« PrejšnjaNaprej »
ARNOLD IN COMMAND-ADVICE AND INSTRUCTIONS.
A detachment of about eleven hundred men, chosen for the purpose, was soon encamped on Cambridge Common. There were ten companies of New England infantry, some of them from General Greene's Rhode Island regiments; three rifle companies from Pennsylvania and Virginia, one of them Captain Daniel Morgan's famous company; and a number of volunteers; among whom was Aaron Burr, then but twenty years of age, and just commencing his varied, brilliant, but ultimately unfortunate career.
In the mean time, as it was evident the ene- | the country of an enemy, but of our friends my did not intend to come out, but were only and brethren; for such the inhabitants of strengthening their defences, and preparing for Canada and the Indian nations have approved winter, Washington was enabled to turn his at- themselves in this unhappy contest between tention to the expedition to be sent into Canada Great Britain and America; and that you by the way of the Kennebec River. check by every motive of duty and fear of punishment every attempt to plunder or insult the inhabitants of Canada. Should an American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any Canadian or Indian in his person or property, I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportioned to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause. I also give in charge to you, to avoid all disrespect to the religion of the country and its ceremonies While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious not to violate the rights of conscience in others, ever considering that God alone is the judge of the hearts of men, and to him only, in this case, are they answerable."
The proposed expedition was wild and perilous, and required a hardy, skilful, and intrepid leader. Such a one was at hand. Benedict Arnold was at Cambridge, occupied in settling his accounts with the Massachusetts committee of safety. These were nearly adjusted. Whatever faults may have been found with his conduct in some particulars, his exploits on Lake Champlain had atoned for them; for valor in time of war, covers a multitude of sins. It was thought too, by some, that he had been treated harshly, and there was a disposition to soothe his irritated pride. Washington had given him an honorable reception at head-quarters, and now considered him the very man for the present enterprise. He had shown aptness for military service, whether on land or water. He was acquainted, too, with Canada, and especially with Quebec, having, in the course of his checkered life, traded in horses between that place and the West Indies. With these considerations he intrusted him with the command of the expedition, giving him the commission of lieutenant-colonel in the continental army.
* * * *
In the general letter of instructions, Washington inserted the following clause. "If Lord Chatham's son should be in Canada, and in any way fall into your power, you are enjoined to treat him with all possible deference and respect. You cannot err in paying too much honor to the son of so illustrious a character and so true a friend to America."
Arnold was, moreover, furnished with handbills for distribution in Canada, setting forth the friendly objects of the present expedition, as well as of that under General Schuyler; and calling on the Canadians to furnish necessaries and accommodations of every kind; for which they were assured ample compensation.
On the 18th of September, Arnold struck his tents, and set out in high spirits. More fortunate than his rival, Ethan Allen, he had attained the object of his ambition, the command of an expedition into Canada; and trusted in the capture of Quebec, to eclipse even the surprise of Ticonderoga.
As he would be intrusted with dangerous powers, Washington, besides a general letter of instructions, addressed a special one to him individually, full of cautious and considerate advice. "Upon your conduct and courage, and that of the officers and soldiers detailed Washington enjoined upon him to push on this expedition, not only the success of the forward as rapidly as possible, success dependpresent enterprise, and your own honor, but ing upon celerity; and counted the days as the safety and welfare of the whole continent, they elapsed after his departure, impatient to may depend. I charge you, therefore, and the receive tidings of his progress up the Kennebec, officers and soldiers under your command, as and expecting that the expedition would reach you value your own safety and honor, and the Quebec about the middle of October. In the favor and esteem of your country, that you interim came letters from General Schuyler, consider yourselves as marching, not through | giving particulars of the main expedition.
SCHUYLER ON THE SOREL-SOLICITUDE ABOUT ARNOLD.
To quiet the restless activity of Ethan Allen, who had no command in the army, he was sent with an escort of thirty men to retrace his steps, penetrate to La Prairie, and beat up for recruits among the people whom he had recently visited.
In a preceding chapter we left the general | Brown, who had already acted as a scout, was and his little army at the Isle aux Noix, near sent with one hundred Americans, and about the Sorel River, the outlet of the lake. Thence, thirty Canadians, towards Chamblee, to make on the 5th of September, he sent Colonel friends in that quarter, and to join the army Ethan Allen and Major Brown to reconnoitre as soon as it should arrive at St. Johns. the country between that river and the St. Lawrence, to distribute friendly addresses among the people and ascertain their feelings. This done, and having landed his baggage and provisions, the general proceeded along the Sorel River the next day with his boats, until within two miles of St. Johns, when a cannonade was opened from the fort. Keeping on for half a mile further, he landed his troops in a deep, close swamp, where they had a sharp skirmish with an ambuscade of tories and Indians, whom they beat off with some loss on both sides. Night coming on, they cast up a small intrenchment, and encamped, disturbed occasionally by shells from the fort, which, however, did no other mischief than slightly wounding a lieutenant.
In the night the camp was visited secretly by a person, who informed General Schuyler of the state of the fort. The works were completed, and furnished with cannon. A vessel pierced for sixteen guns was launched, and would be ready to sail in three or four days. It was not probable that any Canadians would join the army, being disposed to remain neutral. This intelligence being discussed in a council of war in the morning, it was determined that they had neither men nor artillery sufficient to undertake the siege. They returned, therefore, to the Isle aux Noix, cast up fortifications, and threw a boom across the channel of the river to prevent the passage of the enemy's vessels into the lake, and awaited the arrival of artillery and reinforcements from Ticonderoga.
In the course of a few days the expected reinforcements arrived, and with them a small train of artillery. Ethan Allen also returned from his reconnoitring expedition, of which he made a most encouraging report. The Canadian captains of militia were ready, he said, to join the Americans, whenever they should appear with sufficient force. He had held talks too, with the Indians, and found them well disposed. In a word, he was convinced that an attack on St. Johns, and an inroad into the province, would meet with hearty co-operation.
Preparations were now made for the investment of St. Johns by land and water. Major
For some time past General Schuyler had been struggling with a complication of maladies, but exerting himself to the utmost in the harassing business of the camp, still hoping to be able to move with the army. When every thing was nearly ready, he was attacked in the night by a severe access of his disorder, which confined him to his bed, and compelled him to surrender the conduct of the expedition to General Montgomery. Since he could be of no further use, therefore, in this quarter, he caused his bed, as before, to be placed on board a covered bateau, and set off for Ticonderoga, to hasten forward reinforcements and supplies. An hour after his departure, he met Colonel Seth Warner, with one hundred and seventy Green Mountain Boys, steering for the camp, "being the first," adds he, "that have appeared of that boasted corps." Some had mutinied and deserted the colonel, and the remainder were at Crown Point; whence they were about to embark.
Such was the purport of different letters received from Schuyler; the last bearing date September 20th. Washington was deeply concerned when informed that he had quitted the army, supposing that General Wooster, as the eldest brigadier, would take rank and command of Montgomery, and considering him deficient in the activity and energy required by the difficult service in which he was engaged. "I am, therefore," writes he to Schuyler, "much alarmed for Arnold, whose expedition was built upon yours, and who will infallibly perish, if the invasion and entry into Canada are abandoned by your successor. I hope by this time the penetration into Canada by your army is effected; but if it is not, and there are any intentions to lay it aside, I beg it may be done in such a manner that Arnold may be saved, by giving him notice; and in the mean time, your army may keep such appearances as to fix Carleton, and to prevent the force of Canada being turned wholly upon Arnold.
ET. 43.] BOLD STROKE OF ETHAN ALLEN-HIS DASH AGAINST MONTREAL. "Should this find you at Albany, and | pedition against St. Johns, towards which General Wooster about taking the command, Washington was turning so anxious an eye. I entreat you to impress him strongly with the On the 16th of September, the day after importance and necessity of proceeding, or so Schuyler's departure for Ticonderoga, Montto conduct, that Arnold may have time to re-gomery proceeded to carry out the plans which treat."
had been concerted between them. Landing What caused this immediate solicitude about on the 17th at the place where they had forArnold, was a letter received from him, dated merly encamped, within a mile and a half of ten days previously from Fort Western, on the the fort, he detached a force of five hundred Kennebec River. He had sent reconnoitring men, among whom were three hundred Green parties ahead in light canoes, to gain intelli-Mountain Boys under Colonel Seth Warner, to gence from the Indians, and take the courses and distances to Dead River, a branch of the Kennebec, and he was now forwarding his troops in bateaux in five divisions, one day's march apart; Morgan with his riflemen in the first division, Lieutenant-Colonel Roger Enos commanding the last. As soon as the last division should be under way, Arnold was to set off in a light skiff to overtake the advance. Chaudiere Pond on the Chaudiere River, was the appointed rendezvous, whence they were to march in a body towards Quebec.
Judging from the date of the letter, Arnold must at this time be making his way, by land and water, through an uninhabited and unexplored wilderness; and beyond the reach of recall; his situation, therefore, would be desperate should General Wooster fail to follow up the campaign against St. Johns. The solicitude of Washington on his account was heightened by the consciousness, that the hazardous enterprise in which he was engaged had chiefly been set on foot by himself, and he felt in some degree responsible for the safety of the resolute partisan and his companions.
Fortunately, Wooster was not the successor to Schuyler in the command of the expedition. Washington was mistaken as to the rank of his commission, which was one degree lower than that of Montgomery. The veteran himself, who was a gallant soldier, and had seen service in two wars, expressed himself nobly in the matter, in reply to some inquiry made by Schuyler. "I have the cause of my country too much at heart," said he, "to attempt to make any difficulty or uneasiness in the army, upon whom the success of an enterprise of almost infinite importance to the country is now depending. I shall consider my rank in the army what my commission from the Continental Congress makes it, and shall not attempt to dispute the command with General Montgomery at St. Johns." We shall give some further particulars concerning this ex
take a position at the juncture of two roads leading to Montreal and Chamblee, so as to intercept relief from those points. He now proceeded to invest St. Johns. A battery was erected on a point of land commanding the fort, the ship yards, and the armed schooner. Another was thrown up in the woods on the east side of the fort, at six hundred yards distance, and furnished with two small mortars. All this was done under an incessant fire from the enemy, which as yet was but feebly returned.
St. Johns had a garrison of five or six hunred regulars and two hundred Canadian militia. Its commander, Major Preston, made a brave resistance. Montgomery had not proper battering cannon; his mortars were defective; his artillerists unpractised, and the engineer ignorant of the first principles of the art. siege went on slowly, until the arrival of an artillery company under Captain Lamb, expedited from Saratoga by General Schuyler. Lamb, who was an able officer, immediately bedded a thirteen-inch mortar, and commenced a fire of shot and shells upon the fort. The distance, however, was too great, and the positions of the batteries were ill chosen.
A flourishing letter was received by the general from Colonel Ethan Allen, giving hope of further reinforcement. "I am now," writes he, "at the Parish of St. Ours, four leagues from Sorel to the south. I have two hundred and fifty Canadians under arms. As I march, they gather fast. You may rely on it, that I shall join you in about three days, with five hundred or more Canadian volunteers. I could raise one or two thousand in a week's time; but I will first visit the army with a less number, and, if necessary, go again recruiting. Those that used to be enemies to our cause, come cap in hand to me; and I swear by the Lord, I can raise three times the number of our army in Canada provided you continue the siege. * * The eyes of all America,
DEFEAT OF ETHAN ALLEN-A HERO IN IRONS.
nay, of Europe, are or will be on the economy | prisoners were marched into the town and of this army and the consequences attending delivered over to General Prescott, the comit."*
Allen was actually on his way towards St. Johns, when, between Longueil and La Prairie, he met Major Brown with his party of Americans and Canadians. A conversation took place between them. Brown assured him that the garrison at Montreal did not exceed thirty men, and might easily be surprised. Allen's partisan spirit was instantly excited. Here was a chance for another bold stroke equal to that at Ticonderoga. A plan was forthwith agreed upon. Allen was to return to Longueil, which is nearly opposite Montreal, and cross the St. Lawrence in canoes in the night, so as to land a little below the town. Brown, with two hundred men, was to cross above, and Montreal was to be attacked simultaneously at opposite points.
All this was arranged and put in action without the consent or knowledge of General Montgomery; Allen was again the partisan leader, acting from individual impulse. His late letter to General Montgomery, would seem to have partaken of fanfaronade; for the whole force with which he undertook his part of this inconsiderate enterprise, was thirty Americans, and eighty Canadians. With these he crossed the river on the night of the 24th of September, the few canoes found at Longueil having to pass to and fro repeatedly, before his petty force could be landed. Guards were stationed on the roads to prevent any one passing, and giving the alarm in Montreal. Day dawned, but there was no signal of Major Brown having performed his part of the scheme. The enterprise seems to have been as ill concerted, as it was ill advised. The day advanced, but still no signal; it was evident Major Brown had not crossed. Allen would gladly have recrossed the river, but it was too late. An alarm had been given to the town, and he soon found himself encountered by about forty regular soldiers, and a hasty levy of Canadians and Indians. A smart action ensued; most of Allen's Canadian recruits gave way and fled, a number of Americans were slain, and he at length surrendered to the British officer, Major Campbell, being promised honorable terms for himself and thirty-eight of his men, who remained with him, seven of whom were wounded. The
* Am. Archives, 4th Series, iii. 754.
mandant. Their rough appearance, and rude equipments, were not likely to gain them favor in the eyes of the military tactician, who doubtless considered them as little better than a band of freebooters on a maraud. Their leader, albeit a colonel, must have seemed worthy of the band; for Allen was arrayed in rough frontier style; a deer-skin jacket, a vest and breeches of coarse serge, worsted stockings, stout shoes, and a red woollen cap.
We give Allen's own account of his reception by the British officer. "He asked me my name, which I told him. He then asked me whether I was that Colonel Allen who took Ticonderoga. I told him I was the very man. Then he shook his cane over my head, calling me many hard names, among which he frequently used the word rebel, and put himself in a great rage.'
Ethan Allen, according to his own account, answered with becoming spirit. Indeed he gives somewhat of a melodramatic scene, which ended by his being sent on board of the Gaspèe schooner of war, heavily ironed, to be transported to England for trial; Prescott giving him the parting assurance, sealed with an emphatic oath, that he would grace a halter at Tyburn.
Neither Allen's courage nor his rhetorical vein deserted him on this trying occasion. From his place of confinement, he indited the following epistle to the general :
"HONORABLE SIR,-In the wheel of transitory events I find myself prisoner, and in irons. Probably your honor has certain reasons to me inconceivable, though I challenge an instance of this sort of economy of the Americans during the late war to any officers of the crown. On my part, I have to assure your honor, that when I had the command, and took Captain Delaplace and Lieutenant Fulton, with the garrison of Ticonderoga, I treated them with every mark of friendship and generosity, the evidence of which is notorious, even in Canada. I have only to add, that I expect an honorable and humane treatment, as an officer of my rank and merit should have, and subscribe myself your honor's most obedient servant,
* Am. Archives, ill. 800.
ANNOYANCES OF SCHUYLER-PROGRESS OF ARNOLD.
In the British publication from which we cite the above, the following note is appended to the letter, probably on the authority of General Prescott: "N. B.-The author of the above letter is an outlaw, and a reward is offered by the New York Assembly for apprehending him."*
The reckless dash at Montreal was viewed with concern by the American commander. "I am apprehensive of disagreeable consequences arising from Mr. Allen's imprudence," writes General Schuyler. "I always dreaded his impatience of subordination, and it was not until after a solemn promise made me in the presence of several officers, that he would demean himself with propriety, that I would permit him to attend the army; nor would I have consented then, had not his solicitations been backed by several officers."
The conduct of Allen was also severely censured by Washington. "His misfortune," said he, "will, I hope, teach a lesson of prudence and subordination to others who may be ambitious to outshine their general officers, and, regardless of order and duty, rush into enterprises which have unfavorable effects on the public, and are destructive to themselves."
Partisan exploit had, in fact, inflated the vanity and bewildered the imagination of Allen, and unfitted him for regular warfare. Still his name will ever be a favorite one with his countrymen. Even his occasional rhodomontade will be tolerated with a good-humored smile, backed as it was by deeds of daring courage; and among the hardy pioneers of our Revolution whose untutored valor gave the first earnests of its triumphs, will be remembered, with honor, the rough Green Mountain partisan, who seized upon the "Keys of Champlain."
In the letters of Schuyler, which gave Washington accounts, from time to time, of the preceding events, were sad repinings at his own illness, and the multiplied annoyances which beset him. "The vexation of spirit under which I labor," writes he, "that a barbarous complication of disorders should prevent me from reaping those laurels for which I have unweariedly wrought since I was honored with this command; the anxiety I have suffered since my arrival here (at Ticonderoga), lest the army should starve, occasioned by a scandalous want of subordination, and inattention to my orders, in some of the officers that I left to command
* Remembrancer, ii. 51.
at the different posts; the vast variety of disagreeable and vexatious incidents that almost every hour arise in some department or other, not only retard my cure, but have put me considerably back for some days past. If Job had been a general in my situation, his memory had not been so famous for patience. But the glorious end we have in view, and which I have confident hope will be attained, will atone for all." Washington replied in that spirit of friendship which existed between them. "You 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 despatch 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, &c., 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