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Baroness Riedesel
The Marshall House - Click the photo to learn more about it.
Corner of Cellar used by the Baroness and her children.
After the battles at Bemis Heights, Burgoyne retreated north to the area that is now Schuylerville and Vistory. Near our Park is the Marchall House where Baroness Riedesel stayed in the cellar. The house was used as a British Hospital but the Americans did not realize that. Seeing lots of activity at the house, they bobbarded it and hit the houes at least 11 times. Below is an account made by the Baroness about her time spent at the house. It is taken from a book, published in 1900, that was written by a local historian.
Canon balls found durng renovations to the house.
Baroness Riedesel Relates Her Experiences
The account given by that most estimable lady of her experiences in the Marshall house are of so interesting and thrilling a character that we would wrong our readers not to allow her to tell them her own story. She proved herself to be a veritable angel of mercy to those poor officers and men, yes a forerunner of Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton. She writes:

"About two o'clock in the afternoon [of the 10th], the firing of cannon [87] and small arms was again heard, and all was alarm and confusion. My husband sent me a message telling me to betake myself forthwith into a house not far from there. I seated myself in the calash with my children, and had scarcely driven up to the house when I saw on the opposite side of the Hudson River five or six men with guns, which were aimed at us. Almost involuntarily I threw the children on the bottom of the calash and myself over them. At the same instant the churls fired, and shattered the arm of a poor English soldier behind us, who was already wounded and was also retreating into the house. Immediately after our arrival a frightful cannonade began, principally directed against the house in which we had sought shelter, probably because the enemy believed, from seeing so many people flocking around it, that all the generals made it their headquarters." Alas! it harbored none but wounded soldiers, or women! We were finally obliged to take refuge in a cellar, in which I laid myself down in a corner not far from the door. My children lay down on the earth with their heads upon my lap, and in this manner we passed the entire night. A horrible stench, the cries of the children, and yet more than all this, my own anguish, prevented me from closing my eyes. On the following morning [the 11th], the cannonade again began, but on a different side. [88] I advised all to go out of the cellar for a little while, during which time I would have it cleaned, as otherwise we would all be sick.
They followed my suggestion, and I at once set many hands to work, which was in the highest degree necessary for the women and children being afraid to venture forth, had soiled the whole cellar. After they had all gone out and left me alone, I for the first time surveyed our place of refuge. It consisted of three beautiful cellars, splendidly arched. I proposed that the most dangerously wounded of the officers should be brought into one of them; that the women should remain in another; and that all the rest should stay in the third, which was nearest the entrance. I had just given the cellars a good sweeping, and had fumigated them by sprinkling vinegar on burning coals, and each one had found his place prepared for him-when a fresh and terrible cannonade threw us all once more into alarm. Many persons, who had no right to come in, threw themselves against the door. My children were already under the cellar steps, and we would all have been crushed, if God had not given me strength to place myself before the door, and with extended arms prevent all from coming in; otherwise every one of us would have been severely injured. Eleven cannon balls went through the house, and we could plainly hear them rolling over our heads. One poor soldier, [a British surgeon by the name of Jones], whose leg they were about to amputate, having been laid upon a table for this purpose, had the other leg taken off by another cannon ball, in the midst of the operation. His comrades all ran off, and when they again came back they found him in one corner of the room, where he had rolled in his anguish, scarcely breathing. I was more dead than alive, though not so much on account of our own danger, as for that which enveloped my husband, who, however, frequently sent to see how I was getting along, and to tell me that he was still safe.

"The wife of Major Harnage, a Madam Reynels, the wife [89] of the good lieutenant who the day previous had so kindly shared his broth with me, the wife of a commissary, and myself, were the only ladies who were with the army. We sat together bewailing our fate, when one came in, upon which they all began whispering, looking at the same time exceedingly sad. I noticed this, and also that they cast silent glances toward me. This awakened in my mind the dreadful thought that my husband had been killed. I shrieked aloud, but they assured me that this was not so, at the same time intimating to me by signs, that it was the lieutenant-the husband of our companion-who had met with misfortune. A moment after she was called out. Her husband was not yet dead, but a cannon ball had taken off his arm close to the shoulder. During the whole night we heard his moans, which resounded fearfully through the vaulted cellars. The poor man died toward morning. We spent the remainder of this night as the former ones. In the meantime my husband came to visit me, which lightened my anxiety and gave me fresh courage. On the following morning [the 12th], however, we got things better regulated. Major Harnage, his wife, and Mrs. Reynels made a little room in a corner, by hanging curtains from the ceiling. They wished to fix up for me another corner in the same manner, but I preferred to remain near the door, so that in case of fire I could rush out from the room. I had some straw brought in and laid my bed upon it, where I slept with my children-my maids sleeping not far from us. Directly opposite us three English officers were quartered-wounded it is true, but, nevertheless resolved not to be left behind in case of a retreat. One of these was Captain Green, aide-de-camp of General Phillips, a very valuable and agreeable man. All three assured me, upon their oaths, that in case of a hasty retreat, they would not leave me, but would each take one of my children upon his horse. For myself one of my husband's horses constantly stood saddled and in readiness. Often my husband wished to withdraw me from danger, by sending me to the Americans; but I remonstrated with him on the ground that to be with people whom I would be obliged to treat with courtesy, while perhaps, my husband was being killed by them, would be even yet more painful than all I was now suffering. He promised me, therefore, that I should henceforward follow the army. Nevertheless, I was often in the night filled with anxiety lest he should march away. At such times I have crept out of my cellar to reassure myself, and if I saw the troops lying around the fires, (for the nights were already cold), I would return and sleep quietly. On the third day, I found an opportunity for the first time to change my linen, as my companions had the courtesy to give up to me a little corner; the three wounded officers meanwhile standing guard not far off.

"Our cook saw to our meals, but we were in want of water; and in order to quench our thirst, I was often obliged to drink wine, and give it also to the children. The continued danger, in which my husband was encompassed, was a constant source of anxiety to me. I was the only one of all the women whose husband had not been killed or wounded, and I often said to myself-'shall I be the only fortunate one?'

"As the great scarcity of water continued, we at last found a soldier's wife who had the courage to bring water from the river, for no one else would undertake it, as the enemy shot at every man who approached the river. This woman, however, they never molested; and they told us afterward that they spared her on account of her sex.

"I endeavored to divert my mind from my troubles, by constantly busying myself with the wounded. I made them tea and coffee, and received in return a thousand benedictions. Often, also, I shared my noon day meal with them. One day a Canadian officer came into our cellar who could scarcely stand up. We at last got it out of him that he was almost dead with hunger. I considered myself very fortunate to have it in my power to offer him my mess. This gave him renewed strength, and gained for me his friendship. One of our greatest annoyances was the stench of the wounds when they began to suppurate.

"One day I undertook the care of Major Bloomfield, adjutant to General Phillips, through both of whose cheeks a small musket ball had passed, shattering his teeth and grazing his tongue. He could hold nothing whatever in his mouth. The matter from the wound almost choked him, and he was unable to take any other nourishment except a little broth, or something liquid. We had Rhine wine. I gave him a bottle of it, in hopes that the acidity of the wine would cleanse his wound. He kept some continually in his mouth; and that alone acted so beneficially that he became cured, and I again acquired one more friend.

"In this horrible situation we remained six days. Finally, they spoke of capitulating, as by temporizing for so long a time, our retreat had been cut off. A cessation of hostilities took place, and my husband, who was thoroughly worn out, was able for the first time in a long while to lie down upon a bed.

"On the 17th of October the capitulation was consummated. Now the good woman who had brought us water at the risk of her life, received the reward of her services. Everyone threw a handful of money into her apron, and she received altogether over twenty guineas. At such a moment the heart seems to be specially susceptible of gratitude."

[87] This was from Furnival's battery, north of the Battenkill.
[88] This was from Fellow's battery, opposite Schuylerville and south of the Battenkill. Furnival's battery had been ordered to Fort Edward.
[89] Seventy soldiers brought their wives with them also.

Brandow, John Henry. The story of old Saratoga and history of Schuylerville. Albany, N.Y. : Brandow Print. Co.
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