Saratogo- Defending Fort Schuyler
Journal of William Colbraith.
Aug. 8th.—The enemy threw some shells at us today, but did no damage, I 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 on 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 till 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 out of the garrison at one o'clock in the morning on a secret expedition.
Aug. 8th.—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 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 honors. This day the Colonel ordered all the provisions to be brought upon to parade for fear of shells setting fire to the barracks and destroying it; also at the public papers and money in the hands of Mr. Hansen and the papers in thc hands of Mr. Van Veghten belonging to the paymaster to be lodged in the bombproof in the S. W. bastion. The enemy began to bombard us at half past ten this evening and continued till 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.