Slike strani
PDF
ePub

PROGRESS OF ARNOLD.

75

do me justice in believing that I feel the utmost anxiety for your situation, that I sympathize with you in all your distresses, and shall most heartily share in the joy of your success. My anxiety extends itself to poor Arnold, whose fate depends upon the issue of your campaign. The more I reflect upon the importance of your expedition, the greater is my concern, lest it should sink under insuperable difficulties. I look upon the interests and salvation of our bleeding country in a great degree as depending upon your success."

Shortly after writing the above, and while he was still full of solicitude about the fate of Arnold, he received a dispatch from the latter dated October 13th, from the great portage or carrying-place between the Kennebec and Dead River.

"Your Excellency," writes Arnold, “may possibly think we have been tardy in our march, as we have gained so little; but when you consider the badness and weight of the bateaux, and large quantities of provisions, etc., we have been obliged to force up against a very rapid stream, where you would have taken the men for amphibious animals, as they were a great part of the time under water: add to this the great fatigue in the portage, you will think I have pushed the men as fast as they could possibly bear."

The toils of the expedition up the Kennebec River had indeed been excessive. Part of the men of each division managed the boats - part marched along the banks. Those on board had

--

to labor against swift currents; to unload at rapids; transport the cargoes, and sometimes the boats themselves, for some distance on their shoulders, and then to reload. They were days in making their way round stupendous cataracts; several times their boats were upset and filled with water, to the loss or damage of arms, ammunition, and provisions.

Those on land had to scramble over rocks and precipices, to struggle through swamps and fenny streams; or cut their way through tangled thickets, which reduced their clothes to rags. With all their efforts, their progress was but from four to ten miles a day. At night the men of each division encamped together.

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 dispatched 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.

CHAPTER VI.

British in Boston send out Cruisers. - Depredations of Captain Wallace along the Coast. Treason in the Camp. Arrest of Dr. Church. - His Trial and Fate. Conflagration of Falmouth. - Irritation throughout the Country.Fitting out of Vessels of War. Embarkation of General Gage for England. - Committee from Congress. — Conferences with Washington. -Resolutions of Congress to carry on the War. - Return of Secretary Reed to Philadelphia.

TRX

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 agressors. 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.1

1 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 headquarters, 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

TREASON IN THE CAMP.

79

even Washington's 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. "It appeared, however, on inquiry," says Washington, "that a confidant had been among the papers before my messenger arrived."

The letter was deciphered. It gave a descrip

« PrejšnjaNaprej »