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Johns, "forthwith and without further notice," pro-
visions, ammunition and spirituous liquors to the
amount of five hundred pounds.

Allen also opened correspondence with the Indians
at an early date. Writing from Crown Point on May
24, 1775, he addressed a letter "to our good brother
Indians of the four tribes, viz. : the Hocnawagoes, the
Swagaches, the Canesdaugans and the Saint Fransa-
was," (probably the Caughnawaga, the Oswegatchie,
the Canandaigua, and the St. Francis tribes, of New
York and Canada, respectively), and sent the message


by Capt. Abraham Ninhaus of Stockbridge, as "our
ambassador of peace."

In this letter Allen explained the nature of the conflict
between Great Britain and the American Colonies, and
added: "I was always a friend to Indians, and have
hunted with them many times, and know how to shoot
and ambush like Indians, and am a great hunter. I
want to have your warriors come and see me and help
me fight the King's regular troops. You know they
stand all along close together, rank and file, and my men
fight so as Indians do, and I want your warriors to join
wath me and my warriors, like brothers, and ambush
the regulars; if you will, I will give you money, blankets,
tomahawks, knives, paint, and anything that there is in
the army, just like brothers, and I will go with you unto
the woods to scout; and my men and your men will
sleep together and eat and drink together. "^ * *
But if you our brother Indians do not fight on either
side, we will still be friends and brothers; and you may
come and hunt in our woods, and come with your canoes
in the lake, and let us have venison at our forts on the
lake, and have rum, bread, and what you want, and be
like brothers."

In Allen's letter to the Continental Congress, written
May 29, he declared that if he had had five hundred men
with him at St. Johns he could have advanced to Mon-
treal. He added: "Nothing strengthens our friends
in Canada equal to our prosperity in taking the sover-
eignty of Lake Champlain; and should the colonies
forthwith send an army of two or three thousand men,
and attack Montreal we should have little to fear from


the Canadians or Indians, and would easily set up the
standard of liberty in the extensive province of Quebeck,
whose limit was enlarged purely to subvert the liberties
of America. Striking such a blow would intimidate the
Tory party in Canada the same as the commencement
of the war at Boston intimidated the Tories in the
colonies. They are a set of gentlemen that will not be
converted by reason but are easily wrought upon by
fear. Advancing an army into Canada will be agree-
able to our friends, and it is bad policy to fear the re-
sentment of an enemy."

Congress was unwilling at this time to authorize such
an aggressive act as the invasion of Canada. Subse-
quent events, however, showed that Allen was right in
urging an immediate invasion of the province as a
prudent military movement. Jared Sparks, in his "Life
of Gouverneur Morris," calls attention to the fact, that,
although Allen's letter was not well received by Con-
gress, yet within two and one-half months an expedition
was sent into Canada "on grounds precisely similar to
those stated by Allen." He adds: "His advice, as
events turned out, although looked upon at the time as
wild and visionary, was the best that could be followed."
The British force under Carleton's command at that
time was small, and had Allen's advice been followed it
is probable that Canada could have been captured with
comparative ease.

Allen wrote to the New York Congress on June 2:
"I will lay my life on it that with fifteen hundred men
and a proper train of artillery, I will take Montreal.
Provided I could be thus furnished, and if an army


could command the field, it would be no insuperable diffi-
culty to take Quebeck." At this period the Canadians
were inclined to be friendly to the Americans, and Carle-
ton could not easily enlist men for his army.

William Gilliland, of Westport, N. Y., writing to the
Continental Congress on May 29, called attention to a
British post at Point au Fer, on the west side of the
lake, seven miles south of the Canadian boundary line,
w^here a large stone house was built during the summer
of 1774. There were strong ball proof brick sentry
boxes at each corner commanding every inch of ground
about the house. In these sentry boxes, and in the
large, dry cellar under the house, were forty-four port-
holes. Gilliland urged that by throwing up a breast-
work around the stone house and providing a few can-
non for defence, it might be used with great effect as a
fortification to check any British advance up the lake.
He added: "I must beg leave to observe to you that
there are now in these parts a very considerable number
of men under the command of Mr. Ethan Allen, as brave
as Hercules, and as good marksmen as can be found in
North America, who might prove immediately service-
able to the common cause were they regularly embodied
and commanded by officers of their own choice, sub-
ordinate to whoever has or may be appointed com-
mander-in-chief or to the instructions of the Grand Con-
gress. These men, being excellent wood rangers, and
particularly acquainted in the wilderness of Lake Cham-
plain, would, in all likelihood, be more serviceable in these
parts than treble their number of others not having these
advantages, especially if left under the directions of


their present enterprising and heroic commander, Mr.

Ethan Allen's strong desire to invade Canada is shown
in a letter which he wrote to Governor Trumbull of Con-
necticut, from Bennington, under date of July 12, in
which he said: "Were it not that the Grand Conti-
nental Congress had lately incorporated the Green
Mountain Boys into a battalion, under certain regula-
tions and command, I would forthwith advance them
into Canada and invest Montreal, exclusive of any help
from the colonies; though, under present circumstances
I would not, for my right arm, act without, or contrary
to orders."

Meanwhile conditions at Lake Champlain were slowly
shaping themselves for an aggressive movement,
although celerity of action was needed to ensure suc-
cess ; but speed could not be expected when the American
people were slow in reaching the conclusion that a
Canadian invasion was desirable.

Colonel Hinman of Connecticut, in command of
Ticonderoga, had not shown himself to be an efficient
or forceful officer. The Massachusetts committee, at
the time of their visit to the forts, had appointed Colonel
Easton as commander of their provincial troops at Lake
Champlain, under Hinman. John Brown was desig-
nated as Major, and Jonas Fay, as Surgeon. General
Schuyler was directed, by order of Congress, to assume
command of the district including Ticonderoga and
Crown Point, and when he arrived at the lake on July
18, he was greatly distressed over the conditions he
found. Provisions were short and Schuyler considered


that there had been "a very considerable waste or

On the very day of Schuyler's arrival at Ticonderoga
he wrote Washington in disgust, and almost in derision,
of what he considered Hinman's incompetence. The
Connecticut Colonel evidently had simply waited for the
arrival of his superior officer, without taking any aggres-
sive attitude. Schuyler draws a graphic picture of his
arrival at the landing place at the north end of Lake
George at ten o'clock the night before, only to find the
guards sound asleep. An investigation showed a great
shortage of ammunition, not a nail or other materials
for boat building, and the fact that the troops were very
poorly armed.

Schuyler began work with vigor, repaired the saw-
mills, and endeavored to get together the supplies so
urgently needed. He complained that Connecticut had
made such generous allowance for her troops that the
fact was likely to breed dissatisfaction among the sol-
diers from other colonies. Fifty milch cows had been
sent up for the Connecticut regiment at a time when the
pasturage was very short for the working oxen and
fat cattle intended for beef for the troops, owing to
what Schuyler called "the severest drouth ever known
in this country." These cattle were ordered back to
New England.

Jeremiah Halsey had been appointed by Colonel Hin-
man "Commodore of all armed vessels and crafts on
Lakes Champlain and George," a high sounding title for
a fleet consisting of one schooner and one sloop. In a
letter to Benjamin Franklin, Schuyler wrote that when


he arrived at Ticonderoga he did not find craft suffi-
cient to move two hundred men. Halsey was soon
superseded as "Commodore" by James Smith, of New
York, who took command of the sloop Enterprise,
which vessel, he said, was ''of very little use to the
service." James Stewart was given command of the
schooner Liberty.

Very soon after the capture of Ticonderoga and
Crown Point, and the expeditions of Allen and Arnold
to St. Johns, General Carleton, the British commander
in Canada, sent all the troops he could spare to fortify
St. Johns. From Quebec he had obtained all the ship
carpenters he could procure, and under the direction of
Capt. Zachary Taylor they had proceeded to build vessels
to replace the sloop and bateaux captured or burned by

Naturally General Schuyler feared an attack by way
of Lake Champlain and he informed General Washing-
ton that there was danger of an attack "from the Missis-
que Indians." In order to gain more accurate informa-
tion Maj. John Brown was sent from Crown Point July
24 with four men on a scouting expedition and arrived
in Canada on July 30, after a most fatiguing march, part
of the way through a vast swamp. Brown was pursued
and surrounded, but escaped by jumping out of a rear
window of a house. He was followed for two days,
but by the help of friendly Canadians he escaped. He
returned by way of Missisquoi Bay, where he obtained
a small canoe, and on August 10 reached Crown Point.

Brown reported that there were about seven thousand
troops in Canada. There were three hundred at St.


Johns, fifty at Quebec, and the others were distributed
at various posts, including Montreal and Chambly. He
found the Canadians friendly, and in a report to Gov-
ernor Trumbull he declared: "Now, Sir, is the time to
carry Canada. It may be done with great ease and
little cost, and I have no doubt but the Canadians would
join us."

Schuyler bent his energies to the building of boats,
and on August 23 was able to report that he had craft
sufficient to move above thirteen hundred men with
twenty days' provisions. Two flat bottomed boats,
sixty feet long, had been built, each capable of carrying
five twelve-pounders; but, unfortunately, there was a
lack of gun carriages.

After much efifort troops were assembled for a Cana-
dian expedition. On August 25 an officer at Ticon-
deroga wrote that there were about twelve hundred men
at that post. In describing conditions he said that there
was an abundance of salt and fresh provisions and that
the soldiers were allowed each day a gill of rum and as
much spruce beer as they could drink, "so that they have
no occasion to drink the lake water, it being reckoned
very unhealthy." The idea that the lake water was
unhealthy, or poisonous, which prevailed for a consider-
able time, is said to have been due to the appearance at
certain times of a white scum on the surface, which gave
forth an offensive odor under the direct rays of the sun.

More than the spruce beer, however, was needed to
make the men healthy. Schuyler wrote to Washington
on August 6 that the troops "are crowded in vile bar-
racks which, with the natural inattention of the sqldiery


to cleanliness had already been productive of disease."
On August 14, one hundred and forty-six men were sick
in Hinman's regiment, and forty-eight out of one hun-
dred and ninety-six in Colonel Easton's regiment. The
troops sickened rapidly. There was a lack of tents and
hospital stores, and Schuyler gave to the regimental sur-
geons the supply of wine which he had brought for his
own table, the General being accustomed to good living.
From July 20 to September 25, seven hundred and
twenty-six men were discharged on account of illness.
Before General Schuyler arrived at Ticonderoga,
Capt. Remember Baker had been employed on a scouting
expedition at the northern end of Lake Champlain. His
service in the French and Indian War, and his activity
as a leader of the Green Mountain Boys, had added
experience to a naturally bold and resolute character,
which fitted him well for such a task. The first scout-
ing expedition covered a period from July 13 to July 25,
during which two of his men were taken prisoners.
Either at this time or later Baker was employed by
General Schuyler on a scouting expedition to Canada,
"with express orders not to molest the Canadians or
Indians." As there is a record to show that Baker met
James Stewart, commanding the schooner Liberty, on
August 3, "at Vandelowe's, the Frenchman's," at the
northwestern extremity of Lake Champlain, it may be
presumed that this was Baker's second expedition into
the enemy's country. Some information on this subject
is given in a deposition of Peter Griffin, a soldier in
Colonel Easton's regiment, in which he tells of leaving
Crown Point on August 12, and falling in with Captain


Baker, Griffin and a St. Francis Indian, went on a scout-
ing expedition to St. Johns. Returning to Windmill
Point, in the present town of Alburg, Griffin set out for
Crown Point on August 24 and Baker proceeded down
the Sorel (or Richelieu) River, the outlet of Lake
Champlain, to Isle aux Noix, "and did determine to
intercept the scouts of the regulars there," according to
Griffin's deposition. Schuyler asserted later that this
expedition was undertaken without authority from him,
and that Baker was accompanied by five men.

According to Ira Allen's account of this affair. Cap-
tain Baker's purpose was to discover the movements of
the British troops at Isle aux Noix. Proceeding
cautiously, he landed in a bay four miles above that
island during the night, and in the morning went to a
point of land, from which he could see the island and
the river for some distance. Meanwhile, a party of
five Caughnawaga Indians discovered Baker's boat, and
started in it for St. Johns. Stationing his men behind
trees, Baker hailed the Indians as they approached, and
in a friendly manner asked that they give up the boat,
saying there was no war between the Indians and the
Americans. As they gave no indication of complying
with his request. Baker ordered them to return his boat,
threatening to fire on them if they refused. Perceiving
that one of the Indians in the boat was about to fire.
Baker sought to anticipate this action by firing first, but
his musket missed fire owing to the sharpness of his
flint, and putting his head from behind the tree, which
served as a protection, in order to hammer his flint, he
received a shot in the forehead which killed him in-


stantly. Baker's men thereupon fired, killing two of the
Indians, and fled. The Indians returned, cut ofif the
head of their victim, and set it on a pole at St. Johns.
The British officers bought the head and interred it with
the body. It so happened that a part of Colonel Bedel's
New Hampshire regiment encamped at Winooski Falls,
the home of Captain Baker, on the night that word was
received of the death of this brave Green Mountain

General Schuyler was greatly agitated over this affair,
not so much at the death of Captain Baker, as he was
over what he called the latter's "imprudence," which he
feared would alienate the Indians, a Canadian corre-
spondent having informed him that some of the Caugh-
nawagas had joined the British troops at St. Johns, on
account of this skirmish. The Commissioner of Indian
Affairs explained the matter to a congress of the Six
Nations held at Albany early in September, "in order
to put out the flames which this unhappy affair could
not help kindling," according to a letter written by a
resident of Albany, in which he said that the affair "was
prodigiously misrepresented here at first."

The death of Baker occurred between August 24,
when Griffin, the soldier who accompanied him to St.
Johns, left for Crown Point, and August 31, when Gen-
eral Schuyler wrote the Commissioners of Indian Affairs
concerning the affray. Baker was only thirty-eight
years old at this time. Concerning his loss, Ira Allen
says: "Captain Baker was the first man killed in the
Northern department, and being a gentleman universally
respected, his death made more noise in the country than


the loss of a thousand men towards the end of the Ameri-
can war."

Gen. Richard Montgomery, second in command
under General Schuyler, arrived at Ticonderoga August
17, to organize an expedition for the invasion of Canada,
and on August 28 the first division of the army em-
barked at Ticonderoga, proceeding to Crown Point.
Here they remained until August 30, and that day went
as far as Westport, where they camped for the night at
the settlement of William Gilliland, who furnished some
of the boats for the expedition, and conducted General
Montgomery down the lake, with which the former had
become very familiar during a residence of ten years
on its shores. Gilliland had raised a company of minute
men, of which he was chosen Captain. Twenty of the
men had been recruited from the tenants on his estate
and fifteen had been enlisted in Shelburne on the eastern
shore of the lake, Moses Pierson, of that town, being a
Lieutenant in the company. The party proceeded as far
as the Four Brothers Islands on August 31, and the next
day reached Isle La Motte, stopping at a fine sandy
beach, after passing the high point of the island. Here
Montgomery waited for General Schuyler, who had
been detained by an Indian conference at Albany.
Schuyler arrived at Ticonderoga August 30, being much
indisposed, but he followed the army, arriving at Isle
La Motte on September 4. On the same day the army
proceeded to Isle aux Noix, in the Richelieu River, one
of the French strongholds taken by the British in 1760.
Schuyler issued a declaration to the people of Canada
on September 5, sending it out by Col. Ethan Allen and


Major Brown, and advanced toward St. Johns. Fire
was opened from the fort, and as the troops landed to
intrench they were attacked from ambush by Indians
and regulars. The American loss was four killed, three
mortally wounded, and seven wounded, including two
officers. The enemy were repulsed with a loss of five
Indians killed and four wounded, and several British
soldiers wounded. Schuyler called a council of war,
on the morning of September 7, and it was decided to
return to Isle aux Noix to await the arrival of the artil-
lery. Here fortifications were thrown up and a boom
was placed across the channel of the river.

Schuyler was ambitious to lead the army of invasion
in person, but his condition of health made this impos-
sible. His illness resulting from a bilious fever and a
violent attack of rheumatism, compelled him to abandon
the expedition, and on September 16 he was put into
a covered boat and returned to Ticonderoga. About an
hour after his departure from Isle aux Noix he met
Col. Seth Warner with one hundred and seventy Green
Mountain Boys, this detachment being as he said, "the
first that had appeared of that boasted corps." This is
one of the little touches that indicates that General
Schuyler had not forgotten the days when the Green
Mountain Boys were used for purposes other than in-
vading a foreign country.

Ethan Allen had arrived in advance of Warner's regi-
ment. About September 20 another company of Green
Mountain Boys, numbering seventy men, joined their
comrades. About one hundred men of Colonel Bedel's
New Hampshire regiment arrived the night of Septem-


ber 16. When Colonel Bedel left Haverhill on Sep-
tember 7, he was accompanied by a portion of a com-
pany under command of Captain Vail of the Green
Mountain Boys, raised in part by Lieutenant Allen,
probably Lieut. Ira Allen.

Without any regular officer's commission, Ethan
Allen had accompanied the army to Isle aux Noix, at
the request of the officers, and had been sent out by
General Schuyler to the French-Canadian people "to
preach politics," as Allen expressed his mission, seeking
to win them to the American cause, to which, at first,
they were favorably disposed.

Allen set out from Isle aux Noix September 8 and
proceeded to Chambly. The Canadians there were
found to be of a friendly disposition, guarded him with
armed men night and day, and escorted him through the
woods. According to his report, "Many Captains of
militia and respectable gentlemen of the Canadians"
visited him and conversed with him. He sent a mes-
senger to the chiefs of the Caughnawaga Indians, de-
manding the reason why some of the numbers of that
tribe had taken up arms against the American colonies.
It is hardly to be supposed that this is the policy Gen-
eral Schuyler would have pursued, judging from the
nervousness and anxiety the commander of the North-
ern army displayed over the fatal "imprudence" of
Remember Baker. Instead of resenting this demand,
however, two chiefs were sent to Allen to explain that
such action was contrary to the orders given by the
tribal authorities. A general council was held, and a


wampum belt and beads were sent to the Green Moun-
tain leader, which were delivered with due ceremony.

The principal difficulty that Allen encountered was the
impression that the American army was too weak to
protect the Canadians from the power of Great Britain,
and he summed up the temper of the people in these
words: "It furthermore appeared to me that many of
the Canadians were watching the scale of power," an
observation the wisdom of which subsequent events
abundantly justified. To overcome this attitude of in-
decision, Allen urged the importance of the capture of
St. Johns as speedily as might be possible, and returning
to Isle aux Noix on September 14 was able to deliver his
report to General Schuyler before the latter left on his
return to Ticonderoga. He also assisted General Mont-
gomery "in laying a line of circumvallation round the
fortress of St. Johns," to quote from his "Narrative."

About this time James Livingston, an influential
Canadian friend of the American colonies, wrote Gen-
eral Schuyler saying: "Yesterday morning I sent a
party each side of the river (Richelieu), Col. Allen at
their head, to take the vessels at Sorel, if possible, by
surprise." Evidently this was not possible. He added:
"We have nothing to fear here at present, but a few
seigneurs in the country, endeavoring to raise forces. I
hope Col. Allen's presence will put a stop to it."

Allen's activities continued after General Schuyler's
departure, and on September 20 he wrote General Mont-
gomery from St. Ours: "I am now in the parish of
St. Towrs (St. Ours), four leagues from Sorel, to the
south ; have 250 Canadians under arms ; as I march, they

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gather fast. There are the objects of taking the vessels
in Sorel, and General Carleton; these objects I pass by
to assist the army in besieging St. Johns. If that place
be taken, the country is ours; if we miscarry in this, all
other achievements will profit but little. I am fearful
our army may be too sickly, and that the siege may be
hard ; therefore choose to assist in conquering St. Johns,
which of consequence conquers the whole. 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 will first
visit the army with a less number, and if necessary will
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, provided that you continue the siege; all de-
pends on that. * * >ic 'pj^g glory of a victory which
will be attended with such important consequences will

Online LibraryWalter Hill CrockettVermont, the Green mountain state (Volume 1) → online text (page 31 of 34)