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By the time they arrived at the place whence the letter was written, fatigue, swamp fevers and desertion had reduced their numbers to about nine hundred and fifty effective men. Arnold, however, wrote in good heart. “The last division,” said he, “is just arrived; three divisions are over the first carrying-place, and as the men are in high spirits, I make no doubt of reaching the river Chaudiere in eight or ten days, the greatest difficulty being, I hope, already past.”
He had some days previously despatched an Indian, whom he considered trusty, with a letter for General Schuyler, apprising him of his whereabouts, but as yet had received no intelligence either of, or from the general, nor did he expect to receive any until he should reach Chaudiere Pond. There he calculated to meet the return of his express, and then to determine his plan of operations.
BRITISH IN BOSTON SEND OUT CRUISERS. — DEPREDATIONS OF CAPTAIN WAL
LACE ALONG THE COAST.-TREASON IN THE CAMP.-ARREST OF DR, CHURCH.
HIS TRIAL AND FATE.
CONFLAGRATION OF FALMOUTH.
THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. -FITTING OUT OF VESSELS OF WAR. – EM
BARKATION OF GENERAL GAGE FOR ENGLAND, - COMMITTEE FROM CON
GRESS.-CONFERENCES WITH WASHINGTON.--RESOLUTIONS OF CONGRESS TO
CARRY ON THE WAR, -RETURN OF SECRETARY REED TO PHILADELPHIA,
HILE the two expeditions were threatening
Canada from different quarters, the war was
going on along the seaboard. The British in Boston, cut off from supplies by land, fitted out small armed vessels to seek them along the coast of New England. The inhabitants drove their cattle into the interior, or boldly resisted the aggressors. Parties landing to forage were often repulsed by hasty levies of the yeomanry. Scenes of ravage and violence occurred. Stonington was cannonaded, and further measures of vengeance were threatened by Captain Wallace of the Rose man-of-war, a naval officer, who had acquired an almost piratical reputation along the coast, and had his rendezvous in the harbor of Newport, domineering over the waters of Rhode Island.*
* Gov. Trumbull to Washington. Sparks' Corresp. of the Rev. i. 27.
About this time there was an occurrence, which caused great excitement in the armies. A woman, coming from the camp at Cambridge, applied to a Mr. Wainwood of Newport, Rhode Island, to aid her in gaining access to Captain Wallace, or Mr. Dudley, the collector. Wainwood, who was a patriot, drew from her the object of her errand. She was the bearer of a letter from some one in camp, directed to Major Kane in Boston: but which she was to deliver either to the captain or the collector. Suspecting something wrong, he prevailed upon her to leave it with him for delivery. After her departure he opened the letter. It was written in cipher, which he could not read. He took it to Mr. Henry Ward, secretary of the colony. The latter, apprehending it might contain treasonable information to the enemy, transmitted it to General Greene, who laid it before Washington.
A letter in cipher, to a person in Boston hostile to the cause, and to be delivered into the hands of Captain Wallace the nautical marauder !—there evidently was treason in the camp; but how was the traitor to be detected ? The first step was to secure the woman, the bearer of the letter, who had returned to Cambridge. Tradition gives us a graphic scene connected with her arrest. Washington was in his chamber at head-quarters, when he beheld from his window, General Putnam approaching on horseback, with a stout woman en croupe behind him. He had pounced upon the culprit. The group presented by the old general and his prize, overpowered even Washington's
TREASON IN THE CAMP.
gravity. It was the only occasion throughout the whole campaign, on which he was known to laugh heartily. He had recovered his gravity by the time the delinquent was brought to the foot of the broad staircase in head-quarters, and assured her in a severe tone from the head of it, that, unless she confessed everything before the next morning, a halter would be in readiness for her.
So far the tradition ;-his own letter to the President of Congress states that, for a long time, the woman was proof against every threat and persuasion to discover the author, but at length named Dr. Benjamin Church. It seemed incredible. He had borne the character of a distinguished patriot; he was the author of various patriotic writings ; a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives; one of the committee deputed to conduct Washington to the army, and at present he discharged the functions of surgeon-general and director of the hospitals. That such a man should be in traitorous correspondence with the enemy, was a thunderstroke. Orders were given to secure him and his papers. On his arrest he was extremely agitated, but acknowledged the letter, and said it would be found, when deciphered, to contain nothing criminal. His papers were searched, but nothing of a treasonable nature discovered. peared, however, on inquiry,” says Washington, “that a confidant had been among the papers before my messenger arrived.”
The letter was deciphered. It gave a description of
the army. The doctor made an awkward defense, protesting that he had given an exaggerated account of the American force, for the purpose of deterring the enemy from attacking the American lines in their present defenseless condition from the want of powder. His explanations were not satisfactory. The army and country were exceedingly irritated. In a council of war he was convicted of criminal correspondence; he was expelled from the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and the Continental Congress ultimately resolved that he should be confined in some secure jail in Connecticut, without the use of pen, ink, or paper; "and that no person be allowed to converse with him, except in the presence and hearing of a magistrate or the sheriff of the county.”
His sentence was afterwards mitigated on account of his health, and he was permitted to leave the country. He embarked for the West Indies, and is supposed to have perished at sea.
What had caused especial irritation in the case of Dr. Church, was the kind of warfare already mentioned, carried on along the coast by British cruisers, and notoriously by Captain Wallace. To check these maraudings, and to capture the enemy's transports laden with supplies, the provinces of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, fitted out two armed vessels each, at their own expense, without seeking the sanction or aid of Congress. Washington, also, on his own responsibility, or