Tilden, Ezra (1751-1819) [Diary of Ezra Tilden]
High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.
Provides a detailed day by day account of Tilden's march through New York during the Revolutionary War. Writes extensively about daily duties, poor rations, hunger, hardships along the march, sickness and death amongst the soldiers, and the demoralized spirit of the men. Possibly writes something about the cruelty of the officers in code on p. 34 by mixing the letters of the words. Includes lists of towns he passed through (p. 12, 49, 107, 141), an item by item list of contents of his pack (p. 9), a list of the monthly wages for each military rank (p. 54), rations for each soldier (p. 55), and the lyrics to a Revolutionary song sung to the tune of "The Black Sloven" (p. 56). Talks at length about an illness he suffered in mid September 1776 (starts p. 62). Prays to get well and survive the war to see his family again. Includes extracts from letters to and from Tilden discussing the War. Describes a battle and its aftermath at Stillwater, New York (commonly called the Second Battle of Saratoga) 7 October 1777 where the American troops won a victory over British General John Burgoyne. Many entries written from camp at Ticonderoga. Tilden was a Continental soldier from Stoughton, Massachusetts.
[20 July 1776:] ... I enlisted into ye Service of my Country... to go & Campaign, to Canada; or,
Crown Point, or, wherever ye Soldiers are to go...
[05 August 1776:] An Account of some things"I carried into the Army in my Pack: A woolen Shirt with a snuffbottle full of ground coffee in it, and one and a half of chocolate in it too, wrapt up in a piece of brown paper and a new cotton and linen shirt and a new milk cheese wrapt up in it which weighed five pounds, a pair of white stockings, a pair of blue stockings', a bag of plumbs, a bag with three pounds" and half of sugar in it, a pair of boots, a cap, a powder horn, four sheets o/paper wrapt up in a piece of brown paper and four quills" in it, a brown paper with two pieces of soap in it, one great pin, four small ones, one brown thread needle, and one worsted darning needle, one ball of white yarn, one ball of blue yarn, some strings, some thread, some sealing wax, a snuffbox Jull of snuff a pewter bason, a wooden plate, a spoon, a fork, a Jack-kniJb, a pen-knife, a pair of knee buckles, a pocket book and case to it, a small toothed comb, a pocket looking glass, an under-jacket, a short coat, a great coat, a pair of grey stockings, two pair
Page4 of 44
shoes, a striped shirt, a pair of long trowsers, a hat, two handkerchiefs', a pair of shoe buckles, a pair of garters, a pack to carry my things in, some bread, a pair of arm strings, a pair of leather breeches, a pair of cloth breeches, a leather strap, a cod line, a frock, some tow.
[13 August 1776:] After arrival at Fort Ticonderoga: But what dishearteneded & discouraged me most of all.., was to See so many Poor Soldiers, a going home, y. look 'd like Death almost, Like walking Ghosts, or Skelitons: - yr. had been to Quebec: &c. some had been taken by). indians, &. abus 'd & almost kill 'd, & they had had y e. Small-Pox, & some had lost their Eyes, 1 or both of ym....
[1 September 1776:] ...if Ever I knew what it was to be pinch 'd for victuals, it is)/. Campaign...1 do not see ye. need of keeping so many men here, to suffer for want of provision.., nothing but bread & meat and not enough of either...ye. Old Continental troops, station 'd over ye. other side of ye. lake, from us, on Mount Independent or independence... [many men are dying there] very, veryJctst [of smallpox, consumption, etc.]...
[12-13? October 1776:] Discusses news of a battle in which the American fleet was burned, an apparent reference to the 7-hour Battle of Lake Champlain at Valcour Bay, October 11-13, 1776.
[Benedict Arnold was forced to burn his fleet to keep it from falling into British hands; he and his men then retreated to Fort Ticonderoga.]
[7-9 October 1777:] Tilden was in earshot of the Battle of Saratoga, on advance guard about Â¾ of a mile away....a very Severe & obstinate Engagement Between our Army at Still-water, & ye Enemy y t Lay there.., ye Battle continu 'd, without 1 moment's cessationJbr 87. or 88. minutes." & a continual Classing [clashing?] and Cracking there was.., a great many there was slain... Genl. Arnold's horse was shot down dead under him."& he himself was wounded in ye leg; tho ' some say y. he had his leg Broke .... Genl Lincoln had his leg y t. d. shot oJf by a cannon ball, as 1 heard... [Note: Benjamin Lincoln was severely wounded in the ankle, but did not lose his leg.]
Describes seeing, the next day, Arnold's dead horse and several "dead & naked" men near
Gates's headquarters, ... a good many both of our men, & y_ Enemy, Lye ded [sic]... others, very badly Wounded, just a dying & Ev 'ry thing... Some shot almost thro ,ye Body & Crying to God, to jesus, &c. to take away their lives. Poor Miserable Creatures Indeed.
[15 October 1777:] Genl Burgoyne gave up [at the Battle of Saratoga:] Resign 'd himself &Whole Army, As Prisoners of War to Genl Gates, So l heard... [After signing the articles of capitulation] Burgoyne is to come out with all his"whole army, tomorrow, 10 oclock A.M, so I have just heard.
[17 October 1777:] Describes reports that Burgoyne and his army have come out and laid down their arms. Some go to watch, but Tilden has guard duty. [This was the day of Burgoyne's formal surrender.]
[18? October 1777:] Relates seeing Burgoyne and his defeated army marching out. Such a thing was never heard off Such a Fight Was Never Seen, I believe, before, in new England, or America. So many men giving up to us. Exult, oh Americans; & Rejoice...
[21 November 1777:] Says they received a report that regulars had burned Tarrytown (Terrytown"), New York. They marched out, but saw no enemy, only Tories that had been burning houses ...Belonging to Liberty People: & took some Liberty people, Prisoners...
A New Song. To The Tune of the Black. Sloven.
Page5 of 44
In Seventeen hundred and Seventy Six
On March the Eleventh the time was Prefix 'd."Fa La &c.
Our forces march 'd on to Dorchester Neck,
Made Fortifications against an Attack ....
Moreover as Providence orders it then,
Our drums beat alarms, our bell it did ring:
Which makes them cry out, O! the Yankees will Come;
0 horror! they'll have us; Come, Let us be Gone ....
Let them go, let them go, for what they will fetch,
I think their Great howe, is a miserable Wretch."
And, as for his men, they are fools for their pains;
So Let them Return to old-England, again. -
The copyright law of the United States (title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specific conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be “used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research.” If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of “fair use,” that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.