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Battle of Stillwater

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

September 20. –Yesterday, about noon, the two armies met near Stillwater, and a most obstinate and bloody battle ensued. The advanced parties of the Americans, which were composed of Morgan’s riflemen and Dearborn’s infantry, received the first fire of the enemy, and a little after two o’clock the action became general. The right wing of the British forces was commanded by Burgoyne in person, the left by Phillips and Reidesel, and the centre, covered by Frazer and Breyman, was supported by the savages, Canadians, and renegade Provincials and Tories. Never was more bravery or determination shown. For upwards of three hours the blaze from the artillery and small arms was incessant, and sounded like the roll of the drum. By turns the British and Americans drove each other, taking and retaking the field, pieces, and often mingling in a hand to hand wrestle and fight. Scammell1 fought like a hero, leading his regiment where the fire, was the hottest, and did not leave his post until he was wounded and taken off the field. The British artillery was well served, and worked with sad havoc among our poor fellows, who are the more to be wept, for their gallantry and devotion to their country. The cannon of the British was lost to us only for the want of horses to draw them off. Arnold rushed into the thickest of the fight with his usual recklessness, and at times acted like a madman. I did not see him once, but S. told me this morning that he did not seem inclined to lead alone, but as a prominent object among the enemy showed itself, he would seize the nearest rifle-gun and take deliberate aim.

During the action a party of our men got up into some trees, and as the clouds of smoke opened, poured in upon the enemy single shot. In this manner several of the officers were killed or wounded. One of Brook’s regiment says he silenced two fellows with laced coats, and it is said that Burgoyne had a narrow escape.2

At sundown the action was less furious, and a little after dark a greater part of the two armies retired from the field. Some of our men did not come off until near midnight. In the midst of so much destruction, it is a wonder how any of them escaped; “but it is in this cause,” as old Emerson used to say about the hens that laid every day in the year but Sunday, “Providence is with ’em.”3


1 Alexander Scammell.
2 Letter from General Enoch Poor.
3 Churchill Papers.

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