Paying Homage to General Fraser

By Bob Kieck, 6th Virginia Reg't

Most everyone is aware of Colonel Daniel Morgan's directing his riflemen to shoot General Fraser at the battle of Freeman's Farm (September 19, 1777). I ran across this follow-up in the book The Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution by Benson L. Lossing, -- "entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York."

The paragraph following the felling of General Fraser states: "Morgan has been censured for this order, by those who profess to understand the rules of war, as guilty of a highly dishonorable act; and others, who gloat over the horrid details of the slaying of thousands of humble rank-and-file men as deeds worthy of a hourt for glory, and drop no tear for the slaughtered ones, affect to shudder at such a cold-blooded murder of an officer upon the battle-field."

The following is a quote from the Baroness Reidesel, whose husband was Hessian General Reidesel, the second under British General Burgoyne. She was being sheltered in the house in which General Fraser died. "He was asked if he had any request to make, to which he replied that, if General Burgoyne would permit it, he should like to be buried at six o'clock in the evening, on the top of a mountain, in a redoubt which had been built there".

fraser funeral"After he was laid out, and his corpse wrapped up in a sheet, we came again into the room, and had this sorrowful sight before us the whole day; and, to add to the melancholy, scene, almost every moment some officer of my acquaintance was brought in wounded. The cannonade commenced again; a retreat was spoken of, but not the smallest motion was made toward it. About four o'clock in the afternoon I saw the house which had just been built for me in flames, and the enemy was now not far off. We knew that General Burgoyne would not refuse the last request of General Fraser, though, by his acceding to it, an unnecessary delay was occasioned, by which the inconvenience of the army was much increased. At six o'clock the corpse was brought out, and we saw all the generals attend it to the mountain. The chaplain, Mr. Brudenell, performed the funeral service, rendered unusually solemn and awful from its being accompanied by constant peals from the enemy's artillery. Many cannon-balls flew close by me, but I had my eyes directed toward the mountain where my husband was standing amid the fire of the enemy, and of course I could not think of my own danger."

It was just at sunset, on that calm October evening, that the corpse of General Fraser was carried up the hill to the place of burial within the "great redoubt." It was attended only by the members of his military family and Mr. Brudenell, the chaplain; yet the eyes of hundreds of both armies followed the solemn procession, while the Americans, ignorant of its true character, kept up a constant cannonade upon the redoubt. The chaplain, anawed by the danger to which he was exposed, as the cannon balls that struck the hill threw the loose soil over him, pronounced the impressive funeral service of the Church of England with an unfaltering voice. The growing darkness added solemnity to the scene. Suddenly the irregular firing ceased, and the solemn voice of a single cannon, of the hills. It was a minute-gun fired by the Americans in honor of the gallant dead. The moment information was given that the gathering at the redoubt was a funeral company, fulfilling, amid imminent perils, the last-breathed wishes of the noble Fraser, orders were issued to withhold the cannonade with balls, and to render military homage to the fallen brave.