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The fallen soldiers:
Part V

A haven of spirits

by Emily L. Marcason

On October 7, the Baroness wrote in her journal that this particular day “was the beginning of all our unhappiness.”1 According to the Baroness, her husband told her the commotion among the soldiers was a reconnaissance, of which not much usually happened.

It was on this October day that instead of the Baroness providing a delicious supper for the British officers, she provided healthcare. At about three o’clock in the afternoon, as the second battle of Saratoga was raging, the Baroness received a mortally injured General Simon Fraser at her home.2

Fraser, a Scot who was one of Burgoyne’s closest friends and confidents, always sat upon his gray horse with such ease and grace.3 Burgoyne’s heart broke when he saw his friend slump and fall forward over his horse’s neck.


Timothy Murphy was the sharp shooter that killed Fraser. Click on the image to see the monument that stands in his honor today.


Lieutenant Digby, Burgoyne sensed the loss of Fraser the moment he saw his friend tumble off his horse and “helped turn the fate of the day.”4 The British troops encountered more losses then just the mortal wound of Fraser; many troops were lost that day.

“Our cannon were surrounded and taken—the men and horses were all killed—which gave them additional spirits, and they rushed on with loud shouts, when we drove them back a little way with so great loss to ourselves, that it evidently appeared a retreat was the only thing left for us,” Digby wrote.5


 

 

 

 

 


Fraser was killed near this site. (Jim Millard photo)

According to Fraser later that day, he said the man who shot him was perched in a tree. He was carried to the Baroness’s house and was laid on the table where he was intended to dine that evening.6 The Baroness couldn’t help but notice that the firing grew closer to her home and she knew her husband could be the next wounded man to be brought to the house. She sat in the corner of the room shivering and trembling.7 She recollected that Fraser demanded the doctor working on him to not conceal anything from him concerning his condition. The Baroness wrote that she remembered hearing Fraser screaming to the doctor wanting to know why he must die. “The bullet had gone through his abdomen,” she wrote.


“The General had eaten a heavy breakfast, so that the intestines were expanded, and, as the doctor explained, the bullet had gone through them, not between them.” 8

All through the darkness of the night the Baroness cared for Fraser and heard him moan for his wife and for Burgoyne. It was about three in the morning when she was told that Fraser was near the end. A few hours later at eight in the morning, Fraser breathed his last breath.9  The night before, Fraser had requested to Burgoyne that he buried at six the following evening on the hill near the battle.10

All of the fear the Baroness had about the safety of her husband vanished the moment she saw him toward the evening hours after Fraser’s burial. “I saw my husband coming; then I forgot all my sorrow and had no other thought but to thank God for sparing him.” 11 According to the Baroness, her husband, General von Riedesel, had told her that while the British forces had gained an advantage over the Americans, the army had many wounded and dead soldiers.



-Part VI-
A Woman of Courage


Sources/Notes:


1 Marvin Brown, “Baroness von Riedesel and the American Revolution: Journal and Correspondence of a tour of duty 1776-1783” (University of North Carolina Press: Published by Kingsport Press, Tennessee 1965) 50.

2 lbid., 51.

3 Richard Ketchum, “Saratoga: Turning point of America’s Revolutionary War” (Owl Book: Published by Henry Holt and Company, New York 1997) 400.

4 James Phinney Baxter, “The British Invasion From the North: The Campaigns of General Carleton and Burgoyne with the Journal of Lieut. William Digby” (Joel Munsell’s Sons, Albany, NY 1887) 287.

5 lbid., 288.

6 Richard Ketchum, “Saratoga: Turning point of America’s Revolutionary War” (Owl Book: Published by Henry Holt and Company, New York 1997) 400.

7 Marvin Brown, “Baroness von Riedesel and the American Revolution: Journal and Correspondence of a tour of duty 1776-1783” (University of North Carolina Press: Published by Kingsport Press, Tennessee 1965) 57.

8 lbid., 51.

9 Richard Ketchum, “Saratoga: Turning point of America’s Revolutionary War” (Owl Book: Published by Henry Holt and Company, New York 1997) 406.

10 Marvin Brown, “Baroness von Riedesel and the American Revolution: Journal and Correspondence of a tour of duty 1776-1783” (University of North Carolina Press: Published by Kingsport Press, Tennessee 1965) 52.

11 lbid., 52.

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