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ARNOLD AND THE COMMITTEE OF INQUIRY-CANADA TO BE INVADED. [1775.
Arnold was thunderstruck at being subjected to inquiry, when he had expected an ovation. He requested a sight of the committee's instructions. The sight of them only increased | his indignation. They were to acquaint themselves with the manner in which he had executed his commission; with his spirit, capacity, and conduct. Should they think proper, they might order him to return to Massachusetts, to render account of the moneys, ammunition, and stores he had received, and the debts he had contracted on behalf of the colony. While at Ticonderoga, he and his men were to be under command of the principal officer from Connecticut.
to paralyze all hostility from this quarter; now, while Carleton's regular force was weak, and before the arrival of additional troops. Influenced by these considerations, Congress now determined to extend the revolution into Canada, but it was an enterprise too important to be intrusted to any but discreet hands. General Schuyler, then in New York, was accordingly ordered, on the 27th June, to proceed to Ticonderoga, and "should he find it practicable, and not disagreeable to the Canadians, immediately to take possession of St. Johns and Montreal, and pursue such other measures in Canada as might have a tendency to promote the peace and security of these provinces."
It behooved General Schuyler to be on the Arnold was furious. He swore he would alert, lest the enterprise should be snatched from be second in command to no one, disbanded his hands. Ethan Allen and Seth Warner were his men, and threw up his commission. Quite at Bennington, among the Green Mountains. a scene ensued. His men became turbulent; Enlistments were going on but too slow some refused to serve under any other leader; for Allen's impatience, who had his old hankothers clamored for their pay, which was in ering for a partisan foray. In a letter to Part joined Arnold on board of the Governor Trumbull (July 12th), he writes vessels which were drawn out into the lake; and "Were it not that the grand Continental Conamong other ebullitions of passion, there was gress had totally incorporated the Green a threat of sailing for St. Johns. Mountain Boys into a battalion under certain regulations and command, I would forthwith advance them into Canada and invest Montreal, exclusive of any help from the colonies; though under present circumstances I would not, for my right arm, act without or contrary to order. If my fond zeal for reducing the King's fortresses and destroying or imprisoning his troops in Canada be the result of enthusiasm, I hope and expect the wisdom of the Continent will treat it as such; and on the other hand, if it proceed from sound policy, that the plan will be adopted.” *
At length the storm was allayed by the interference of several of the officers, and the assurances of the committee that every man | should be paid. A part of them enlisted under Colonel Easton, and Arnold set off for Cambridge to settle his accounts with the committee of safety.
The project of an invasion of Canada, urged by Allen and Arnold, had at first met with no favor, the Continental Congress having formally resolved to make no hostile attempts upon that province. Intelligence subsequently received, induced it to change its plans. Carleton was said to be strengthening the fortifications and garrison at St. Johns, and prepared to launch vessels on the lake wherewith to regain command of it, and retake the captured posts. Powerful reinforcements were coming from England and elsewhere. Guy Johnson was holding councils with the fierce Cayugas and Senecas, and stirring up the Six Nations to hostility. On the other hand, Canada was full of religious and political dissensions. The late exploits of the Americans on Lake Champlain, had produced a favorable effect on the Canadians, who would flock to the patriot standard if unfurled among them by an imposing force. Now was the time to strike a blow
Schuyler arrived at Ticonderoga on the 18th of July. A letter to Washington, to whom, as commander-in chief, he made constant reports, gives a striking picture of a frontier post in those crude days of the Revolution.
"You will expect that I should say something about this place and the troops here. Not one earthly thing for offence or defence has been done; the commanding officer has no orders; he only came to reinforce the garrison, and he expected the general. About ten last night I arrived at the landing-place, at the north end of Lake George; a post occupied by a captain and one hundred men. A sentinel,
Force's Am. Archives. il. 1649.
SCHUYLER AT TICONDEROGA-ETHAN ALLEN.
on being informed that I was in the boat, | camp at Cambridge, and the spirit with which quitted his post to go and awaken the guard, he coped with him. "From my own expericonsisting of three men, in which he had no ence," writes he (July 28), "I can easily judge success. I walked up and came to another, of your difficulties in introducing order and disa sergeant's guard. Here the sentinel challeng- cipline into troops, who have, from their infaned, but suffered me to come up to him; the cy, imbibed ideas of the most contrary kind. whole guard, like the first, in the soundest It would be far beyond the compass of a letter, sleep. With a penknife only I could have cut for me to describe the situation of things here off both guards, and then have set fire to the [at Cambridge], on my arrival. Perhaps you block-house, destroyed the stores and starved will only be able to judge of it, from my assurthe people here. At this post I had pointedly ing you, that mine must be a portrait at full recommended vigilance and care, as all the length of what you have had in miniature. stores from Lake George must necessarily be Confusion and discord reigned in every departlanded here. But I hope to get the better of ment, which, in a little time, must have ended this inattention. The officers and men are all either in the separation of the army, or fatal congood-looking people, and decent in their de- tests with one another. The better genius of portment, and I really believe will make good America has prevailed, and most happily, the soldiers as soon as I can get the better of ministerial troops have not availed themselves this nonchalance of theirs. Bravery, I believe, of these advantages, till, I trust, the opportunity they are far from wanting." is, in a great measure, passed over. * * We mend every day, and, I flatter myself, that in a little time we shall work up these raw materials into a good manufacture. I must recommend to you, what I endeavor to practise myself, patience and perseverance."
Colonel Hinman, it will be recollected, was in temporary command at Ticonderoga, if that could be called a command where none seemed to obey. The garrison was about twelve hundred strong: the greater part Connecticut men, brought by himself; some were New York troops, and some few Green Mountain Boys. Schuyler, on taking command, despatched a confidential agent into Canada, Major John Brown, an American, who resided on the Sorel River, and was popular among the Canadians. He was to collect information as to the British forces and fortifications, and to ascertain how an invasion and an attack on St. Johns would be considered by the people of the province: in the mean time Schuyler set diligently to work to build boats, and prepare for the enterprise should it ultimately be ordered by Congress.
Schuyler was an authoritative man, and inherited from his Dutch ancestry a great love of order; he was excessively annoyed, therefore, by the confusion and negligence prevalent around him, and the difficulties and delays thereby occasioned. He chafed in spirit at the disregard of discipline among his yeoman soldiery, and their opposition to all system and regularity. This was especially the case with the troops from Connecticut, officered generally by their own neighbors and familiar companions, and unwilling to acknowledge the authority of a commander from a different province. He poured out his complaints in a friendly letter to Washington; the latter consoled him by stating his own troubles and grievances in the
Schuyler took the friendly admonition in the spirit in which it was given. "I can easily conceive," writes he (Aug. 6th), "that my difficulties are only a faint semblance of yours. Yes, my general, I will strive to copy your bright example, and patiently and steadily persevere in that line which only can promise the wished-for reformation."
He had calculated on being joined, by this time, by the regiment of Green Mountain Boys which Ethan Allen and Seth Warner had undertaken to raise in the New Hampshire Grants. Unfortunately, a quarrel had arisen between those brothers in arms, which filled the Green Mountains with discord and party feuds. The election of officers took place on the 27th of July. It was made by committees from the different townships. Ethan Allen was entirely passed by, and Seth Warner nominated as Lieutenant-Colonel of the regiment. Allen was thunderstruck at finding himself thus suddenly dismounted. His patriotism and love of adventure, however, were not quelled: and he forthwith repaired to the army at Ticonderoga to offer himself as a volunteer.
Schuyler, at first, hesitated to accept his services. He was aware of his aspiring notions, and feared there would be a difficulty in keeping him within due bounds, but was at length persuaded by his officers to retain
178 PREPARATIONS FOR THE INVASION OF CANADA-GENERAL MONTGOMERY. [1775.
him, to act as a pioneer on the Canadian to urge forward the military preparations. As frontier.
In a letter from camp, Allen gave Governor Trumbull an account of the downfall of his towering hopes. "Notwithstanding my zeal and success in my country's cause, the old farmers on the New Hampshire Grants, who do not incline to go to war, have met in a committee meeting, and in their nomination of officers for the regiment of Green Mountain Boys, have wholly omitted me."
His letter has a consolatory postscript. "I find myself in the favor of the officers of the army and the young Green Mountain Boys. How the old men came to reject me, I cannot conceive, inasmuch as I saved them from the encroachments of New York." * The old men probably doubted his discretion.
Schuyler was on the alert with respect to the expedition against Canada. From his agent, Major Brown, and from other sources, he had learnt that there were but about seven hundred king's troops in that province; three hundred of them at St. Johns, about fifty at Quebec, the remainder at Montreal, Chamblee, and the upper posts. Colonel Guy Johnson was at Montreal with three hundred men, mostly his tenants, and with a number of Indians. Two batteries had been finished at St. Johns, mounting nine guns each other works were intrenched and picketed. Two large row galleys were on the stocks, and would soon be finished. Now was the time, according to his informants, to carry Canada. It might be done with great ease and little cost. The Canadians were disaffected to British rule, and would join the Americans, and so would many of the Indians.
the subsequent fortunes of this gallant officer are inseparably connected with the Canadian campaign, and have endeared his name to Americans, we pause to give a few particulars concerning him.
General Richard Montgomery was of a good family in the north of Ireland, where he was born in 1736. He entered the army when about eighteen years of age; served in America in the French war; won a lieutenancy by gallant conduct at Louisburg; followed General Amherst to Lake Champlain, and, after the conquest of Canada, was promoted to a captaincy for his services in the West Indies.
After the peace of Versailles he resided in England; but, about three years before the breaking out of the Revolution, he sold out his commission in the army, and emigrated to New York. Here he married the eldest daughter of Judge Robert R. Livingston, of the Claremont branch of that family; and took up his residence on an estate which he had purchased in Dutchess County, on the banks of the Hudson.
Being known to be in favor of the popular cause, he was drawn reluctantly from his rural abode, to represent his county in the first convention of the province; and on the recent organization of the army, his military reputation gained him the unsought commission of Brigadier-General. "It is an event," writes he to a friend, "which must put an end for a while, perhaps forever, to the quiet scheme of life I had prescribed for myself; for, though entirely unexpected and undesired by me, the will of an oppressed people, compelled to choose between liberty and slavery, must be obeyed."
At the time of receiving his commission,
"I am prepared," writes he to Washington, "to move against the enemy, unless your Ex-Montgomery was about thirty-nine years of cellency and Congress should direct otherwise. In the course of a few days, I expect to receive the ultimate determination. Whatever it may be, I shall try to execute it in such a manner as will promote the just cause in which we are engaged."
While awaiting orders on this head, he repaired to Albany, to hold a conference and negotiate a treaty with the Caughnawagas, and the warriors of the Six Nations, whom, as one of the commissioners of Indian affairs, he had invited to meet him at that place. General Richard Montgomery was to remain in command at Ticonderoga, during his absence, and
* Am. Archives, 4th Series, iii. 17.
age, and the beau ideal of a soldier. His form was well proportioned and vigorous; his countenance expressive and prepossessing; he was cool and discriminating in council, energetic and fearless in action. His principles commanded the respect of friends and foes, and he was noted for winning the affections of the soldiery.
While these things were occurring at Ticonderoga, several Indian chiefs made their appearance in the camp at Cambridge. They came in savage state and costume, as ambassadors from their respective tribes, to have a talk about the impending invasion of Canada. One was chief of the Caughnawaga tribe, whose residence was on the banks of the St. LawI.rence, six miles above Montreal. Others were
INDIANS AT CAMBRIDGE-PLAN FOR AN EXPEDITION AGAINST QUEBEC.
from St. Francis, about forty-five leagues above | siderably advanced, so that you will dismiss the Quebec, and were of a warlike tribe, from which express as soon as possible. hostilities had been especially apprehended.
Washington, accustomed to deal with the red warriors of the wilderness, received them with great ceremonial. They dined at head-quarters among his officers, and it is observed that to some of the latter they might have served as models; such was their grave dignity and de
A council-fire was held. The sachems all offered, on behalf of their tribes, to take up the hatchet for the Americans, should the latter invade Canada. The offer was embarrassing. Congress had publicly resolved to seek nothing but neutrality from the Indian nations, unless the ministerial agents should make an offensive alliance with them. The chief of the St. Francis tribe declared that Governor Carleton had endeavored to persuade him to take up the hatchet against the Americans, but in vain. "As our ancestors gave this country to you," added he, grandly, (6 we would not have you destroyed by England; but are ready to afford you our assistance.”
Washington wished to be certain of the conduct of the enemy, before he gave a reply to these Indian overtures. He wrote by express, therefore, to General Schuyler, requesting him to ascertain the intentions of the British governor with respect to the native tribes.
The express found Schuyler in Albany, where he had been attending the conference with the Six Nations. He had just received intelligence which convinced him of the propriety of an expedition into Canada; had sent word to General Montgomery to get every thing ready for it, and 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 despatches, Schuyler hastened back to Ticonderoga. Before he reached there, Montgomery had received intelligence that Carleton had completed his armed vessels at St. Johns, 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 explain
treated him to follow on in a whale-boat, leaving the residue of the artillery to come on as soon as conveyances could be procured,
By the same express, he communicated a plan which had occupied his thoughts for several days. As the contemplated movement of Schuyler would probably cause all the British force in Canada to be concentrated in the neighborhood of Montreal and St. Johns, he proposed to send off an expedition of ten or twelve hun-ed the cause of his sudden departure, and endred men, to penetrate to Quebec by the way of the Kennebec River. "If you are resolved to proceed," writes he to Schuyler, "which I gather from your last letter is your intention, it would make a diversion that would distract Carleton. He must either break up, and follow this party to Quebec, by which he would leave you a free passage, or he must suffer that important place to fall into other hands; an event that would have a decisive effect and influence on the public interest. *The few whom I have consulted on the project approve it much, but the final determination is deferred until I hear from you. Not a moment's time is to be lost in the preparations for this enterprise, if the advices from you favor it. With the utmost expedition the season will be con
* ** *
Schuyler arrived at Ticonderoga on the night of the 30th of August, but too ill of a bilious fever to push on in a whale-boat. 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. Johnswhere for the present we shall leave him, and return to the head-quarters of the commanderin-chief.
A CHALLENGE DECLINED WASHINGTON MEDITATES A BLOW.
THE 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 farther 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.” *
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 grad
*Life of Reed, vol. i. 119.
ually fall asunder and disperse, or that its means of 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 cooperation with an attempt upon their lines at Roxbury. "The success of such an enterprise," adds he, "depends, I well know, upon the Allwise 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 cited, which appeared to justify it. The council having thus had time for previous deliberation, met on the 11th of September. It was composed of Major-Generals Ward, Lee, and Putnam, and Brigadier-Generals Thomas, Heath, Sullivan, Spencer, and Greene. They unanimously pronounced the suggested attempt inexpedient, at least for the present.
It certainly was bold and hazardous, yet it seems to have taken strong hold on the mind of the commander-in-chief, usually so cautious. "I cannot say," writes he to the President of Congress, "that I have wholly laid it aside; but new events may occasion new measures. this I hope the honorable Congress can need no assurance, that there is not a man in America who more earnestly wishes such a termination of the campaign, as to make the army no longer necessary."