Slike strani



him, to act as a pioneer on the Canadian | to urge forward the military preparations. As frontier.

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

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 farm-concerning him. ers 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.

"I am prepared," writes he to Washington, "to move against the enemy, unless your Excellency 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.

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, Montgomery was about thirty-nine years of 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. Lawrence, six miles above Montreal. Others were

ET. 43.]


179 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, we would not have you destroyed by England; but are ready to afford you our assistance."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

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 explained the cause of his sudden departure, and entreated 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 hundred 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-in-chief.

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 cov. ered 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 commander





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."*

[ocr errors]

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. Of 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."




[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
« PrejšnjaNaprej »