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nation of any officer to that command. The character I have drawn of General Sullivan is just, according to my ideas of him. Congress will therefore determine upon the propriety of continuing him in Canada, or sending another, as they shall see fit.
Scarce had Washington dispatched this letter, when he received one from the President of Congress, dated the 18th of June, informing him that Major-general Gates had been appointed to command the forces in Canada, and requesting him to expedite his departure as soon as possible. The appointment of Gates has been attributed to the influence of the Eastern delegates, with whom he was a favorite; indeed, during his station at Boston he had been highly successful in cultivating the good graces of the New England people. He departed for his command on the 26th of June, vested with extraordinary powers for the regulation of affairs in that "distant, dangerous, and shifting scene." "I would fain hope," writes Washington, "his arrival there will give our affairs a complexion different from what they have worn for a long time past, and that many essential benefits will result from it."
Dispatches just received from General Sullivan had given a different picture of affairs in Canada from that contained in his previous letter. In fact, when he wrote that letter, he was ignorant of the actual force of the enemy in Canada, which had recently been augmented to about thirteen thousand men; several regiments having arrived from Ireland, one from England, another from General Howe, and a body of Brunswick troops under the Baron Riedesel. Of these, the greater part were on the way up from Quebec in divi
* Washington to the President of Congress, July 12, 1776.
sions, by land and water, with Generals Carleton, Burgoyne, Philips, and Riedesel; while a considerable number under General Fraser had arrived at Three Rivers, and others, under General Nesbit, lay near them on board of transports. Sullivan's dispatch, dated on the 8th of June, at the mouth of the Sorel, began in his former sanguine vein, anticipating the success of General Thompson's expedition to Three Rivers. "He has proceeded in the manner proposed, and made his attack at daylight, for at that time a very heavy cannonading began, which lasted with some intervals to twelve o'clock. It is now near 1 P.M.; the firing has ceased, except some irregular firing with cannon, at a considerable distance of time one from the other. At eight o'clock a very heavy firing of small-arms was heard even here, at the distance of forty-five miles. I am almost certain that victory has declared in our favor, as the irregular firing of the cannon for such a length of time after the small-arms ceased shows that our men are in possession of the ground."
The letter was kept open to give the particulars of this supposed victory; it closed with a dismal reverse. General Thompson had coasted in bateaux along the right bank of the river at the expanse called Lake St. Pierre, and arrived at Nicolete, where he found St. Clair and his detachment. He crossed the river in the night, and landed a few miles above Three Rivers, intending to surprise the enemy before daylight; he was not aware at the time that additional troops had arrived under General Burgoyne.
After landing, he marched with rapidity toward Three Rivers, but was led by treacherous guides into a morass and obliged to return back nearly two miles. Day broke, and he was discovered from the ships. A cannonade was opened upon his men as they made their way slowly for an hour and
a half through a swamp. At length they arrived in sight of Three Rivers, but it was to find a large force drawn up in battle array, under General Fraser, by whom they were warmly attacked, and after a brief stand thrown into confusion. Thompson attempted to rally his troops, and partly succeeded, until a fire was opened upon them in rear by Nesbit, who had landed from his ships. Their rout now was complete. General Thompson, Colonel Irvine, and about two hundred men were captured, twenty-five were slain, and the rest pursued for several miles through a deep swamp. After great fatigues and sufferings, they were able to get on board of their boats, which had been kept from falling into the hands of the enemy. In these they made their way back to the Sorel, bringing General Sullivan a sad explanation of all the firing he had heard, and the alarming intelligence of the overpowering force that was coming up the river.
"This, my dear general," writes Sullivan, in the conclusion of his letter, "is the state of this unfortunate enterprise. What you will next hear I cannot say. I am every moment informed of the vast number of the enemy which have arrived. I have only two thousand five hundred and thirtythree rank and file. Most of the officers seem discouraged, and, of course, their men. I am employed day and night in fortifying and securing my camp, and am determined to hold it as long as a person will stick by me.”
He had, indeed, made the desperate resolve to defend the mouth of the Sorel, but was induced to abandon it by the unanimous opinion of his officers and the evident unwillingness of his troops. Dismantling his batteries, therefore, he retreated with his artillery and stores, just before the arrival of the enemy, and was followed, step by step along the Sorel, by a strong column under General Burgoyne.
On the 18th of June he was joined by General Arnold with three hundred men, the garrison of Montreal, who had crossed at Longueil just in time to escape a large detachment of the enemy. Thus re-enforced, and the evacuation of Canada being determined on in a council of war, Sullivan succeeded in destroying everything at Chamblee and St. John's that he could not carry away, breaking down bridges, and leaving forts and vessels in flames, and continued his retreat to the Isle aux Noix, where he made a halt for some days until he should receive positive orders from Washington or General Schuyler. In a letter to Washington, he observes, "I am extremely sorry it was not in my power to fulfill your Excellency's wishes by leading on our troops to victory." After stating the reason of his failure, he adds, "I think we shall secure all the public stores and baggage of the army, and secure our retreat with very little loss. Whether we shall have well men enough to carry them on, I much doubt, if we don't remove quickly; unless Heaven is pleased to restore health to this wretched army, now, perhaps, the most pitiful one that ever was formed."
The low, unhealthy situation of the Isle aux Noix obliged him soon to remove his camp to the Isle la Motte, whence, on receiving orders to that effect from General Schuyler, he ultimately embarked with his forces, sick and well, for Crown Point.
Thus ended this famous invasion; an enterprise bold in its conceptions, daring and hardy in its execution; full of ingenious expedients and hazardous exploits; and which, had not unforeseen circumstances counteracted its welldevised plans, might have added all Canada to the American confederacy.
Designs of the Enemy against New York and the Hudson-Plot of Tryon and the Tories-Arrival of a Fleet-Alarm Posts-Treachery up the Hudson-Fresh Arrivals-General Howe at Staten Island-Washington's Preparations
THE great aim of the British, at present, was to get possession of New York and the Hudson, and make them the basis of military operations. This they hoped to effect on the arrival of a powerful armament, hourly expected, and designed for operations on the seaboard.
At this critical juncture there was an alarm of a conspiracy among the tories in the city and on Long Island, suddenly to take up arms and co-operate with the British troops on their arrival. The wildest reports were in circulation concerning it. Some of the tories were to break down King's Bridge, others were to blow up the magazines, spike the guns, and massacre all the field-officers. Washington was to be killed or delivered up to the enemy. Some of his own bodyguard were said to be in the plot.
Several publicans of the city were pointed out as having aided or abetted the plot. One was landlord of the Highlander, at the corner of Beaver Street and Broadway. An. other dispensed liquor under the sign of Robin Hood. Another named Lowry, described as a "fat man in a blue coat," kept tavern in a low house opposite the Oswego market. Another, James Houlding, kept a beer house in Tryon Row, opposite the gates of the upper barracks. It would seem as if a network of corruption and treachery had