George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Philip Schuyler, 19 August 1777

From Major General Philip Schuyler

Van Schaick’s Island in the Mouth of the
Mohawks River [N.Y.]1 Augst 19th 1777.

Dear Sir

I have the Honor to congratulate your Excellency on a signal Victory obtained by General Stark over a Detachment of about 1500 of the Enemy near Bennington on the 16th Instant, an Account whereof I have this Moment received in a Letter from General Lincoln of which the following is a Copy—“Bennington August 18th 1777. Dear General The late signal Success of a Body of about 2000 Troops mostly Militia under the Command of Brigadier General Stark in this part of the Country on the 16th Instant over a party of about 1500 of the Enemy, who came out with a manifest Design to possess themselves of this Town as will appear by the inclosed is an Event happy and important—Our Troops behaved in a very brave and heroic Manner—They pushed the Enemy from one Work to another, thrown up on advantageous Ground and from different posts with Spirit and Fortitude until they gained a compleat Victory over them. The following is the best List I have been able to obtain of the prisoners, their killed and wounded Viz. 1 Lieut. Colo. 1 Major, 5 Captains 12 Lieutenants 4 Ensigns, 2 Cornets, 1 Judge Advocate 1 Baron, 2 Canadian Officers & 3 Surgeons, 37 British Soldiers, 398 Hessians, 38 Canadians & 151 Tories taken. The Number of wounded fallen into our Hands, exclusive of the above, are about 80. The Number of their Slain has not yet been ascertained, as they fought on the Retreat for several Miles in a Wood, but supposed to be about 200—Their Artillery which consisted of 4 brass Field pieces, with a considerable Quantity of Baggage likewise fell into our Hands. We have heard Nothing of Burgoyne or his Army for these two Days past—The prisoners have sent into the State of Massachusetts Bay except the Tories. Shall wait your Direction respecting them, as most of them belong to the State of New York.

“We have now about 2000 at and near this place. I am Dear General with Regard and Esteem your very humble Servant. B. Lincoln. N.B. We had about 20 or 30 killed in the Action & perhaps 50 wounded.”2

I also inclose Copy of General Burgoyne’s orders to Lieut Colo: Bern which were transmitted me with the above.3

I have great Hopes that we shall soon have the Satisfaction of learning that General Arnold has raised the Seige of Fort Schuyler.

General Gates, I am informed, arrived last Night at Albany. I am Dear Sir with the most respectful Sentiments Your Excellency’s most obedient humble Servant

Ph: Schuyler

LS, DLC:GW; LB, NN: Schuyler Papers.

1Van Schaick’s Island, now part of Cohoes, N.Y., is the largest of several islands at the mouth of the Mohawk River, nine miles north of Albany.

2This account of Brig. Gen. John Stark’s victory over Lt. Col. Friedrich Baum’s Brunswick dragoons at the Battle of Bennington on 16 Aug. was published by order of Congress on a handbill dated 22 Aug., and it apparently was printed in many newspapers (see Hancock to GW, 22 Aug., and note 4, and Lydenberg, Robertson Diaries description begins Harry Miller Lydenberg, ed. Archibald Robertson, Lieutenant-General Royal Engineers: His Diaries and Sketches in America, 1762–1780. New York, 1930. description ends , 144). For a detailed account of the battle, see Mintz, Generals of Saratoga description begins Max M. Mintz. The Generals of Saratoga: John Burgoyne & Horatio Gates. New Haven, 1990. description ends , 167–75. Friedrich Baum (d. 1777), a German mercenary officer who did not speak English, arrived at Quebec with his Brunswick dragoon regiment in June 1776, and he subsequently served in the Burgoyne campaign of 1777. In early August 1777 Burgoyne sent Baum from Fort Miller, N.Y., to southern Vermont with a force of about 750 men, including dragoons, light infantry, Loyalists, and Indians, to obtain horses, cattle, and wagons for his army. Encircled by numerically superior American militia on 16 Aug. in a redoubt on the Walloomsac River a few miles northwest of Bennington, Vt., Baum was wounded mortally during the ensuing American attack.

3Schuyler enclosed a copy of Burgoyne’s letter to Baum, written “Near Saratoga,” N.Y., on 14 Aug.: “The Accounts you have given me are very satisfactory, and I doubt not every Proceeding under your direction will be the same—I beg the favor of You to report whether the route you have marched would be practicable for a large Corps with Cannon, without repair, or with what sort of repair.

“The desireable Circumstance at present for your Corps is to possess Bennington, but should you find the Enemy too strongly posted and maintaining such a Countenance as would make a Coup de main too hazardous, I wish you to take such a Post as you can maintain till you hear further from me and upon your report and other circumstances I will either support you in force or withdraw you.

“You will please to send to my camp as soon as you can, waggons and draft Cattle and likewise such other Cattle as are not necessary for your subsistence—Let the waggons and Carts bring off what flour & wheat they can that you do not retain for the same purpose—I will write to you in full tomorrow in regard to purchasing horses out of the hands of the Savages, In the mean time let them be assured that what ever you Select from them fit to mount the Dragoons shall be paid for at a proper price” (DLC:GW). For Burgoyne’s original instructions to Baum of 9 Aug., see Schuyler to GW, 20 Aug., n.1.

Index Entries