The Story of Old Fort Johnson
W. Max Reid
RÉSUMÉ OF HISTORY OF THE WAR IN THE VALLEY - THE GLEN-SANDERS HOUSE - OLD DOCUMENTS - THE DIARY OF WILLIAM COLBRAITH - THE KILLING OF THE MAIDENS - THE FIRST RAISING OF THE STARS AND STRIPES OVER AN AMERICAN FORT - COLONEL WILLETT'S SORTIE - THE DEFEAT OF ST. LEGER
In a former volume, The Mohawk valley, Its Legends and Its History considerable prominence is given to the battle of Oriskany and the siege of Fort Schuyler, together with the sortie of Colonel Willett, which resulted in the destruction of the camps of the Indians and the dispersions of Sir John Johnson's body-guards. Herewith will be found a diary of William Colbraith, a soldier of the garrison, which sheds additional light on the siege and interesting information not hitherto published.
At the beginning of the Revolution Montgomery County (called Tryon county from 1772 to 1784) was without limit, reaching westward through the wilderness as far as the territory of New York province extended.
The Mohawk Valley, the home of the Agniers or Mohawks, early became the route of Indian traders to Lake Ontario and the wilderness of the great West, as the Mohawk River was navigable to the birchen canoes of the Indians and the bateaux of the white men. In 1758 a stockade fort was built at Utica and named Fort Schuyler, for Col. Peter Schuyler. It is said to have stood between Mohawk and Main streets below Second Street. There was no settlement at Utica at that time; in fact, it is said that there were but three log huts at this place in 1787. The fort at Utica was allowed to decay after the French war, and was not in existence in 1777.
The city of Rome, at the head of the boat navigation, early became an important point with the Indian traders or merchants, and was known as the carrying place from the Mohawk River to Wood Creek, a mile away. Goods were transferred from the Mohawk River to Wood Creek, down which boats were poled or paddled to Oneida Lake, through the lake to Oswego river, and thence to Lake Ontario.
In 1725 a fort was built midway between the Mohawk and Wood Creek and named Fort Bull, and on the Mohawk, east of the present site of Rome, Fort Williams was erected. Fort Bull was destroyed March 27, 1756, by a party of French and Indians under M. DeLery, and the same year Fort Williams was destroyed by General Webb, he deeming it untenable. During the Revolution a fortification called Fort Newport was erected on Wood Creek near the carrying place.
Fort Stanwix, at Rome, N.Y., received its name from Brigadier-General John Stanwix, who began the construction of this fort July 23, 1758. It was located near the south bank of the river, about thirty rods distant. It is said to have been a square work of earth and timber with bastions at each corner, surrounded by a ditch and mounted with heavy cannon.
This fort was also allowed to decay, so that when Colonel Dayton took possession of it in 1776 it is said to have been untenable. Colonel Dayton was charged with repairing Fort Stanwix, and renamed it Fort Schuyler for General Philip Schuyler. He did not, however, make much headway in putting it in a defensible condition, as we learn that Colonel Gansevoort when he took command of the fort, in the spring of 1777, was obliged to use strenuous measures to strengthen its defences. However, it proved to be equal to the emergency of resisting the attack of St. Leger, as that general says, in his report of the subsequent siege: "It was found that our cannon had not the least effect on the sodwork of the fort, and that our royals had only the power of teasing, as a six-inch plank was a sufficient security for their powder magazine, as we learned from the deserters."
The story of the siege of Fort Schuyler has been so often told that I will not, at this time, do any more than outline the situation of military affairs in this part of the State in the early years of the Revolution. In 1777, "Burgoyne's plan" had been inaugurated and the campaign was in full swing. This plan, you will remember, was arranged in London and comprised an advance of troops under General Howe up the Hudson, Burgoyne's advance up the Champlain Valley and down the upper Hudson, while St. Leger was to proceed from Three Rivers in Canada to Oswego with a body of English and Canadian troops under Sir John Johnson and Colonel John Butler and a horde of Canadian Indians under Joseph Brant, the whole force being under command of Colonel Barry St. Leger. It was planned that St. Leger would proceed from Oswego to Rome, destroy or capture Fort Schuyler, and then march through the Mohawk Valley, carrying death and destruction in his train, while Burgoyne and Howe should clear the valleys of Champlain and Hudson, the rendezvous of all three expeditions to be Albany, which they were all expected to reach simultaneously. How General Howe failed to ascend the Hudson, how Burgoyne's advance was checked at Bennington and his army captured at Saratoga, is well known to history; but early records of this campaign do not seem to recognize the importance of the battle of Oriskany, in clearing Tryon County and the balance of New York State, west of the Hudson River, of the British troops. Many of the old accounts of the battle characterize it as an ignominious defeat, ending with a cowardly retreat of the Americans, when it was, in fact, one of the most heroic, stubborn, and decisive battles of the Revolution. It is true that General Herkimer was defeated in his attempt to march his troops to Fort Schuyler and to assist Colonel Gansevoort in the siege of the fort, but he fought his troops coolly and courageously under the most disadvantageous circumstances, and finally compelled the British and their hired allies, the Indians, to retreat and leave the battle-field to the nearly exterminated band of patriots and their fatally wounded general.
Glen-Sanders House, Scotia, N.Y., 1713.
It will be remembered that before General Herkimer advanced from Fort Dayton (Herkimer) he sent Adam Helmer and two other trusty men through the wilderness, and at the risk of their lives, to inform Colonel Gansevoort of his advance with eight hundred soldiers, and requesting the commandant to give three cannon shots when the three scouts should arrive at the fort; and also requested Colonel Gansevoort to make a sortie of troops in order to divert the attention of the besiegers from the advance of General Herkimer and his eager and impetuous but undisciplined soldiers.
I have deemed it best to write this summary of the situation of affairs in the Mohawk Valley during August, 1777, in order to place before you some new material in regard to the siege of the fort.
On the north bank of the Mohawk River, opposite the city of Schenectady, is the little village of Scotia; so named by one of the first settlers in the vicinity of Schenectady, who was called, by his Dutch neighbors, Sanders Leendertse Glen, but whose Scotch name was Alexander Lindsey Glen. He came to this country by the way of Holland in 1633 and some years later (about 1658) settled on land at Scotia.
A few rods west of the toll bridge that spans the Mohawk at Schenectady stands the old Glen-Sanders house, so called in later years on account of the inter-marriage of the two families. It is said that a sister of Alexander Glen married a man by the name of Sanders, and that the present owners of the old house, husband and wife, are both lineal descendants from the father of Alex. Leendertse Glen, the families again being brought together after nearly three centuries. It is said that a house was erected on the north bank of the Mohawk near the site of the present building by Glen, the first settler, about 1660. A half-century later, or, to be more exact, in 1713, the river having encroached upon the old structure to such an extent as to render it unsafe for occupancy, a new dwelling was erected on higher ground, much of the older building being used in its construction, which can be seen at the present day, in many of the doors and casings. The family, proud of their ancestors and the antiquity of their surroundings, have preserved their home and its antique furniture, together with old letters and legal documents, so that to-day it is a storehouse of treasures of historic value; its large collection of old china and quaint furniture making it a most interesting museum to antiquaries of the historic Mohawk Valley. The writer, at a recent visit, was shown no less than five parchment commissions, to members of the Glen family, alternately bearing the signatures of the colonial governors, Lords Bellamont, Sloughter, Fletcher, Dongan, and Hunger, and one signed by Morris. Many of the documents which have been preserved have lain perdu in old chests without examination for many years.
One of these chests has recently undergone inspection, which has brought to light the commissions spoken of above, together with a very interesting paper which proves to be a diary of a soldier of Colonel Gansevoort's regiment, having been kept by a member of the detachment of major Cochran, sent to reinforce Colonel Elmore at Fort Schuyler April 17, 1777 and bears a striking resemblance to Colonel Willett's report to Governor Trumbull after the termination of the siege, with many interesting particulars of life within the fort not mentioned by Willett in his report. It covers the period between April 17, 177, when Colonel Gansevoort's troops relieved Colonel Elmore, and August 23d of the same year, the day General Benedict Arnold entered the fort after the hurried retreat of St. Leger's troops.
It also gives the date (August 3, 1777) when the first American flag, of the regulation Stars and Stripes, was raised above an American fort, having been made by the inhabitants of the fort from a blue cloak, a red flannel shirt, and strips of white cotton.
The manuscript begins as follows:
1777 - Journal of the most material occurrences preceding the siege of Fort Schuyler (formerly Fort Stanwix) with an account of that siege, etc.
April 17th. - A detachment of Colonel Gansevoort' s regiment, under command of Major Cochran, arrived to reinforce Colonel Elmore, who was stationed there.
May 3d. - Colonel Gansevoort arrived and took command of the garrison agreeable to instructions.
May 10th. - Colonel Elmore' s regiment march for Albany.
May 28th. - The remainder of the regiment under the command of Colonel Willett arrived here from Fort Constitution, who informed Colonel Gansevoort that by order of Major Gen. Gates he had relieved Fort Dayton, (then in charge of Lieutenant Colonel Livingston), with one captain, two subalterns, two sergeants, one drum and fife and forty rank and file of his detachment. Some Oneida Indians arrived here with a flag from Canada, who informed the Colonel that they had been to Caughnawaga to request them not to take up the hatchet in favor of Great Britain and gave him assurance of that tribe being much inclined to keep the peace, that had for so long subsisted between them and their American brethren, and that some of the sachems would be here in eight days on their way to Albany to treat on this subject. And also, as they were going to Canada they met the enemy on their march from thence to Oswego, being destined for this place, and after the treaty was over, which Sir John Johnson was to hold with the Indians in that country at Oswego, we might hourly expect them.
Col. Barry St. Leger. >From an old print.
June 25th. - Capt. Grigg, with Corporal Maddeson of his company, being between the Forts Newport and Bull, about 1 º miles from Fort Schuyler, were attacked by a party of Indians who wounded and tomahawked them and scalped them. The captain was alive when found, but the corporal dead.
July 3d. - Ensign Sporr, being command of seven men cutting sods for the fort at Fort Newport, were attacked by a party of Indians, who killed and scalped one, wounded and scalped another, and took the ensign and four men prisoners.
July 19th. - Capt. Grigg, being much recovered of this wounds, set off for Albany.
July 26th. - The sachems of Caughnawaga arrived here with a flag agreeable to the intelligence received from the Oneida Indians. A party of one hundred of the garrison went to guard a number of the militia sent to obstruct Wood creek by falling trees from either side into the creek.
July 27th. - Three girls belonging to the inhabitants being about two hundred yards from our out-sentinels were fired on by a party of Indians, two of whom were killed and scalped, the other wounded in two places, neither of them dangerous. The party returned who had been sent to stop the creek.
July 28th. - The Colonel sent off those women which belonged to the garrison which have children, with whom went the man that was scalped, the girl that was wounded yesterday and sick in the hospital.
July 30th. - An Indian arrived express from the Oneida castle with a belt of wampum and a letter from the sachems of Caughnawaga and the Six Nations, in which letter they assured us they were determined to be at peace with the American brethren; that the enemy were at the Three Rivers and two detachments were to set off before the main body; one body of eight would be sent to take prisoners, and another of 130 to cut off communication on the Mohawk river. Major Bedlam arrived with 150 men of Colonel Weston' s regiment from Fort Dayton; with him came Captain Dewitt and his party who had been left at Fort Dayton by Colonel Willett, the whole making to the garrison a reinforcement of about 200 men. Mr. Hansen, commissary of this garrison, arrived and acquainted us that seven bateaux, loaded with ammunition and provisions, were on their way for this place. The letter and belt was, agreeable to the request of the Indians, sent down by express to the several committees on the Mohawk river.
August 1st. - Three Oneida Indians came express from their castle informing us that they had seen three strange Indians, who told them that there were 100 more at the Royal Block House, and that they were to march for this place. Supposing them to be a party sent to cut off communications, the Colonel detached 100 men under command of Captain Benschoten and three subalterns to meet the bateaux that were hourly expected, in order to reinforce the guard sent with them from Fort Dayton.
August 2d. - Four bateaux arrived, being those the party went to meet, having a guard of 100 men of Colonel Weston' s regiment from Fort Dayton, under the command of Lieut. Col. Mellon of that regiment. The lading being brought safe into the fort, guard marched in, when our sentinels on the southwest bastion discovered the enemy' s fires in the woods near Fort Newport, upon which the troops ran to their respective alarm posts; at this time we discovered some men running from the landing toward the garrison. On their coming they informed us that the bateaux men who had staid behind when the guard marched into the fort had been fired on by the enemy at the landing, that two of them were wounded, the master of the bateaux taken prisoner, and one man missing.
Aug. 3d. - Early this morning a Continental flag, made by the officers of Colonel Gansevoort' s regiment, was hoisted and a cannon leveled at the enemy' s camp was fired on the occasion. A small party was sent to the landing to see of the enemy had destroyed any of our bateaux last night. This party found the bateaux man that was missing, wounded through the brain, stabbed in the right breast and scalped. He was alive when found and brought to the garrison, but died shortly after. The bateaux lay at the landing no ways damaged. About 3 o' clock this afternoon the enemy showed themselves to the garrison on all sides, carried off some hay from a field near the garrison, at which a flag brought by Captain Tice came into the fort with a proffer of protection if the garrison would surrender, which was rejected with disdain.
Aug. 4th. - A continual firing of small arms was this day kept up by the enemy' s Indians, who advanced within gunshot of the fort, in small parties under cover of bushes, weeds and potatoes in the garden. Colonel Mellon and his party of 100 men, who came from Fort Dayton as a guard to the bateaux, was to have returned this day, but we were now besieged and all communication cut off for the present. The firing ended with the close of the day, we having one man killed and six wounded. This night we sent out a party and brought 27 stacks of hay into the trench and set a barn and house on fire belonging to Mr. Roof.
Aug. 5th. - A continual firing was kept up by the savages. One of our men was shot dead on the northeast bastion. The enemy set fire to the new barracks standing about 100 yards from this fort, between four and five o' clock this afternoon.
Aug. 6th. - This morning the Indians were seen going off from around the garrison towards the landing; as they withdrew we had not much firing. Being uneasy lest the Tories should report that the enemy had taken the fort, Lieut. Diefendorf was ordered to get ready to set off for Albany this evening to inform General Schuyler of our situation, but between nine and ten this morning three militia men arrived here with a letter from General Harkeman wherein he writes that he had arrived at Orisco with 1,000 militia, in order to relieve the garrison and open communication, which was then entirely blocked up, and that if the colonel should hear a firing of small arms, desired he would send a party from the garrison to reinforce him. General Harkeman desired that the colonel would fire three cannon, if the three men got safe into the fort with his letter, which was done and followed by three cheers by the whole garrison. According to General Harkeman' s request the colonel detached two hundred men and one field piece under command of Lieut. Col. Willett with orders to proceed down the road to meet the General' s party; having marched half a mile, they came upon an encampment of the enemy which they totally routed, and plundered them of as much baggage as the soldiers could carry. Their loss is supposed to be between fifteen and twenty killed. The number of wounded, who got off, is unknown. They took four prisoners, three of whom were wounded, and Mr. Singleton of Montreal, who says he is a lieutenant, without the loss of one man killed or wounded. Our party returned immediately and brought in a number of blankets, brass kettles, power and ball, a variety of clothes and Indian trinkets and hard cash, together with four scalps the Indians had lately taken, being entirely fresh and left in their camp. Two of the scalps taken are supposed to be those of the girls, being neatly dressed and the hair plaited. A bundle of letters was found in the enemy' s camp, which had been sent by one Luke Cassidy for this garrison, who it is supposed is either killed or taken; the letters were not broke open. Four colours were also taken, and immediately hoisted on our flagstaff under the Continental flag, as trophies of victory. By our prisoners we learn that the enemy are 1210 strong, 250 British regulars, that they are all arrived and have with them two six pounders, two three pounders and four royals. We also learn that they were attacked by our militia on this side of Orisco, that they drove the militia back, killed some and took several prisoners, but the enemy had many killed, and among them one Stephen Watts of New York. Our party found among the enemy a Tory named Harkeman, brother to the General. He belonged to the German Flats. One of General Harkeman' s militia came in here this evening and gave an account of the militia being drove back by the enemy, that in the battle he hid himself in the mud and grass, and that General Harkeman and a number of regular officers and Indians passed him in conversation. (This was a lie.) One of the prisoners we took to-day died of his wounds this evening.
Upper Onega Creek.
Aug. 7th. - Very little firing to-day. At 11 o' clock this evening the enemy came near the fort, called to our sentinels, telling them to come out again with fixed bayonets, and they would give us satisfaction for yesterday' s work; after which they fired four small cannon at the fort. We laughed at them and they returned to rest. The four militia men who came in yesterday went off about 12 o' clock this night. Two men deserted from us to the enemy this night.
Aug. 8th. - The enemy threw some shells at us to-day, but did no damage, and in order to return the compliment, they were saluted with a few balls from our cannon. About 5 o' clock this evening Colonel Butler, with a British captain and a doctor from the enemy, came to the garrison with a flag, whose message from Gen. St. Leger was that the Indians, having lost some of their chiefs in a skirmish with our party that sallied out of the 6th inst., were determined to go down the Mohawk River and destroy the women and children, also that they would kill every man in the garrison when they got in; that Gen. St. Leger had held a council with them for two days in order to prevent them, but all to no purpose, unless we would surrender. The general therefore, as an act of humanity, and to prevent the effusion of blood, begged we would deliver up the fort, and promised if we did, not a hair of our heads should be hurt. A letter also came by them (as they say) from Mr. Fry and Colonel Bellinger, whom they took in the fray with the militia, begging us to surrender, telling us our communication was cut off, that the enemy had a large parcel of fine troops, and an excellent park of artillery, and further, that they expected General Burgoyne was in Albany, and could see no hopes of our having any succor, as the militia had many killed and taken. The answer to the general' s tender and compassioned (?) letter was deferred until to-morrow morning at 9 o' clock, and a cessation of arms agreed to by both parties until then. Late this evening a party was sent to get water for the garrison, with a guard. One of the guards deserted from us, but left his firelock behind. One of our sentinels fired at him but missed him. Our guard heard the enemy' s sentinels challenge him twice and fire on him. Colonel Willett and Lieutenant Stockwell went our of the garrison at one o' clock in the morning on a secret expedition.
Aug. 9th. - Agreeable to the proposals of yesterday, between Colonel Gansevoort and Brigadier General St. Leger, a flag was sent out to him requesting him to send his demand in writing and the Colonel would send him an answer, which request he agreed to. The demands in writing was the same in substance with that verbally delivered yesterday by Colonel Butler, to which the Colonel returned for an answer: That he was determined to defend the fort in favor of the United States to the last extremity. Upon receiving the answer hostilities again commenced by a number of shot and small arms on their side which were not suffered with impunity on ours. This day the Colonel ordered all the provisions to be brought upon the parade for fear of shells setting fire to the barracks and destroying it; also all the public papers and money in the hands of Mr. Hansen and the papers in the hands of Mr. Van Veghten belonging to the paymaster to be lodged in the bomb-proof in the S.W. bastion. The enemy began to bombard us at half past ten this evening and continued until daylight; their shells were very well directed. They killed one man and wounded another, both of our regiment. None killed or wounded through the day. This day the enemy kept out of sight, except one or two who appeared about their battery doing nothing. About three o' clock this afternoon three or four of them were seen running across a field near the garrison and setting fire to some cocks of hay standing there which soon consumed them. This manúuver of the enemy led us to believe that the enemy' s intention was to deceive us to imagine thereby that they were going off and put us off our guard and induce us to send out parties which they might fall on, and thereby diminish our strength, knowing us to be too many for them. Was this their scheme, they fell short of their conjecture. Some of our officers imagined they were going off or they would not destroy the hay, it being out of our reach and much wanted by them for their troops to lay on, as it is certain they have nothing to shelter themselves from the weather except their blankets which they make tents of.
Fearing they meant to lull us to sleep and storm us in the night, the Colonel ordered the guard and piquet doubled and the troops to lay on their arms. Between twelve and one o' clock to-night they bombard us and continued till daylight. This night' s work did us no other damage than breaking the thigh of a young man, an inhabitant. This unfortunate young man was brought up in the same family with one of the girls that was killed and scalped on the 27th, and whose scalps we have now in the fort. They were remarkably industrious and faithful, both orphans and were by consent of their former master to have been married very soon. The young man died of his wound.
Aug. 11th. - This day the enemy having observed that we brought water from the creek altered its course so that it became dry. This would have done us much damage had we not been able to open two wells in the garrison which with one we had already proved a sufficient supply. The enemy kept out of sight and no firing from them of any kind. They were seen by our sentinels drawing near the landing, by which we imagine a reinforcement is coming to our relief. At twelve o' clock a shower of rain coming up the Colonel ordered a fatigue party to turn out with a subaltern' s guard to bring in some barrels of lime, a number of boards and some timber lying at the foot of the glacis. Which they effected without having a shot fired at them. The enemy was seen to muster in the road below the landing while our men were out. At sundown they gave us some shot and shells from their battery. At midnight they sent four shells, but a thunder shower coming up at that instant they left off. The night being very dark and excessive raining till day, the Colonel ordered the troops to their alarm posts lest the enemy should attempt to surprise.
Aug. 12th. - The enemy kept out of sight all day and no firing from them till noon, when they gave us some shot and shells, without doing any damage. We imagined the enemy drew their forces in the daytime between us and Orisko, as we have not seen them so plenty these two or three days as we are used to; neither do they trouble us all night, which gave our troops an opportunity of resting.
Aug. 13th. - The enemy were very peaceable all day till towards night, when they cannonaded and bombarded for two hours, during which time a shell broke a soldier' s leg belonging to Colonel Mellon' s detachment.
Aug. 14th. - Toward evening they were again at their old play, cannonading and bombarding us. A shell bursting slightly wounded one of Colonel Mellon' s men in the head. No other damage was done. One of Captain Gregg' s company, Colonel Gansevoort' s regiment, deserted his post to the enemy. He was placed on the outside picket and deserted between ten and twelve o' clock at night.
Aug. 15th. - At 5 o' clock this morning the enemy threw two shells at us. Did no damage. The number of shells they have thrown at us is 137. The enemy were very troublesome with their small arms this afternoon, by which we had one man of our regiment and one of Colonel Mellon' s detachment slightly wounded. In the evening they threw their shells at us and slightly wounded a woman and one of Captain Savage' s artillery-men.
Aug. 16th. - This morning the enemy threw some shells horizontally at our works, but fell short. One of those shells falling on the parade killed a man of Colonel Mellon' s detachment. They continued to throw them all day and some part of the night, but did no further damage. A party of our men were ordered out this evening to bring in wood for the garrison, and being discovered by some skulking Indians near the garrison gave the alarm to the rest. They advanced near where our men were at work, but luckily our men had been called in before they came nigh enough to do any mischief. They finding our men had got in began a most hideous shout. A cannon being fired at them they departed. The regulars' drums were heard beating to arms after the cannon was fired. We suppose they expected us to sally out again upon them with a field-piece. At midnight they threw three shells at us, but did no damage.
Aug. 17th. - The enemy were quiet all day and night; neither a shot or shell was fired at us during the twenty-four hours, although we fired several cannon at them.
Aug. 18th. - This morning one of our regiment was slightly wounded in the cheek by a musquet ball. A black flag or coat was seen in enemy' s bomb battery.
Aug. 19th. - The enemy threw some shells at us near noon. They were busy in their trench all day. At night they struck their trench towards the point of our northwest bastion, and by daylight had got within 150 yards of the ditch. We fired some grape shot at them now and then all night. At every shot we fired they threw shells at us but did no damage. At midnight the colonel sent out one of his regiment and one of Colonel Mellon' s detachment to meet Colonel Willett if possible, whom we expected was on his way to this place with a reinforcement, to make him acquainted with the enemy' s maneuvers on the southwest side of the fort, that he might govern the attack accordingly.
Aug. 20th. - This morning one of Colonel Mellon' s men was wounded by a musquet ball. The enemy could work but little this day at their trench, it being so nigh that our small arms, as well as our cannon shot, was too hot for them. In the evening they began their trench again and worked all night at it, under fire of our cannon and small arms, but did not approach any nearer.
Aug. 21st. - At two o' clock this morning a party was sent out to bring in firewood, who brought in a great quantity undiscovered. They cannonaded and bombarded by turns all night. A man of our regiment deserted this evening. This morning we discovered that the enemy approach nearer to us and had begun a bomb battery, where they left off yesterday morning. The artillery-man who was wounded in the knee with a musquet ball died on the 4th inst. of his wounds. One of Colonel Mellon' s men and the lad belonging to the inhabitants died likewise of their wounds. The enemy kept working all day in their trench though not so close as last night. No firing from their batteries. This day our guard kept a constant fire at those at work in the trench, and in the evening twelve of the best marksmen were picked out to harass them when at work in the night, which galled them so much that their Indians were sent for to draw off our attention, who advanced near the fort, which caused a general alarm, by which a heavy and continued firing was kept up for near two hours, during which their cannon and mortars were playing on us very briskly, in which interim we had a man of the artillery wounded and a woman big with child wounded in the thigh. A corporal and three privates deserted this evening of our regiment.
Old Mile Square Road, Onega Creek.
Aug. 22d. - This morning the enemy bombarded very smartly. The sergeant-major and two privates were wounded. At noon a deserter came to us, whose examination was: that the enemy had news in the camp that Burgoyne' s army was entirely routed and that three thousand men were coming up to reinforce us, and further that the enemy was retreating with great precipitation, and that he with another was conveying off one Lieut. Anderson' s chest, when he had made his escape, and that most of the baggage was gone. Upon which the commanding officer ordered all the cannon bearing on their works to fire several rounds each to see whether they would return it, which partly confirmed the report of the deserter. Some time after four men came in and reported the same, and that they had left part of their baggage. Upon which the colonel ordered fifty men and two wagons under command of Captain Jansen to go to their camps, where they killed two Indians and took four prisoners; one of them was an Indian. After they had loaded the wagons with what baggage they could carry, they returned, but night coming on, they could not return to fetch what baggage was still left in their camp. At night, two men came in: one of them was assisting the first deserter in carrying off Lieutenant Anderson' s chest, the other John (Han) Yost Schuyler, who informed the commanding officer that he was taken prisoner at the German Flats and confined at Fort Dayton five days. That General Arnold had sent him to General St. Leger, commander of the King' s troop, to inform him that 2,000 Continentals with two field-pieces and a great number of militia were on the march for this place to reinforce the garrison, that he had informed General St. Leger of it and in consequence of which he ordered his troops to strike their tents and pack up. And further, after he had done his errand, he hid in the woods till night, and coming across the above men they came in together. He likewise informed us that near seventeen Indians were at Fort Newport quite drunk; upon which the colonel ordered a party of men under the command of Major Cochran to go and take them, who in about an hour returned and informed the colonel he had been there and did not find any, and that he went to Wood creek and found eight new bateaux, which the enemy had left behind. While they were out, the woman that was wounded with a shell last night was brought to bed in our southwest bomb-proof, of a daughter. She and the child are like to do well, with the blessing of God. Our blockade ended, and the garrison once more at liberty to walk about and take the free air we had for twenty-one days been deprived of. At twelve o' clock this night the commanding officer sent off three of his regiment to inform General Arnold of the precipitate retreat of the enemy. A deserter came in who said he had just left the enemy' s cohorns below Wood creek bridge.
Aug. 23d. - This morning the colonel sent out a party under the command of Major Cochran to take them, who returned with three prisoners and four cohorns and some baggage, and reported there were seventeen bateaux lying there. Another party was sent to the enemy' s north camp to bring in the rest of the baggage left by us last night, consisting of ammunition, camp equipage and entrenching tools. Another party was sent to the enemy' s southeast camp, who brought in fifteen wagons, a three-pound field-piece carriage with all its apparatus. Most of the wagon wheels were cut to pieces as were the wheels of the carriage. Several scouts were sent out to-day, one of whom took a German prisoner, who reported that the enemy' s Indians had, when they got about ten miles from this fort, fallen on the scattering Tories, took their arms from, and stabbed them with their own bayonets. And that for fear of said Indians, he and nine more German soldiers had took to the woods. The rest are not yet found. Their design was not to come to the fort, as Butler and Johnson told them, when orders were given to retreat, that those who fell into our hand would be hanged immediately. Another scout proceeded to Canada creek, found a carriage for a six-pounder and three boxes of cannon shot, which they brought in. This afternoon the Honorable Major General Arnold arrived here with near a thousand men. They were saluted with a discharge of powder from our mortars, formerly the enemy' s, and all the cannon from the bastions, amounting in the whole to thirteen, attended with three cheers from the troops on the bastions.
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Transcribed from the original text and html prepared by Bill Carr, last updated 12/10/99.
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