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Preston, made a brave resistance. Montgomery had not proper battering cannon; his mortars were defective; his artillerists unpractised, and the engineer ignorant of the first principles of his art. The siege went on slowly, until the arrival of an artillery company under Captain Lamb, expedited from Saratoga by General Schuyler. Lamb, who was an able officer, immediately bedded a thirteen-inch mortar, and commenced a fire of shot and shells upon the fort. The distance, however, was too great, and the positions of the batteries were ill chosen.
A flourishing letter was received by the general from Colonel Ethan Allen, giving hope of further reinforcement "I am now," writes he, " at the Parish of St. Ours, four leagues from Sorel to the south. I have two hundred and fifty Canadians under arms. As I march, they gather fast. You may rely on it, that I shall join you in about three days, with five hundred or more Canadian volunteers. I could raise one or two thousand in a week's time; but I will first visit the army with a less number, and, if necessary, go again recruiting. Those that used to be enemies to our cause, come cap in hand to me; and I swear by tie Lord, I can raise three times the number of our army in Canada, provided you continue the siege. * * * * The eyes of all America, nay, of Europe, are or will be on the economy of this army, and the consequences attending it."1
Allen was actually on his way towards St. Johns, when, between Longueil and La Prairie, he met Colonel Brown with his party of Americans and Canadians. A conversation took place between them. Brown assured him that the garrison at Montreal did not exceed thirty men, and might easily be surprised. Allen's partisan spirit was instantly excited. Here was a chance for another bold stroke equal to that at Ticonderoga. A plan was forthwith agreed upon. Allen was to return to Longueil, which is nearly opposite Montreal, and cross the St. Lawrence in canoes in the night, so as to land a little below the town. Brown, with two hundred men, was to cross above, and Montreal was to be attacked simultaneously at opposite points.
1 Am. Archives, Fourth Series, iii. 754.
All this was arranged and put in action without the consent or knowledge of General Montgomery; Allen was again the partisan leader, acting from individual impulse. His late letter also to General Montgomery would seem to have partaken of fanfaronade; for the whole force with which he undertook his part of this inconsiderate enterprise, was thirty Americans and eighty Canadians. With these he crossed the river on the night of the 24th of September, the few canoes found at Longueil having to pass to and fro repeatedly, before his petty force could be landed. Guards were stationed on the roads to prevent any one passing and giving the alarm in Montreal. Day dawned, but there was no signal of Major Brown having performed his part of the scheme. The enterprise seems to have been as ill concerted, as it was ill advised. The day advanced, but still no signal; it was evident Major Brown had not crossed. Allen would gladly have recrossed the river, but it was too late. An alarm had been given to the town, and he soon found himself encountered by about forty regular soldiers, and a hasty levy of Canadians and' Indians. A smart action ensued; most of Allen's Canadian recruits gave way and fled, a number of Americans were slain, and he at length surrendered to the British officer, Major Campbell, being promised honourable terms for himself and thirty-eight of his men, who remained with him, seven of whom were wounded. The prisoners were marched into the town and delivered over to General Prescott, the commandant. Their rough appearance, and rode equipments, were not likely to gain them favour in the eyes of the military tactician, who doubtless considered them as little better than a band of freebooters on a maraud. Their leader, albeit a colonel, must have seemed worthy of the band; for Allen was arrayed in rough frontier style; a deer-skin jacket, a vest and breeches of coarse serge, worsted stockings, stout shoes, and a red woollen cap.
We give Allen's own account of his reception by the British officer. "He asked me my name, which I told Wm. He then asked me whether I was that Colonel Allen who took Ticonderoga. I told him I was the very man. Then he shook his cane over my head, calling me many hard names, among which, he frequently used the word rebel, and put himself in a great rage."1
Ethan Allen, according to his own account, answered with becoming spirit. Indeed he gives somewhat of a melodramatic scene, which ended by his being sent on board of the "Gaspee " schooner of war, heavily ironed, to be transported to England for trial; Prescott giving him the parting assurance, sealed with an emphatic oath, that he would grace a halter at Tyburn.
Neither Allen's courage nor his rhetorical vein deserted him on this trying occasion. From his place of confinement, he indited the following epistle to the general :—
"Honourable Sir,—In the wheel of transitory events I find myself prisoner, and in irons. Probably your honour has certain reasons to me inconceivable, though I challenge an instance of this sort of economy of the Americans during the late war to any officers of the crown. On my part. I have to assure your honour, that when I had the command, and took Captain Delaplace and Lieutenant Fulton, with the garrison of Ticonderoga, I treated them with every mark of friendship and generosity, the evidence of which is notorious, even in Canada. I have only to add, that I expect an honourable and humane treatment, as an officer of my rank and merit should have, and subscribe myself your honour's most obedient servant,
In the British publication from which we cite the above, the following note is appended to the letter, probably on the authority of General Prescott: "N.B.—The author of the above letter is an outlaw, and a reward offered by the New York Assembly for apprehending him."*
The reckless dash at Montreal, was viewed with concern by the American commander. "I am apprehensive of disagreeable consequences arising from Mr. Allen's imprudence," writes General Schuyler. "I always dreaded his impatience of subordination, and it was not until after a solemn promise made me in the presence of several officers, that he would demean himself with propriety,
1 Am. Archives, iii. 800.
! Remembrancer, ii. 51.
that I would permit him to attend the army; nor would I have consented then, had not his solicitations been backed by several officers."
The conduct of Allen was also severely censured by Washington. "His misfortune," said he, "will, I hope, teach a lesson of prudence and subordination to others who may be ambitious to outshine their general officers, and, regardless of order and duty, rush into enterprises which have unfavourable effects on the public, and are destructive to themselves."
Partisan exploit had, in fact, inflated the vanity and bewildered the imagination of Allen, and unfitted him for regular warfare. Still his name will ever be a favourite one with his countrymen. Even his occasional rhodo- . montade will be tolerated with a good-humoured smile, backed as it was by deeds of daring courage; and among the hardy pioneers of our Eevolution whose untutored valour gave the first earnests of its triumphs, will be remembered, with honour, the rough Green Mountain partisan, who seized upon the "Keys of Champlain."
In the letters of Schuyler, which gave Washington accounts, from time to time, of the preceding events, were sad repinings at his own illness, and the multiplied annoyances which beset him. "The vexation of spirit under which I labour," writes he, " that a barbarous complication of disorders should prevent me from reaping those laurels for which I have unweariedly wrought since I was honoured with this command; the anxiety I have suffered since my arrival here (at Ticonderoga), lest the army should starve, occasioned by a scandalous want of subordination and inattention to my orders, in some of the officers that I left to command at the different posts; the vast variety of disagreeable and vexatious incidents that almost every hour arise in some department or other, not only retard my cure, but have put me considerably back for some days past. If Job had been a general in my situation, his memory had not been so famous for patience. But the glorious end we have in view, and which I have confident hope will be attained, will atone for all." Washwgton replied in that spirit of friendship which existed between them. "You do me justice in believing that I feel the utmost anxiety for your situation, that I sympathise with you in all your distresses, and shall most heartily share in the joy of your success. My anxiety extends itself to poor Arnold, whose fate depends upon the issue of your campaign. ***** The more I reflect upon the importance of your expedition, the greater is my concern, lest it should sink under insuperable difficulties. I look upon the interests and salvation of our bleeding country in a great degree as depending upon your success."
Shortly after writing the above, and while he was still full of solicitude about the fate of Arnold, he received a despatch from the latter, dated October 13th, from the great portage or carrying-place between the Kennebec and Dead River.
"Your Excellency," writes Arnold, " may possibly think we have been tardy in our march, as we have gained so little; but when you consider the badness and weight of the bateaux, and large quantities of provisions, &c., we have been obliged to force up against a very rapid stream, where you would have taken the men for amphibious animals, as they were a great part of the time under water: add to this the great fatigue in the portage, you will think I have pushed the men as fast as they could possibly bear."
The toils of the expedition up the Kennebec River had indeed been excessive. Part of the men of each division managed the boats—part marched along the banks. Those on board had to labour against swift currents; to unload at rapids; transport the cargoes, and sometimes the boats themselves, for some distance on their shoulders, and then to reload. They were days in making their way round stupendous cataracts; several times their boats were upset and filled with water, to the loss or damage of arms, ammunition, and provisions.
Those on land had to scramble over rocks and precipices; to struggle through swamps and fenny streams; or cut their way through tangled thickets, which reduced their clothes to rags. With all their efforts, their progress was but from four to ten miles a day. At night the men of each division encamped together.
By the time they arrived at the place whence the letter was written, fatigue, swamp fevers, and desertion had