Arnold's Attack

Ebenezer Mattoon, a Continental officer, to General Philip Schuyler.

October 7, 1835

. . . About one o'clock of this day, two signal guns were fired on the left of the British army which indicated a movement. Our troops were immediately put under arms, and the lines manned. At this juncture Gens. Lincoln and Arnold rode with great speed towards the enemy's lines. While they were absent, the picket guards on both sides were engaged near the river. In about half an hour, Generals Lincoln and Arnold returned to headquarters, where many of the officers collected to hear the report, General Gates stand ing at the door.

Gen. Lincoln says, "Gen. Gates, the firing at the river is merely a feint their object is your left. A strong force of 18oo men are marching circutiously, to plant themselves on yonder height. That point must be defend~ or your camp is in danger." ~

Gates replied, "I will send Morgan with his riflemen, and Dearborn's infantry."

Arnold says, "That is nothing; you must send a strong force."

Gates replied, "Gen. Arnold, I have nothing for you to business here.

Arnold's reply was reproachful and severe.

Gen. Lincoln says, "You must send a strong force to support Morgan Dearborn, at least three regiments."


Two regiments from Gen. Lamed's brigade, and one from Gen. Nixons were then ordered to that station and to defend it at all hazards. Generals Lincoln and Arnold immediately left the encampment and proceeded to the enemy s lines.

In a few minutes, Capt. Furnival's company of artillery, in which a lieutenant, was ordered to march towards the fire, which had now opened upon our picket in front, the picket consisting of about 3oo men. While ue were marching, the whole line, up to our picket or front, was engaged. Wt | advanced to a height of ground which brought the enemy in view, and opered our fire. But the enemy's guns, eight in number, and much heavier than ours rendered our position untenable.

We then advanced into the line of infantry. Here Lieutenant M'Lane joined me. In our front there was a field of corn, in which the Hessians were secreted. On our advancing towards the corn field, a number of men rose and fired upon us. M'Lane was severely wounded. While I was removing him from the field, the firing still continued without abatement.

During this time, a tremendous firing was heard on our left. We poured in upon them our canister shot as fast as possible, and the whole line, from lef to right, became engaged. The smoke was very dense, and no movement, could be seen; but as it soon arose, our infantry appeared to be slowly re treating, and the Hessians slowly advancing, their officers urging them on with their hangers....

The troops continuing warmly engaged, Col. Johnson's regiment, coming up threw in a heavy fire and compelled the Hessians to retreat. Upon this advanced with a shout of victory. At the same time Auckland's corps gave way. We proceeded but a short distance before we came upon four pieces of brass cannon, closely surrounded with the dead and dying; at a few yards further we came upon two more. Advancing a little further, we were met by a fire from the British infantry, which proved very fatal to one of Col. Johnson's companies, in which were killed one sergeant, one corporal, fourteen privates—and about twenty were wounded.

They advanced with a quick step, firing as they came on. We returned ~em a brisk fire of canister shot, not allowing ourselves time even to sponge our pieces. In a short time they ceased firing and advanced upon us with trailed arms. At this juncture Arnold came up with a part of Brooks's regiment, and gave them a most deadly fire, which soon caused them to face about and retreat with a quicker step than they advanced.

The firing had now principally ceased on our left, but was brisk in front and on the right. At this moment Arnold says to Col. Brooks (late governor of Massachusetts), "Let us attack Balcarras's works."

Brooks replied, "No. Lord Auckland's detachment has retired there, we can't carry them."

"Well, then, let us attack the Hessian lines."

Brooks replies, "With all my heart."

We all wheeled to the right and advanced. No fire was received, except from the cannon, until we got within about eight rods, when we received a tremendous fire from the whole line. But a few of our men, however, fell. Still advancing, we received a second fire, in which a few men fell, and Gen. Arnold's horse fell under him, and he himself was wounded. He cried out, 'Rush on, my brave boys!" After receiving the third fire, Brooks mounted their works, swung his sword, and the men rushed into their works. When we entered the works, we found Col. Bremen dead, surrounded with a number of his companions, dead or wounded. We still pursued slowly, the fire, in the mean time, decreasing. Nightfall now put an end to this day's bloody contest. During the day we had taken eight cannon and broken the centre of the enemy's lines.

We were ordered to rest until relieved from the camps. The gloom of the night, the groans and shrieks of the wounded and dying, and the horrors of the whole scene baffle all description.