History of the 24th

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Anbury, writing on October 6th, gives a vivid picture of Burgoyne's force at this time. "We have gained little more by our victory save honour" he wrote.(1) The Americans, whose right was "already unassailable", were "working with incessant labours to strengthen their left" and the British position was most unsatisfactory. The enemy had the advantage of ground; to reconnoitre or get intelligence was hard, the Canadians and Indians were deserting freely, having no stomach for hard fighting. Supplies were hard to obtain, and with the opposing forces so close together rest was not easy to get, the men had to sleep in their accoutrements and the officers " in their, cloaks". At night there was constant firing and the picquets were constantly engaged. However, the troops seemed habituated to fire, "the men eat and sleep under it and seemed indifferent to it".(2) Casualties among the officers were frequent: American sharp-shooters were skilled in picking them off. They fared as the men did, few had any provisions of their own or any liquor, having relied for such things on sutlers following the army. " Throughout the campaign the men had not had a morsel of bread", having to mix up their flour into cakes and bake them as best they could on a stone before a fire,(3) while they " very seldom had spirits to cheer them up after fatiguing days in clearing away the woods for encampments, repairing roads and constructing bridges".

After October 3rd even the scanty allowance hitherto available was reduced by half, and on October 7th Burgoyne in desperation moved out with ten guns and 1500 men, including most of the Twenty-Fourth, now commanded by Captain Strangeways. His object was to seek a passage through the woods round the enemy's left, failing which he hoped by dislodging the enemy to secure an unmolested retreat. Starting at 11 a.m. Burgoyne had made quite good progress when an attack suddenly developed upon him. Gates had detected his move and attacked him in force in front while another column under Morgan endeavoured to turn the British right.

Gates' attack developed first against Burgoyne's left, which was promptly supported by the grenadiers. Staved off here, the attack then spread to the Germans in the centre, while Morgan's movement began to develop against the right. Burgoyne now realized that he must fall back and was posting the Twenty-Fourth and Light Infantry to cover the retirement, when additional pressure developed against the centre and the Germans began to waver. Fraser promptly hurried the Twenty-Fourth and the Light. Infantry across to their help and restored the situation, for the moment. But in achieving this Fraser himself was mortally wounded by a sniper and though he was carried back to the British lines it was only to die that night.

Fraser's last exploit allowed the bulk of the force to retire in some order to their lines, though at the sacrifice of six guns whose teams and crews had all been shot down. Anbury, who was among those left in the lines, describes how first the batmen and other details who had taken advantage of the attack to attempt a forage had come rushing back when the fighting started, how a stream of wounded soon began to follow them, and how eventually the troops fell back, Riedesel, the Brunswicker, Phillips and Burgoyne himself among the last, with the Americans hard at their heels.

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