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Fortunately, Wooster was not the successor to Schuyler in the command of the expedition Washington was mistaken as to the rank of his criomission, 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 uneasi. ness 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. John's.”
We shall give soine further particulars concerning this expedition against St. Johu's, towards which Washington was turning so anxious an eye.
On the 16th of September, the day after Schuyler's departure for Ticonderoga, Montgomery proceeded to carry out the plans which had been concerted between them. Landing on the 17tb at the place where they had formerly encamped, within a mile and a half of the fort, he detached a furce of five hundred men, among whom were three hundred Green Mountain Boys under Colonel Seth Warner, to take a position at the junction of two roads leading to Montreal and Chamblee, so as to intercept relief from those points. He now proceeded to invest St. John's.
A battery was erected on a point of land commanding the
LETTER OF ETAAN ALLEN.
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. John's had a garrison of five or six hundred 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 unpracticed, and the engineer ignorant of the first principles of his art. The 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 tbree 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, nay, of Europe, are or will be on the economy of this army and the consequences attending it.” 1
Allen was actually on his way toward St. John's, when, between Longueil and La Prairie, he met Colonel 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 forth with 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 knowlege of General Montgomery ; Allen was again the partisan leader, acting from individual impulse. His late letter also 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,
1 Am. Archives, 4th Series, üi. 754.
DASH AGAINST MONTREAL.
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 en 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 en countered 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 prisoners were marched into the town and delivered over to General Prescott, the commandant. Their rough appearance, and rude equipments, were not likely to gain them favor in the eyes of the military tactician, who doubtless
nsidered 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 deer-skin jacket, a vest and breeches of coarse Berge, worsted stockings, stout shoes, and a red
We give Allen's own account of his reception by the British officer.
“ He asked me my name whica I told him. He then asked me whether 1 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 world rebel, and put himself in a great rage.” 1
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 Gaspee 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 :
6 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. 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
1 Am. Archives, iïi. 800.