Abbildungen der Seite

clothing had not been treated as lawful spoil. "I would not have sullied my own reputation, nor disgraced the Continental arms by such a breach of capitulation for the universe," said Montgomery. Having sent his prisoners up Lake Champlain to Ticonderoga, he prepared to proceed immediately to Montreal; requesting General Schuyler to forward all the men he could possibly spare.

The Royal Highland Emigrants, who were to have cooperated with General Carleton, met with no better fortune than that commander. Maclean landed at the mouth of the Sorel, and added to his force by recruiting a number of Canadians in the neighbourhood, at the point of the bayonet. He was in full march for St. John's when he was encountered by Majors Brown and Livingston with their party, fresh from the capture of Chamblee, and reinforced by a number of Green Mountain Boys. These pressed him back to the mouth of the Sorel, where, hearing of' the repulse of Carleton, and being deserted by his Canadian recruits, he embarked the residue of his troops, and set off down the St. Lawrence to Quebec. The Americans^ now took post at the mouth of the Sorel, where they erected batteries so as to command the St. Lawrence, and prevent the descent of any armed vessels from Montreal.

Thus closed another chapter of the invasion of Canada. "Not a word of Arnold yet," said Montgomery, in his last despatch. "I have sent two expresses to him lately, one by an Indian who promised to return with expedition. The instant I have any news of him, I will acquaint yon by express."

We will anticipate his express, by giving the reader the purport of letters received by Washington direct from Arnold himself, bringing forward the collateral branch of this eventful enterprise.

The transportation of troops and effects across the carrying-place between the Kennebec and Dead Rivers, had been a work of severe toil and difficulty to Arnold and his men, but performed with admirable spirit. There were ponds and streams full of trout and salmon, which furnished them with fresh provisions. Launching their boats on the sluggish waters of the Dead River, they navigated it in divisions, as before, to the foot of snow-crowned

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

mountains; a part of the great granite chain which extends from south-west to north-east throughout our continent. Here, while Arnold and the first division were encamped to repose themselves, heavy rains set in, and they came near being swept away by sudden torrents from the mountains. Several of their boats were overturned, much of their provisions were lost, the sick list increased, and the good spirits which had hitherto sustained them began to give way. They were on scanty allowance, with a prospect of harder times, for there were still twelve or fifteen days of wilderness before them, where no supplies were to be had. A council of war was now held, in which it was determined to send back the sick and disabled, who were mere incumbrances. Arnold, accordingly, wrote to the commanders of the other divisions, to press on with as many of their men as they could furnish with provisions for fifteen days, and to send the rest back to a place on the route called Norridgewock. This order was misunderstood, or misinterpreted by Colonel Enos, who commanded the rear division; he gave all the provisions he could spare to Colonel Greene of the third division, retaining merely enough to supply his own corps of three hundred men on their way back to Norridgewock, whither he immediately returned.

Letters from Arnold and Enos apprised Washington of this grievous flaw in the enterprise. He regarded it, however, as usual, with a hopeful eye. "Notwithstanding this great defection," said he, "I do not despair of Colonel Arnold's success. He will have, in all probability, many more difficulties to encounter, than if he had been a fortnight sooner; as it is likely that Governor Carleton will, with what forces he can collect after the surrender of the rest of Canada, throw himself into Quebec, and there make his last effort."1

Washington was not mistaken in the confidence he had placed in the energy of Arnold. Though the latter found his petty force greatly reduced by the retrograde move of Enos and his party, and although snow and ice rendered his march still more bleak among the mountains, he kept

1 Washington to the President of Congress, Nov. 19lh.

on with unflinching spirit until he arrived at the ridge which divides the streams of New England and Canada. Here, at Lake Megantic, the source of the Chaudiere, he met an emissary whom he had sent in advance to ascertain the feelings of the habitans, or French yeomanry, in the fertile valley of that stream. His report being favourable, Arnold shared out among the different companies the scanty provisions which remained, directing them to make the best of their way for the Chaudiere settlements; while he, with a light foraging party, would push rapidly ahead, to procure and send back supplies.

He accordingly embarked with his little party in five bateaux and a birch canoe, and launched forth without a guide on the swift current of the Chaudiere. It was little better than a mountain torrent, full of rocks and rapids. Three of their boats were dashed to pieces, the cargoes lost, and the crews saved with difficulty. At one time, the whole party came near being precipitated over a cataract, where all might have perished: at length they reached Sertigan, the first French settlement, where they were cordially received. Here Arnold bought provisions, which he sent back by the Canadians and Indians to his troops. The latter were in a state of starvation. Some had not tasted food for eight-and-forty hours; others had cooked two dogs, followers of the camp; and others had boiled their moccasins, cartouch-boxes, and other articles of leather, in the hope of rendering them eatable.

Arnold halted for a short time in the hospitable valley of the Chaudiere, to give his troops repose, and distributed among the inhabitants the printed manifesto with which he had been furnished by Washington, Here he was joined by about forty Norridgewock Indians. On the 9th of November, the little army emerged from the woods at Point Levi, on the St. Lawrence, opposite to Quebec. A letter, written by an inhabitant of that place, speaks of their sudden apparition.

"There are about 500 Provincials arrived at Point Levi, opposite to the town, by the way of Chaudiere across the woods. Surely a miracle must have been wrought in their favour. It is an undertaking above the common race of men in this debauched age. They have travelled through

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

woods and togs, and over precipices, for the space of one hundred and twenty miles, attended with every inconvenience and difficulty, to be surmounted only by men of indefatigable zeal and industry."

Leaving Arnold in full sight of Quebec, which, after his long struggle through the wilderness, must have appeared like a land of promise, we turn to narrate the events of the upper expedition into Canada, of which the letters of Schuyler kept Washington faithfully informed.

Montgomery appeared before Montreal on the 12th of November. General Carleton had embarked with his little garrison, and several of the civil officers of the place, on board of a flotilla of ten or eleven small vessels, and made sail in the night, with a favourable breeze, carrying away with him the powder and other important stores. The town capitulated, of course; and Montgomery took quiet possession. His urbanity and kindness soon won the good will of the inhabitants, both English and French, and made the Canadians sensible that he really came to secure their rights, not to molest them. Intercepted letters acquainted him with Arnold's arrival in the neighbourhood of Quebec, and the great alarm of "the king's friends," who expected to be besieged: "which, with the blessing of God, they shall be," said Montgomery, "if the severe season holds off, and I can prevail on the troops to accompany me."

His great immediate object, was the capture of Carleton; which would form a triumphal close to the enterprise, and might decide the fate of Canada. The flotilla, in which the general was embarked, had made repeated attempts to escape down the St. Lawrence; but had as often been driven back by the batteries thrown up by the Americans at the mouth of the Sorel. It now lay anchored about fifteen miles above that river; and Montgomery prepared to attack it with bateaux and light artillery, so as to force it down upon the batteries.

Carleton saw his imminent peril. Disguising himself as a Canadian voyager, he set off on a dark night accompanied by six peasants, in a boat with muffled oars, which he assisted to pull; slipped quietly and silently past all the batteries and guard-boats, and effected his escape to Three Bivers, where he embarked in a vessel for Quebec. After his departure the flotilla surrendered, and all those who had taken refuge on board were made prisoners of war. Among them was General Prescott, late commander of Montreal.

Montgomery now placed garrisons in Montreal, St. Johns, and Chamblee, and made final preparations for descending the St. Lawrence, and co-operating with Arnold against Quebec. To his disappointment and deep chagrin, he found but a handful of his troops disposed to accompany him. Some pleaded ill health; the term of enlistment of many had expired, and they were bent on returning home; and others, who had no such excuses to make, became exceedingly turbulent, and indeed mutinous. Nothing but a sense of public duty, and gratitude to Congress for an unsought commission, had induced Montgomery to engage in the service: wearied_by the continual vexations which beset it, he avowed, in a letter to Schuyler, his determination to retire as soon as the intended expedition against Quebec was finished. "Will not your health permit you to reside at Montreal this winter?" writes he to Schuyler; "I must go home, if I walk by the side of the lake. I am weary of power, and totally want that patience and temper so requisite for such a command." Much of the insubordination of the troops he attributed to the want of tact and cultivation in their officers; who had been suddenly advanced from inferior stations and coarse employments. "An affair happened yesterday," writes he to Schuyler on the 24th of November, "which had very near sent me home. A number of officers presumed to remonstrate against the indulgence I had given some of the king's troops. Such an insult I could not bear, and immediately resigned. To-day they qualified it by such an apology, as put it in my power to resume the command." In the same spirit he writes: "I wish some method could be fallen upon for engaging gentlemen to serve. A point of honour and more knowledge of the world, to be found in that class of men, would greatly reform discipline, and render the troops much more tractable."

The troops which had given Montgomery so much an

« ZurückWeiter »