Burgoyne was optimistic enough to believe that he could control the Indi- ans under his command and at the same time use them as a psychological weapon against the Americans. In a foolish proclamation he enjoined the rebels to lay down their arms, declaring that "I have but to give stretch to the Indian Forces under my direction and they amount to Thousands, to overtake the hard- ened Enemies of Great Britain and America... wherever they may lurk". Should they fail to do so, he would use the Indians in "executing the vengeance of the state against the wilful outcasts", bringing down "devastation, famine and every concomitant horror". 16 At the same time, in a speech to the several hundred In- dians of Canada and the upper lakes who had been assembled for him, he made a number of inflammatory statements. Congratulating them for the restraint they had exercised to that point in the war, he unleashed them from the restrictions under which they had been placed:
It remains for me, the General of one of his Majesty's armies, and in this council his representative, to release you from those bands which your obedience imposed. Warriors, you are free. Go forth in the might of your valour and your cause. Strike at the common enemies of Great Britain and America. 17
It is true that he also urged upon them respect for persons not in arms and for- bade them to take scalps except from the dead, but the general effect of the speech was quite contrary.
The manner in which Burgoyne chose to make use of the Indians was a contributory factor in the disastrous outcome of his campaign. His propaganda backfired, helping to bring out the thousands of militia who united to oppose him. The Indians themselves committed a number of acts, including the famous murder of Jane McCrae, which afforded the American cause a most powerful propaganda weapon. In actual operations they proved disappointing, though some of the difficulties undoubtedly arose from the unfamiliarity of Burgoyne's regulars with Indian tactics. As Burgoyne's army made its fateful way towards Saratoga, his Indian complement gradually melted away. Well before this stage had been reached, however, Burgoyne himself had become completely disillu- sioned. He told Germain:
Your Lordship will have observed that in my publick I have made little mention of the Indians, nor indeed were they of any use in the pursuit. When plunder is in their way, which was the case at Ticonderoga, it is im- possible to drag them from it. I do all I can to keep up their terror but in many cases I find they are little more than a name. Under the management of their interpretors and conductors they are indulged, for interested rea- sons, in all the humours of spoiled children.... Were they left to them- selves, enormities too horrid to think of would ensue; guilty and innocent,