Mrs Fitzerald

 

Nationality: unknown
Born: unknown
Maiden name: unknown
Husband: Adjutant George Tobias Fitzerald
Captured: Saratoga, New York, 17 October 1777
Released: unknown
Died: unknown

 

Mrs Fitzerald, the unnamed wife of the 62nd Regiment's adjutant, was one of six ladies who traveled with Lieutenant-General John Burgoyne's army from Canada during the Northern Campaign of 1777. Of the six, she was the one of the lowest social standing and because of it there is very little information on her. This is in keeping with the fact that her husband, Adjutant George Tobias Fitzerald, rose through the ranks of the soldiery and was not considered part of the gentleman class.

The only references to Mrs Fitzerald come indirectly from the memoir of Baroness Frederika Riedesel during the famed period of the pre-surrender siege of Saratoga in mid-October 1777. During this besiegement, the ladies and their children found refuge in the cellar of a home now known as the Marshall House.



The Marshall House



According to the Baroness (Baroness von Riedesel and the American Revolution, journal and correspondence of a tour of duty 1776-1783. Marvin Brown, trans. University of North Carolina Press: 1965):



Next morning [11 October] the cannonade [from the rebels] went on again…. Major Harnage's wife, Mrs. Reynell (who had already lost her husband), the wife of the good lieutenant [sic: Adjutant George Tobias Fitzerald] who had been so kind as to share his bouillon with me the previous day, the wife of the commissary, and myself were the only ladies with the army. We were just sitting together and bewailing our fate when someone entered [the house], whispered something to the others, and they all looked at each other sadly. I noticed this and that all eyes were upon me, although nobody said anything. This brought the horrible thought to my mind that my husband had been killed. I screamed; they assured me, however, that such was not the case but indicated with a nod that it was the poor lieutenant's [sic: adjutant's] wife to whom this misfortune had befallen. She was called outside a few moments later. Her husband was not yet dead, but a cannon ball had torn his arm away at the shoulder. We heard his moaning all through the night, doubly gruesome as the sound re-echoed through the cellar; the poor fellow died toward morning.



The Baroness also recalled that the wounded major of the 62nd Regiment (Henry Harnage), his wife Honour Harnage, and Anne Reynell, and her children “made a room for themselves in one corner [of the cellar] by partitioning it off with curtains.” Apparently, Mrs Fitzerald was not included in their ‘apartment' even though she was in the same regiment. The Baroness later remembered the “horrible smell in the cellar, [and] the weeping of the children,” adding that the “women and children, afraid to go outside, had polluted the entire cellar.” The Baroness made sure to have the cellar emptied by its inhabitants, so that it could be “swept thoroughly and fumigated with vinegar” because otherwise they “would all become sick.”

After the surrender, lady Harnage and lady Reynell remained together during their extensive period of captivity with the rebels. Sadly, there is no further reference to Mrs Fitzerald and what happened to her.

 

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