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the year 1775, in a blinding snow storm, an attempt was
made to take Quebec by assault. Ira Allen and Robert
Cochran, both officers from the New Hampshire Grants,
were selected by General Montgomery to make an attack
on Cape Diamond to draw the attention of the enemy
from other points. To them was also committed the
important duty of sending up sky rockets, which were a
signal for attacks by detachments led by Montgomery,
Arnold and Colonel Livingston. Delayed by the fierce-
ness of the storm, suspecting their Canadian guide of


treachery, they pressed on and carried out their instruc-
tions. The attempt to capture the city failed dis-
astrously. General Montgomery, one of the most capable
officers produced during the war, was mortally wounded,
and died in the arms of Capt. Aaron Burr. General
Arnold, who had joined forces with Montgomery, was
severely wounded and was carried from the field. Gen-
eral Morgan fought in the storm and the cold with his
detachment until half of his men were killed, and then
surrendered. The remainder of the American army re-
tired up the St. Lawrence River about three miles, and
there spent the remainder of the winter, enduring great
suffering and privation.

Gen. David Wooster succeeded to the command of the
American army in Canada upon the death of Mont-
gomery, and the task that confronted him was one that
might have taxed the capacity of a soldier possessed of
far greater natural ability for command than that with
which Wooster had been endowed. There was imme-
diate need of more men.

General Wooster wrote to Col. Seth Warner on Jan-
uary 6, 1776, telling him of the unsuccessful attack upon
Quebec and the death of General Montgomery, and say-
ing that "in consequence of this defeat our prospects in
this country are rendered very dubious, and unless we
can quickly be reinforced, perhaps it will be fatal, not
only to us, who are stationed here, but to the colonies in
general, especially to the frontiers," an argument which
appealed to the people of the New Hampshire Grants.

Wooster told of the tendency of the Canadians to ally
themselves with the winning cause, and added : "I have


sent an express to General Schuyler, General Washing-
ton and Congress, but you know how far they have to
go, and it is very uncertain how long it will be before
we can have relief from them. You, sir, and the Green
Mountain corps are in our neighborhood; you all have
arms, and, I am confident, ever stand ready to lend a
helping hand to your brethren in distress. I am sensible
that there was some disagreement between you and Gen-
eral Montgomery. Poor man ! he has lost his life fighting
valiantly for his country; but why do I mention any-
thing about disagreement between you; I know that no
private resentment can hinder your exercising every
faculty to vindicate the rights and privileges for which
we are nobly contending; therefore, let me beg of you
to collect as many men as you can, five, six, or seven
hundred, and if you can, and somehow or other, convey
into the country, and stay with us till we can have relief
from the Colonies. You are sensible we have provisions
of all kinds in abundance, and the weather is not fright-
ful as many have imagined.

"You will see that proper officers are appointed under
you, and both officers and soldiers shall be paid as the
other Continental troops. It will be well for your men
to set out as fast as they are collected, not so much mat-
ter whether together or not, but let them set out, ten,
twenty, thirty, forty or fifty, as they can be first col-
lected, for it must have a good effect on the minds of the
Canadians, to see succor coming in. You will be good
enough to send copies of this letter or such parts of it
as you think proper, to the people below you. I cannot
but think our friends will make a push into the country.


and am confident you will not disappoint my most fer-
vent wish and expectation in seeing you here, with your
men, in a very short time. Now is the time for you to
distinguish yourselves, of obtaining the united applause
of your grateful countrymen, of your distressed friends
in Canada, and your very great friend and servant."

The exigencies of war had made some sudden and
radical transformations. Between two and three years
previous to the penning of this appeal to Colonel War-
ner, Capt. David Wooster had taken a New York Sheriff
into the town of Addison, and had served writs of eject-
ment on the settlers under the New Hampshire charter,
claiming that his New York patent was the more valid
title. The Green Mountain Boys had proceeded to tie
the sheriff and the Captain to a tree and to threaten them
with the beech seal. And now the same man, promoted
to the rank of General, was appealing in the most cordial
terms to the Green Mountain Boys for aid. The episode
may well form a companion picture to Allen and Warner
appearing before the New York Assembly.

Schuyler wrote John Hancock on January 14, 1776,
"I have sent Colonel Warner to throw into Canada
whatever number of men he can procure upon what are
commonly called the New Hampshire Grants; and, in
order to encourage them to march without delay, I have
offered forty shillings, lawful money, as a bounty to the
men, and a month's pay to the officers, and an allowance
of one-sixth of a dollar per day from their leaving home
until they can receive Continental provisions."

There is evidence to show that Warner responded
promptly to the appeal made by Wooster. On January


18, Washington wrote Schuyler, expressing the hope
that Arnold would be joined soon by "a number of men
under Colonel Warner, and from Connecticut, who, it
is said, marched off directly on their getting intelligence
of the melancholy affair." General Sullivan, on the
same day, wrote the New Hampshire Assembly:
"Colonel Warner, with his Green Mountain Boys,
marched immediately to join the party which they had
left." Schuyler wrote on January 22: "Colonel War-
ner succeeds fast in sending men to Canada." Writing
to Governor Trumbull of Connecticut on January 23,
1776, Schuyler said: "Part of the troops which I
directed Colonel Warner to raise are already so far
advanced that I believe they will reach St. Johns today
or tomorrow. I believe the whole under Colonel War-
ner's command will amount to seven hundred; he thinks

Warner wrote Schuyler from Bennington on January
22 : "My prospect in raising men seems very encourag-
ing, one hundred and upwards I have sent forward; a
number more is to march soon. I have twelve com-
panies raising. * * * Two companies more I ex-
pect to raise." On March 5 only four hundred and
seventeen of Warner's men had arrived in Canada, and
both Schuyler and Wooster expressed dissatisfaction
that the number was not larger. It was also asserted
that upwards of one hundred New Hampshire men had
enlisted in Warner's regiment.

Schuyler had insisted that in order to get the bounty
offered to Warner's troops a regiment of seven hundred
and twenty men must march by February 1. Later he





agreed to furnish another bounty if the men who
marched after February 1 would "engage to remain in
the service in Canada, or procure others in their stead,
for the ensuing campaign, unless sooner discharged."

Warner's regiment was one of the first to arrive in
Canada to reinforce the troops stationed there, and it
participated in the operations around Quebec during the
months that followed. During this period many of
Warner's soldiers contracted smallpox and some of them

Learning that affairs were going badly in Canada, the
Continental Congress appointed a commission to make
an investigation, hoping that the Canadian people might
still be won over to the American cause, and join the
army of invasion in opposition to British rule. This
commission consisted of Benjamin Franklin, Samuel
Chase, and Charles Carroll of Carrollton. They were
accompanied by Mr. Carroll's brother. Father John Car-
roll, later the first Roman Catholic Archbishop in the
United States, much being expected from his influence
with the Catholic population of Canada. Early in the
spring the party left Philadelphia and proceeded to
Albany, where the hospitality of General Schuyler's
home .was extended, the General making preparations for
the remainder of the journey. A bateau carried the
party through Lake George, and six yoke of oxen drew
the boat over the portage to Lake Champlain, where two
boats were provided, Ticonderoga being reached late in
April. These bateaux were thirty-six feet long, eight
feet wide, with square ends and rigged with a mast for
a blanket sail. An awning was used as a substitute


for a cabin. Each boat was manned by thirty or forty

A stop was made at Crown Point, and another at the
house of Peter Ferris, on the east side of the lake, in
Panton, where the night of April 24, 1776, was spent.
Leaving at five o'clock the next morning a severe gale
was soon encountered, and it was necessary to stop in
what is now the town of Essex, N. Y., at the home of
one of William Gilliland's tenants. Proceeding on the
journey, Montreal was reached on April 29.

Travelling in an open boat, and sleeping under an
awning, or in a rude forest hut during April weather in
this north country, was not an agreeable experience for
Benjamin Franklin. He was then seventy years old
and was not in robust health, although the most impor-
tant part of his life work remained to be done. Father
Carroll was not able to aid the American cause as he
had hoped to do, and the commission accomplished
little, therefore the priest and Doctor Franklin left
Montreal on May 11, and returned by way of Lake
Champlain, reaching Ticonderoga early in June. The
other commissioners returned later. The reverses of the
American army and the lack of hard money were
obstacles too serious to permit the accomplishment of
any services of material importance by this, or any,
special commission.

During the winter Arnold continued the siege of
Quebec with only about four hundred men fit for duty.
Late in January, 1776, reinforcements arrived, recruit-
ing the strength of the besieging force to nine hundred
and sixty men, of whom less than eight hundred were fit


for duty. In a short time smallpox broke out, adding
greatly to the sufferings already experienced.

Gen. John Thomas arrived May 1 and took command
of the army before Quebec, which now numbered about
nineteen hundred men, and this force soon was increased
to three thousand soldiers. At this late period Congress
had seen the necessity of reinforcing the Canadian army.
General Sullivan was given command of the new
brigade, Stark and Wayne being among the officers.
The smallpox proved a more dangerous enemy than the
British soldiers. Of the three thousand men before
Quebec all but about nine hundred at one time were ren-
dered unfit for duty by the disease.

Finding the army in no condition for aggressive serv-
ice, lacking provisions, and learning that heavy rein-
forcements of British troops were expected soon. Gen-
eral Thomas retreated in haste to the mouth of the
Richelieu River, abandoning artillery, stores, baggage,
and some of the sick. Here he was stricken with small-
pox, and being removed to Chambly, died there on June 2.

The command now devolved upon Gen. John Sulli-
van. The British army, meanwhile, had been rein-
forced by the arrival of thirteen thousand men under
General Burgoyne. Schuyler had found it a difficult
matter to collect and forward by way of Lake Cham-
plain provisions for three thousand men. After Sulli-
van's arrival the army in Canada needed daily twelve
thousand pounds of pork and the same amount of flour.
The pork was obtained but the average daily shipment
of flour did not exceed two thousand pounds.


A council of officers was called, which advised a re-
treat. On June 14, therefore, General Sullivan aban-
doned his position at Sorel, and set out for St. Johns.
The next day Arnold, who had been in command at
Montreal, left that city with his troops, marching across
country to Chambly. Burgoyne followed the retreating
Americans, but was ordered not to risk anything until
he was reinforced. Determined to save their remain-
ing artillery and stores, the Americans, many of them
still weak and ill from the effects of smallpox, plunged
into the water, and by sheer strength of muscle drew
more than one hundred heavily loaded bateaux over the
rapids of the Richelieu, working often up to their waists
in the water. Three vessels, three gondolas, and all the
boats that could not be brought away, were burned. As
the advance guard of the British army entered Chambly,
the American rear guard marched out.

The retreating army under Sullivan reached St. Johns
on June 17, about half of the troops being ill, and all of
them ragged and hungry. Taking such things as could
be transported, they applied the torch to the fort and
barracks, secured such boats as they needed, destroyed
all craft they did not need for the conveyance of the
troops, and pushed on to Isle aux Noix, reaching that
post on June 18. On this day Gen. Horatio Gates was
appointed to command the forces in Canada, an empty
honor indeed, and one which circumstances made it im-
possible to accept.

While at Isle aux Noix General Sullivan wrote to Gen-
eral Washington, saying: "I find myself under an
absolute necessity of quitting this island for a place


more healthy, otherwise the army will never be able to
return, as one fortnight longer in this place will not
leave us well men enough to carry off the sick, exclusive
of the publick stores, which I have preserved thus far.
The raging of the smallpox deprives us of whole regi-
ments in the course of a few days, by their being taken
down with that cruel disorder. But this is not all. The
camp disorder rages to such a degree that of the regi-
ments remaining, from twenty to sixty in each are taken
down in a day, and we have nothing to give them but
salt pork, flour and the poisonous waters of this lake. I
have therefore determined, with the unanimous voice of
the officers, to remove to Isle La Motte, a place much
more healthy than this, where I have some hope we shall
preserve the health of the few men we have till some
order is taken respecting our future movements."

Writing to Washington again from Isle aux Noix,
June 25, Sullivan said: *'I shall today remove from this
infectious place to Isle La Motte, which I should have
done before now, had not too many of our batteaus gone
forward with the sick to Crown Point." Another letter
contains the information that the sick sent from Canada
to Crown Point amounted to upwards of three thou-
sand men. According to a letter written by Dr. Samuel
J. Meyrick, surgeon of a Massachusetts regiment, the
sick left Isle aux Noix on June 20, and arrived at Crown
Point on June 25.

It was proposed that one thousand men should go
from Isle aux Noix to Isle La Motte, the greater part
of the way by land, while the remaining troops should be
transported to that place in bateaux. Isle La Motte had


been a sort of half-way-house between Ticonderoga and
Canada since the invasion of the northern province was
begun, and provisions had been deposited there that had
never gone farther toward Canada. It is evident that
the stay of the army at Isle La Motte was not a long
one, for a letter from General Sullivan to John Hancock,
written from Crown Point on July 2, announced that
the Northern army had arrived at that place from Isle
La Motte on the previous evening. Bancroft says that
the voyage to Crown Point was made "in leaky boats
which had no awnings, with no food but raw pork and
hard bread or unbaked flour."

Col. John Trumbull, son of Governor Trumbull of
Connecticut, and later a famous painter, writing of this
period, said : "My first duty upon my arrival at Crown
Point was to procure a return of the number and condi-
tion of the troops. I found them dispersed, some few
in tents, some in sheds, and more under the shelter of
miserable brush huts, so totally disorganized by the
death or sickness of officers that the distinction of regi-
ments and corps was in a great degree lost; so that I
was driven to the necessity of great personal examina-
tion, and I can truly say that I did not look into tent or
hut in which I did not find either a dead or dying man.
I can scarcely imagine any more disastrous scene, except
the retreat of Bonaparte from Moscow. * * * j
found the whole number of officers and men to be five
thousand, two hundred, and the sick who required the
attentions of an hospital were two thousand, eight hun-
dred (2,800)."


As early as May 31, General Arnold had written
General Gates: "I am heartily chagrined to think we
have lost in one month all the immortal Montgomery
was a whole campaign in gaining, together with our
credit, and many men, and an amazing sum of money."
Now, at the end of another month, the situation seemed
still worse. An army of invalids had returned from an
unsuccessful invasion. One of the most promising
American officers, perhaps the most promising, with the
single exception of Washington, had fallen before the
walls of Quebec. Apparently the campaign had ended
most ingloriously. And yet, Sullivan's retreat had
been a masterly one. At least, the campaign had de-
layed the invasion of the American colonies by the
British forces in Canada, and had given the troops ex-
perience in warfare of a very practical nature. If the
American invasion had been begun a little earlier, in
accordance with the pleadings of Ethan Allen, or if the
campaign once begun had been pressed with greater
vigor, then, possibly, Canada might have become a por-
tion of the American nation when independence was de-
clared at Philadelphia on July 4, 1776.

The defeat of the American army was hard enough
to endure, but the ravages of disease made it a still more
pitiable object. When the sick were ordered from Isle
aux Noix to Crown Point, some regiments did not con-
tain a sufficient number of healthy men to row them
away, and other regiments were called upon to furnish
oarsmen. Sullivan wrote John Hancock on July 2:
"To give you a particular account of the miserable state
of our troops there (at Crown Point) and the numbers


which daily keep dropping into their beds and graves,
would rather seem like the effect of imagination than a
history of facts." He adds: "I have ordered all the
sick to be removed at a distance from the other troops,
that the sight of such pitiful objects may not disperse the

John Adams described the Northern army at this time
as "disgraced, defeated, discontented, dispirited, undis-
ciplined, eaten with vermin, no clothes, beds, blankets,
nor medicines, and no victuals but salt pork and flour."
Although the army remained only about ten days at
Crown Point, being removed to Ticonderoga, they left
behind as a grim reminder of their encampment there,
three hundred freshly made graves. A hospital was
established at the head of Lake George, to which the
smallpox patients were removed.

About the time of the arrival of the army at Crown
Point, Governor Trumbull of Connecticut wrote John
Hancock that "the smallpox is a more terrible enemy
than the British troops, and strikes a greater dread into
our men who have never had it." A little later, on July
29, Governor Trumbull drew this picture of the army
on Lake Champlain: "There are now 3,000 sick and
about 3,000 well ; this leaves near 5,000 to be accounted
for; of these the enemy have cost perhaps LOOO — sick-
ness another LOOO — which leaves near 3,000; in what
manner they are disposed of is unknown. Among those
who remain there is neither order, subordination, or har-
mony, the officers as well as men of one colony insult-
ing and quarrelling with those of another. * * * ^
reform is absolutely necessary; the soldiers are ragged,


dirty, and many lousy; clothing greatly wanted — some
destitute of sufficiency to make themselves comfortable
and decent to appear."

Not only was the condition of the Northern army
miserable, and the country at large discouraged by the
failure of the Canadian expedition, but absolute terror
prevailed in the more northerly settlements of the New
Hampshire Grants. The situation was forcibly stated
by Governor Trumbull of Connecticut in a letter to the
President of the Continental Congress, in which he said :

"I have received information by several persons that
the inhabitants on the New Hampshire Grants, on the
northern frontier of the province of New York, are in
the highest consternation on the retreat of the army
from Canada, from an apprehended attack of the sav-
ages. Some of their settlements are breaking up, and all
are in danger of being soon deserted. Should they fall
back on the older plantations, the enemy would derive
great advantages from their improvements and build-
ings, to fall on and distress the frontiers; and the in-
convenience they may bring with them, and the terror
they will spread, may produce the most unhappy con-
sequences. May I not venture to suggest the expediency
of raising a battalion of troops, in the pay of the Con-
tinent, upon those Grants? The inhabitants, inured to
hardship, and acquainted with the country, may rival
the Indians in their own mode of making war, will sup-
port that frontier, and leave the more interior settle-
ments at liberty to assist in the general defence of the
Colonies. If they are not put under pay, their poverty
is such they can hire no laborers to carry on their farm-


ing business in their absence. Should they go out as
militia without pay, the failure of one crop would effec-
tually break up their settlements."

This action on the part of Governor Trumbull may
have been in response to an appeal made to him by David
Galusha, chairman of a committee of people of the New
Hampshire Grants, and forwarded to Connecticut by
Capt. Samuel Herrick, in which it was stated that the
messenger would describe "the wretched situation the
northern frontiers on the New Hampshire Grants are
at present in." The letter continues: "We would
acquaint Your Honor that we view our present situation
to be distressing, and our present hope of relief very
uncertain. We are much concerned for the preserva-
tion of the lives of the inhabitants in particular, and
the safety of the county in general. We are not willing
to breed any confusion by proposing a method contrary
to rule, but are willing to furnish any number of troops
in our power on application." The advice and encour-
agement of Governor Trumbull was asked in the per-
ilous situation, a very natural proceeding, as a large
proportion of the settlers of this region, particularly in
the western portion, were emigrants from Connecticut,
and had kept in close touch with the people of that

A petition from a committee representing the inhab-
itants of the New Hampshire Grants was presented to
General Sullivan by Col. Thomas Chittenden and Capt.
Heman Allen, saying: "We are greatly alarmed at the
retreat of our army out of Canada and the news of the
savages killing a number of our men on the west side
of Lake Champlain; in consequence of which events the


frontier settlements are removing their families into
the country; but the inhabitants thus remaining, being
greatly desirous that the frontier settlements should be
protected, and anxious to return and secure their crops,
we earnestly beg and entreat Your Honour to send a
guard to Onion River, or some other place which Your
Honour shall think most advantageous to the army and
inhabitants. We are much alarmed on account of our
unhappy situation, and would express our great concern
for the invaded liberties of the Colonies in general. We
have a number of good woodsmen, well acquainted with
firearms; and should Your Honour, in your wisdom,
think proper and give leave, we would immediately
raise a battalion of effective men for the defense of
the United Colonies, and the frontiers of New Hamp-
shire Grants in particular. And likewise earnestly de-
sire that Your Honour would give orders that our
frontier towns, which are destitute, may be supplied with

Online LibraryWalter Hill CrockettVermont, the Green mountain state (Volume 1) → online text (page 33 of 34)