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Siege of Fort Schuyler

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

August 7. –Yesterday, about nine o’clock, an engagement ensued between a part of the militia of Tryon county, under the command of General Herkimer, and a party of savages, Tories, and regulars, a short distance from Fort Stanwix. It lasted till three o’clock in the afternoon, when the British thought proper to retire, leaving General Herkimer master of the field. Unluckily, however, the general and some valuable officers got wounded or killed in the beginning. But this did in nowise intimidate the ardor of the men, and the general, although he had two wounds, did not leave the field till the action was over. He seated himself on a log, with his sword drawn, animating his men.

About one o’clock, Colonel Gansevoort1 having received information of General Herkimer’s march, sent out Lieutenant-Colonel Willet,2 with two hundred men, to attack an encampment of the British, and thereby facilitate General Herkimer’s march. In this the colonel succeeded, for after an engagement of an hour he had completely routed the enemy, and taken one captain and four privates. The baggage taken was very considerable, such as money, bear skins, officers’ baggage, and camp equipage; one of the soldiers had for his share a scarlet coat, trimmed with gold lace to the full, and three laced hats.

When Colonel Willet returned to the fort, he discovered two hundred regulars in full march to attack him. He immediately ordered his men to prepare for battle, and having a field-piece with him, Captain Savage so directed its fire as to play in concert with one out of the fort; these, with a brisk fire from his small arms, soon made these heroes scamper off with great loss. Colonel Willet then marched with his booty into the fort, having not a single man killed or wounded.

General St. Leger, who commands the enemy’s force in that quarter, soon after sent in a flag to demand the delivery of the fort, offering that the garrison should march out with their baggage, and not be molested by the savages; that if this was not complied with, he would not answer for the conduct of the Indians, if the garrison fell into their hands; that General Burgoyne was in possession of Albany. Colonel Gansevoort, after animadverting on the barbarity and disgraceful conduct of the British officers, in suffering women and children to be butchered as they had done, informed the flag that he was resolved to defend the fort to the last, and that he would never give it up as long as there was a man left to defend it.3


1 Peter Gansevoort.
2 Marinus Willet.
3 Pennsylvania Evening Post, August 19 and 21: –St. Leger continued the siege until the 22d of August, when he suddenly retreated.

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