General Burgoyne to Lord German Germain
Camp near Saratoga, August 2o, 1777
~ The consequences of this affair( Bennington), my Lord, have little effect upon the strength or spirits of the army; but the prospect of the campaign in other respects is far less prosperous than when I wrote last. In spite of St. Leger's victory, Fort Stanwix holds out obstinately.
I am afraid the expectations of Sir J. Johnson greatly fail in the rising of the country. On this side I find daily reason to doubt the sincerity of the resolution of the professing Loyalists. I have about 400 (but not half of them armed) who may be depended upon; the rest are trimmers, merely actuated by interest. The great bulk of the country is undoubtedly with the Congress, in principle and in zeal; and their measures are executed with a secrecy and dispatch that are not to be equalled. Wherever the King's forces point, militia, to the amount of three or four thousand, assemble in twenty-four hours; they bring with them their subsistence, etc., and, the alarm over, they
return to their farms. The Hampshire Grants in particular, a country unpeopled and almost unknown in the last war, now abounds in the most active and most rebellious race of the continent, and hangs like a gathering storm upon my left. In all parts the industry and management in driving cattle and removing corn are indefatigable and certain; and it becomes impracticable to move without portable magazines.
Another most embarrassing circumstance is the want of communication with Sir William Howe; of the messengers I have sent, I know of two being hanged, and am ignorant whether any of the rest arrived. The same fate has probably attended those dispatched by Sir William Howe, for only one letter is come to hand, informing me that his intention is for Pennsylvania; that S Washington has detached Sullivan, with 2500 men, to Albany; that Putnam is in the Highlands with 4000 men; that after my arrival at Albany the movements of the enemy must guide mine; but that he wished the enemy might be driven out of the province before any operation took place against the Connecticut; that Sir Henry Clinton remained in the command in the neighborhood of New-York, and would act as occurrences might direct.
No operation, my Lord, has yet been undertaken in my favor: the High lands have not been threatened. The consequence is that Putnam has detached two brigades to Mr. Gates, who is now strongly posted hear the mouth of | the Mohawk-River, with an army superior to mine in troops of the Congress and as many militia as he pleases. He is likewise far from being deficient in | artillery, having received all the pieces that were landed from the French ships which got into Boston. |
Had I a latitude in my orders, I should think it my duty to wait in this position, or perhaps as far back as Fort Edward, where my communication with Lake George would be perfectly secure, till some event happened to assist my movement forward; but my orders being positive to "force a junction with Sir William Howe," I apprehend I am not at liberty to remain inactive longer than shall be necessary to collect twenty-five days provision, and to receive the reinforcement of the additional companies, the German drafts and recruits now (and unfortunately only now) on Lake Champlain. The waiting the arrival of this reinforcement is of indispensable necessity, because from the hour I pass the Hudson's River and proceed towards Albany, all safety of communication ceases. I must expect a large body of the enemy from my left will take post behind me.
I have put out of the question the waiting longer than the time necessary for the foregoing purposes, because the attempt, then critical, depending on adventure and the fortune that often accompanies it, and hardly justifiable but by orders from the state, would afterwards be consummately desperate. I mean, my Lord, that by moving soon, though I should meet with insurmountable dificuties to my progress, I shall at least have the chance of fighting my way hack to Ticonderoga, but the season a little further advanced, the distance increased, and the march unavoidably tardy because surrounded by enemies, a retreat might be shut in by impenetrable bars of the elements, and at the same time no possible means of existence remain in the country.
When I wrote more confidently, I little foresaw that I w as to be left to pursue my way through such a tract of country and hosts of foes, without any co-operation from New-York; nor did I then think the garrison of Ticonderoga would fall to my share alone; a dangerous experiment would it be to leave that post in weakness, and too heavy a drain it is upon the lifeblood of my force to give it due strength.
I yet do not despond. Should I succeed in forcing my way to Albany,
and find that country in a state to subsist my army, I shall think no more of a retreat, but at the worst fortify there and await Sir W. Howe's operations.
Whatever may be my fate, my Lord, I submit my actions to the breast of the King, and to the candid judgment of my profession, when all the motives become public; and I rest in the confidence that, whatever decision may be passed upon my conduct, my good intent will not be questioned.
I cannot close so serious a letter without expressing my fullest satisfaction in the behaviour and countenance of the troops, and my complete confidence
In that in all trials they will do whatever can be expected from men devoted to their King and country.