Robert Tomes.

Battles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) online

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fines, the pillory, the wooden horse, whip
ping, and drumming out of camp, to in
culcate among his independent militia
lessons of respect and subordination. The
chiefs military eye was greatly offended
at the ragged and miscellaneously-assort
ed dresses of his men. One of his first
efforts was to get a supply of ten thou
sand hunting-shirts, to clothe the naked
ness and to give some uniformity of ap
pearance to the troops.

There was a meagerness of supply, in
another respect, more serious than any
scantiness of clothing. The American
army was short of powder. Washington
found his " situation in the article of pow
der much more alarming than he had the
most distant idea of." "We reckoned
upon three hundred quarter-casks," wrote
his secretary, Reed, " and had but thirty-
two barrels." The scarcity, in fact, had
become so great, that an order was issued,
forbidding any one to waste it in shoot
ing birds, or in any kind of sport. This
deficiency became very alarming, as the
enemy seemed to threaten an attack, and



[PART 11

were daily keeping up a brisk cannonade
at the American lines, though fortunate
ly with but little effect, except when the
imprudence of the raw militia exposed
them to danger. "Two were killed,"
writes Reed, " at the lines last week, by
running after cannon-shot. We scarcely
lie down or rise up, but with the expec
tation that the night or the day must
produce some important event." The
want of ammunition was not only alarm-
ing,but exceedingly vexatious,as it forced
Washing-ton to " bear with the rascals on


Bunker s hill, when a few shot, now and
then, in return, would keep the men at
tentive to their business, and give the
enemy alarms."

Nor were these the only wants which
Washington required to be supplied. He
was in need of money, being much em
barrassed, as he wrote to the president
of Congress, for want of a military chest.
He also solicited the appointment of a
commissary-general,a quartermaster-gen
eral, a commissary of musters, and a com
missary of artillery. With all these dis
advantages of want of discipline, want of
ammunition, and want of the means of
organization, the American troops were
not distrustful of their powers to cope
with the enemy, and, in frequent skir
mishes with the British, showed no lack
of spirit, but often " played the man and
beat them."


Rumors of a Sortie of the British from Boston. Gage discouraged. The III Condition of the British Force. The Suf
ferings of the Patriots at Boston. Forced Gaycty of the Tories. The American Prisoners. 111 Treatment. Sharp
Correspondence hetween Washington and Gage. Long Inaction. A Bombardment. Arrival of Ammunition. Ex
pedition to Canada determined upon.


RUMORS now began to circulate

in the American camp, of an in
tended sally of the British from Boston.
Gage, however, was not much in the hu
mor for active operations against the be
siegers. Although reinforced by some
troops originally intended for New York,
he began to think, and so wrote to
the government at home, that his
position was the most disadvantageous
possible for action. He now felt himself
to be on the defensive, and talked of what
he would do in case " the rebels presumed \


to make an attack." The troops suffered
severely from their fatiguing duties, being
kept constantly on the alert by the " au
dacity" of the provincials, who were con
tinually advancing near to the British
lines ever since the " arrival of Generals
Washington and Lee to command them."
The men, unaccustomed to an American
climate, suffered greatly from the heat,
to which they were much exposed in
their encampments. Their food, too, was
so scanty, that even the sick and wounded
had often nothing to eat but " salt pork




and fish." Strong drink, however, they
had in abundance, from which it was im
possible to keep the soldiers, for a six
pence would buy a quart of West-India
and fourpence the same quantity of New-
England rum. With the excessive thirst
engendered by the heat of the summer
sun, and by their hard work, the men
freely indulged in the liquor which was
so cheaply obtained, and destroyed their
vigor and health. Fevers and dysentery
prevailed in the camp, attributed to " the
fatigue of duty, bad accommodation, and
the use of too much spirits." An occa
sional supply of fresh provisions would
be obtained by a lucky capture, by the
British men-of-war, of some stray coaster,
when the bells of Boston were rung, as
if in honor of a triumph, so greatly over
joyed were the half-starved soldiers at
the prospect of a mess of fresh beef or
mutton :

" Britons, with grief your bosoms strike ;

Your faded laurels loudly weep ;
Behold your heroes, Quixote-like,
Driving a timid flock of sheep !"

Thus, with less heart than truth, sneered
a whiff, ffish waff of London, on the an-


nouncement that General Gage had suc
ceeded in capturing " eighteen hundred
sheep and above some one hundred head
of oxen, which will be some relief to the
troops in general, and of great benefit to
the hospitals."

The few patriots left in Boston were
subjected to all kinds of annoyances and
injury. Now one was clapped into the
guardhouse, for seditious conversation ;
again, another was thrown into prison on
suspicion of being a spy, and signalling

the enemy from the church-steeple ; and
all were daily exposed to insult from the
soldiers and wrong from the authorities.
It was not until food became scarce, that
Gage would allow the patriots to leave
the city, and thus escape his persecutions.
Even then they were not permitted to
carry away with them their valuables or
any money, beyond a few pounds each.
Many, however, succeeded in eluding the
vigilance of the guards ; and women were
known to have carried out their silver
spoons, sewed in the lining of their petr

The tory citizens suffered, in common
with all, from the scant supply of the
luxuries and even the necessities of life,
but kept up their hearts with the confi
dent hope that a better time was soon
corning, and, as one wrote, that " Boston
will be this winter the emporium of Amer
ica for plenty and pleasure." These loy
al folks rather pitied the patriots, and in
their letters to those of their friends en
gaged in the American cause, " heartily
wished" they were as safe as they them
selves were. They kept up a forced gay-
ety within the besieged town, by an oc
casional concert and farce, at the play
house in Faneuil hall, during the week ;
and managed on Sundays to form a " gen
teel audience" to listen to the " excellent
discourse" of the tory parson, who had
" received a call to the elegant new
church" vacated by the flight of its pa
triotic rector.

There were certain sufferers within the
besieged city, whose position awakened
especially the sympathy of the patriots :
these were the prisoners who had been




taken at Bunker s hill. Washington, hav
ing learned that they were treated with
severity, and that, no distinction being
made between officers and soldiers, both
were thrown into a common jail, deter
mined to write to the British general,
and demand redress. His letter was calm
and dignified.

The British general sent an answer,
which was unnecessarily irritating and
impolitic. Gage must have recalled the
old times when he and Washington were
comrades in Braddock s campaign ; and,
although the lapse of twenty years had
brought the great change which placed
them in antagonism as enemies, nothing
had ever occurred to ruffle the relations
which the two bore to each other as gen
tlemen. Gage might therefore have for
borne the use of those expressions of con
tumely in which he indulged.

Washington rejoined in severe but well-
merited terms, and, true to his word, treat
ed his British prisoners as Gage had treat
ed the Americans. He ordered those who
had enjoyed comparative liberty at Wa-
tertown and Cape Ann, to be thrust into
jail at Northampton. His humanity, how
ever, soon revolted at this severity, and
in a few days he countermanded those
orders. The correspondence with Gage
here closed for ever, as Washington had
thought probable.

It was now two months since the arri
val of Washington ; and, although he had
been active in strengthening his defences
and in organizing the army with such
a success, that he flattered himself that
in a little time he should work up the
" raw materials into a ocood manufacture"

yet little had been done in the way
of active hostility. The British were so
hemmed in, and so depressed, that they
showed even less than the Americans any
disposition toward beginning an attack.
A battery, however, which in the course

of a night had risen under the

i f +u A Aug. 26,

busy hands 01 a thousand patri
ots, on the top of Ploughed hill, excited
the enemy to action, and they began a
brisk cannonade from Bunker s hill upon
the new American works. At one time
the British were seen to move, and it was
thought that they were preparing for an
attack. Washington, accordingly, with
hopes of an engagement, sent down five
thousand men on the Charlestown road
to meet the enemy, and be prepared to
give battle. The British, however, did
not come out; and, as a contemporary
chronicler records, " the most awful si
lence was observed on both sides." The
next day the bombardment was resumed,
which the Americans, careful of their am
munition, did not return, except by firing
a single pounde^ with which they suc
ceeded in sinking a floating battery.

The American camp was greatly en
couraged by the timely arrival of a sup
ply of ammunition from Rhode Island.
It was said to have been got from the
various British posts on the coast of Af
rica, by means of the New-England coast
ers, which went laden with native rum,
and brought back a " fiery commodity of
a different quality." So successful was
this venture, that every garrison visited
on the African coast was supposed to have
given up its last ounce of powder, in ex
change for the highly-marketable Yankee




liquor. The British, however, still kept
within Boston, and would give Washing
ton no opportunity to use with effect his
fresh supply of ammunition. But while

thus condemned to a forced inactivity at Canada.

Sept, 12,

Cambridge, he found an occasion

for the employment of a portion

of his troops in active service. He had

resolved upon sending an expedition to


Allen and Arnold disputing for the Command at Ticonderoga. Arnold called to Account by the Massachusetts Legisla
ture. Throws up his Commission in High Dudgeon. Returns to Cambridge. Is pacified by the Prospect of a Com
mand in the Expedition to Canada. Appointed to co-operate with Schuyler. Daniel Morgan and his Rifle-Corps.
Arnold sets out for Canada. Schuyler sets out also. Illness of Schuyler. Montgomery succeeds to the Command.
- -His Life and Character. Siege of St. Johns. Allen succeeded in Command of the Green-Mountain Boys by Seth
Warner. Allen goes on an Expedition on his own Account. Is defeated and taken Prisoner. Sir Guy Carleton de
feated. St. Johns surrendered.

WITH the successes of Ethan Al
len and Benedict Arnold at Ticon-
deroga and Crown Point, there began a
strife between these adventurous leaders
for the command of the forts, which was,
as has been already related, temporarily
decided by the Connecticut committee,
which had accompanied the expedition,
in favor of Allen. He therefore remained
with his " Green-mountain boys," as com
mandant of Ticonderoga and its depen
dencies. Arnold was forced to yield, but
did it with an ill grace, while still declar
ing that his rights had been usurped.
" Colonel Allen," he wrote, in a statement
of his grievances sent to the Massachu
setts committee of safety, " is a proper
man to head his own wild people, but en
tirely unacquainted with military affairs ;
and, as I am the only person w r ho has
been legally authorized to take posses
sion of this place, I am determined to in
sist upon iny right." Allen and his friends

of course had their own views upon the
subject, and took care to make them
known to the authorities.

In the meantime, the restless Arnold
found w r ork for his busy activities. Hav
ing armed the sloop, schooner, and the
batteaux he had captured at Skenesbor-
ough and St. Johns, he appointed his cap
tains, and hoisted his flag as the self-con
stituted admiral of this Lilliputian squad
ron. Crown Point was his naval station ;
and when he heard rumors of the ap
proach of a British force of four hundred
from Montreal, he valiantly resolved with
his armed vessels and his hundred and
fifty men to defend his post, and remain
master of the waters of Lake Champlain,
upon which his adventurous flag floated
so defiantly.

Arnold was enabled to gather valuable
information of the proceedings of the Brit
ish in Canada. He had, during former
trading-enterprises, made acquaintances



[PART n.

in both Montreal and Quebec, with whom
he now, by means of a trusty messenger,
held confidential communication. The
result Arnold reported to the continental
Congress. In his statement he said that
there were certain persons in Montreal
who had agreed to open the gates to an
American force ; and that General Guy
Carleton,the Canadian governor, had only
five hundred and fifty effective men, scat
tered at different posts, to oppose an at
tack. He, moreover, expressed his belief
that a successful expedition against all
Canada could be undertaken with two
thousand men ; and, offering to lead it,
pledged himself for its success.

Arnold was waiting impatiently at
Crown Point for an answer to his propo
sition laid before the Congress, when he
was disagreeably surprised and his ardent
hopes dashed by the arrival of a " com
mittee of three" from the Massachusetts
legislature, empowered to make certain
inquiries in regard to his " spirit, capaci
ty, and conduct." The impetuous Arnold
could not brook any interference, and he
was greatly indignant when the commitr
tee laid their instructions before him.
There were no charges specified ; and,
without them, he declared, and with seem
ing justice, that an inquiry into his " con
duct" was against all law and precedent.
As for the investigation into his " capa
city and spirit," this he in a great rage
denounced as an insult. As for the ac
count of expenses which was required of
him, all he had to say w r as, that he had
already paid a hundred pounds out of his
own pocket, and had incurred debts in
behalf of his forces which must be paid,

or he himself would be personally dishon
ored. Connecticut, to which province
Massachusetts had left the decision of the
question between Arnold and Allen, had
settled it by the appointment of Colonel
Hinman as commandant of the forts on
Lake Champlain. This so enraged Ar
nold, that he swore he never would sub
mit to the degradation of being super
seded by a junior officer. Full of wrath
and disappointment, he resolved upon
throwing up his commission, and wrote
a letter of resignation. His men were
discharged by Arnold, and, as they were
unpaid, they became as unruly and resist
ant as their discontented leader. They
were, however, soon pacified by the lib.
eral promises of the committee, and most
of the soldiers were induced to re-enlist.
Arnold himself hurried back to the army
at Cambridge, where he continued vio
lent in his complaints of wrong, and rest
lessly discontented, until Washington
conscious of the daring and capacity of
the man found in the proposed expedi
tion against Canada a suitable scope for
the exercise of that turbulent spirit which
seemed only calm in difficulty and dan

Congress was naturally distrustful of
the propositions which it had received
from such men as Allen and Arnold.
When the former was writing in such a
" Bombastes" vein of what he could and
would do ; and when the plans of the lat-
ter, however rational they might seem,
came from one whose conduct was a sub
ject at least of question, it was right that
no hasty act of legislative concurrence
should commit the Congress to plans com-




ing from such apparently doubtful sources.
Both Arnold s and Allen s letters were
characteristic of the men. Those of the
former were arrogant and self-seeking,
and those of the latter exaggerated and
incoherent. Allen writes to the provin
cial Congress of New York:

" I wish to God America would, at this
critical juncture, exert herself agreeably
to the indignity offered her by a tyran
nical ministry. She might rise on eagles
wings and mount up to glory, freedom,
and immortal honor, if she did but know
and exert her strength. Fame is now
hovering over her head. A vast conti
nent must now sink to slavery, poverty,
horror, and bondage, or rise to unconquer
able freedom, immense wealth, inexpres
sible felicity, and immortal fame.

" I will lay my life on it, that, with fif
teen hundred men and a proper train of
artilleiy. I will take Montreal. Provided
I could be thus furnished, and if an army
could command the field, it would be no
insuperable difficulty to take Quebec."

Arnold, after stating the plan he pro
posed, which we have alreadv mentioned,
writes to the continental Congress at Phil

" I beg leave to add that, if no person
appears who will undertake to carry the
plan into execution, I will undertake, and
with the smiles of Heaven answer for the
success, provided I am supplied with men,
to carry it into execution without loss of

"In order to give satisfaction to the
different colonies, I propose that Colonel
Hinman s regiment, now on their march
from Connecticut to Ticonderoga, should

form part of the army say one thousand
men five hundred men to be sent from
New York, five hundred of General Ar
nold s regiment,including the seamen and
marines on board the vessels (no Green-
mountain boys)."

The " no G-reen-mountain boys" in the pa
renthesis, was a vindictive thrust at Allen,
whom Arnold hated as a rival, and feared,
from his adventurous spirit and his pop
ularity among the wild settlers of the
"New-Hampshire grants," as a competi
tor in his own line of daring enterprise.
The services of both Allen and Arnold,
however, were too valuable to be disre
garded ; and both, as we shall see, were
to be again availed of.

Schuyler, of New York, who had been
appointed one of the major-generals of
the army, was, after some hesitation and
delay, directed by the continental Con
gress to attempt, by the way of
the forts on Lake Cham plain, an
invasion of Canada. The time was now
supposed to be favorable, as the governor,
Guy Carleton, was strengthening the Ca
nadian fortifications, and awaiting rein
forcements, to retake Ticonderoga and
Crown Point. It was believed that the
French-Canadians, averse to British do
minion, were ready to w r elcome any pros
pect of deliverance from their English
masters, and that they would be ready to
enroll themselves under the banner of
the first continental force that should pre
sent itself. Schuyler was accordingly
urged to advance as rapidly as possible
into Canada, that he might avail himself
of the present favorable disposition of the
people, and anticipate the preparations

June 17.


for defence which had been made by the
British authorities.

Washington saw Arnold often at head
quarters, and was so struck with the un
daunted spirit of the man, and his evident
familiarity with the ground and position
of affairs in Canada, that he did not hesi
tate to confide to him the command of
the force he had resolved upon sending,
to co-operate with Schuyler. Eleven hun
dred men were detached for this service.
They were for the most part picked New-
England troops, to which were added
three companies of riflemen from Penn
sylvania and Virginia. At the head of
this rifle-corps was Captain DANIEL MOR
GAN, who, on his arrival in the camp with
his band of sharpshooters a few weeks
before, had greatly excited the curiosity
of the whole army. Morgan himself was
a remarkable man in appearance, with
his great, stalwart frame ; and his follow
ers were no less conspicuous for their
size and strength. Many of them were
gaunt Irishmen, and their leathern hunts
men s dress added to their wildness of
aspect. Each wore upon his breast the
motto "Liberty or death!" and, what
with their fierce look and unrestrained
manners, Daniel Morgan and his men
were regarded by the prim New-England-
ers very much as if they were so many
savages. The camp was not averse to
their departure, as, apart from their some
what rude bearing, the fact of so many
of them being Irishmen was no recom
mendation in those early days to popular

Arnold, having been appointed colonel
by Washington, set out, on the 13th of



September, with his eleven hun
dred men, for Canada. The expe
dition was one full of danger and diffi
culty, and was thus peculiarly attractive
to its bold and adventurous leader, as it
was to other youthful and ardent spirits,
who fretted impatiently against the inac
tivity of the camp at Cambridge. Aaron
Burr, then only twenty years of age, was
at that time serving in a New r -Jersey regi
ment, but, when he heard of Arnold s ex
pedition, offered himself as a volunteer,
and was accepted, much to the satisfac
tion of his martial longings. The chief
officers under Arnold as the colonel, were
LieutenantrColonel Christopher Greene,
Lieutenant-Colonel Roger Enos, and Ma
jors Bigelow and Meigs.

The route to be taken by the expedi
tion was by the Kennebec river, through
a wilderness, to Canada, and was known
only through the reports of some rare
traveller or the vague accounts of the
Indians. Two explorers were sent in
advance, to make their way secretly to
Quebec, and to return to Arnold on his
march with what information they could
obtain. Washington had made every
possible provision for the success of the
enterprise. Transports were provided at
Newburyport, and carpenters sent from
Cambridge to construct two hundred bat-
teaux on the banks of the Kennebec for
the conveyance of the troops up that riv
er. Arnold marched to Newburyport,
and thence, after taking care to send out
several small boats, to look if the coast
was clear of British cruisers, embarked
his force in the eleven vessels which had
been provided, and sailed on the 19th of




September for the mouth of the Kenne-
bec river.

General Schuyler had in the mean
while, in accordance with the orders of
Congress, left New York for the north,
reaching Ticonderoga on the 18th of Ju
ly, where he was long delayed in fortify
ing that post. Having placed the fort
under the command of General Richard
Montgomery, Schuyler returned to Alba
ny, to meet with the chiefs of the Caugh-
nawagas and of the Six Nations, assem
bled to confer with him, with the view
of a treaty. While here, he received a
despatch from Washington at Cambridge,
informing him of the project he had de
vised of sending a detachment of his
troops to Canada, This intelligence was
joyfully received by Schuyler, as it fell
in very opportunely with the expedition
which he himself had just resolved in
consequence of some information he had
received of the position of affairs in Can
ada to send against that province. He
answered Washington s despatch, with a
very hopeful expression of the probable
success of the proposed enterprises, and
immediately prepared to perform his
share of the undertaking.

From Albany Schuyler pushed on to
Ticonderoga, but, on arriving there, found
Montgomery had gone, leaving w r ord for
his superior to follow him at once in a
whale-boat. Montgomery had heard of
a proposed movement of Sir Guy Carle-
ton, by which that British officer intend
ed, with a fleet of armed vessels, w T hich
were nearly ready, to sail from St. Johns
through the Sorel river into Lake Cham-
plain. To anticipate this manoeuvre, Mont-

Aug. 30.

gomery embarked in haste with a thou
sand men and two fieldpieces, and sailed
from Ticonderoga to the Isle aux Noix,
with the view of taking possession and
fortifying that island, at the entrance of
the Sorel river, and thus preventing the
approach of the enemy.

Schuyler, on his arrival at Ticondero

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 25 of 126)