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present designs of the enemy, leaving his main force on the western border of Connecticut. "I give you my word," added he, "that no active service is proposed, as you seem to apprehend. If the ships of war are quiet, I shall be quiet; but I declare solemnly, that if they make a pretext of my presence to fire on the town, the first house set on flames by their guns shall be the funeral pile of some of their best friends."
In a letter to Washington, written on the following day, he says of his recruiting success in Connecticut: "I find the people throughout this province more alive and zealous, than my most sanguine expectations. I believe I might have collected two thousand volunteers. I take only four companies with me, and Waterbury's regiment. These Connecticutians are, if possible, more eager to go out of their country, than they are to return home, when they have been absent for any considerable time."
Speaking of the people of New York, and the letter from their Provincial Congress, which he incloses: "The whigs," says he, "I mean the stout ones, are, it is said, very desirous that a body of troops should march and be stationed in the city the timid ones are averse, merely from the spirit of procrastination, which is the characteristic of timidity. The letter from the Provincial Congress, you will observe, breathes the very essence of this spirit; it is wofully hysterical."
By the by, the threat contained in Lee's reply about a "funeral pile," coming from a soldier of
his mettle, was not calculated to soothe the hys terical feelings of the committee of safety. How he conducted himself on his arrival in the city, we shall relate in a future chapter.
Montgomery before Quebec. - His Plan of Operations. - A Summons to Surrender. -A Flag Insulted. - The Town besieged. Plan of an Escalade.
Town. Montgomery in the Advance. treat of Col. Campbell. - Attack by Lower Town. - Arnold Wounded. icans. Gallant Resolve of Arnold.
Attack of the Lower
Arnold. - Defense of
Retreat of the Amer
ROM amid surrounding perplexities, Washington still turned a hopeful eye to Canada. He expected daily to receive tidings that Montgomery and Arnold were within the walls of Quebec, and he had even written to the former to forward as much as could be spared of the large quantities of arms, blankets, clothing and other military stores, said to be deposited there, the army before Boston being in great need of such supplies.
On the 18th of January came dispatches to him from General Schuyler, containing withering tidings. The following is the purport. Montgomery, on the 2d of December, the day after his arrival at Point aux Trembles, set off in face of a driving snow-storm for Quebec, and arrived before it on the 5th. The works, from their great extent, appeared to him incapable of being defended by the actual garrison; made up, as he
MONTGOMERY BEFORE QUEBEC. 163
said, of " Maclean's banditti," the sailors from the frigates and other vessels, together with the citizens obliged to take up arms; most of whom were impatient of the fatigues of a siege, and wished to see matters accommodated amicably. “I propose," added he, "amusing Mr. Carleton with a formal attack, erecting batteries, etc., but mean to assault the works, I believe towards the lower town, which is the weakest part."
According to his own account, his whole force did not exceed nine hundred effective men, three hundred of whom he had brought with him; the rest he found with Colonel Arnold. The latter he pronounced an exceeding fine corps, inured to fatigue, and well accustomed to a cannon shot, having served at Cambridge. "There is a style of discipline among them," adds he, " much superior to what I have been used to see in this campaign. He, himself (Arnold), is active, intelligent and enterprising. Fortune often baffles the sanguine expectations of poor mortals. I am not intoxicated with her favors, but I do think there is a fair prospect of success.'
On the day of his arrival, he sent a flag with a summons to surrender. It was fired upon, 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
1 Montgomery to Schuyler, Dec. 5.
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' sorders, 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