Maine Historical Society.

Collections of the Maine Historical Society (Volume 1, ser.1) online

. (page 46 of 52)
Online LibraryMaine Historical SocietyCollections of the Maine Historical Society (Volume 1, ser.1) → online text (page 46 of 52)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


618 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

tokillliiin; but that ^Morgan or other otBcers interposed and
saved his life.

Nov. loth, at nine o'clock in the evening, the embarkation coui-
menced near the mill above Point Levi in thirty-five canoes, and
at four o'clock five hundred men, with their ladders, were landed
undiscovered at Wolfe's Cove. As one hundred and fifty men
were left behind from tlie state of the tide, and did not cross
under three or four days, the whole number of the troops appears
to have been six hundred and fifty. The canoes were obliged to
pass the river three times. One of these birch bark vessels broke
down in the middle of the river, and the men were picked up,
excepting poor Steele. Unluckily the canoe to which lie swam,
was full of men, so that he could not be received without sinking
it. In this dilemma he hung by the stern, and was dragged
through the chilling water to "Wolfe's cove.

Nov. 14. The little army found no difficulty in ascending the
precipice by nn oblique path ; they then sent a reconnoitering
party toward the city and marched across the plains of Abra-
ham, and found good quarters in a large house, formerly owned
by General ALurray, and in other houses adjacent. Had they
inarched immediately to the city, they probably would have
captured it with ease, for it was afterward ascertained, that
St. John's gate, opening toward the plains of Abraham, was
then unfastened and open. Soon after the landing, a barque
from the Lizard frigate, rowing by, was hailed and fired upon,
It was supposed that the men of this barge would have immedi-
ately apprised the commanding officer of the discovery, but they
did not. The critical moment was lost. In the morning guards
were placed on the different roads. About noon AEerchant, one
of Morgan's men, who had been placed as an advance sentry in
a thicket, was made prisoner by the enemy. The guard pursued
in vain, and Arnold marched the main body upon the heights
• near the city; but after receiving a few shot and giving three
huzzas, he marched back a mile or more to his quarters. This
was a very unnecessary and useless movement. In the after-
noon the enemy set fire to the suburbs and burned several
houses. At evening, Arnold sent a flag, demanding the surren-



ARNOLD'S EXPEDITION. 619

der of the city; but ^raclonn fired upon bini, thinking it prudont
to liave no coiniuiinlcation with tlie Aniericau commander. The
next day another ihig was sent and treated in the same manner.
On the 16th. a company was sent to take possession of the gen-
eral hospital, a nunnery on tlie low grounds near the river St.
Charles. • At the ferry across this river, Sergeant Dixon of the
rille corps was wounded by a cannon ball from a gun near Pal-
ace gate, three-quarters of a mile distant; so that amputation
was necessary, and he died the next day. lie was a respectable
man of good education, and of a good estate in West Hanover,
Lancaster county, now Dauphin county, Penus. Ho was the
first man who fell at Quebec.

News having been received of the stirrender of ^Eontre^d to
Montgomery, and a junction with him being necessary before
Quebec could be assaulted with the hope of success, on the 19th
November the array marched up the river about seven leagues,
to Point Aux Trembles. "While the army was lying here, Gov-
ernor Carleton passed down the river and safely reached
Quebec, — a circumstance extremely interesting and important
to the enemy. Montgomery arrived December 1, with three
armed schooners, with men, artillery, ammunition, provisions,
and clothing to the great joy of Arnold's troops, to whom, as
they were paraded in two battalions before tlie Catliolic chapel,
he made an energetic speech, praising them for their hardihood
and appearance. He immediately marched down to the neigh-
borhood of Quebec, and encamped at tlie suburbs, called
St. Foy.

In a few days tlie town was bombarded by throwing into it at
different times about two hundred shells; a battery- was erected
before St. John's gate ; and a few lives were lost on both sides.
December 24, Mr. Spring preached a sermon in the chapel of
the general hospital, an elegant room, richly decorated with
carvings and gilt work. Tlie troops were assembled in the eve-
ning of the 27th, in order to make an attack on the works of
Quebec, the ladders being ready; but it was found prudent to
postpone the assault until the weather should bo stormy. As it
snowed December 30lh, it was determined to make tlie attack,



520 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

and the troops were ordered to parade at two o'clock the next
morniug. '

December 31, 1775, being tlie hist day of the year, was mem-
orable for the attempt to take the city of Quebec by assault,
and the fall of Montgomery. The number of his army, as
stated in his letter of December 18th, was upwards of eight
hundred men. Gordon saj's, tliat the whole, including tlie sick,
did not exceed eight hundred men, and that only seven hundred
and thirty were fit for duty. But this is probably a mistake ;
for were this the whole array, as four hundred men were lost in
the attack, the remainder would not have been able to continue
the siege. I should judge, that this might be the amount of the
troops actually engaged in the attack of the lower town. In-
deed Gen. Dearborn states, that Arnold's troops were five hun-
dred strong, and Montgomery's six or seven hundred, including
Livingston's and Brown's. The garrison consisted of tv.o
hundred and thirty soldiers, forty marines, eight hundred militia,
and four hundred and fifty seamen, — in all one thousand five
hundred and twenty.

The plan determined upon, was to mak« two false attacks
upon the upper town, and at the same time, two real attacks
upon the lower town, which stretched at the foot of tbe preci-
pice along the St. Lawrence in a northerly and southerly direc-
tion, about three-quarters of a mile. On the south, the lower
town was to bo attacked by Montgomery, who was to descend
from the plains or heights of Abraham to the bank of the river,
and who would meet the first barrier or battery at the foot of
Cape Diamond. At the same time Arnold was to assault the
barriers at the northern .and western extremities of the lower
town, which he would approach from the suburbs of St. Roch
on the west, by passing by Palace gate at the foot of the preci-

» A few days before the attack, Capt. Dearborn rejoined the army, so as
to particiijate in it. He had been left in a hut on the Chaudiere, sixty
miles from Quebec, sick -with a nervous fever, the violence of which ■ivas so
great that during tea days his life was despaired of. Altliou^h .without
medicine, he gradually recovered, after being sick a month, and proceed' n 'J.
to Point Levi in a sleigh, crossed over to Wolfe's cove, and took the comunnd
of Jiis company.



ARNOLD'S EXPEDITION'. 521

pice, and proceeding easterly along the bay formed by St.
Charles river, as it joins the St. Lawrence, in a narrow way
between tlio precipice and tlie water or ice of the bay. After
overcoming one barrier he would turn the angle at the north-east
corner of the cit}-, and turning to his right was to meet Mont-
gomery, if he succeeded, in the center of tlie lower town. Some
houses were to be passed before he could reach the corner, but
the lower town wus chieiiy to the east on the St. Lawrence, and
not to the north on the St. Charles. In order to favor this
attack, the upper town was to be threatened by Col. Livingston,
with his regiment of one hundred and sixty Canadians, who was
to set fire if possible, to St. John's gate, and by Major Brown,
with a small detachment of Massachusetts' troops, who was to
assault the wall further to the south at Capo Diamond. Had
this project succeeded, it would have been ditBcult to storm tho
upper town, for it must have been approached either by ascend-
ing ^Mountain street, and overcoming the great obstacle, pre-
sented by Prescott gate ; or by an equally hopeless attack on
Palace gate on the opposite side ; or by St. John's gate, and the
high wall on the south and west. There could have been little
chance of success by force ; but after taking the lower town,
containing most of the houses and property, it was believed, with
the greatest reason, that the garrison, chiefly of citizens, w^ould
immediately propose to capitulate.

The troops, headed by Montgomery, assembled at his quarters
on the plains of Abraham at two o'clock, consisting of four b^^t-
talions of Xew York troops, and part of Col. Easton's regiment.
Arnold's troops assembled at the same hour at the guard house
at St. Roch, consisting of two battalions. At five o'clock they
moved to the attack in a violent storm of snow from the north-
east. Maj. Meigs says, that various obstacles prevented the exe-
cution of Col. Livingston's command; but as Carleton wrote to
Gen. How, that, " the alarm was general, from the side of the
river St. Lawrence, along the fortified front, every part seemed
equally threatened," it is probable, that Livingston and Brown
appeared before the fortified front, although the depth of tho
snow and the violence of the storm on ttie heights may have oc-
casioned some delay in their progress.
33



622 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

At tlie appointed iiionieut Monti,'omery (-lescernleLl from t!!' - "
heights of Abruham, by an ensy de.-cont, to the rivur S'luith <.f
Cape Diamond, and proceeded to attack the defences at \v!iat
was called Anse des Mercs, or tb.e Bay of ]\[otl!ers. a small bay
or harbor at the foot of Cape Diamond.

Mr. Henry represents, tliat there were two rows of pick^-ts,
(other accounts speak of but one.) or two stockades of stvon;/
posts, fifteen or twenty feet high, connected by a stout railing;
and that the first palisade was one hundred yards south of the
point or angle of Cape Diamond, extending from the declivity of
the hill to the river. Three or four of these posts were sawed
by the carpenters and an opening made, and the troops 'passed
without being discovered. On reaching the second palisade close
under Cape Diamond, the saw was employed with the same suc-
cess, and the general with his own hands assisted in pulling down
two or three pickets. About fifty yards in front of the advanc-
ing troops or within the stockade, was a block-hou-e in the mid-
dle of the small space, between the clitT and the river, leaving
only a narrow passage each side of it. This was a square log-
building, with loop-holes for musketry in the lower story, and
several port-holes in the upper story for cannon, chargt-d with
grape or ctmister shot, and pointed towards the avenue, by wh.cii
the troops must approach. The second row of pickets being
passed, the only obstacle remaining was the block-house. The
general at the head of his troops was now pressing on, saying to
them, "Push on, brave boys, Quebec is ours ; " — when a discharge
of the cannon and small arms at the guard-house, killed him and
his aid, Capt. McPherson, Capt.X'heeseman, an oi-derly sergeant,
and a private. This was a most disastrous event; but ha-i t!ie
troops pressed on they would instantly have taken the block-
house, for the lights were out, and it is said, the guard inimi-di-
atelyfled; or they miglit have passed it and entered the town,
and co-operated cfiectually witli Arnold's troops, fighting at the
other extremity of the street. Mr. Henry says, he was credibly
informed on the spot, that it was a drunken sailor, wiio dis-
charged the cannon, resolving, that lie would have one fire be-
fore he took to his heels.

Colonel Campbell, the deputy (piarter-master general, wlio sue-



Arnold's kxpedition. 523

ceedcl to the co:u;aaud, was destitute of the heroism and ontov-
])rise, ncL^essaiy for siioh ii crisis; instead of pushinLr on, he or-
dered a retreat, takinir the woui^led with liiiii to liis camp, but
Icavini^; his general and the dead on the ground, where they felK
In the morning t!ic enemy found their bodies coveruvl with snow,
that of the general two paces from the brink of the river,
McPherson on the right, and Cheeseman on the left.

Arnold made his attack from tlie suburbs of St. Eoch ; march-
ing at the liead, Capt. Oswald and thirty men followed liim as the
advanced guard, then Capt. Lamb with hi.s company of artillery,
having a field piece mounted on a sled, followed by the main
body, of wliich ^[organ's company was the first. It was neces-
sary to pass by I'alace gate, which is about half a mile from the
angle of the town, formed by the St. Charles and the St. Law-
rence, and the whole distance was at the foot of the hill and be-
neath the ramparts. On approaching Palace gate the cannon
began to phi}-, and all the bells of the city were ringing. The
I troops ran in single file, holding down their heads on account of

the storm, arid covering their guns with their coats ; and for
several hundred feet there were uisulated buildings, in the inter-
stices of wliich they received a fire of musketry from the ram-
parts above them, and some brave men fell. The snow being
deep, it was soon found necessary to abandon the field piece.
There being no path, and the way dark and intricate among
stores, houses, boats, and wharves, the main body was led wrong.
But the advanced party with Morgan's company, soon readied
the first barrier or battery, and commenced the attack. Hero
i Arnold was wounded in the leg by a musket ball, which shat-

I . tered the bone, and supported by ^Ir. Spring and Mr. Ogden

I returned to the general .hospital, the distance of upwards of a

I mile, urging the troops forward as he met them. The battery

I was west of the angle of the town, in a street called Saidt au

I ISIatelol, or Sailor's Leap, and not Saint des Matelots, as Marshall

I has it, so called from a high, overhanging rock ; and consisted

I of two twelve-pounders. Morgan's men rushed up to'the port-

4 holes or embrasures, and firing into them, and mounting tho

I barricade by ladders, soon carried the battery and made prison-

J ers of the captain and most of the guard of thirty m.'ii. Tho

1



oU4 MAINE niSTOT^ICAL SOCIETY.

enemy Imcl diseliarged only one of their cannon ; and only ono
or two men were lo^t on each side. Al'ter a delay at thi.s jxiint.
of half an hour, waitinij: f'Ji" the troops to come up, Col. Green
now in command, marehet.[ about daylight to the second barrier,
which was juj>t around the angle of the town. An lieroic attack
was made upon it, but in vain, for within there was a double row
of bayonets ready to destroy every one, who should throw him-
self by means of a ladder over the barrier, and the fire was warin
and fatal, not only from the port-holes, but also from the high
stone houses on each side of the street. There was also a can-
non on a height or platfoi-m twenty yards within the barrier and
overtopping it, which poured grape shot upon the assailants.
TJnder these circumstances, and the whole force of the enemy,
eince the fall of ^Montgomery, being now brought to this point,
it was found necessary for the troops to enter the nearest houses,
fi'orn which the attack was continued.

In the mean while Capt. Dearborn and his company, who had
been quartered on the north side of the river St. Charles, in en-
deavoring to join the main body, were captured by a party of
two hundred men, under Capt. Law, who made a sortie with
cannon from Palace gate. Some vrduable officers had now fallen,
and it was very obvious, that the barrier could not be carried. .
Lieut. Humphreys was killed in the street, as was also Lieut.
Cooper of Connecticut. Captain Hendricks, in a stone house, as
ho was aiming liis rifle, was shot through the heart. Capt. Lamb
had a part of his face shot away. Steele lost three of his lin-
gers. Despairing of success Morgan with Lieut. Heth returned
to the first barrier, and on consultation with Majors Bigelow ar.d
Meigs an immediate retreat was determined on. 13ut Heth, who
was sent to draw the troops from the houses, could induce only
a part of them to venture into the street, exposed as they must
be, until they turned the angle of the street, to the dreadful lire
of the battery. All the Lidians ami Canadians, excei)ting
Natanis and another, had made their escape across the ice of the
bay two miles. The retreat from the first barrier v.-ould ha\ e
been chiefly under the walls of the town, exposed to the lire "f
the enemy for a quarter of a mile ; besides the obstacle pr<.\-eiiii-'l
by Capt. Law and his party in front. In these circumstaa-''.^,



ARNOLD S EXPEDITION. o2o

after firing from luilf-nfter five o'clock, until ton o'cloelc, the troops
surrendered as prisoners of war, at about ten.

Arnold in one of his letters says, that about three hundred
were taken prisoners, and as near as he could judge about sixty
killed and wounded. Marshall says the loss was about four hun-
dred, of which three hundred and'forty were prisoners. Carletou
says the rebels lost .six or seven hundred men and forty or fifty
officers, while his loss was only one lieutenant and seventeen men.
Notwithstanding this loss of about four hundred men, it appears
from a letter of xVrnold, written a few days afterward, that there
remained under him an army of seven hundred men, which en-
abled^hirn to continue the blockade until he was reinforced.

Besides those already mentioned, Capt. Hubbard, Lieut. Tis-
dale, and Brigade Major Ogden, were also wounded. Of the
prisoners, the officers were confined in the Seminary, and the
soldiers in the Jesuit's college or Eecollets, and were treated by
Carleton with a humanity, very honorable to his character. In
one of his letters he says, that March 31st, 177G, he discovered
a plot of the prisoners to escape after seizing the guard at St.
John's gate, and let in Arnold. Of this plot, Mr. Henry, who
•was engaged in it, gives a minute account. The prisoners had
been removed to the Dauphin jail, an old French building about
three hundred yards from St. John's gate. Their ingenuity soon
supplied them w^ith arms ; for peeping through the key-hole of
the door of a small room at the stair-head, they perceived large
iron hoops. Of these, by forcing the door, a large number was
obtained, as well as a quantity of iron of difierent sliapes.
Rough, stout swords, with wooden handles, were madi", and
spear-heads were fashioned and affixed to splits of fir jilank,
about ten feet in length, which had formed the bottoms of the
lowest berths. The proposed method of escape was by remov-
ing the bars of their windows and by the cellar door, which
opened inwards, and the hinges and padlock of which were in-
side, and within their reach. Joseph Aston, of Lamb's com-
pany, afterwards a major, was chosen command<.'r-in-chief of the
prisoners, McKny and others were colonels, Boyd, Henry, and
others were majors, captains, &c. Getting into the street, one
party w-as to attack the guarddiouse near the jail, and another



526 MAINE lIISTOrJCAL SOCIETY.

party of one huiidretl cinl fifty men were to attock the 2:uar(l of
thirty or forty men at St. JohiTs ;^-ate ; the jail and bnildini,^s
near, were to be ?et on lire the same time by way of sii^Mial to
Arnold, who had been made aequainted witli the project by
!N[artin, a prisoner, who in a storm of snow, had clambered over
the wall of the prison and escaped the sentries, and threw him-
self from the wall of the city southerly of St. John's gate. If
the guard sliould bo overcome at St. Jcihirs gate, the cannon
-were to be turned upon the city. As some matches might be
nocessary in that event, and there would be occasion for powder,
it was procured in the following ingenious way. Some small
gun carriages were made, mounted with paper cannon, a few
inches in length. • Embrasures were cut with a knife in the front
board of the berths on opposite sides of the room ; and two
parties were fornied for the pigmy contest. The blaze and re-
port, as loud as small pistols, created much merriment. For this
sport many cartridges were obtained, m.ost of which were care-
fully laid aside for' other purposes. Some money was also ob-
tained, from charitable nuns, who visited the prison ; but obtained
in a method remarkable rather for ingenuity than fairness or
propriety, but it was thought, that all artifices were allowable,
especially, as life was to be hazarded for liberty. Once a nun
was seen approaching; when Doctor Gibson, who had studied
physic at Cornish, and who afterwards died a". Valley Forge,
in the winter of 177S, a young man of ruddy cheeks and with a
beautiful head of hair, was hurried into a bed, to play the part
of a man sick with a high fever. The nun being introduced,
crossed herself, whispered an Ave ;>[aria or Pater Xoster, and
poured the contents of her purse, twenty-four coppers, into the
ha -d of the patient. The money procured powder, and the
manner of obtaining it occasioned some merriment to cheer the
gloom of a prison.

Every thing being prepared and arranged by the council of
war, the moment of executing tlielong meditated plan v,-as fixed.
A spring of water in the cellar, which furnished the supply of
water to the prisoners, had accumulate:! a considerable ijiiantity
of ice at the foot of the door, whi<'h was to be the sally-p'-rt.
Immediately after the locking up, sixteen men with long kmvvs



Arnold's expedition. 527

were to descend into tlie cellar, and pare away the ice in a silent
manner. But it was not the will of Providence, that the perilous
attempt should be made. The scheme was exploded, as greater
schemes have been by thoughtlessness and imprudence. Two
young men without authority from the council, descended into
the cedar, and began to pick the ice, not with knives, but witli
hatchets. Tiiey were overheard by the sentry ; the guard was
immediately doubled ; and the well digested plan was defeated
in a moment. This happened, as appears by Carleton's letter,
March 31. The next morning an inquiry was made into the af-
f\vir, and nothing would have been discovered but the attempt in
the cellar, when as Major Murray was leaving the room, a pris-
oner, an Englishman who had deserted from the British at Bos-
ton and joined Arnold, rushed by him to escape the vengeance of
bis companions, saying to him, that " he had something to dis-
close." The traitor revealed the whole plan ; in consequence of
which, there soon arrived several cart-loads of irons, such as
bilboes, foot-hobbles, and hand-cufFs, and instead of finding them-
selves in the enjoyment of the sweets of liberty, the poor wretches
found therasclvea in chains. The bilboes were long bars of iron,
to which ten men were fastened by the feet. In a few days
many were able to extricate themselves from their irons by sav,-s
made from knives, and in other ways. They suffered miserably
from the scurvey, and from a diarrhoea, occasioned by the water.
It was not before the month of May, after the arrival of reinforce-
ments to the British and the retreat of the American army, that
the irons were struck off.

As Carleton was about to proceed up the St. Lawrence to
drive the Americans from Canada, his prisoners were sent homo
on parole in August, and were afterwards exchanged. The pa-
role, signed by Henry, was as follows : " We whose names are
hereunder written do solemnly promise and engage to his excel-
lency. General Carleton, not to say or do any thing against his
Majesty's pci'son or government; ami to repair wherever re-
quired so to do by his excellency, or any of his Majesty's com-
manders in chief in America doth please to direct; in testimony
of which we have hereunto set our h.ands ttiis day at Quebec,
August 7th, 177G." The prisoners were embarked uu board of



628 MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.

five transports, convoyed by the Pearl frig^ato; in the number of
them was Gen. AVlIh"am Thompson, who had been taken at Throe
Kivers. On the 11th of September the}' anchored near Govern-
or's island, New York. After being detained some time, tliey
^vere landed in boats at Elizabethtown point; it was ten or
eleven o'clock at night, the moon shining beautifully, when ^{or-
gan, standing in the bow of the bout as it approached the land,
sprang upon the shore, and throwing himself upon the ground
as if to embrace it, cried out, " Oh, my Country ! " Indeed they
•were all delirious with gladness, for the night was passed in sing-
ing, dancing, the Indian halloo, and every wild expression of
joy. Henry, with the late Col. Frcbecer, or Febigcr, and Gen.
Kichols, soon reached Philadelphia, and was restored to the
arms of his parents.

Major Meigs and Captain Dearborn had been permitted to



Online LibraryMaine Historical SocietyCollections of the Maine Historical Society (Volume 1, ser.1) → online text (page 46 of 52)