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An American reply to...
 

General John Burgoyne's Proclamation
Issued at the
Camp at Bouquet Ferry
June 20th, 1777

transcribed by James P. Millard from

The Journal of Lieut. William Digby. Campaign of 1777. By an officer in the Northern Army under the command of His Excellency Lieut.-Gen. John Burgoyne.
To their capture at Saratoga.
1

                          Gen. Philip Schuyler

Ed. note: The quotes below are of a mocking, sardonic reply delivered to Burgoyne in reply to his lofty proclamation issued at the Bouquet. Digby does not tell us who penned this missive, it was probably anonymous, closed only with "Saratoga, July 10-- 1777 A B. C D E &c." This writer believes it makes for marvelous reading, as Burgoyne's Proclamation was intended to strike fear and submission into the hearts of the Americans, this derisive reply shows just the opposite. [jpm]

[Digby writes]...About this time, a letter addressed to general Burgoyne, burlesqueing his proclamation appeared, which perhaps may entertain the reader.--

To John Burgoyne Esq Lieut General of his majesty's armies in America, Colonel of the Queen's  Regiment of Light Dragoons, governor of Fort William in North Britain, one of the Representatives of the Commons of Great Britain and commanding an army and fleet on an expedition from Canada &c &c &c.

Most high, most mighty, most puissant, and sublime general! When the forces under your command arrived at Quebec, in order to act in concert and upon a common principle with the numerous fleets & armies, which already display in every quarter of America the justice and mercy of your King; we, the reptils of America, were struck with unusual trepidation and astonishment. But what words can express the plentitude of our horror, when the Colonel of the Queen's Regiment of Light Dragoons advanced towards Ticonderoga? The mountains shook before thee, and the trees of the forest bowed their leafy heads. The vast lakes of the north were chilled at thy presence, and the mighty cataracts stopped their tremendous career and were suspended in awe at thy approach.

Judge then, oh! ineffable Governor of Fort William in North Britain, what must have been the terror, dismay, and despair that overspread this paltry continent of America, and us, its wretched inhabitants! Dark and dreary indeed was the prospect before us, till like the sun in the Horizon, your most gracious and irresistible proclamation opened the doors of mercy and snatched us, as it were, from the jaws of annihilation. We foolishly thought, blind as we were, that your gracious master's fleets and armies were come to destroy us and our liberties; but we are happy in hearing from you, and who can doubt what you assert, that they were called forth for the sole purpose of restoring the rights of the Constitution to a froward, stubborn generation?

And it is for this, oh! sublime, Lieut Genl! that you have given yourself the trouble to cross the wide Atlantic, and with incredible fatigue traversed uncultivated wilds; and we ungratefully refused the profered blessing?

To restore the rights of the Constitution, you have called together an amiable host of savages, and turned them loose to scalp our women and children and lay our country waste. This they have performed with their usual skill and clemency, and we remain insensible for the benefit, and unthankful for so much goodness.

Our Congress have declared Independence, and our assemblies, as your highness justly observes, have most wickedly imprisoned the avowed friends of that power with which they are at war, and most profanely compelled those whose conscience will not permit them to fight, to pay some small part towards the expenses their country is at in supporting what is called a necessary and defensive war. If we go on thus in our obstinacy and ingratitude, what can we expect, but that you should in your anger give a stretch to the Indian forces under your direction, amounting to thousands, to overtake and destroy us, or what is ten times worse, that you should withdraw your fleets and armies and leave us to our own misery, without completing the benevolent task you have begun in restoring to us the rights of the Constitution.--

We submit, we submit most puissant Coll of the Queen's regiment of Light Dragoons & Governor of Fort William in North Britain, we offer our heads to the scalping knife, and our bellies to the bayonet. Who can resist the terror of your arms? who can resist the force of your eloquence? The invitation you have made in the consciousness of christianity, your royal master's clemency, and the honour of soldiership we thankfully accept; The blood of the slain, the cries of the injured virgins and innocent children, and the never ceasing sighs and groans of starving wretches, now languishing in the gaols and prison ships of New York, call on us in vain, while your sublime proclamation is sounding in our ears!

Forgive us, oh! our country! forgive us dear posterity! forgive us all ye foreign powers! who are anxiously watching our conduct in this important struggle, if we yield implicitly to the persuasive tongue of the most elegant Coll of the Queen's Regiment of Light Dragoons. Forbear then, thou magnanimous Lieut general, forbear to denounce vengeance against us! forbear to give a stretch to those restorers of the Constitution's rights, the Indians under your direction! let not the messengers of wrath & justice await us in the field, and devastation, famine and every concomitant horror, bar our return to the allegiance of a prince, who by his royal will, would deprive us of every blessing of life with all possible clemency. We are domestic; we are industrious; we are infirm and timid; we shall remain quietly at home and not remove our cattle, our corn, or forage, in hopes that you will come at the head of troops, in the full powers of health, discipline, and valour, and take charge of them for yourselves.--

Behold our wives and daughters; our flocks and herds; our goods and chattels, are they not at the mercy of our lord and king, and of his lieutenant general, Member of the house of Commons and Governor of Fort William in North Britain?

SARATOGA, July 10-- 1777 A B. C D E &c.
 

Sources/notes:

1 William Digby. 1776-1777. [The Journal of Lieut. William Digby.] 1887. THE BRITISH INVASION FROM THE NORTH. The Campaigns of Generals Carleton and Burgoyne from Canada, 1776-1777, with the Journal of William Digby, of the 53d, or Shropshire Regiment of Foot, illustrated with historical notes, by James Phinney Baxter, A.M.  Albany, New York: Joel Munsell's Sons. 229-233

2 Benson J. Lossing 1850. THE PICTORIAL FIELD-BOOK OF THE REVOLUTION. New York: Harper & Brothers. Publishers.

Schuyler illustration from THE PICTORIAL FIELD-BOOK OF THE REVOLUTION, by Benson J. Lossing.
Courtesy of the Floyd Harwood Collection

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