Robert Tomes.

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

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ga in the night, was so ill with
fever, that he was unable to fol
low Montgomery until the next morning,
and then by the slow conveyance of a
batteau instead of a whale-boat, as he was
too weak to proceed except on a bed,
which could only be spread in the larger
craft. It was several days before he over
took Montgomery ; and then, assuming
the command, the force proceeded to the
Isle aux Noix, which they reached on the
4th of September. Trusting to the re
port of very formidable preparations by
the enemy, Schuyler, after sailing down
the Sorel to within a mile and a half of
St. Johns, and receiving a few shots from
the garrison, determined to return to the
Isle aux Noix. Upon reaching this place,
Schuyler yielded up the command to
Montgomery, and returned himself to Ti
conderoga, to recruit his broken health,
and do what he could in furthering the
objects of the expedition, by forwarding
men and supplies.

ardent and hasty as Schuyler was cool
and cautious. Quick blood was charac
teristic of the Irish descent of the former,
and torpid phlegm was not unnatural in
one of Dutch origin. Montgomery, al
though born in Ireland, came early to
America, as a young subaltern in a Brit



[PART n.

ish regiment., but won a commission as
lieutenant by his bravery at Louisburg.
Subsequently serving with Amherst, he
was promoted to a captaincy ; and at the
close of the French War, he retired to
Eno-land. His visit to America, however,


had attached him to the land and its peo
ple. He accordingly sold his commission,
and, purchasing an estate on the banks
of the Hudson, retired there with a wife
whom he had married in New York : here
he desired to live a quiet life, in domes
tic happiness and the peaceful pursuit of
husbandry. His repose, however, lasted
but three years. The disturbances with
the mother-country having broken out,
he joined the popular cause, and was,
from his earnest attachment to the prin
ciples of liberty, and his military experi
ence, elected by the continental Con
gress second in rank of the brigadier-
generals. He was still a young man, not
having reached his fortieth year, but had
the reputation of prudence in counsel, al
though known to be impetuous in spirit.
His personal appearance was all in his
favor, having a frank, handsome face, and
a well-proportioned, manly figure. He
was a great favorite with his men, and in
action they did not hesitate to follow wil
lingly wherever their gallant commander
led them.

Montgomery, now in command, was
eager to be at work : so he prepared at
once to invest St. Johns. He first sent
forward a force of five hundred men, to
command the junction of the two roads
which lead to Chambly and Montreal, and
thus cut off supplies and reinforcements
from that direction. Montgomery then,

having thrown across the entrance to So-
rel river a quantity of trees and brush
wood, to stop the progress of the enemy s
vessels into the lake, advanced his forces
and artillery to within a short distance
of St. Johns. Here, while exposed to a
brisk fire, he commenced his operations
for a siege, constructing batteries and
other covers for his attack. His means,
however, proved miserably scanty. His
artillery was deficient in guns, and not
of sufficient weight ; his ammunition was
small in quantity, and his men were not
sufficiently skilled in the management ot
the cannon. The ground, too, on which
he had taken his position was swampy,
and so crowded with trees and under
growth as to interfere greatly with the
works. To add still more to his misfor
tunes, disease broke out among the troops,
who, finally losing spirit, began to grow
disaffected. Montgomery now proposed
to change his position to a spot at the
northwest, where some heights would
give him more suitable ground, and a bet
ter chance at the enemy. This plan, after
some opposition on the part of the men
and officers, was finally adopted ; and the
troops shifted their position, and began
to throw up anew some works on the
fresh place selected.

While Montgomery was at the Isle aux
Noix, Ethan Allen and Major Brown had
been sent with a few men on a
secret enterprise into Canada, to
endeavor to obtain recruits among the
inhabitants of that province, who were
reported to be favorably disposed toward
the patriot cause. Allen had been obliged
to yield the command of his beloved

Sept, 5,




" Green-mountain boys" to Seth Warner.
In his own account of his loss he said :
" Notwithstanding my zeal and success in
my country s cause, the old farmers on
the New-Hampshire grants, who do not
incline to go to war, have met in a com
mittee meeting, and. in their nomination
of officers for the regiment of Green-
mountain boys, have wholly omitted me.
I find myself in the favor of the officers
of the army and the young Green-mount
ain boys. How the old men came to re
ject me I can not conceive, inasmuch as
I saved them from the encroachments of
New York." "The old men," says Ir
ving, who quotes this letter, " probably
doubted his discretion."

Allen, thus deprived of his command,
was so desirous of having a share in the
expected glories of the northern expedi
tion, that he solicited employment from
Schuyler, and was accordingly attached
to the army. That so harum-scarum a
character should be intrusted with the
delicate service upon which he was now
engaged, seems very remarkable ; but his
success was still more astounding, if we
can take his own word :

" I am now," Allen writes to Montgom
ery, "at the parish of St. Ours, four leagues
from Sorel, to the south. I have two hun
dred and fifty Canadians under arms. As
I march, they gather fast. You may re
ly 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 num
ber, 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 the Lord, I can raise three times
the number of our army in Canada pro
vided 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."

Brown and Allen, who had separated
in the course of their recruiting-duties
in Canada, now met between Longueuil
and La Prairie. Brown, declaring that
the garrison at Montreal was composed
only of some thirty men, suggested that
the occasion was favorable for an attack
upon that city. Allen s adventurous spir
it was up in a moment, and he eagerly
seized the opportunity of distinguishing
himself. It was then agreed between the
two, that the enterprise should be under
taken by them jointly; and it was ar
ranged that Allen should return with his
force to Longueuil, and cross the St. Law
rence to the opposite bank a little below
Montreal, while Brown should proceed
farther up the river with his two hundred
men and land above the city. The two
forces were then to march from their sev
eral positions, and attack Montreal simul
taneously from two opposite points.

The two men separated, and Allen led
his eighty Canadians and thirty Ameri
cans for this was the whole extent of
his force, notwithstanding the grandilo
quent account he had sent to Montgom
ery of the success of his recruiting-service
back to Longueuil. On arriving at this

place, \vhich is nearly opposite to

-,. . . n .

Montreal, he was disappointed m

not finding a sufficient number of canoes
to take all his men over the river at once.




He succeeded, however, in getting them
all across in the course of the night, and
in safety, notwithstanding that the weath
er was boisterous, and the stream so dis
turbed by the blustering wind, that it was
with difficulty the canoes were kept from
being overset. Sending out guards on
the road to Montreal, to prevent a sur
prise, Allen anxiously awaited to hear of
Brow r n s landing. The night was fast pas
sing, and no word came from Brown ; day
dawned, and still nothing was heard of
the impatiently-waited-for Brown.

In the meanwhile, the enemy had got
the alarm, and sent out forty regulars and
a considerable number of Canadians and
Indians, to drive away the invaders. Al
len could not retreat, as there were not
enough canoes to take his men back to
the opposite side of the river, and he ac
cordingly prepared to give battle. A se
vere struggle ensued, which lasted for
nearly two hours ; but most of Allen s
raw Canadian recruits having given w r ay,
he was left with only twenty-eight Amer
icans, seven of whom were wounded.
There was no alternative now for Allen
but surrender, and he accordingly yield
ed himself up to the British major and
his force, with the condition, however, of
honorable terms for himself and his men.
He was then led into the city, and brought
before General Prescott, the command
ant, when

"He asked me," writes Allen, "rrry name,
which I told him. 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."
The wild appearance of Allen and his
men, with their rough huntsmen s shirts,
had certainly nothing of the military reg
ulation" character, and it was not surpri
sing that a general of the " regular army"
should look at his prisoners as so many
freebooters. " Their leader," says Irving.
" albeit a colonel, must have seemed wor
thy of the band ; for Allen was arrayed
in rough, frontier style a deerskin jack
et, a vest and breeches of coarse serge,
worsted stockings, stout shoes, and a red
woollen cap."

Ethan was treated without regard to
his rank as colonel, and he and his men
were indiscriminately handcuffed, shack
led, and sent away to be thrust into the
hold of the Gaspee schooner-of-war, and
thus carried to England ; the British com
mandant of the fort swearing at Allen as
he was led off, and telling him he deserved
a halter.

Allen, before the schooner sailed, took
occasion to write to General Prescott, in
his usual rhetorical vein, and then reluc
tantly yielded to his fate. The Gaspee
schooner was his prison for five weeks,
and then he was transferred at Quebec
to another British vessel, which carried
him to Falmouth, in England, where he
was confined in Pendennis castle. Sub
sequently he was sent back to America,
and, after an imprisonment of a year and
a half at New York while in possession
of the British forces, he was exchanged
for an English officer, when he retired to
his home in Vermont, and lived there to
a good age, to talk and write copiously




about his wonderful exploits and adven

While poor Ethan Allen s ambitious
flights were thus suddenly clipped at
Montreal, a great triumph awaited his
old band of " Green-mountain boys," un
der the command of Seth Warner, with
the aid of Brown, who, for some reason
or other Avhich has never been explained,
instead of fulfilling his agreement with
Allen, had returned to the main body un
der Montgomery. General Guy Carle-
ton, having finished his boats, and gath
ering a large but miscellaneous force of
British, Canadians, and Indians, embarked
them at Montreal, with the view of pro
ceeding to the relief of St. Johns, invest
ed by Montgomery. Carleton, however,
in attempting to cross the St. Lawrence,
met with an unexpected opposition from
Seth Warner, who with his " Green-mount
ain boys" posted on the bank of the river
near Longueuil, opened such .a brisk fire

upon the enemy, that they were forced
in great confusion to fall back again into
Montreal. This, together with Brown s
success at Chambly, and his defeat of a
band of Highlanders on their march to
co-operate with Carleton, decided the fate
of St. .Johns. Montgomery, as soon as
he received word of the defeat of Carle-
ton, summoned the garrison to surrender,
informing the commandant that his ex
pected reinforcement had been cut off.
The brave Preston, the British command
ant, doubted the truth of the report, and
declared that he would still hold out for
four days ; but, provided the aid he anti
cipated did not come in the course of that
time, he would give up the fort. The aid
of course did not come. St. Johns was
then surrendered. Montgomery now ad
vanced upon Montreal, the gates
of which were opened without
resistance, and the Americans entered in

Nov. 12,


Arnold sails up the Kennebec. The Difficulties and Dangers of the Passage. The Falls of Norridgewock. The Portage
and its Trials. The Great Portage. The Dead River. A Deluge. A Camp overflowed. The Swollen Stream,
and the Dangers of its Navigation. Discouragement of the Men. Return of the most Discouraged. Retreat of Enos,
contrary to Orders. Washington s Confidence in Arnold s Success, in spite of Bad News. Increasing Difficulties.
Snow and Ice. Arnold, with a Small Party, pushes on in advance. Entrance of the Chaudiere. "A Fall ahead."
Narrow Escape from Destruction. Safe Arrival at Sertigan. Abundance of Provisions. Relief sent to those in the
Rear. Arnold well received by the Canadians. Pushes on, and reaches the Bank of the St. Lawrence opposite to
Quebec. Disappointed in not finding Boats. Crosses in Canoes. Lands in Wolfe s Cove. Scales the Heights of
Abraham. Summons Quebec to surrender. Answered by a Fire. Retires, and awaits the Approach of Montgomery


ARNOLD entered the Kennebec on
the 20th of September, and sailed
up to Gardiner without difficulty, save
the grounding of one or two of his trans-


ports, which were, however, finally got
off At Pittston, opposite to Gardiner, he
found in readiness the two hundred bat-
teaux which had been constructed by the




carpenters sent by "Washington from the
camp at Cambridge ; and he accordingly
transhipped his men and provisions into
these boats, and continued his route to
Fort Western. On reaching this point,
Arnold found an Indian messenger, with
news from the two pioneers he had sent
on in advance to obtain information of
the proposed route of the expedition.
There was little, however, that was satis
factory in the communication received,
as the pioneers had only penetrated as
far as the head-waters of the Dead river,
and sent back such discouraging accounts
of the dangers and difficulties of the wil
derness, that it was presumed they had
given ear to the exaggerated tales of the
Indians, who, although professing to be
friendly to the Americans, were suspect
ed to be in the interest of the British in

Arnold, however, was not the man to
be swerved from his purpose by any re
ports of danger, nor in fact by danger it
self. He accordingly persisted in his plan
of forcing his way through the wilderness,
in spite of its terrors. The course he
marked out for himself was along the
western branch of the Kennebec, called
the Dead river, and through Lake Megan-
tic into the Chaudiere. Arnold, having
sent in advance two parties of half a dozen
men each, to survey the route and obtain
what information they could, began to
move his whole force. The army was
divided into four parts, each of which set
out on separate days, that there might
be always a day s distance between the
divisions. Morgan, with his riflemen, led
the van ; on the next day went Greene

and Bigelow, with three companies ; on
the third, Meigs with four ; and finally,
on the fourth, Enos with the remainder.

Arnold having, with great personal ef
fort, succeeded in starting his forces, now
set out himself in a birch- canoe, and
pushed his way so rapidly along the Ken
nebec, that on the third day he reached
the van of his little army under Morgan,
who had got as far as the falls of Nor-
ridgewock. Here there was a portage,
and it became necessary to land and car
ry the boats around the falls, to the part
of the stream above, where it was naviga
ble. As the banks of the river were com
posed chiefly of irregular rocks, the labor
of the men was immense ; but Arnold,
always active, and personally overseeing
all the details of the work, succeeded in
getting each division, as it came up, in
safety around the falls. They were not
able to set out again on their route for
nearly a week, in consequence of the con
dition of the batteaux, which, being new
and hastily constructed, leaked so badly,
that much of the provision was damaged.
They had their carpenters, however, with
them, who set to work making the neces
sary repairs, and all the boats were again
launched and pushing on their course.

Arnold remained until the last batteau
had shoved off, and then betook himself
again to his birchen canoe, with his In
dian guide, and paddled swiftly on, pas
sing all the boats, until he reached the
"Great Carrying-place," between the Ken
nebec and its western branch, or Dead
river. The first two divisions of his force
had already arrived at this place, and here
awaited them a labor more toilsome than




even what they had already undergone.
The men thus far had successfully over
come all the difficulties of their arduous
voyage. They had forced their course
against the rapid current by often jump
ing into the stream up to their waists,
and shoving their boats along by main
strength. "You would have taken the
men," wrote Arnold to Washington, " for
amphibious animals, as they were great
part of the time under water." They had
been obliged to drag or carry their boats
already over no less than four portages.
The men, however, had borne the labor
and exposure so far without much suffer
ing ; for, although the effective force was
reduced, by illness and desertion, from
eleven hundred to nine hundred and fif
ty, there had been but one death. Ar
nold was, as usual, full of hope, and san-
guinely held out to his men that he would
take them to the Chaudiere river in lit
tle more than a week.

But the " Great Portage" was now be
fore them, and its obstacles proved more
formidable than was anticipated by Ar
nold. The batteaux were to be alter
nately carried by the men, dragged by
oxen, and floated, through a space of some
fifteen miles of rugged territory, with pre
cipitous granite rocks, morasses, ponds,
and other rude features, of what was then
a remote wilderness, and is still a wildly-
picturesque country. Arnold, however,
undertook the work, and accomplished it.
His men were able to obtain a welcome
refreshment in the large quantities of sal
mon and trout which they caught in the
lakes and streams ; and Arnold judicious
ly built a log-house on the route, where

he left the sick and disabled, and thus dis
embarrassed himself of those who only
encumbered his progress. On reaching
the Dead river, and launching their bat-
teaux upon its waters, the men, as they
moved easily on its smooth surface, with
hardly a resistance from the gentle cur
rent, were cheered with the hope that
their greatest trials were over. They
continued their course in fine spirits, and
looked with delighted wonder upon the
solemn beauties of the scenery, where
great mountains, topped with snow, rose
high and clear above the forest wilder

On reaching the base of one of the
highest of the mountain-range, Arnold
hoisted the American flag, and encamped
his men, for several days repose. There
seems to have been still a superfluity of
animal spirits in the army, for one of the
officers took occasion to mount to the
top of the peak which is now called
" Mount Bigelow," from, the adventurous
major of that name who accomplished the

Arnold now began to fear that his pro
visions would fall short ; so he sent back
a party of ninety men for supplies : but,
directing them to make the utmost speed,
so as not to detain him, he continued to
pursue his route. The riflemen he sent
on in advance, and followed himself with
the second division a day subsequently.
He had no sooner started, than it began
to rain, and did not cease for three days,
pouring down a perfect deluge, drench
ing the men to the skin, and wetting the
baggage through and through. The riv
er now beo;an to swell from the effects of



[PART n.

the constant rain, and the current became
so rapid, that it was with the utmost dif
ficulty the boats could stem the torrent.
Worn out with fatigue, the men landed
and encamped at the close of a day of
hard work, upon some low ground on the
margin of the stream, and had hardly
laid down for a night s repose, when the
river, which had overflowed its banks,
came rushing in upon them so rapidly,
that they barely succeeded in reaching
their boats. Embarked again, they found
themselves bewildered in their attempts
to keep their course, and were constantly
wandering out of their way into the smal
ler branches of the river, which had been
swollen into great streams by the deluge.
The waters, too, were so thick with drift
wood and so turbulent, that there was
danger every moment of the whole fleet
of boats being swamped ; and finally sev
en of the batteaux were upset, and ev
erything in them swept away in the tor

The men now became so disheartened
by this accident, which greatly dimin
ished their supplies, that Arnold thought
it expedient to land and consult with his
officers upon what should be done in the
emergency. By the advice of their lead
er, who was never despondent, it was re
solved to persevere, after the force should
be relieved of those who were too ill or
faint-hearted to proceed. A number were
accordingly sent back, and with them or
ders to Greene of the third, and Colonel
Enos who had command of the last divis
ion, at some distance still in the rear, to
select their strongest men, and, hurrying
forward with them, to leave the rest to

return along with Arnold s own invalided
party to Norridgewock. Greene did as
he was bid ; but Enos, instead of obeying
his orders, retreated with his whole force
to Cambridge, where he was tried by a
court-martial, and acquitted on the plea
of a want of provisions.

Washington, on hearing of Enos s aban
donment of his leader,was greatly grieved,
though he did not seem to doubt but that
Arnold would ultimately overcome every
obstacle. "Notwithstanding this great
defection," wrote the commander-in-chief,
" I do not despair of Colonel Arnold s suc
cess." Arnold showed himself in every
respect worthy of this confidence in his
resolute energies, and continued, under
increasing trials to his patience and coui*-
age, to strive on as manfully as ever.

The weather continued to get worse,
for the rain changed to a heavy fall of
snow, and the men suffered now from ex
cessive cold as well as from the dripping
wet ; while, to add to their discomforts,
ice formed upon the water, through which
they had to break when wading and drag
ging their boats along. Arnold, unwil
ling to force his army through difficulties
which seemed too much for their powers
of endurance, now determined to push on
with a small party in advance, with the
hope of being soon able to reach the riv
er Chaudiere, and to send back, from the
settlement on its banks, provisions of
which they stood greatly in need to re-
invigorate those left behind, and thus en
able them to continue their arduous prog
ress. He accordingly set out with sixty
men, along a route which was but a repe
tition of the same difficulties and obstruo-




tions which he had already experienced.
The weather continued bad, the portages
did not diminish in number, and the men
were constantly exposed to the severe
cold, and kept hard at work dragging
their boats through the river while up to
their waists in the water, or carrying them
for miles together over the rugged land,
past fall after fall.

On entering Lake Megan tic, Arnold
overtook the pioneers who had been sent
in advance to cut away the wood with
the hatchet, and otherwise clear the way,
and was met by one of his messengers,
who brought back most favorable accounts
of the friendly disposition of the Canadi
ans toward the expedition. This was en
couraging ; but what was more particu
larly required now by the half-famished
men was, something to satisfy their hun

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 26 of 126)