“[p. 14] in taking the work, I will commit to them the defence of it.” It is sufficient to say that this great trophy of the victory over General Burgoyne's army remained in the hands of the regiment all night, and the American troops were never afterwards dispossessed of it, for, after the battle General Burgoyne fell back, and about a fortnight afterwards surrendered his whole army to General Gates. It is somewhat remarkable that, at the dinner at General Gates's that day the chief point of discussion among the officers was, whether we should commence the attack, or receive General Burgoyne behind our breastwork at the lines should he attempt to advance. Arnold contended for the former, saying “ that the assailant had the advantage, for he can always take his own time and choose the point of attack, and if repulsed, he has only to retreat behind his own lines and form again.” General Gates said on the contrary, “If undisciplined militia were repulsed in the open field, and the enemy pressed upon them in their retreat, it would be difficult to form them again, even behind their own breastworks, for if they were under a panic they would keep on retreating, even after they had passed their own lines.” The opinion expressed by General Arnold in this discussion was probably the cause why Gates was afraid to trust him to go out when the firing was first heard, lest he should bring on an engagement in the open field, and contrary to his own opinion of its expediency.In reading Governor Brooks' story, as thus related by his auditor, we may well raise the query, ‘What would have been the effect had his regiment fallen back, as his superior officer wished?’ and admire his good judgment in remaining and holding the ground thus won. What wonder that in the hour of his honorable advancement (nearly forty years later), that the memory of that crucial time should have so visibly affected those two worthy men!
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