw in a heavy fire and compelled the Hessians to retreat. Upon this we advanced with a shout of victory. … We were met by a fire from the British infantry. … They advanced with a quick step, firing as they came on. We returned them a brisk fire of canister shot, not allowing ourselves time even to sponge our pieces. … At this juncture Arnold came up with a part of Brooks’s regiment, and gave them a most deadly fire, which soon caused them to face about and retreat with a quicker step than they advanced.

The firing had now principally ceased on our left, but was brisk in front and on the right. At this moment Arnold says to Col. Brooks (late governor of Massachusetts), “Let us attack Balcarras’s works.”

Brooks replied, “No. Lord Auckland’s detachment has retired there, we can’t carry them.”

“Well, then, let us attack the Hessian lines.”

Brooks replies, “With all my heart.”

We all wheeled to the right and advanced. No fire was received, except from the cannon, until we got within about eight rods, when we received a tremendous fire from the whole line. … Still advancing, we received a second fire, in which a few men fell, and Cen. Arnold’s horse fell under him, and he himself was wounded. He cried out, “Rush on, my brave boys!” After receiving the third fire, Brooks mounted their works, swung his sword, and the men rushed into their works. …

Captain Georg Pausch, Hessian forces:

… Two of my men had been shot dead; three or four were wounded; a number had straggled off, and all of the infantry … either gone to the devil or run away. … Seeing that all was irretrievably lost, and that it was impossible to save anything, I called to the few remaining men to save themselves. …

Lieutenant Thomas Anburey, British Army:

After waiting the whole of the 13th day of October in anxious expectation of what it would produce … a council of war was called, to which all the Generals, Field-officers and commanding officers of corps were summoned, when it was unanimously agreed that in the present circumstances we could do no other than treat with the enemy.

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