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\".v. Opinion, that this hardy and well judged expe1775. dition, would have been crowned with the most brilliant success. Had Arnold even been careful to relieve the inhabitants of the town from all fears respecting their property, there is much reason to believe, they would have re. fused to defend it. But although this bold enterprise was planned with judgment, and executed with vigour; although the means employed were adequate to the object; yet the concurrence of several minute and unfavourable incidents, entirely defeated it, and deprived it of that eclat to which it was justly entided.
General Montgomery having clothed his almost naked troops at Montreal, which he garrisoned; and provided clothes also, for those of Arnold; and having sent several small detachments into the country to strengthen his interest with the Canadians, and obtain supplies Of provisions; proceeded at the head of the residue of his army, amounting to about three hundred men, with his usual expedition, to join colonel Arnold at point aux Trembles, after December 5. which he marched directly to Quebec. But, before his arrival, governor Carleton had entered the town, and was making every preparation for a vigorous defence. The garrison now consisted of about fifteen hundred men, of whom eight hundred were militia, and between four and five hundred were seamen. Montgomery's effective force was stated, by himself, at only eight hundred men. Relying more, for Chap. V. success, on the impression his past victories 1775. and the opinion of his present strength would make on the fears of the garrison, than on his actual force, he, on his first appearance, addressed a letter to the governor, magnifying his own resources, and demanding a surrender. The determination to hold no communication with the Americans, was still preserved; and the flag was fired on. Yet he contrived means to send in a letter, in which he sought to alarm the fears of Carleton and of the inhabitants, by representing the irritation of his victorious army at the injuries they had sustained, and the difficulty with which he restrained them; and in which he stated his perfect knowledge of the condition of the wretched motley garrison, and the impossibility of defending the place. But the determination of Carleton was taken; and the letters of the American general could not change it.
The situation of Montgomery was such as would have filled with despair a mind less vigorous, less brave and less sanguine than his. The intense cold had set in, and in that climate, in the winter, and in the open air, it is almost too severe for the human system, without all the aids usually provided against it. His raw, undisciplined troops, were unaccustomed to the hardships, even of an ordinary campaign; and the terms of service of those
CHAP-v- who had accompanied Arnold were expiring. 1775. His numbers were not sufficient to render success probable, according to any common principle of calculation; and the prospect of their being diminished by time was much greater than of their being increased. But relying on their courage, on himself and his fortune, and on the fears of the garrison; stimulated, too, by the high expectations formed by all America of his success, and by the dread of disappointing those expectations, he determined to lay immediate siege to the town. i^J^'ra I" a few days ne opened a six gun battery ^"ebcc- within about seven hundred yards of the walls, but his artillery was too light to make a breach, and he did not calculate on any effect from it. His object was to amuse the enemy, and conceal his real design.
Although the excessive hardships to which the troops were exposed, hardships which seemed to surpass human bearing, were supported with great constancy and firmness; Montgomery feared that they would at length yield to the force of such continued sufferings; and as he would soon have no legal authority to retain a part of them, he apprehended that he should be abandoned by those who would have a right to leave him. Other considerations of a personal nature were, probably, not without their influence. Though he had embraced the American cause with enthusiasm, he had become wearied with its service, Chap. v. Trained to arms in a school, where strict dis- 1775. cipline, and implicit obedience were taught and practised, all his habits, not less than his judgment, were shocked by the temper which the American troops brought with them into the field. A spirit of insubordination seemed to pervade the whole mass. Not only the quotas of different colonies, but in some cases even different regiments, appeared disposed to consider themselves as entirely independent of each other; and all thought themselves entitled to judge of the propriety of the measures to be adopted. The general himself possessed little other authority than was bestowed on him, by his personal talents, and his arts of persuasion. Nor was a much brighter prospect opening for the future. The cause to which the extremity of the evil was to be attributed, threatened still to continue, and the United Colonies seemed still determined to rest their defence on temporary armies. With infinite judgment and address, he had heretofore successfully struggled with the difficulties attendant on this unpromising state of things; but it is not unreasonable to suppose that he was unwilling that his life and his fame, should continue so much to depend on the wayward caprice of others. He had determined to withdraw from the army, and had signified, before marching from Montreal, his resolution to resign the commission which had .
Chap.v. been conferred on him. It is not improbable 1775. that the desire of closing his military career with a degree of brilliancy suited to the elevation of his mind, by the conquest of Quebec, and the addition of Canada to the United Colonies, strengthened those motives which were furnished by the actual state of American affairs, for a vigorous effort to terminate the war in that quarter. Impressed with the real necessity of taking decisive steps and impelled by his native courage, this accomplished and gallant officer determined to risk an assault.
Of such materials was his little army composed, that the most desperate hardihood could not hope to succeed in the purposed attempt, unless it should receive the approbation of all his troops. It was therefore necessary, not only to consult the officers individually on this delicate subject; but to obtain also the cheerful assent of the soldiers, to the meditated enterprise. The proposition was at first received very coldly by a part of Arnold's corps, who were by some means disgusted with their commanding officer; but the influence of Morgan, who was particularly zealous for the enterprise, and active in advocating it, and who held up to them as a very powerful inducement, the rights conferred by the usages of war, on those who storm a fortified town, at length prevailed; and the assault was almost unanimously assented