Slike strani

ET. 44.]


and obliged to retire. Exasperated at this outrage, which, it is thought, was committed by the veteran Maclean, Montgomery wrote an indignant, reproachful, and even menacing letter to Carleton, reiterating the demand, magnifying the number of his troops, and warning him against the consequences of an assault. Finding it was rejected from the walls, it was conveyed in by a woman, together with letters addressed to the principal merchants, promising great indulgence in case of immediate submission. By Carleton's orders, the messenger was sent to prison for a few days, and then drummed out of town.

Montgomery now prepared for an attack. The ground was frozen to a great depth, and covered with snow; he was scantily provided with intrenching tools, and had only a field train of artillery, and a few mortars. By dint of excessive labor a breastwork was thrown up, four hundred yards distant from the walls, and opposite to the gate of St. Louis, which is nearly in the centre. It was formed of gabions, ranged side by side, and filled with snow, over which water was thrown until thoroughly frozen. Here Captain Lamb mounted five light pieces and a howitzer. Several mortars were placed in the suburbs of St. Roque, which extends on the left of the promontory, below the heights, and nearly on a level with the river.

From the "Ice Battery" Captain Lamb opened a well-sustained and well-directed fire upon the walls, but his field-pieces were too light to be effective. With his howitzer he threw shells into the town, and set it on fire in several places. For five days and nights the garrison was kept on the alert by the teasing fire of this battery. The object of Montgomery was to harass the town, and increase the dissatisfaction of the inhabitants. His flag of truce being still fired upon, he caused the Indians in his camp to shoot arrows into the town, having letters attached to them, addressed to the inhabitants, representing Carleton's refusal to treat, and advising them to rise in a body, and compel him. It was all in vain; whatever might have been the disposition of the inhabitants, they were completely under the control of the military.

On the evening of the fifth day, Montgomery paid a visit to the ice battery. The heavy artillery from the wall had repaid its ineffectual fire with ample usury. The brittle ramparts had been shivered like glass; several of the guns had been rendered useless. Just as they


arrived at the battery, a shot from the fortress dismounted one of the guns, and disabled many of the men. A second shot immediately following, was almost as destructive. "This is warm work, sir," said Montgomery to Captain Lamb. "It is indeed, and certainly no place for you, sir." "Why so, captain?" "Because there are enough of us here to be killed, without the loss of you, which would be irreparable."

The general saw the insufficiency of the battery, and, on retiring, gave Captain Lamb permission to leave it whenever he thought proper. The veteran waited until after dark, when, securing all the guns, he abandoned the ruined redoubt. The general in this visit was attended by Aaron Burr, whom he had appointed his aide-de-camp. Lamb wondered that he should encumber himself with such a boy. The perfect coolness and self-possession with which the youth mingled in this dangerous scene, and the fire which sparkled in his eye, soon convinced Lamb, according to his own account, that "the young volunteer was no ordinary man."*

Nearly three weeks had been consumed in these futile operations. The army, ill-clothed and ill-provided, was becoming impatient of the rigors of a Canadian winter; the term for which part of the troops had enlisted would expire with the year, and they already talked of returning home. Montgomery was sadly conscious of the insufficiency of his means; still he could not endure the thoughts of retiring from before the place without striking a blow. He knew that much was expected from him, in consequence of his late achievements, and that the eyes of the public were fixed upon this Canadian enterprise. He determined, therefore, to attempt to carry the place by escalade. One-third of his men were to set fire to the houses and stockades of the suburb of St. Roque, and force the barriers of the lower town; while the main body should scale the bastion of Cape Diamond.

It was a hazardous, almost a desperate project, yet it has met with the approbation of military men. He calculated upon the devotion and daring spirit of his men, upon the discontent which prevailed among the Canadians, and upon the incompetency of the garrison for the defence of such extensive works. In regard to the devotion of his men, he was threatened with disappointment. When the

*Life of John Lamb, p. 125.



plan of assault was submitted to a council of war, three of the captains in Arnold's division, the terms of whose companies were near expiring, declined to serve, unless they and their men could be transferred to another command. This almost mutinous movement, it is supposed, was fomented by Arnold's old adversary, Major Brown, and it was with infinite difficulty Montgomery succeeded in overcoming it.

The ladders were now provided for the escalade, and Montgomery waited with impatience for a favorable night to put it into execution. Smallpox and desertion had reduced his little army to seven hundred and fifty men. From certain movements of the enemy, it was surmised that the deserters had revealed his plan. He changed, therefore, the arrangement. Colonel Livingston was to make a false attack on the gate of St. Johns, and set fire to it; Major Brown, with another detachment, was to menace the bastion of Cape Diamond. Arnold, with three hundred and fifty of the hardy fellows who had followed him through the wilderness, strengthened by Captain Lamb and forty of his company, was to assault the suburbs and batteries of St. Roque; while Montgomery, with the residue of his forces, was to pass below the bastion at Cape Diamond, defile along the river, carry the defences at Drummond's Wharf, and thus enter the lower town on one side, while Arnold forced his way into it on the other. These movements were all to be made at the same time, on the discharge of signal rockets; thus distracting the enemy, and calling their attention to four several points.

On the 31st of December, at two o'clock in the morning, the troops repaired to their several destinations, under cover of a violent snowstorm. By some accident or mistake, such as is apt to occur in complicated plans of attack, the signal rockets were let off before the lower divisions had time to get to their fighting ground. They were descried by one of Maclean's Highland officers, who gave the alarm. Livingston, also, failed to make the false attack on the gate of St. Johns, which was to have caused a diversion favorable to Arnold's attack on the suburb below.

The feint by Major Brown, on the bastion of Cape Diamond, was successful, and concealed the march of General Montgomery. That gallant commander descended from the heights to Wolfe's Cove, and led his division along the shore of the St. Lawrence, round the beetling promontory of Cape Diamond. The


narrow approach to the lower town in that direction was traversed by a picket or stockade, defended by Canadian militia; beyond which was a second defence, a kind of block-house, forming a battery of small pieces, manned by Canadian militia, and a few seamen, and commanded by the captain of a transport. The ain of Montgomery was to come upon these barriers by surprise. The pass which they defended is formidable at all times, having a swift river on one side, and overhanging precipices on the other; but at this time was rendered peculiarly difficult by drifting snow, and by great masses of ice piled on each other at the foot of the cliffs.

The troops made their way painfully, in extended and straggling files, along the narrow footway, and over the slippery piles of ice. Among the foremost, were some of the first New York regiment, led on by Captain Cheeseman. Montgomery, who was familiar with them, urged them on. "Forward, men of New York!" cried he. "You are not the men to flinch when your general leads you on!" In his eagerness, he threw himself far in the advance, with his pioneers and a few officers, and made a dash at the first barrier. The Canadians stationed there, taken by surprise, made a few random shots, then threw down their muskets and fled. Montgomery sprang forward, aided with his own hand to pluck down the pickets, which the pioneers were sawing, and having made a breach sufficiently wide to admit three or four men abreast, entered sword in hand, followed by his staff, Captain Cheeseman; and some of his men. The Canadians had fled from the picket to the battery or block-house, but seemed to have carried the panic with them, for the battery remained silent. Montgomery felt for a moment as if the surprise had been complete. He paused in the breach to rally on the troops, who were stumbling along the difficult pass. "Push on, my brave boys," cried he, "Quebec is ours!

He again dashed forward, but, when within forty paces of the battery, a discharge of grapeshot from a single cannon, made deadly havoc. Montgomery, and McPherson, one of his aides, were killed on the spot. Captain Cheeseman, who was leading on his New Yorkers, received a canister shot through the body; made an effort to rise and push forward, but fell back a corpse; with him fell his orderly sergeant and several of his men. This fearful slaughter, and the death of their general, threw every thing



ET. 44.] in confusion. The officer next in lineal rank ceived orders to abandon the field-piece, and to the general, was far in the rear; in this support the advance. Oswald joined him with emergency, Colonel Campbell, quartermaster- the forlorn hope. The battery which comgeneral, took the command, but, instead of ral-manded the defile mounted two pieces of canlying the men, and endeavoring to effect the non. There was a discharge of grape-shot junction with Arnold, ordered a retreat, and when the assailants were close under the muzabandoned the half-won field, leaving behind | zles of the guns, yet but one man was killed. him the bodies of the slain.

While all this was occurring on the side of Cape Diamond, Arnold led his division against the opposite side of the lower town, along the suburb and street of St. Roque. Like Montgomery, he took the advance at the head of a forlorn hope of twenty-five men, accompanied by his secretary Oswald, formerly one of his captains at Ticonderoga. Captain Lamb and his artillery company came next, with a fieldpiece mounted on a sledge. Then came a company with ladders and scaling implements, followed by Morgan and his riflemen. In the rear of all these came the main body. A battery on a wharf commanded the narrow pass by which they had to advance. This was to be attacked with the field-piece, and then scaled with ladders by the forlorn hope; while Captain Morgan, with his riflemen, was to pass round the wharf on the ice.

The false attack which was to have been made by Livingston on the gate of St. Johns, by way of diversion, had not taken place; there was nothing, therefore, to call off the attention of the enemy in this quarter from the detachment. The troops, as they straggled along in lengthened file through the drifting snow, were sadly galled by a flanking fire on the right, from walls and pickets. The field-piece at length became so deeply embedded in a snow-drift, that it could not be moved. Lamb sent word to Arnold of the impediment; in the mean time, he and his artillery company were brought to a halt. The company with the scaling ladders would have halted also, having been told to keep in the rear of the artillery; but they were urged on by Morgan with a thundering oath, who pushed on after them with his riflemen, the artillery company opening to the right and left to let them pass.

They arrived in the advance just as Arnold was leading on his forlorn hope to attack the barrier. Before he reached it, a severe wound in the right leg with a musket ball completely disabled him, and he had to be borne from the field. Morgan instantly took the command. Just then Lamb came up with his company, aried with muskets and bayonets, having re

Before there could be a second discharge, the battery was carried by assault, some firing into the embrasures; others scaling the walls. The captain and thirty of his men were taken prisoners.

The day was just dawning as Morgan led on to attack the second barrier, and his men had to advance under a fire from the town walls on their right, which incessantly thinned their ranks. The second barrier was reached; they applied their scaling ladders to storm it. The defence was brave and obstinate, but the defenders were at length driven from their guns, and the battery was gained. At the last moment one of the gunners ran back, linstock in hand, to give one more shot. Captain Lamb snapped a fusee at him. It missed fire. The cannon was discharged, and a grape-shot wounded Lamb in the head, carrying away part of the cheek-bone. He was borne off senseless, to a neighboring shed.

The two barriers being now taken, the way on this side into the lower town seemed open. Morgan prepared to enter it with the victorious vanguard; first stationing Captain Dearborn and some provincials at Palace Gate, which opened down into the defile from the upper town. By this time, however, the death of Montgomery and retreat of Campbell, had enabled the enemy to turn all their attention in this direction. A large detachment sent by General Carleton, sallied out of Palace Gate after Morgan had passed it, surprised and captured Dearborn and the guard, and completely cut off the advanced party. The main body, informed of the death of Montgomery, and giving up the game as lost, retreated to the camp, leaving behind the field-piece which Lamb's company had abandoned, and the mortars in the battery of St. Roque.

Morgan and his men were now hemmed in on all sides, and obliged to take refuge in a stone house, from the inveterate fire which assailed them. From the windows of this house they kept up a desperate defence, until cannon were brought to bear upon it. Then, hearing of the death of Montgomery, and seeing that there was no prospect of relief, Morgan and his gal




lant handful of followers were compelled to surrender themselves prisoners of war.

Thus foiled at every point, the wrecks of the little army abandoned their camp, and retreated about three miles from the town; where they hastily fortified themselves, apprehending a pursuit by the garrison. General Carleton, however, contented himself with having secured the safety of the place, and remained cautiously passive until he should be properly reinforced; distrusting the good faith of the motley inhabitants. He is said to have treated the prisoners with a humanity the more honorable, considering the "habitual military severity of his temper; " their heroic daring, displayed in the assault upon the lower town, having excited his admiration.

The remains of the gallant Montgomery received a soldier's grave, within the fortifications of Quebec, by the care of Cramahé, the lieutenant-governor, who had formerly known him. Arnold, wounded and disabled, had been assisted back to the camp, dragging one foot after the other for nearly a mile, in great agony, and exposed continually to the musketry from the walls at fifty yards' distance, which shot down several at his side.

He took temporary command of the shattered army, until General Wooster should arrive from Montreal, to whom he sent an express, urging him to bring on succor. "On this occasion," says a contemporary writer, "he discovered the utmost vigor of a determined mind, and a genius full of resources. Defeated and wounded, as he was, he put his troops into such a situation as to keep them still formidable."*

With a mere handful of men, at one time not exceeding five hundred, he maintained a blockade of the strong fortress from which he had just been repulsed. "I have no thoughts," writes he, "of leaving this proud town until I enter it in triumph. I am in the way of my duty, and I know no fear!" †

Happy for him had he fallen at this moment. Happy for him had he found a soldier's and a patriot's grave, beneath the rock-built walls of Quebec. Those walls would have remained enduring monuments of his renown. His name, like that of Montgomery, would have been treasured up among the dearest though most mournful recollections of his country, and that country would have been spared the single traitorous blot that dims the bright page of its revolutionary history.

* Civil War in America, vol. i., p. 112.

† See Arnold's Letter. Remembrancer, ii. 368.


SCHUYLER's letter to Washington, announcing the recent events, was written with manly feeling. "I wish," said he, "I had no occasion to send my dear general this melancholy account. My amiable friend, the gallant Montgomery, is no more; the brave Arnold is wounded; and we have met with a severe check in an unsuccessful attempt on Quebec. May Heaven be graciously pleased that the misfortune may terminate here! I tremble for our people in Canada."

Alluding to his recent request to retire from the army, he writes: "Our affairs are much worse than when I made the request. This is motive sufficient for me to continue to serve my country in any way I can be thought most serviceable; but my utmost can be but little, weak and indisposed as I am."


Washington was deeply moved by the disastrous intelligence. "I most sincerely condole with you," writes he, in reply to Schuyler, upon the fall of the brave and worthy Montgomery. In the death of this gentleman, America has sustained a heavy loss. I am much concerned for the intrepid and enterprising Arnold, and greatly fear that consequences of the most alarming nature will result from this wellintended, but unfortunate attempt."

General Schuyler, who was now in Albany, urged the necessity of an immediate reinforcement of three thousand men for the army in Canada. Washington had not a man to spare from the army before Boston. He applied, therefore, on his own responsibility, to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, for three regiments, which were granted. His prompt measure received the approbation of Congress, and further reinforcements were ordered from the same quarters.

Solicitude was awakened about the interior of the province of New York. Arms and ammunition were said to be concealed in Tryon County, and numbers of the tories in that neighborhood preparing for hostilities. Sir John Johnson had fortified Johnson Hall, gathered about him his Scotch Highland tenants and Indian allies, and it was rumored he intended to carry fire and sword along the valley of the Mohawk.

Schuyler, in consequence, received orders from Congress to take measures for securing

ET. 44.]


the military stores, disarming the disaffected, and apprehending their chiefs. He forthwith hastened from Albany, at the head of a body of soldiers; was joined by Colonel Herkimer, with the militia of Tryon County marshalled forth on the frozen bosom of the Mohawk River, and appeared before Sir John's stronghold, near Johnstown, on the 19th of Janu


Thus beleaguered, Sir John, after much negotiation, capitulated. He was to surrender all weapons of war and military stores in his possession, and to give his parole not to take arins against America. On these conditions he was to be at liberty to go as far westward in Tryon County as the German Flats and Kingsland districts, and to every part of the colony to the southward and eastward of these districts; provided he did not go into any seaport


Sir John intimated a trust that he, and the gentlemen with him, would be permitted to retain such arms as were their own property. The reply was characteristic: "General Schuyler's feelings as a gentleman, induce him to consent that Sir John Johnson may retain the few favorite family arms, he making a list of them. General Schuyler never refused a gentleman his side-arms."

The capitulation being adjusted, Schuyler ordered his troops to be drawn up in line at noon (Jan. 20th), between his quarters and the Court House, to receive the surrender of the Highlanders, enjoining profound silence on his officers and men, when the surrender should be made. Every thing was conducted with great regard to the feelings of Sir John's Scottish adherents; they marched to the front, grounded their arms, and were dismissed with exhortations to good behavior.

The conduct of Schuyler, throughout this affair, drew forth a resolution of Congress, applauding him for his fidelity, prudence, and expedition, and the proper temper he had maintained toward the "deluded people" in question. Washington, too, congratulated him on his success. "I hope," writes he, "General Lee will execute a work of the same kind on Long Island. It is high time to begin with our internal foes, when we are threatened with such severity of chastisement from our kind parent without."

The recent reverses in Canada had, in fact, heightened the solicitude of Washington about the province of New York. That province


was the central and all-important link in the confederacy; but he feared it might prove a brittle one. We have already mentioned the adverse influences in operation there. A large number of friends to the crown, among the official and commercial classes; rank tories (as they were called), in the city and about the neighboring country; particularly on Long and Staten Islands; king's ships at anchor in the bay and harbor, keeping up a suspicious intercourse with the citizens; while Governor Tryon, castled, as it were, on board one of these ships, carried on intrigues with those disaffected to the popular cause, in all parts of the neighborhood. County committees had been empowered by the New York Congress and convention, to apprehend all persons notoriously disaffected, to examine into their conduct, and ascertain whether they were guilty of any hostile act or machination. Imprisonment or banishment was the penalty. The committees could call upon the militia to aid in the discharge of their functions. Still, disaffection to the cause was said to be rife in the province, and Washington looked to General Lee for effective measures to suppress it.

Lee arrived at New York on the 4th of February, his caustic humors sharpened by a severe attack of the gout, which had rendered it necessary, while on the march, to carry him for a considerable part of the way in a litter. His correspondence is a complete mental barometer. "I consider it as a piece of the greatest good fortune," writes he to Washington (Feb. 5th), "that the Congress have detached a committee to this place, otherwise I should have made a most ridiculous figure, besides bringing upon myself the enmity of the whole province. My hands were effectually tied up from taking any step necessary for the public service by the late resolve of Congress, putting every detachment of the continental forces under the command of the Provincial Congress where such detachment is."

By a singular coincidence, on the very day of his arrival Sir Henry Clinton, with the squadron which had sailed so mysteriously from Boston, looked into the harbor. "Though it was Sabbath," says a letter-writer of the day, "it threw the whole city into such a convulsion as it never knew before. Many of the inhabitants hastened to move their effects into the country, expecting an immediate conflict. that day and all night, were there carts going and boats loading, and women and children


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