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AFFAIRS IN CANADA.-CAPTURE OF FORT CHAMBLEE.-SIEGE OF ST. JOHN'S.
MONTREAL. ESCAPE OF CARLETON.
ESPATCHES from Schuyler dated October 26th, gave Washington another chapter of the Canada expedition. Chamblee, an inferior fort, within five miles of St. John's, had been taken by Majors Brown and Livingston at the head of fifty Americans and three hundred Canadians. A large quantity of gunpowder and other military stores found there, was a seasonable supply to the army before St. John's, and consoled General Montgomery for his disappointment in regard to the aid promised by Colonel Ethan Allen. He now pressed the siege of St. John's with vigor. The garrison, cut off from supplies, were suffering from want of provisions; but the brave commander, Major Preston, still held out manfully, hoping speedy relief from General
Carleton, who was assembling troops for that purpose at Montreal.
Carleton, it is true, had but about one hundred regulars, several hundred Canadians, and a number of Indians with him; but he calculated greatly on the coöperation of Colonel Maclean, a veteran Scot, brave and bitterly loyal, who had enlisted three hundred of his countrymen at Quebec, and formed them into a regiment called "The Royal Highland Emigrants." This doughty Highlander was to land at the mouth of the Sorel, where it empties into the St. Lawrence, and proceed along the former river to St. John's, to join Carleton, who would repair thither by the way of Longueil.
In the meantime Montgomery received accounts from various quarters that Colonel Ethan Allen and his men, captured in the ill-advised attack upon Montreal, were treated with cruel and unnecessary severity, being loaded with irons; and that even the colonel himself was subjected to this "shocking indignity." Montgomery addressed a letter to Carleton on the subject, strong and decided in its purport, but written in the spirit of a courteous and high-minded gentleman, and ending with an expression of that sad feeling which gallant officers must often have experienced in this revolutionary conflict, on being brought into collision with former brothers in
“Your character, sir," writes he, "induces me to hope I am ill-informed. Nevertheless, the duty I owe the
troops committed to my charge, lays me under the necessity of acquainting your Excellency, that, if you allow this conduct and persist in it, I shall, though with the most painful regret, execute with rigor the just and necessary law of retaliation upon the garrison of Chamblee, now in my possession, and upon all others who may hereafter fall into my hands. I shall expect your Excellency's answer in six days. Should the bearer not return in that time, I must interpret your silence into a declaration of a barbarous war. I cannot pass this opportunity without lamenting the melancholy and fatal necessity, which obliges the firmest friends of the constitution to oppose one of the most respectable officers of the crown."
While waiting for a reply, Montgomery pressed the siege of St. John's, though thwarted continually by the want of subordination and discipline among his troops -hasty levies from various colonies, who, said he, “carry the spirit of freedom into the field, and think for themselves." Accustomed as he had been, in his former military experience, to the implicit obedience of European troops, the insubordination of these yeoman soldiery was intolerable to him. "Were I not afraid," writes he, "the example would be too generally followed, and that the public service might suffer, I would not stay an hour at the head of troops whose operations I cannot direct. I must say I have no hopes of success, unless from the garrison's wanting provisions."
He had advanced his lines and played from his batteries on two sides of the fort for some hours, when tidings brought by four. prisoners caused him to cease his fire.
General Carleton, on the 31st of September, had embarked his motley force at Montreal in thirty-four boats, to cross the St. Lawrence, land at Longueil, and push on for St. John's, where, as concerted, he was to be joined by Maclean and his Highlanders. As the boats approached the right bank of the river at Longueil, a terrible fire of artillery and musketry was unexpectedly opened upon them, and threw them into confusion. It was from Colonel Seth Warner's detachment of Green Mountain Boys and New Yorkers. Some of the boats were disabled, some were driven on shore on an island; Carleton retreated with the rest to Montreal, with some loss in killed and wounded. The Americans captured two Canadians and two Indians; and it was these prisoners who brought tidings to the camp of Carleton's signal repulse.
Aware that the garrison held out merely in expectation of the relief thus intercepted Montgomery ceased his fire, and sent a flag by one of the Canadian prisoners with a letter informing Major Preston of the event, and inviting a surrender to spare the effusion of blood.
Preston in reply expressed a doubt of the truth of the report brought by the prisoners, but offered to surrender if not relieved in four days. The condition was refused, and the gallant major was obliged to capitulate. His garrison consisted of five hundred regulars and one hun
dred Canadians; among the latter were several of the provincial noblesse.
Montgomery treated Preston and his garrison with the courtesy inspired by their gallant resistance. He had been a British officer himself, and his old associations with the service made him sympathize with the brave men whom the fortune of war had thrown into his hands. Perhaps their high-bred and aristocratic tone contrasted favorably in his eyes, with the rough demeanor of the crude swordsmen with whom he had recently associated, and brought back the feelings of early days when war with him was a gay profession, not a melancholy duty. According to the capitulation, the baggage of both officers and men was secured to them, and each of the latter received a new suit of clothing from the captured stores. This caused a murmur among the American soldiery, many of whom were nearly naked, and the best but scantily provided. Even some of the officers were indignant that all the articles of clothing had not been treated as lawful spoil. "I would not have sullied my own reputation, nor disgraced the Continental arms by such a breach of capitulation for the universe," said Montgomery. Having sent his prisoners up Lake Champlain to Ticonderoga, he prepared to proceed immediately to Montreal; requesting General Schuyler to forward all the men he could possibly spare.
The Royal Highland Emigrants who were to have cooperated with General Carleton, met with no better for