Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY

ASTOR, LENOX

TILDEN FOUNDATIONS

The Turning Point in the War of Independence.

The year 1777 was one of the most perilous periods in the early history of our republic. The eyes of the British were fixed on New York State, which they planned to conquer, hoping that by so doing the Eastern states would be cut off from the Middle States. In the furtherance of this plan General John Burgoyne, who was in command in Canada, was to march upon Albany by way of Lake Champlain. Colonel St. Leger was to lead a force up the St. Lawrence and Lake Ontario to Oswego, and come down the Mohawk Valley to Albany, while General William Howe was to go up the Hudson and join Burgoyne at Albany.

On May 10, Burgoyne ascended Lake Champlain with a disciplined and well-equipped army of about ten thousand men, four fifths of them British and Hessian regulars, the remainder Canadians and Indians.

The American General St. Clair, who had about three thousand men, with valuable stores and artillery at Ticonderoga, realizing that he could not hold the place, abandoned it to the enemy, and retreated to Fort Edward, which he reached in a week, with his men weary and worn from toil and exposure.

General Philip Schuyler, at Fort Edward, felt that

he was not strong enough to meet Burgoyne's army, and he too retreated, going toward Albany, destroying the bridges behind him, felling trees across the roads, and placing other obstructions in the way, so that it was three weeks before Burgoyne reached Fort Edward. When he came in sight of the Hudson, he was so overjoyed that he boasted he would eat his Christmas dinner in Albany.

Learning that the Americans had collected some supplies at Bennington, a little village of Vermont, Burgoyne sent a thousand men there to secure them, and to persuade the Vermonters, if possible, to join the British. Neither plan succeeded, for Colonel John Stark, with a much smaller force of militia, met the enemy and defeated them, killing many and taking the rest prisoners.

A few days after this battle General Schuyler, who was at the mouth of the Mohawk, where it empties into the Hudson, was replaced in command by General Horatio Gates.

Burgoyne's position was becoming dangerous by the loss of some of his best men, the desertion of many Indians, and the want of provisions, so he determined to force his way through the American army, and retreat to Canada. He crossed the Hudson and moved down toward the Mohawk. About the same time General Gates moved up the Hudson away from the Mohawk.

The two armies met at Bemis Heights, a ridge of hills near Saratoga, and a desperate battle ensued which lasted all day; over and over again the field was lost and won, and when night closed the contest, the Americans, thanks to the efforts and the valor of General Arnold, aided by General Morgan and his riflemen, felt that the honors of the day were theirs.

For nearly three weeks hostilities were not resumed, but on October 7, Burgoyne, grown desperate and having abandoned all hope of reënforcements, determined to cut his way through the American line. Then followed the battle of Stillwater, which, thanks again to Arnold, whose leg was shattered by a musket ball in the battle, proved to be an undoubted victory for the Americans.

Believing that the contest would be renewed on the following morning, the Americans slept on their arms. But during the night Burgoyne abandoned his sick and wounded, led off his men, and on the second day retreated to Saratoga. He was now completely at the mercy of the Americans. He was hemmed in on all sides. He had only provisions enough for three days. His army was reduced to four thousand men, and they were worn out by hunger and fatigue. There was nothing for him. to do but to surrender, and at eleven o'clock on the morning of October 17, 1777, Burgoyne's army laid down its

arms.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »