| Builders of Our Country: Book II|
|by Gertrude van Duyn Southworth|
| A lively account of American history told through 31 biographies, beginning with Patrick Henry at the start of the Revolution and ending with Andrew Carnegie at the close of the 19th century. The biographies are so chosen as to acquaint the reader with the chief personages and events in our national life, by including many vivid pictures of each. Ages 10-12 |
PHILIP SCHUYLER AND BURGOYNE'S CAMPAIGN
THE ENGLISH PLAN AND BURGOYNE'S ADVANCE
 WHILE Washington and his army were encamped in
the hills about Morristown, the English were laying plans
which promised quick success.
Their scheme was to gain control of New York State,
thus completely separating New England from the other
colonies. As New England was Washington's chief source
of men and supplies, such a step would be full of danger
to him and would surely prove a tremendous stride toward
final victory for old England.
The English had good reason to expect this plan to
succeed. Not only was New York City already in their
hands, but Canada was theirs as well. They were in a
position to invade New York State from the north, south,
or west; and they concluded to attack from all three directions.
One army under General Burgoyne was to enter New
York State from Canada, by way of Lake Champlain.
General Howe, with a second army, was to move up the
Hudson from New York City. Colonel St. Leger, with
still another army, was to land at Oswego and, conquering
as he came, march through the Mohawk Valley. With
their work done, all three armies were to meet at Albany.
The summer of 1777 saw this plan set in motion, and
 down from the North came General Burgoyne with a force
of nearly eight thousand soldiers and Indians.
THE ENGLISH ROUTE FROM CANADA.
The Americans had placed General Philip Schuyler in
command of the Northern Department of the army, and
so it fell to his lot to defend New
York State against the three English armies.
Knowing that General Burgoyne
would aim his first blow at Fort
Ticonderoga, General Schuyler started
for that place to reinforce its garrison.
On the way he stopped at Fort
Edward, where, to his great
disappointment, he met the very troops
that were supposed to be protecting
Ticonderoga. An unexpected thing
had happened, and Ticonderoga was
It seems that to the south of
Ticonderoga there towered a crag so
steep that the Americans had not
thought it possible to fortify it. But
what the Americans had not thought
possible to do, the English had done.
"Where a goat can go, a man may
go; and where a man can go, he can
haul up a gun," one of Burgoyne's
generals had said. And so it proved;
for great cannon had been dragged
up the side of the crag and placed so as to fire directly
into the American fort.
It was the morning of July 5th when the Americans
discovered this appalling fact. They waited only for the
darkness to hide their movements, and then slipped away
 from Ticonderoga that same night, abandoning the fort
to the English.
This was bad. General Schuyler saw that in some way
time must be gained. If Burgoyne were allowed to
advance before more troops were recruited, the result would
be disastrous. Something must be done to check him,
and that at once.
Hurrying to the head of Lake Champlain, Schuyler's
men fell to work with a will. Guns were laid aside, and
axes took their place. Hundreds of trees were chopped
down and left to block the roads. Bridge after bridge
was burned; the streams themselves were choked until they
overflowed, and all the country for twenty miles was laid
Then, while General Schuyler retreated to Stillwater,
the English tried to advance. But their path was so
obstructed that a mile a day
was the best they could do.
Meanwhile, men from all
the country round were rushing to enlist in Schuyler's
army. With each day's delay the American force was
growing and threatening
more and more to cut Burgoyne from his source of
At last the English neared
the deserted post of Fort Edward. While they were still
a little way from the fort,
Burgoyne's Indians indulged in a piece of cruelty which,
though not unusual in itself, proved the cause of serious
trouble to him. This was the murder of Jane McCrea.
 The poor girl was visiting at the home of a Mrs.
McNeil, probably in the hope of meeting her lover, who
was an officer in Burgoyne's army. The story goes that
this officer promised a party of Indians a barrel of rum if
they would bring Aliss McCrea to him, so that they might
be married in the English camp. Be that as it may, a
band of savages seized both the girl and her hostess and
carried them off into the woods. Mrs. McNeil managed
to reach the British lines, but she came without her friend.
The next day a gigantic Indian strode into the camp,
bringing a scalp from which hung tresses over a yard long.
It was the scalp of Jane McCrea, whose lifeless body was
soon found pierced by three bullets.
Burgoyne was horrified. To put an end to such bloody
acts, he ordered that no party of Indians be allowed to
cross the British lines without an English officer. This
was more than the Indians would endure. So, deserting
the camp, they skulked off and left the English to fight
alone. Nor was the loss of the Indians the only way in
which Jane McCrea's murder hurt Burgoyne's cause. Her
story was told far and near, and her fate roused many a
man to join the American army and march against the
invaders that had employed such cruel allies.
THE TABLES TURNED
BURGOYNE'S hard and tedious march from Lake
Champlain had been severe on his horses and had nearly
exhausted his provisions. By the time he had been a
few days at Fort Edward, he began to feel the want of
fresh horses, and the need of new supplies. It was a long
way to Canada. Therefore the General decided to get
them from Bennington, Vermont, where the New England
militia kept their stores.
 In August Burgoyne sent out a detachment to capture
the Bennington supplies. But he was doomed to
disappointment. Before his men even reached Bennington,
they were met by Colonel John Stark at the head of a force
of trained militia.
GENERAL STARK AT THE BATTLE OF BENNINGTON.
As the Americans were about to attack the English,
John Stark shouted to his men, "There they are, boys!
We beat them to-day, or Mollie Stark's a widow!" Mollie
Stark was not made a widow by the battle of Bennington.
Neither did the English get the New England stores.
When the battle was over the Americans had seven
hundred prisoners, one thousand stand of small arms,
and all the detachment's artillery to show for their
Imagine General Schuyler's joy on hearing of this
victory! These were anxious times with him. Not only
was he trying to keep posted on Burgoyne's movements,
 but also he was trying to prevent Colonel St. Leger from
carrying out his part of the English scheme.
St. Leger, according to the arrangement, had sailed up
the Ft. Lawrence to Lake Ontario and had landed at
Oswego. Here he had been joined by friendly Indian
tribes and certain of the colonists who had remained loyal
to their King.
Marching east from Oswego, this combined army had
appeared before the American post of Fort Stanwix within
a few days after Burgoyne had taken possession of Fort
Edward. As St. Leger's army numbered more than twice
the force that garrisoned the American fort, he
confidently demanded that the Americans surrender. A
prompt refusal was his answer. Very well, then, he would
lay siege to the fort and force the soldiers to surrender.
And it is quite likely that the Colonel would have succeeded
in starving out the plucky little garrison, had it
not been for a stalwart German patriot named Nicholas
By dint of great perseverance, Nicholas Herkimer
rallied eight hundred men to follow him to the relief of
Fort Stanwix. On the morning of August 6, 1777, they
left Oriskany to march to the fort, less than eight miles
ahead. In their path lay a ravine. Suspecting nothing
they pushed eagerly forward. But hardly had they
entered the ravine when bang! bang! resounded from every
side, and a deadly fire was poured from all around.
Colonel St. Leger had been warned of Herkimer's
approach and had sent his Indian and loyalist allies to
entrap the patriots. Volley followed volley. Turning
back to back, the Americans fought like mad. For five
hours they battled hand to hand with their foe. It was
a desperate fight. Early in the struggle Herkimer was
shot through the leg. Still he was undaunted. Asking
 his men to place him at the foot of a beech tree, he lit his
pipe and coolly went on directing the battle.
THE WOUNDED HERKIMER.
All at once the crack of muskets sounded in the
distance. The Indians took to their heels in terror. And
after them went the loyalists, leaving the ravine to
Nicholas Herkimer and the remnant of his courageous
Herkimer had not succeeded in reaching Fort Stanwix;
but in spite of that fact, he had rendered its commander
an immense service. By merely being in the
neighbor-  hood he had induced Colonel St. Leger to send a detach
ment to attack him, thus dividing the besieging army.
And seizing the opportunity, the Americans had made a
sortie; had driven away what was left of St. Leger's force,
and held possession of the English camp until they had
captured blankets, food, clothes, ammunition, and five
Then, with all these needed supplies and their trophies,
the soldiers had retreated to their post. And the five
British flags soon appeared floating from the fort, while
over them waved the first American flag with stars and
stripes. Made from an old blue coat, a white shirt, and a
red flannel petticoat, it must have looked pretty rough
compared with the beautiful English banners. But it
unconsciously foretold how these thirteen states, newly
joined together, were soon to triumph over proud old
THE FLAG OF THE UNITED COLONIES, 1775-1777.
THE FIRST FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES, ADOPTED JANUARY, 1777.
ST. LEGER ROUTED AND A CHANGE OF COMMAND
WHEN the Americans had withdrawn from the English
camp, Colonel St. Leger returned to the siege of Fort
 The gallant commander of the Fort needed help, and
General Schuyler called a council of war to decide what
was to be done. At this council General Schuyler stated
that he thought it was of the utmost importance to destroy
St. Leger's army, and that he favored the prompt sending
of a strong detachment to Fort Stanwix. Several officers
disagreed, some perhaps honestly, but others because they
were opposed to whatever General Schuyler might desire.
Pacing anxiously up and down, Schuyler overheard
one of these unfriendly officers say, "He only wants to
weaken the army."
He turned like a flash, and said, "Enough! I assume
the whole responsibility. "Where's the brigadier who will
take command of the relief?"
"Washington sent me here to make myself useful. I
will go," spoke up Benedict Arnold. Yet this was the
man who so soon proved himself a traitor to his country!
Twelve hundred men volunteered to follow Arnold to
the relief of Fort Stanwix, and the next day saw the
expedition on its way.
When they were still about twenty miles from the
Fort, two captured boys were brought before Arnold. As
they were known to belong to the Loyalist party, Arnold
threatened to have them killed. Soon, however, he
changed his mind and offered to spare the lives of both if
the elder one would do as he was bid. The boy agreed.
His coat was then shot full of bullet holes. And in this
same coat, he was sent rushing into St. Leger's lines to
tell of an approaching American army as numerous as the
leaves on the trees.
The story was believed, and panic reigned in the
English camp. St. Leger lost all control. The Indians
fled; and by noon the next day even St. Leger himself
had given up the siege, deserted his camp, and taken to
 the woods. With all haste he headed for Oswego, and
from there embarked for Montreal.
Arnold's trick had saved not only Fort Stanwix, but
the Mohawk Valley. His services were no longer needed
in that section, so he went back to General Schuyler.
Let us see in what condition he found this noble
hearted commander. You remember how Schuyler's
officers behaved when he suggested sending aid to Fort,
Stanwix. That was only one of the many times when his
motives and acts were misinterpreted. Again and again
he had been unjustly accused of being in sympathy with
the English, and unjustly blamed for
losses which he had been powerless to
WASHINGTON'S COAT OF ARMS WHICH SUGGESTED THE DESIGN FOR THE NATIONAL FLAG.
All this was due to the fact that he
had a rival for the command he held.
General Gates was an officer who desired
much, while deserving little.
And General Gates so strongly desired
General Sclluyler's position that he
was willing to go great lengths to get
it. With the help of his friends he
so misrepresented General Schuyler's
every move, that finally Congress was
deceived. General Schuyler was
removed, and General Gates was appointed to succeed him.
On August 19, 1777, General Gates arrived and took
command, just in time to claim the credit for the happy
turn affairs were taking. It must have been a bitter thing
for General Schuyler to be obliged to step aside thus for
Gates. However, when Gates appeared, General Schuyler
received him with great politeness, gave him all the
information he could about the enemy, and offered to help
him in every way possible.
 WHAT of General Burgoyne all this time? He had
started out confident of success, but he now found himself
in a grave predicament. Colonel St. Leger had been
defeated and had fled. No help had come from General
Howe, who had gone off south instead of ascending the
Hudson, as Burgoyne had fully expected him to do. The
Americans had sent a force to cut off his retreat, should he
attempt to return to Canada. Moreover, his orders were
positive and left him no choice. He was to march through
to Albany, nothing more nor less.
Therefore, in the middle of September, Burgoyne left
Fort Edward and once more began his advance. On the
19th, he reached Bemis Heights, where he found Gates
and the American army encamped. During the morning
Burgoyne attacked the Americans. All afternoon the
battle waged with fury. Then darkness came to put an
end to the fighting. Neither side had lost or won. The
Americans fell back to their fortifications, and the English
camped on the battlefield.
Here they stayed for over two weeks, watching each
other's every move. At last, on October 7th, Burgoyne
determined to see what another attack would do toward
opening the way to Albany.
The Americans came forward to meet their foe. This
time there was no drawn battle. When night came on
October 7th, the English had been utterly defeated.
Burgoyne now fell back to Saratoga. He no longer
had any hope of reaching Albany. American troops
surrounded him on every side. No supplies were to be had;
starvation stared his army in the face.
He laid the case before his officers. Forced to it, they
advised surrender. Hence a flag of truce was sent to
 General Gates. Details were arranged, and on October
17, 1777, General Burgoyne and his army surrendered to
This surrender proved a turning point in the Revolution. In it,
England saw the
failure of her
to divide the
colonies. By it,
stores of arms
And because of
it,—so pleased was she to see her old
enemy defeated,—France decided
to give us the aid we sorely needed.
It was to General Gates that Burgoyne gave up his
sword. But it was to General Schuyler that he and his
friends owed their thanks for endless kindness in their
The surrender complete, Burgoyne was at last to go to
Albany. Schuyler sent his aid-de-camp to act as
Burgoyne's guide in the strange city. And to Burgoyne's
surprise the aid-de-camp led him direct to Schuyler's own
home, where he and those with him were made cordially
welcome and were shown every courtesy as long as they
were in Albany.
GENERAL SCHUYLER'S HOUSE AT ALBANY.
You will be glad to know that even before the close of
the Revolution, General Philip Schuyler's disinterested
services were recognized. His noble generosity to Gates
was appreciated, and Congress acquitted him of all
charges against his loyalty, "with the highest honor."
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics