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EMBARKATION OF MONTGOMERY.
was on the point of departing for Ticonderoga to carry it into effect. In reply to Washington, he declared his conviction, from various accounts which he had received, that Carleton and his agents were exciting the Indian tribes to hostility. "I should, therefore, not hesitate one moment," adds he, "to employ any savages that might be willing to join us."
He expressed himself delighted with Washington's project of sending off an expedition to Quebec, regretting only that it had not been thought of earlier. "Should the detachment from your body penetrate into Canada," added he, "and we meet with success, Canada must inevitably fall into our hands."
Having sent off these dispatches, Schuyler hastened back to Ticonderoga. Before he reached there, Montgomery had received intelligence that Carleton had completed his armed vessels at St. John's, and was about to send them into Lake Champlain by the Sorel River. No time, therefore, was to be lost in getting possession of the Isle Aux Noix, which commanded the entrance to that river. Montgomery hastened, therefore, to embark with about a thousand men, which were as many as the boats now ready could hold, taking with him two pieces of artillery; with this force he set off down the lake. A letter to General Schuyler explained the cause of his sudden departure, and entreated him to follow on in a whaleboat, leaving the residue of the artillery to come on as soon as conveyances could be procured.
Schuyler arrived at Ticonderoga on the night of the 30th of August, but too ill of a bilious fever to push on in a whaleboat. He caused, however, a bed to be prepared for him in a covered bateau, and, ill as he was, continued forward on the following day. On the 4th of September he overtook Montgomery at the Isle la Motte, where he had been detained by contrary weather, and, assuming command of the little army, kept on the same day to the Isle Aux Noix, about twelve miles south of St. John's where for the present we shall leave him, and return to the head-quarters of the commander-in-chief.
A Challenge declined. A Blow meditated. - A Cautious Council of War. - Preparation for the Quebec Expedition. -Benedict Arnold the Leader. Advice and Instructions. - Departure. General Schuyler on the Sorel. - Reconnoiters St. John's. Camp at Isle Aux Noix. - Illness of Schuyler. Returns to Ticonderoga. - Expedition of Montgomery against St. John's. Letter of Ethan Allen. -- His Dash against Montreal. Its Catastrophe. A Hero in Irons. Correspondence of Washington with Schuyler and Arnold. His Anxiety about Them.
HE siege of Boston had been kept up for several weeks without any remarkable occurrence. The British remained within their lines, diligently strengthening them; the besiegers having received further supplies of ammunition, were growing impatient of a state of inactivity. Towards the latter part of August there were rumors from Boston, that the enemy were preparing for a sortie. Washington was resolved to provoke it by a kind of challenge. He accordingly detached fourteen hundred men to seize at night upon a height within musket-shot of the enemy's line on Charlestown Neck, presuming that the latter would sally forth on the following day to dispute possession of it, and thus be drawn into a general battle. The task was executed with silence and celerity, and by daybreak
the hill presented to the astonished foe the aspect of a fortified post.
The challenge was not accepted. The British opened a heavy cannonade from Bunker's Hill, but kept within their works. The Americans, scant of ammunition, could only reply with a single nine-pounder; this, however, sank one of the floating batteries which guarded the Neck. They went on to complete and strengthen this advanced post, exposed to daily cannonade and bombardment, which, however, did but little injury. They continued to answer from time to time with a single gun; reserving their ammunition for a general action. "We are just in the situation of a man with little money in his pocket," writes Secretary Reed; "he will do twenty mean things to prevent his breaking in upon his little stock. We are obliged to bear with the rascals on Bunker's Hill, when a few shot now and then in return, would keep our men attentive to their business and give the enemy alarms.” 1
The evident unwillingness of the latter to come forth was perplexing. Unless the ministerial troops in Boston are waiting for reinforcements," writes Washington, "I cannot devise what they are staying there for, nor why, as they affect to despise the Americans, they do not come forth and put an end to the contest at once."
Perhaps they persuaded themselves that his army, composed of crude, half-disciplined levies from different and distant quarters, would gradually fall asunder and disperse, or that its means of
1 Life of Reed, vol. i. 119.
A BLOW MEDITATED.
subsistence would be exhausted. He had his own fears on the subject, and looked forward with doubt and anxiety to a winter's campaign; the heavy expense that would be incurred in providing barracks, fuel and warm clothing; the difficulty there would be of keeping together, through the rigorous season, troops unaccustomed to military hardships, and none of whose terms of enlistment extended beyond the 1st of January: the supplies of ammunition, too, that would be required for protracted operations; the stock of powder on hand, notwithstanding the most careful husbandry, being fearfully small. Revolving these circumstances in his mind, he rode thoughtfully about the commanding points in the vicinity of Boston, considering how he might strike a decisive blow that would put an end to the murmuring inactivity of the army, and relieve the country from the consuming expense of maintaining it. The result was, a letter to the major and brigadier-generals, summoning them to a council of war to be held at the distance of three days, and giving them previous intimation of its purpose. It was to know whether, in their judgment, a successful attack might not be made upon the troops at Boston by means of boats, in coöperation with an attempt upon their lines at Roxbury. "The success of such an enterprise," adds he, "depends, I well know, upon the All-wise Disposer of events, and it is not within the reach of human wisdom to foretell the issue; but if the prospect is fair, the undertaking is justifiable."
He proceeded to state the considerations already