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at that time prevented this; and making good use of their time, they considered and adopted one by one the articles of the constitution while the storm raged without. By evening the work was completed ; the Pennsylvania model had been adopted with a few important changes, notable among which was the prohibition of slavery, Vermont thus being the first State to insert this in her constitution.
The building in which this memorable meeting was
held is still standing. At this same convention a Council of Safety, with Thomas Chittenden as its president, had been appointed to govern the new State until a suitable government could be organized. Provision had also been made for an election of State officers the following December and for a meeting of the Legislature in January. Owing to the excitement occasioned by Burgoyne's invasion,
both the election and the meeting of the Legislature were postponed
But so much for the political history of Vermont for the year 1777. We will now take up the story of the invasion of General Burgoyne, who succeeded Carleton on the latter's return to Canada.
Note.—The long-lost original records of the conventions mentioned in this chapter have recently been discovered by Senator Proctor in the congressional library at Washington, and through his efforts have been turned over to the State of Vermont.
The British Plan.—The British now planned to subdue the colonies in a single campaign, by concerted action ; and great preparations were going on during the winter and spring for its accomplishment. If they could but gain complete control of the Champlain-Hudson Valley, establishing a line of forts from the St. Lawrence River to New York Bay, and thus preventing New England, the head of the rebellion, from joining her forces with those beyond the Hudson, they felt that victory would be theirs. Burgoyne was confident that this could be done, and the plan decided on was this:
Burgoyne was to advance up Lake Champlain, take Ticonderoga, and then press forward to the Hudson, with the expectation that General Howe's army would meet him there, having accomplished a similar work on the Hudson. At the same time another British expedition, consisting partly of Iroquois Indians, was to start out from Oswego and unite with Burgoyne on the Hudson, having opened the way to a fertile section of New York from which Burgoyne hoped to gain vast quantities of supplies for his forces. The plan was an admirable one, but did it work?
Through some delay Howe failed to receive his instructions, until about the time that the British were being defeated at Bennington, and he was then about to enter Chesapeake Bay and far from the scene of conflict; the
Oswego expedition failed utterly to accomplish its mission ; and of Burgoyne we are about to hear.
Burgoyne's Advance; American Defenses.-Late in June (1777) Burgoyne, with an aggregate number of 10,000 strong, neared Ticonderoga ; and, on the first day of July, came to anchor just out of range of its guns.
Perceiving the designs of the British, some efforts were made to strengthen Ticonderoga, which position had been connected with Mt. Independence by means of a floating bridge, consisting of twenty-two sunken piers joined by floats, the lake at this point being scarcely more than a half mile wide. This bridge was to have been protected by a boom of huge timbers, fastened together by bolts and chains; but this was not completed when Burgoyne made his advance.
Towering above and within easy range of both Ticonderoga and Mt. Independence was Mt. Defiance, from whose summit every approach by land or water was plainly visible. The desirability of fortifying this point was now discussed by the Americans, but was given up on account of the difficulty of raising the necessary ordnance up the steep and rugged mountain sides, and because of the fact that General St. Clair, who had superseded General Gates, to garrison the entire works, had little more than 3,000 effective men, and could ill afford to spare the men for the purpose.
St. Clair's one hope was that the over-confident Burgoyne might choose to assault rather than besiege his position; an assault he thought he might be able to withstand, but he well knew that he would not be able to sustain a regular siege. What course Burgoyne would pursue was a question whose answer was anxiously awaited by the garrison.
Evacuation of the Forts.—Colonel Warner had been sent by General St. Clair to gather reenforcements; and, on July 5, he arrived at Ticonderoga with a force of 900 men, mostly Vermonters. The British had at once recognized the importance of Mt. Defiance, had scaled its precipitous sides, and were now upon its bald summit, where their red coats were plainly visible, as they hurried to and fro in the construction of a battery. It was evident to St. Clair that Burgoyne meant to besiege him. Calling a council of his officers, he discussed with them the situation. Since there was no prospect of their being able to dislodge the enemy from this post, it was decided that their only safety was in immediate evacuation. St. Clair hoped to be able to do this in the night, unobserved by the enemy; and at once began making preparations to accomplish it.
Baggage and stores were, as soon as possible, embarked in bateaux for Skenesboro, with such of the garrison as were sick and unfit for the march. By two o'clock on the morning of July 6 all was in readiness and the army moved out of Ticonderoga, hastily crossed the floating bridge, and by three o'clock the garrison of Mt. Independence was also on the move. A French officer of the garrison, wishing to destroy what he could not save, foolishly set fire to his house, by the light of which the evacuation was revealed to the English soldiers on Mt. Defiance. The British immediately commenced pursuit ; and the Americans, thrown into confusion by the knowledge of their discovery, fled in great disorder.
The American army was intending to go to Skenesboro by the way of Castleton and there join the fleet. When they reached Hubbardton, they halted for a rest of about two hours. Here Colonel Warner was put in command of