History of the Loyalists: the Story of Burgoyne's Campaign on the Hudson

Article Title
History of the Loyalists: the Story of Burgoyne's Campaign on the Hudson
James Hannay
Page Number
Article Type
Article Contents
HISTORY OF THE LOYALISTS THE STORY OF BURGOYNE’S CAMPAIGN ON THE HUDSON. Loyalist Corps Under His Command— Contemptuous Treatment of Loyalist Officers by the British Generals. BY JAMES HANNAY. CHAPTER XXIII. BURGOYNE’S CAMPAIGN. It is a long flight from the banks of the Schuylkill to the Richelieu, where General Burgoyne was in the spring of 1777, collecting his troops for his campaign on the Hudson. The story of how disasterously that campaign ended is a sad and humiliating one for a man of British blood to have to relate, yet it must be told, and told truthfully, not after the manner of American historians, who conceal or extenuate the blunders of their commanders, but as it was, and in all its bare outlines, so that this work may vindicate its claim to the name of a true history. It has already been stated that General Burgoyne was at Crown Point on the 1st of July with an army numbering between 7,000 and 8,000 men and 42 pieces of artillery. It has also been told that nearly half of this army consisted of Brunswick Haneau and Waldeck troops, German mercenaries, who, throughout the war, proved themselves almost worthless in battle, but rapacious and cruel to the last degree, thieves and marauders, whom it was impossible to check with a firm hand, because of the peculiar relations in which they stood to the commander-in chief, and setting the worst of examples to the British troops which then comprised many men who were only too ready to imitate them. There were about 500 Indians with Burgoyne at the beginning of his campaign, but all with the exception of about 90 deserted him as soon as they were informed by the general that they would not be permitted to wage war in their own barbarous fashion, but must obey the rules of civilized warfare. There were also a body of Loyalists with Burgoyne, and likewise a considerable number of them with Col. St. Ledger who was advancing to Port Stanwix. THE LOYALIST CORP. The formation of Loyalist corps in Canada, had been commenced by Sir John Johnson, who has been spoken of in an earlier chapter, and who had been driven from his home in the province of New York by the rebels. A commission was issued to him by General Carleton, as lieutenant colonel of a regiment which he was to raise, which was to be known as the King's Royal Regiment of New York. This regiment was largely made up of Sir John Johnson’s tenants and retainers, and daring the war was better known as the "Royal Greens," from the uniform worn by the corps. A second battalion was formed at a later period; it served mainly in Canada, and in the west during the war, and most of the men who belonged to it settled in the province of Ontario. There was a small body of French Canadians, with Burgoyane, numbering 300 at first, but they proved very unreliable, deserting in large numbers, au d when Burgoyne took the field in the beginning of July only 148 of them were left While Burgoyne was halting at Crown Point his army was joined by considerable numbers of Loyalists from New York. Sir Guy Carleton writing to Lord George Germain on the 27th of May 1777, states that nearly 100 had arrived under the conduct of Mr. Edward Jessup, of the province of Now York, and that his brother Ebenezer and several other men of note from the neighborhood of Albany had also arrived. They had been sent to join Sir John Johnson, but had asked, not to be drafted into his corps, as they were from a different part of the country. Jessup’s men were afterwards formed into a battalion or regiment called the Kings Loyal American Rangers of which Ebenezer Jessup was colonel and served throughout the campaign with Burgoyne. Edward Jessup, who was a captain in the Loyal Americans became major and commandant of the Loyal Rangers. Most of these men finally settled in the province of Ontario. This matter, however, will be dealt with in future chapters, when a detailed account is given of the Loyalist settlements. Another corps of Loyalists was formed at this time by LIEUTENANT COLONEL JOHN PETERS, a native of Connecticut, but who had become a resident of the province of New York. Peters, who was a judge of the court of quarter sessions and common pleas and register of the county of Gloucester, was mobbed, and for a time imprisoned, and obliged to fly from his home in 1776 to avoid personal danger. On his arrival in Canada he joined the royal army and served as a volunteer with General Carleton on Lake Champlain. Early in 1777 he was appointed by Sir Guy Carleton, lieutenant colonel commandant of a corps called the Queen’s Loyal Rangers, which he had himself raised, and which numbered 603 men, about the time when he joined Burgoynes force. The Queen’s Loyal Rangers, commanded by Peters, must not be confounded with the Queen’s Rangers, whose gallant services at the battle of Brandywine have already been related. The Queen’s Rangers towards the close of the war, were taken into the British army under the name of the First American regiment, and were not disbanded until after the peace. The Queen’s Loyal Rangers, on the other hand, disappeared in the autumn of 1778, at which time General Haldimand, who was in command in Canada in the place of Carleton, appointed Peters, a captain of invalids, and afterwards he was returned as captain in Edward Jessups’ oorps of Loyal Rangers. The strength of the Queen’s Loyal Rangers had been greatly reduced during Burgoyne’s campaign. A return which accompanied the memorial which Peters afterwards presented to the lords of the treasury, shows that on the 7 oh of August his corps comprised one lieutenant colonel, one major, four captains and 262 men, that they were afterwards joined by four captains and upwards of 199 men. This was prior to the battle of Bennington, where Peters’ corps had a strength of 452 men; after that battle it only mustered 154, so that 298 men were killed or made prisoners on that occasion. This great reduction in the number of the corps which Peters commanded. seems to have been made the excuse for disbanding it, and drafting its men into other regiments. BUTLER'S RANGERS. At the same time that these Loyalists were joining Burgoyne's army, Colonel John Butler was raising a regiment of rangers, which served throughout the war. Butler was a man of mark in the revolutionary conflict, and American writers have done their best to cover his name with obloquy. He was the son of Lieutenant Butler, a native of Ireland, who came to New York in 1711, and settled in that province, where he accumulated a large estate. John Butler, his son, obtained a fine property in the Mohawk county, near the residence of Sir William Johnson, the father of Sir John Johnson already spoken of. Butler served with Johnson in the French war, where he greatly distinguished himself as commander of the Indian corps. When the rebellion broke out, he went to Canada, where he became deputy superintendent of Indian affairs. He raised and commanded Butler's Rangers, a corps which did gallant service during the war, and which became of its connection with the affair at Wyoming, has been vilified by American partisan writers in the most extraordinary manner. When the time comes to speak of the so called massacre at Wyoming, it will be shown that the greater part of the atrocities connected with that affair were deliberately invented by unscrupulous American writers for the purpose of inflaming the passions of their countrymen, and begetting an eternal hatred of the British people. LOYALIST OFFICERS BADLY TREATED. The above statement of the Loyalist corps serving in Canada at this time, will enable the reader to understand with greater clearness the story which now has to be told of Burgoyne’s campaign. It will also be necessary to bear in mind that at this time and indeed throughout the war the Loyalist officers considered themselves to be badly treated by the British commanders, being at all times stamped with the mark of inferiority to the regular officers, although there was nothing in their conduct or the conduct of their men in the field to justify such a distinction. On October 17th, 1776, almost immediately after the first Loyalist corps were formed, General Howe issued the following order: — "Commissions given by the commander-in-chief to officers in corps or companies raised in America confer rank during service and no longer; and all officers so commissioned, when doing duty with her majesty's regular troops, are to be obeyed as youngest in their respective ranks." It was in this spirit that the British generals acted throughout the war, and no man treated the Loyalists with greater injustice than Burgoyne. It is stated in the Peters manuscripts that Burgoyne, after encouraging the Loyalists from New York and other provinces, when they had actually entered on the campaign kept back their commissions, which had been promised them to be ready when they reached Lake Champlain, and told the provincial officers that as they knew not the art of war his sergeants and officers would take command of their men. This order produced a mutiny, and the Loyalists at once threatened to follow the Indians, who had already vanished from Burgoyne’s camp. This order was thereupon changed, and the Loyalist officers were allowed to command their own men, but their commissions were still withheld. Thus, at the very beginning of the campaign Burgoyne disgusted the Loyalists and weakened the morale of his army by his arbitrary conduct. (To be continued.)