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Affairs in Canada. — Arnold at Point Levi. - Quebec Reinforced. Crossing of the St. Lawrence. Landing in
Wolfe's Cove.-Arnold on the Heights of Abraham.— Cautious Counsel. - The Invaders baf
- Withdraw to Point Aux Trembles. -Booming of Carleton at Quebec. - Letter of Washington tc
fled. Cannon. Arnold.
E again turn from the siege of Boston, to the invasion of Canada, which at that time shared the anxious thoughts of Washington. His last accounts of the movements of Arnold, left him at Point Levi, opposite to Quebec. Something brilliant from that daring officer was anticipated. It was his intention to cross the river immediately. Had he done so, he might have carried the town by a coup de main; for terror as well as disaffection prevailed among the inhabitants. At Point Levi, however, he was brought to a stand; not a boat was to be found there. Letters which he had dispatched some days previously, by two Indians, to Generals Schuyler and Montgomery, had been carried by his faithless messengers, to Caramhe, the lieutenant-governor, who, thus apprised of the impending danger, had caused all the boats of Point Levi to be either removed or destroyed.
Arnold was not a man to be disheartened by difficulties. With great exertions he procured about forty birch canoes from the Canadians and Indians, with forty of the latter to navigate them; but stormy winds arose, and for some days the river was too boisterous for such frail craft. In the mean time the garrison at Quebec was gaining strength. Recruits arrived from Nova Scotia. The veteran Maclean, too, who had been driven from the mouth of the Sorel by the detachment under Brown and Livingston, arrived down the river with his corps of Royal Highland Emigrants, and threw himself into the place. The Lizard frigate, the Hornet sloop-of war, and two armed schooners were stationed in the river, and guard-boats patrolled at night. The prospect of a successful attack upon the place was growing desperate.
On the 13th of November, Arnold received intelligence that Montgomery had captured St. John's. He was instantly roused to emulation. His men, too, were inspirited by the news. The wind had abated: he determined to cross the river that
very night. At a late hour in the evening he embarked with the first division, principally riflemen. The river was wide; the current rapid; the birch canoes, easy to be upset, required skillful management. By four o'clock in the morning, a large part of his force had crossed without being perceived, and landed about a mile and a half above Cape Diamond, at Wolfe's Cove, so called from being the landing-place of that gallant commander.
ARNOLD ON THE HEIGHTS.
Just then a guard-boat, belonging to the Liz ard, came slowly along shore and discovered them. They hailed it, and ordered it to land. Not complying it was fired into, and three men were killed. The boat instantly pulled for the frigate, giving vociferous alarm.
Without waiting the arrival of the residue of his men, for whom the canoes had been dispatched, Arnold led those who had landed to the foot of the cragged defile, once scaled by the intrepid Wolfe, and scrambled up it in all haste. By daylight he had planted his daring flag on the far-famed Heights of Abraham.
Here the main difficulty stared him in the face. A strong line of walls and bastions traversed the promontory from one of its precipitous sides to the other; inclosing the upper and lower towns, On the right, the great bastion of Cape Diamond crowned the rocky height of that name. On the left was the bastion of La Potasse, close by the gate of St. John's opening upon the barracks; the gate where Wolfe's antagonist, the gallant Montcalm, received his death wound.
A council of war was now held. Arnold, who had some knowledge of the place, was for dashing forward at once and storming the gate of St. John's. Had they done so, they might have been successful. The gate was open and unguarded. Through some blunder and delay, a message from the commander of the Lizard to the lieutenant-governor had not yet been delivered, and no alarm had eached the fortress.
The formidable aspect of the place, however,
awed Arnold's associates in council. They considered that their whole force was but between seven and eight hundred men; that nearly one third of their fire-arms had been rendered useless, and much of their ammunition damaged in their march through the wilderness; they had no artillery, and the fortress looked too strong to be carried by a coup de main. Cautious counsel is often fatal to a daring enterprise. While the council of war deliberated, the favorable moment passed away. The lieutenant-governor received the tardy message. He hastily assembled the
merchants, officers of militia, and captains of merchant vessels. All promised to stand by him; he had strong distrust, however, of the French part of the population and the Canadian militia; his main reliance was on Colonel Maclean and his Royal Highland Emigrants.
The din of arms now resounded through the streets. The cry was up "The enemy are on the Heights of Abraham! The gate of St. John's is open!" There was an attempt to shut it. The keys were not to be found. It was hastily secured by ropes and handspikes, and the walls looking upon the heights were soon manned by the military, and thronged by the populace.
Arnold paraded his men within a hundred yards of the walls, and caused them to give three hearty cheers; hoping to excite a revolt in the place, or to provoke the scanty garrison to a sally. There were a few scattered cheerings in return; but the taunting bravo failed to produce a sortie; the governor dared not venture beyond the walls with part
WITHDRAWS TO POINT AUX TREMBLES. 139
of his garrison, having too little confidence in the loya.ty of those who would remain behind. There was some firing on the part of the Americans, but merely as an additional taunt; they were too far off for their musketry to have effect. A large cannon on the ramparts was brought to bear on them, and matches were procured from the Lizard, with which to fire it off. A few shots obliged the Americans to retire and encamp.
In the evening Arnold sent a flag, demanding in the name of the United Colonies the surrender
of the place. Some of the disaffected and the faint-hearted were inclined to open the gates, but were held in check by the mastiff loyalty of Maclean. The veteran guarded the gate with his Highlanders; forbade all communication with the besiegers, and fired upon their flag as an ensign of rebellion.
Several days elapsed. Arnold's flags of truce were repeatedly insulted, but he saw the futility of resenting it, and attacking the place with his present means. The inhabitants gradually recovered from their alarm, and armed themselves to defend their property. The sailors and marines proved a valuable addition to the garrison, which now really meditated a sortie.
Arnold received information of all this from friends within the walls; he heard about the same time of the capture of Montreal, and that General Carleton, having escaped from that place, was on his way down to Quebec. He thought at present, therefore, to draw off on the 19th to Point aux Trembles (Aspen-tree Point), twenty miles above