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in favour of Burgoyne. At this critical moment, to the astonishment of the whole army, General Burgoyne sent the following message to Major General Gates.
“ In the course of the night Lieutenant General Burgoyne has received intelligence that a considerable force has been detached from the army under the command of Major General Gates, during the course of the negotiation of the treaty depending between them. Lieutenant General Burgoyne conceives that, if true, to be not only a violation of the cessation of arms, but subversive of the principles on which the treaty originated, viz. a great superiority of numbers in General Gates's army.
Lieutenant General Burgoyne therefore requires that two officers on his part be permitted to see that the strength of the force now opposed to him is such as will convince him that no such detachments have been made, and that the same principles of superiority on which the treaty first began, still exists."
Upon the receipt of this message, General Gates despatched Colonel Wilkinson, with authority to answer it as he thought proper. The account of his reception, the message which he planned and delivered, and the circumstances attending his meeting with General Burgoyne, as given in his “ Memoirs," are so interesting that the reader will be pleased to see it in the language of the messenger bimself.
“ A youth, in a plain blue frock, without other military insignia than a cockade and a sword, I stood in the presence of three experienced European Generals, soldiers before my birth; Phillips had distinguished himself, and received the thauks of Prince Ferdinand at Minden in 1759; Burgoyne bad served with credit under Count la Lippe on the Tagus, in 1762, and Reidesel was an eleve of the Duke of Brunswick ; yet the consciousness of my inexperience did not shake my purpose, and I had conceived in my mind the following message, which I delivered verbatim to Lieutenant General Burgoyne from Major General Gates, and afterwards furnished a copy of it.
Major General Gates in justice to his own reputation, condescends to assure your excellency, that no violation of the treaty has taken place on his part since the commencement of it, the requisition, therefore, contained in your message of this day, is inadmissible: and as it now remains with your excellency to ratify or dissolve the treaty, Major General Gates expects your immediate and decisive reply.'
“ This message was respectfully received, and some conversation ensued, which gave me an opening to observe, that his excellency must entertain an humble opinion of Major General Gates's professional knowledge, or he would not have demanded permission for two of his officers critically to examine his numbers and of consequence his position, whilst the Bri. tish army had their arms in their hands, and that General Gates could not but conceive it was trifling with him. This drew out General Burgoyne into a most eloquent vindication of his proceedings—Not only his own individual reputation, but the service of the King bis master, and the honour of the British arms, enjoined on him the most cautious circumspection:' he analysed the various species of intelligence, from the vague camp rumour, and the reports of deserters, up to authentick information, which last he averred was the nature of that he had received the preceding night; he spoke in high terms of the resolution of his
army, and ended by saying, “General Gates has no idea of the principle and spirit which animates the army
I command ; there is not a man in it, I assure you Colonel Wilkinson, who does not pant for action.” “But," I replied to him, “what can the courage of a handful of men avail against the numbers you see on the hills beyond the river, and those wbich surround you ? who, I can assure your excellency, are with difficulty restrained from falling on you at all quarters, in the hope of dividing the spoils of your camp," and after a moment's pause, I added, “Be pleased, Sir, to favour me with your determination ?” He answered, “I do not recede from my purpose : the truce must end.” “ At what time, Sir ?" « In one hour.' We set watches, and on taking leave I observed, “ After what has passed, General Burgoyne, there can be no treaty; your fate must be decided by arms, and General Gates washes his hands of the blood which may be spilled.” “ Be it so," said he, and I walked off with most uncomfortabte sensations; for our troops were much scattered, having encompassed the British army three parts out of four; the men had got the treaty into their heads, and had lost their passion for combat, and what was worse, we had been advised of the loss of Fort Montgomery, and a rumour had just arrived that Esopus was burnt, and the enemy proceeding up the river; but I had not proceeded fifty rods, when Major Kingston ran after me and hailed; I halted, and he informed me that General Burgoyne was desirous to say a few words to me; I returned, when he addressed me by observing, that “ General Gates had, in the business depending between them, been very indulgent, and therefore he would hope for time to take the opinion of his general officers in a case of VOL. U.
such magnitude to the two armies; as it was far from his disposition to trifle in an affair of such importance.” General Phillips then spoke, “ Yes, Sir, yes Sir, General Burgoyne don't mean to trifle on so serious an occasion ; but he feels it his duty to consult his officers." I asked what time he would require ? He mentioned two hours; and we again set watches, and I returned, promising to wait at our picket for his answer.
“ The interview with General Burgoyne had been spun out to such length, that General Gates became uneasy, and I found a messenger waiting at our picket, to know what I had done. I reported in brief, what had passed and what was depending; and took a station near the ruins of General Schuyler's house, where I walked, and expected with much anxiety the result of General Burgoyne's consultation; the two hours had elapsed by a quarter, and an aid de camp from the General had been with me to know how matters progressed ; soon after, I perceived Lieutenant Colonel Southerland opposite to me and beckoned him to cross the creek; on approaching me, he observed, “Well, our business will be knocked on the head after all." I enquired why? He said, “ the officers had got the devil in their heads, and could not agree." I replied gaily, “I am sorry for it, as you will not only lose your fusee, but your whole baggage.” He expressed much sorrow, but said he could not help it. At this moment 1 recollected the letter Captain Craig had written me the night before, and taking it from my pocket, I read it to the Colonel, who declared he had not been privy to it; and added with evident anxiety, “Will you give me that letter?” I answered in the negative, and observed, “I
should hold it as a testimony of the good faith of a British commander.” He hastily replied, “ Spare me that letter, Sir, and I pledge you my honour I will return it in fifteen minutes.” I penetrated the motive, and willingly handed it to him ; he sprang off with it, and directing his course to the British camp, ran as far as I could see him: in the mean time I received a peremptory message from the General, to break off the treaty if the convention was not immediately ratified. I informed him by the messenger, that I was doing the best I could for him, and would see him in half an hour. Colonel Southerland was punctual to his promise, and returned with Captain Oraig, who delivered me the convention, with an additional article, specifically to include himself, which I engaged should be admitted by General Gates, and immediately sent to General Burgoyne. I then returned to head quarters, after eight hour's absence, and presented to General Gates the important document, that made the British army conventional prisoners to the United States, which, together with a return, founded on authentick documents now in my possession, of the forces which surrendered, is deemed worthy of record in this place. Articles of Convention between Lieutenant General
Burgoyne and Major General Gates. " 1st. The troops under Lieutenant General Burgoyne to march out of their camp with the honours of war, and the artillery of the entrenchments, to the verge of the river where the old fort stood, where the arms and artillery are to be left; the arms to be piled by word of command from their own officers.