On this day in 1777, Captain Christopher Marshall of the 10th Massachusetts Regiment wrote to his Wife, dated
“Albany, 21st October (1777)
“Our Regiment had the thanks of the Genll in Genll Orders for their ‘Spirited and Good Behaviour on the 19th September wherein it saved another Regt from falling into the hands of the Enemy or be Cutt off.”
According to two 19th century antiquarians, Marshall’s was sent out following the deployment of Learned’s Brigade. According to Charles Nielson, Marshall’s regiment was engaged on a rise of ground “west of the cottage,” with Learned’s Brigade.
A second author, William Stone, wrote that “Learneds & Marshall’s Regiments engaged toward the close of the battle of the 19th near Walker’s barn… situated a little east of the house, opposed by a Regiment of Grenadiers opposed to Marshall’s.” Both of these accounts suggest that the regiment was posted towards the interval between Hamilton’s center and Fraser’s right wing, by Freeman’s cabin and barn.
A more recent historian, John Elting, indicates that Marshalls’s regiment was likely deployd forward of the Bemis Heights works on the American Right, where they engaged elements of Riedesel’s command, “…Other patrols (apparently Indians, Canadians, and Loyalists) edged forward to feel out the American position. It may be one of these that touched off a brief noisy brawl when it followed a seldom-used bypath along the foot of the hills and got into the American entrenchments before being chased out – seemingly be Colonel Thomas Marshall’s 10th Massachusetts Regiment of Paterson’s brigade.”
Since most accounts of the battle place Riedesel in command of Brunswick troops, the determination that this patrol was under his command suggests that they were perhaps sent forward sometime shortly after the action resumed around three thirty in the afternoon, and that they moved towards the right of the line along the front of the American fortifications. This still leaves us with Christopher Marshall’s account to reconcile with the above evidence. When considered in light of the two nineteenth century accounts, it suggests that they moved up either to the right of Learned’s Brigade to relieve pressure by Acland’s grenadiers on Van Cortland’s 2nd New York, or to the left of Col. Brooks’ 8th Massachusetts, which was fighting a rear guard action against Breymann’s grenadiers and light troops. Shortly after Marshall’s regiment engaged the enemy, darkness fell and the action was soon broken off, with the Americans making an orderly retirement back to their camp. Since they came into the battle late in the day, the regiment’s casualties were fairly light, with at least two men killed and one wounded. Among the dead were Privates William Prebble of Thomas’ Company, and Richard Griffiths of Soper’s Company. Among the wounded was Elisha Munsell of Capt. Smith’s Company, a forty one year old shoemaker from Greenwich, Mass., who was shot through his left wrist. After being sent down to the General Hospital in Albany, he was transferred to Ephraim Minot’s Co. of the Corps of Invalids, where he performed various duties around Boston until he was discharged at the end of his enlistment.
Saratoga has been defined by the people who by choice or by chance participated in the Battles. It is the determination of our forefathers, including Colonel Marshall in surmounting overwhelming odds that help define the American spirit – the will and ability to shape a better future. It is the people it is that define this community by choice or by chance have changed this country and even the world political development. That is why studying the people of Saratoga is helpful in the understanding of the condition of being human.