George Washington Papers

General Orders, 28 September 1777

General Orders

Head Quarters, at Pennybecker’s mills [Pa.] Sept. 28th 1777

Parole: Stillwater.Countersigns: Albany Kingston.

The Commander in Chief has the happiness again, to congratulate the army, on the success of the American Arms, at the northward. On the 19th instant an engagement took place between Genl Burgoyne’s army and the left wing1 of ours under Genl Gates—The battle began at one o’clock2 & lasted ’till night, our troops fighting with the greatest bravery & not giving an inch of ground: Our loss is about 80 killed, and 200 wounded and missing—the enemy’s is judged to exceed a 1000 in killed, wounded and taken prisoners—Both prisoners and deserters declare, that, Genl Burgoyne, who commanded in person, was wounded in the left shoulder3—that the 62nd regiment was cut to pieces, and that the enemy suffered extremely in every quarter where they were engaged—Such was the ardour of our troops that wounded men, after being dressed, renewed the action—The Commander in Chief has further occasion to congratulate the troops on the success of a detachment from the northern army under Col. Browne, who attacked and carried several of the enemy’s posts, & have got possession of the old french lines at Ticonderoga—Colonel Browne in these several attacks has taken 293 of the enemy prisoners with their arms—retaken more than 100 of our men—and taken 150 batteaus below the falls in Lake Champlain, and 50 above the falls, including 17 Gun boats, and 1 armed sloop—besides cannon—ammunition &c.—&c.4

To celebrate this success, the General orders that at four o’clock this afternoon all the troops be paraded and served with a gill of rum a man—and that at the same time there be a discharge of Thirteen pieces of artillery at the park.5

All spare ammunition in those divisions that have not close spare waggons to secure it, is to be returned to the park of artillery.

Varick transcript, DLC:GW.

1Gen. Peter Muhlenberg’s orderly book reads “9 Regts” instead of “left wing” (“Muhlenberg’s Orderly Book,” description begins “Orderly Book of Gen. John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg, March 26–December 20, 1777.” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 33 (1909): 257–78, 454–74; 34 (1910): 21–40, 166–89, 336–60, 438–77; 35 (1911): 59–89, 156–87, 290–303. description ends 34:476).

2Muhlenberg’s orderly book reads “10 o’clock” instead of “one o’clock” (ibid.). The fighting at Freeman’s Farm on 19 Sept. began about one o’clock in the afternoon.

3This report of Burgoyne being wounded was erroneous.

4Col. John Brown’s raid on Ticonderoga occurred on 18 September.

5Henry Melchior Muhlenberg says in his journal entry for this date: “We heard fourteen heavy cannon shots in the afternoon. The militia, etc., encamped here in the neighborhood [of Trappe], sounded an alarm on their drums because they supposed that there might be a battle on the Shippach road between the main American army and a part of the British army. The main American army is only four miles northeast of us on the Shippach highway and twenty-six miles from Philadelphia. Afterwards we learned that the American army had fired fourteen shots in rejoicing over the news from the north that the American troops had defeated the British troops under His Excellency Lieutenant General Burgoyne and had with military stratagem conquered the lines of Fort Ticonderoga” (Tappert and Doberstein, Muhlenberg Journals description begins Theodore G. Tappert and John W. Doberstein, trans. and eds. The Journals of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1942–58. description ends , 3:81).

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