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"WE ARE NOW ON OUR MARCH AFTER THEM" (AMERICAN REVOLUTION--1777.) Eastman, Thomas. Letter describing the victory at Bemis Heights and the pursuit of Burgoyne to Saratoga. Autograph Letter Signed to mother. One page, 8 x 6 1/4 inches, with related memoranda but to address information on verso; minimal wear. Stillwater, NY, 7[-11?] October 1777
Thomas Eastman was a private in Ezra Currier's company of Drake's New Hampshire militia regiment when he wrote this remarkable letter on the American victory at Saratoga. He had arrived at Stillwater on 2 October, two weeks after the American setback at the first Battle of Saratoga. He began his letter on the Tuesday morning preceding the second battle: "The enemy are about one mile from our lines. It is thought they will not venture to come out this way very soon. . . . The enemy are, according to the best information that we can get, about six or seven thousand, our army more than double, and the militia are daily coming in." He finished his letter after the second Battle of Saratoga, also known as the Battle of Bemis Heights: "October 7, this afternoon, the enemy came with about 150 men and attacked our guard near our lines. Our men reinforced and fought them abought two hours and drove them back through part of their lines, and night came on the enemy that were taken, were about 200 many killed and wounded on both sides. The next day our army pursued and continued fireing all day." He then describes the British retreat to Saratoga over the next few days: "Thursday morning the enemy left their line. Our men were order'd to follow them, but it being a very rainey day, we did not go until Friday. We are now on our march after them." This portion of the letter is undated, but apparently written on 10 or 11 October. The Americans soon had Burgoyne's army surrounded. He surrendered on 17 October, the greatest American victory to date in the war. Eastman apparently did not have the opportunity to send his letter for another month. On the verso, he has recorded lists of soldiers discharged or furloughed from three New Hampshire militia companies (Captains Currier, Rawlings, and Leavitt) at Saratoga from 25 October through 17 November. He also notes the death of two soldiers, John Goss and Joseph Laton.
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