HISTORY OF

SARATOGA COUNTY, NEW YORK.

by NATHANIEL BARTLETT SYLVESTER

1878

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CHAPTER XII.

FRENCH AND INDIAN WARS, 1709-48.

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I. - QUEEN ANNE'S WAR.

In the year 1709, what is known as Queen Anne's war broke out in Europe and speedily extended to the American colonies, each of which soon became bent on the extermination of the other. Peter Schuyler was now of the executive council, a commissioner of Indian affairs, and a colonel in the service. He was called by the Indians Guider, because they could not pronounce his name. His brother John had been advanced to the grade of lieutenant-colonel.

Richard Ingoldsby, who had come over with the rank of major, as commander of Her Majesty's four companies of regulars, was now lieutenant-governor of the province. Again a joint expedition was planned by the colonists for the conquest of Canada. Five regiments of regulars were to be joined with twelve hundred provincial troops, who were to proceed by sea to Quebec.

Another body of troops was to rendezvous at Albany for the attack on Montreal. The forces for this latter expedition were placed under the command of Colonel Vetch, a nephew of Peter Schuyler, and General Nicholson. Nicholson was tendered the command by Governor Ingoldsby on the 21st of May, 1709.

On the 19th of May, the council had given orders that there should be sent forthwith to Albany a sufficient quantity of stores and provisions, and all other things necessary for building storehouses and boats and make canoes. About the 1st of June the vanguard of the expedition, consisting of three hundred men, with the pioneers and artificers, moved out of Albany, under the command of Colonel Schuyler. Proceeding to Stillwater, they built a stockaded fort for provisions, which they named Fort Ingoldsby. They also built stockaded forts at Saratoga, situated on the east side of the river, below the Battenkill, and another at Fort Miller falls. From Saratoga they built a road up the east side of the river to the Great Carrying-Place. At the bank of the Hudson they built, at the Great Carrying-Place, another fort, which they called Fort Nicholson. This has since become Fort Edward. From Fort Edward they went across the Great Carrying-Place to the Wood creek, where they built another fort, which they called Fort Schuyler. This name was shortly afterwards changed to Fort Ann. At Fort Ann they built a hundred bark canoes, one hundred and ten boats, which would hold from six to ten men each. Lieutenant-Colonel John Schuyler was in command of this place.

The number of men was finally increased to eleven hundred and fifty. Fort Nicholson was garrisoned by four hundred and fifty men, including seven companies of regulars, in scarlet uniform, from Old England. At the Fort Miller falls there were forty men, and at Stillwater seventy men. In the mean time, Governor Vaudreuil had moved up from Montreal to Chambly, to watch the motions of the invaders. But this expedition overland was simply auxiliary to the fleet by sea from Boston. As this latter failed nothing further came of the invasion, and the summer passed away in idleness. While at Fort Ann a fatal sickness broke out in the English camp, and a great number died as if poisoned. In October, Colonel Nicholson returned with his crippled forces to Albany. Charlevoix states that this sickness was produced by the treachery of the Indians, who threw the skins of their game into the swamp above the camp. It is probable, however, that it was a malignant dysentery, caused by the extreme heat and the malaria of the swamps. Two years later, in 1711, a second army was fitted out in a similar manner to the last and for the same purpose. It was composed of three regiments, as follows: first, Colonel Ingoldsby's regulars; secondly, Colonel Schuyler's New York troops; thirdly, Colonel Woodin's troops, from Connecticut. The whole force consisted of about three thousand men, under command of General Nicholson, and left Albany on the 24th of August. By the 28th the troops were all on their march beyond Albany. They proceeded as far as Fort Ann, which had been destroyed two years before. Shortly after arriving at Fort Ann, intelligence was received that Her Majesty's fleet had been shattered by storms in the St. Lawrence, with the loss of one thousand troops, and the expedition was abandoned. Thus the third attempt to conquer Canada proved abortive and in 1713 the peace of Utrecht, between England and France, again put a stop to the warfare of the old wilderness.

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II. - THE ATTACK ON FORT CLINTON, AT SARATOGA.

In 1744 war was again declared between England and France. In the midst of the profound peace of the preceeding thirty-one years, the French had advanced up Lake Champlain as far as Crown Point, where they built Fort St. Frederick, in the year 1731. In the month of November, 1745, an expedition against the English settlement was fitted out at Montreal; it was composed of three hundred Frenchmen and as many Indians. Their object was to attack and capture the settlements on the Connecticut river; but, on their arrival at Fort St. Frederick, they changed this purpose and proceeded down to Saratoga. On the night of the 16th of November they attacked the little settlement of Saratoga, plundered and burned about twenty houses, together with the fort. They killed and scalped about thirty persons, and carried off sixty prisoners; only one family escaped by flight, who, as they looked back, saw the fort in flames. Among the killed was John Philip Schuyler, an uncle of General Philip Schuyler of Revolutionary memory. Schuyler had made his will a few years before, by which he divided his property between two nephews, one of whom was General Philip Schuyler.

In the spring of 1746 the English rebuilt the fort at Saratoga, changing its location, however, to accommodate some wheat-fields which were there growing, giving it the name of Fort Clinton.

On the 29th of August, 1746, a band of French and Indians, under command of M. De Repentigny, who were scouting near by, made an attack upon a party of twenty soldiers near the gates of the fort, killing four men, who were scalped by the Indians, and took four prisoners.

In June, 1747, an expedition started from Fort St. Frederick to attack and destroy Fort Clinton, at Saratoga. It was under the command of La Corne St. Luc, and consisted of twenty Frenchmen and two hundred Indians. On the night of the 11th of June they arrived before the fort. While the main body of the French were lying in concealment near by, La Corne sent forward six scouts with orders to lie in ambush within eight paces of the fort, to fire upon those who should come out of the fort the next morning, and if attacked to retire pretending to be wounded. At daybreak in the morning two Englishmen came out of the fort, and they were at once fired upon by the French scouts, who thereupon fled. Soon after the firing began, a hundred and twenty Englishmen came out of the fort, headed by their officers, and started in hot pursuit of the French scouts. The English soon fell in with the main body of the French, who rising from their ambuscade, poured a galling fire into the English ranks. The English at first bravely stood their ground and sharply returned the fire. The guns of the fort also opened upon the French with grape and cannon shot. But the Indians soon rushed upon the English with terrible yells, and with tomahawk in hand drove them into the fort, giving them scarcely time to shut the gates behind them. Many of the English soldiers, being unable to reach the fort, ran down the hill into the river, and were drowned or killed with the tomahawk. The Indians killed and scalped twenty-eight of the English, and took forty-five prisoners, besides those drowned in the river.

In the autumn following this disaster, Fort Clinton, of Saratoga, was dismantled and burned by the English, and Albany once more became the extreme northern outpost of the English colonies, with nothing but her palisaded walls between her and the uplifted tomahawks of the ever-frowning north. In May, 1748, peace was again proclaimed, which lasted for the brief period of seven years, until the beginning of the last French and Indian war of 1755, which ended in the conquest of Canada.

During this short peace of seven years, the settler's axe was heard upon many a hillside, as he widened his little clearing, and the smoke went curling gracefully upward from his lonely cabin in many a valley along the upper Hudson.

It was in the summer of 1749, during this short peace, that Peter Kalm, {Vide Kalm's Travels, in Pinkerton, vol. xiii.} the Swedish botanist, traveled, in the interests of science, through this great northern war-path. He gives, in his account of the journey, a graphic description of the ruins of the old forts at Saratoga, at Fort Nicholson, and Fort Ann, which were then still remaining in the centres of small deserted clearings in the great wilderness through which he passed. He made many discoveries of rare and beautiful plants before unknown to Europeans, and in our swamps and lowlands a modest flower, the kalmia glauca, swamp laurel, blooms in perpetual remembrance of his visit. But there were no mineral springs in the Saratoga visited by Peter Kalm.

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