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THE HALF-WITTED TORY BOY
At the very beginning Burgoyne was upset in his plans by a
half-witted boy. To be sure, this was no credit to the
boy, nor was it any discredit to Burgoyne; still, in
the later days of the war, when Burgoyne had been
conquered by the Americans, and had been made to
surrender, the colonists liked now and then to recall
this little story as a joke.
St. Leger had been sent by Burgoyne to take a certain
fort. Knowing this, Arnold was sent by the American
general to hold the same fort against the attack. How
the battle might have ended had Arnold and St. Leger
met, we cannot tell, but, as the story goes, this is
the way Arnold won the fort.
He had with him as a prisoner a half-witted boy. He
had been taken from some Tory family very likely; for
he would not or could not understand that he was in the
hands of the Whigs, and so would keep saying over and
over in his foolish way, "I Tory! I Tory!"
As the little fellow was homesick and miserable, Arnold
was struck with the idea that perhaps he could make
 use of him by offering him his freedom. So calling him
to him he said, "My young lad, would you like to go
The poor little fellow jumped about and uttered some
strange sounds that meant to express his joy at the
Then Arnold explained to him that if he would go to the
camp of St. Leger and tell him that a grea-a-at b-i-ig
army of Americans was coming to attack him, he should
be given his liberty.
The boy understood, and away he went. He cut his
clothes full of round holes to represent bullet holes,
and rushed breathless into St. Leger's camp.
"What is it, boy? Where are you from? Who are you?"
asked the British officers, frightened at his
I cannot tell you how he did it; but he managed to
make St. Leger believe that a terrible army was bearing
down upon him and that he had better escape while he
could. When St. Leger asked him how many there were,
he pointed to the leaves of the trees, as if to say no
one could count them. The result was that St. Leger
and his men took to flight, not even taking time to
take down their tents or pack their supplies.
They say, "All things are fair in war"—if so, I
suppose this must have been fair. How does it seem to
you little boys and little girls? You will have to
talk this over with your teacher, I think.