Lieutenant Colonel Barry St. Leger to General Burgoyne.
Oswego, August 27,1777
On the 5th in the evening, intelligence arrived by my discovering parties on the Mohawk River, that a reinforcement of eight hundred militia, conducted by General Herkimer, were on their march to relieve the garrison, and were actually at that instant at Oriska, an Indian settlement twelve miles from the fort. The garrison being apprised of their march by four men, who were seen to enter the fort in the morning through what was thought an impenetrable swamp, I did not think it prudent to wait for them and thereby subject myself to be attacked by a sally from the garrison in the rear, while the reinforcement employed me in front. I therefore determined to attack them on the march, either openly or covertly, as circumstances should offer. At this time I had not two hundred and fifty of the King's troops in camp, the various and extensive operations I was under an absolute necessity of entering into having employed the rest; and therefore could not send above eighty white men, rangers and troops included, with the whole corps of Indians
Sir John Johnson put himself at the head of this party, and began his march that evening at five o'clock, and met the rebel corps at the same hour next morning. The impetuosity of the Indians is not to be described; on the sight, of the enemy (forgetting the judicious disposition formed by Sir John, and agreed to by themselves, which was to suffer the attack to begin with the troops in front, while they should be on both flanks and rear), they rushed in, hatchet in hand, and thereby gave the enemy's rear an opportunity to escape.
In relation to the victory, it was equally complete as if the whole hd fallen; nay, more so, as the two hundred who escaped only served to spread the panic wider; but it was not so with the Indians; their loss was great (I must be understood Indian computation, being only about thirty killed, and the like number wounded, and in that number some of their favorite chiefs and confidential warriors were slain). On the enemy's side, almost all their principal leaders were slain. General Herkimer has since died of his wounds.
It is proper to mention that the four men detached with intelligence of the march of the reinforcement set out the evening before the action, and consequently the enemy could have no account of the defeat, and were in possession only of the time appointed for their arrival; at which, as I suspected, they made a sally with two hundred and fifty men towards Lieutenant Bird's post, to facilitate the entrance of the relieving corps, or bring on a general engagement, with every advantage they could wish.
I Captain Hoyes was immediately detached to cut in upon their rear, while they engaged the lieutenant. Immediately upon the departure of Captain Hoyes, having learned that Lieutenant Bird, misled by the information of a cowardly Indian that Sir John was pressed, had quitted his post to march to his assistance, I marched the detachment of the King's Regiment in support of Captain Hoyes by a road in sight of the garrison, which, with executive fire from his party, immediately drove the enemy into the fort, without any farther advantage than frightening some squaws and pilfering the packs of warriors which they left behind them. ~' After this affair was over, orders were immediately given to complete a two-gun battery and mortar beds, with three strong redoubts in their rear, to enable me, in case of another attempt to relieve the garrison by their regimented troops, to march out a larger body of the King's troops.