A British General
George Augustus, Lord Howe
, was born in Ireland in 1724. He was sent to America in 1757 in command of five thousand British troops which landed at Halifax. In 1758 he accompanied General Abercrombie to Ticonderoga. The same year, while Lord Howe was encamped at Albany, he endeavored to provision his army and to provide boats and oars to transport it to the headwaters of the Hudson. As he could find no one who would undertake to furnish them, young Schuyler (then but twenty-two years of age) agreed to supply them at a stated time. "What Phil, " said Lord Howe, (they were intimate friends) "can you carry out such a contract?" The latter kept his engagement, and realized a handsome profit from the transaction.
Mrs. Grant, in "The American Lady," writes: "Many of the officers were quartered in the fort and town; but Lord Howe always lay in his tent, with the regiment which he commanded; and which he modelled in such a manner, that they were ever after considered as an example to the whole American army, who glorified in adopting all those rigid, yet salutory regulations to which the young hero readily submitted, to enforce his commands by his example.
"Above the pedantry of holding up standards of military rules where it is impossible to practice them, and the narrow spirit of preferring the modes of his own country, to those proved by experience to suit that in which he was to act, Lord Howe laid aside all pride and prejudice and gratefully accepted counsel from those whon he knew to be best qualified to direct him. Madam Schuyler was delighted with the calm steadiness with which he carried through the austere rules which he found it necessary to lay down. In the first place he forbade all displays of gold and scarlet, in the rugged march they were about to undertake, and to set the example by wearing himself an ammunition coat, that is to say, one of the surplus soldier's coats cut short. This was a necessary precaution; because in the woods the hostile Indians, who started from behind the trees, usually caught at the long and heavy skirts then worn by the soldiers and for the same reason he ordered the muskets to be shortened, that they might not, as on former occasions, be snatched from behind by these agile foes. To save them from the tearing of bushes, the stings of insects, etc., he set them the example of wearing leggings, a kind of buskin made of strong wollen cloth, formerly described as part of the Indian dress. The greatest privation to the young and vain yet remained. Hair well dressed and in great quantity, was then considered as the greatest possible ornament, which those who had it took the
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greatest possible care to display to advantage, and to wear in a bag or queue, whichever they fancied. Lord Howe's was fine; and very abundant; he, however, cropped it, and ordered every one to do the same. Every morning he rose very early, and, after giving his orders, rode out to the Flatts, (Madame Schuyler's) breakfasted, and spent some time in conversation with his friends there; and when in Albany received all manner of useful information from the worthy Magistrate, Cornelius Cuyler. Another point which this young Lycurgus of the camp wished to establish, was that of not carrying anything that was not absolutely necessary. An apparatus of tables, chairs, and such other luggage, he thought highly absurd, where people had to force their way with unspeakable difficulty, to encounter an enemy free from all such encumbrances. The French had long learned how little convenience could be studied on such occasions as the present.
"When his lordship got matters arranged to his satisfaction, he invited his officers to dine with him in his tent. They gladly assembled at the appointed hour, but were surprised to see no chairs or tables; there were, however, bear skins spread like a carpet. His lordship welcomed them and sat down on a small log of wood; they followed his example; and presently the servants set down a large dish of pork and peas. His lordship, taking a sheath from his pocket, out of which he produced a knife and fork, began to cut and divide the meat. They sat in a kind of awkward suspense, which he interrupted by asking if it were possible that soldiers like them, who had been so long destined for such service, should not be provided with portable implements of this kind; and finally, relieved them from their embarrassment by distributing to each a case the same as his own, which he had provided for that purpose. The austere regulations and constant self-denial which he imposed upon the troops he commanded, were patiently borne, because he was not only gentle in his manners, but generous and humane in a very high degree, and exceedingly attentive to the health and real necessities of the soldiery. Among many instances of this, a quantity of powdered ginger was given to every man; and the sergeants were ordered to see, that when, in the course of marching, the soldiers arrived hot and tired at the banks of any stream, they should not be permitted to stoop to drink, as they generally inclined to do, but be obliged to dip water in their canteens and mix ginger with it. This became afterward a general practice; and in those aguish swamps, through which the soldiers were forced to march, was the means of saving many lives. Aunt Schuyler, as this amiable young officer familiarly styled his maternal friend, had the utmost esteem for him; and the greatest hope that he would at some future period redress all those evils that had formerly impeded the service; and perhaps plant the British standard on the walls of Quebec. But this honor another young hero was destined to achieve; whose virtues were to be illustrated by the splendor of victory, the only light by which the multitude can see the merits of a soldier.
"The Schuylers regarded this expedition with a mixture of doubt and dismay, knowing too well, from the sad retrospect of former failures how little
valor and discipline availed where regular troops had to encounter with unseen foes, and with difficulties arising from the nature of the ground for which military science afforded no remedy. Of General Abercrombie's worth and valor they had the highest opinion; but they were doubtful of attacking an enemy so subtle and experienced on their own ground, in intrenchments, and this they feared he would have the temerity to attempt. In the meantime preparations were making for the assault. The troops were marching in detachments past the "Flatts," and each detachment quartered for a single night on the common or in the offices. One of the first of these was commanded by Lee, of frantic celebrity, who afterward in the American war, joined the opponents of the government, and was then a captain in the British service. Captain Lee had neglected to bring the customary warrants for impressing horses and oxen, and procuring a supply of various necessaries, to be paid for by the agents of the government on showing the usual documents; he, however, seized everything he wanted where he could most readily find it, as if he were in a conquered country; and not content with this violence poured forth a volley of execrations on those who presumed to question his right of appropriating for his troops everything that could be serviceable to them; even Madame, accustomed to universal respect, and to be considered as the friend and benefactress of the army, was not spared; and the aids which she never failed to bestow on those whom she saw about to expose their lives for the general defence, were rudely demanded or violently seized. Never did the genuine christianity of this exalted character shine more brightly than in this exigency; her coutenance never altered, and she used every argument to restrain the rage of her domestics, and the clamor of her neighbors, who were treated in the same manner. Lee marched on after having done all the mischief in his power, and was on the next day succeeded by Lord Howe, who was indignant upon hearing what had happened, and astonished at the calmness with which Madame bore the treatment she had received. She soothed him by telling him that she knew too well the value of protection from a danger so imminent, to grow captious with her deliverers on account of a single instance of irregularity, and only regretted that they should have deprived her of her wonted pleasure in freely bestowing whatever could advance the service or refresh the exhausted troops. They had a long and very serious conversation that night. In the morning his lordship proposed setting out very early; but when he arose he was astonished to find Madame waiting, and breakfast ready; he smiled and said he would not disappoint her, as it was hard to say when he might again breakfast with a lady. Impressed with an unaccountable degree of concern about the fate of the enterprise in which he was embarked, she again repeated her counsels and her cautions; and when he was about to depart, embraced him with the affection of a mother, and shed many tears, a weakness she did not often give way to.
"Meantime, the best prepared and disciplined body of forces that had ever been assembled in America, were proceeding on an enterprise that, to the experience and sagacity of the Schuylers, appeared a hopeless, or at least, a very
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desperate one. A general gloom overspread the family; this, at all times large, was now augmented by several relations both of the Colonel and Madame, who had visited them at that time to be nearer the scene of action, and to get the readiest and most authentic intelligence; for the apprehended consequence of a defeat was the pouring in of the French troops into the interior of the province; in which case Albany might be abandoned to the enraged savages attending the French army. A few days after Lord Howe's departure, in the afternoon, a man was seen coming on horseback from the north, galloping violently without his hat. Pedrom, as he was familiarly called, the Colonel's only surviving brother, was with her, and ran instantly to inquire, well knowing he rode express. The man galloped on, crying out that Lord Howe was killed. The mind of our good aunt had been so engrossed by her anxiety and fears for the event impending, and so impressed by the merit and magnanimity of her favorite hero, that her wonted firmness sunk under this stroke, and she broke out into bitter lamentations. This had such an effect on her friends and domestics, that shrieks and sobs of anguish echoed through every part of the house. Even those who were too old or too young to enter into the public calamity, were affected by the violent grief of aunt, who, in general had too much self-command to let others witness her sorrows. Lord Howe was shot from behind a tree, probably by some Indians; and the whole army were inconsolable for the loss they too well knew to be irreparable. This stroke, however, they soon found to be 'potent and pain, a menace and a blow'; but this dark prospect was cheered for a moment by a deceitful gleam of hope, which only added to the bitterness of disappointment."
Lossing in his "Life and Times of Schuyler," says "The scheme of the campaign of 1758 was extensive. Shirley's plan of 1756 ws revived, and its general outlines were adopted. Three points of assault – Louisburg, Ticonderoga, and Fort Duquesne – were designated, and ample preparations were made for the powerful operations against them. Upon Louisburg the first blow was to be struck, and General Jeffrey Amherst, a man of good judgment and discretion, was appointed to the command of a land force of more than twelve thousand men, destined for that enterprise. These were to be borne by the fleet of Admiral Boscowen. Abercrombie, assisted by Lord Howe, whom Pitt had chose as 'the soul of the enterprise,' was to lead an army by the way of Albany to attack the French on Lake Champlain, while General Joseph Forbes was commissioned to lead another army over the Alleghany mountains to capture Fort Duquesne."
Katharine Schuyler Baxter – 1897