Page images
PDF
EPUB

Whilst the general was making the necessary Chap. v. preparations for that purpose, the garrison 1775. received intelligence of his intention from a deserter. This circumstance induced him to change the plan of his attack, which had been, originally, to attempt both the upper and lower towns at the same time. The plan now resolved on was, to divide the army into four parts, and while two of them, consisting of Canadians under major Livingston, and a small party under major Brown, were to-distract the attention of the garrison by making two feints against the upper town, at St. Johns and cape Diamond; the other two, led, the one by Montgomery in person, and the other by Arnold, were to make real attacks on opposite sides of the lower town. -After gaining possession of the lower town, it would yet have been extremely difficult to conquer the obstacles to be surmounted in forcing their way to the upper town; but as all the "wealth of the city would then have been in their power, it was confidently expected that the inhabitants, to secure their property, would compel the governor to capitulate.

Between four and five in the morning, the Dcc(.mbci. signal was given; and the several divisionsVMXCes,(ul moved to the assault, under a violent storm of SS'piie. snow. The plan was so well concerted, that "from the side of the river St. Lawrence along the fortified front round to the bason, every part

VOL. II. u u

Chap, v. seemed equally threatened."q Montgomery, at 1775. the head of the New York troops, advanced along the St. Lawrence by the way of Aunce de Mere, under Cape Diamond. The first barrier to be surmounted on this side was at the Pot Ash. It was defended by a battery, in which were mounted a few pieces of artillery, about two hundred paces in front of which, was a block-house and picket. The guard placed at the block-house, being chiefly Canadians, having given a random and harmless fire, threw away their arms and fled in confusion to the barrier. Their terrors were communicated to those who defended this important pass; and the intelligence afterwards received by the American prisoners in Quebec is, that the battery was for a time absolutely deserted.

Unfortunately, the difficulties of the route rendered it impossible for Montgomery, instantly, to avail himself of this first impressiom Cape Diamond, around which he was to make his way, presents a precipice, the foot of which is washed by the river, where enormous and rugged masses of ice had been piled on each other, so as to render the way almost impassable/ Along the scanty path leading under the projecting rocks of the precipice, the Americans pressed forward in a narrow file, until they reached the block-house and picket. Montgomery, who was himself in front, assisted with

i Letter of governor Carleton. r Annual Register.

his own hands to cut down or pull up the pickets, Chap. V. and open a passage for his troops; but the ex- 1775. cessive roughness and difficulty of the way had so lengthened his line of march, that he found it absolutely- necessary to halt a few minutes, in order to collect a force with which he might venture to proceed. Having reassembled about two hundred men, whom he encouraged alike by his voice and his example, he advanced boldly and rapidly at their head, to force the barrier. One or two persons had now ventured to return to the battery; and, seizing a slow-match standing by one of the guns, discharged the piece, when the American front was within forty paces of it. This single and accidental fire was a fatal one. The ereneral with captains °aib of

0 r Montgomery

M'Pherson and Cheeseman, two valuable young officers near his person, the first of whom was his aid; together with his orderly serjeant and a private, were killed upon the spot. The loss of their general, in whom their confidence had been so justly placed, discouraged the troops; and colonel Campbell on whom the command devolved, but who did not partake of that spirit of heroism which had animated their departed chief, made no attempt to prosecute the enterprise. This whole division retired precipitately from the action, and left the garrison at leisure, after recovering from the consternation into which they had been thrown, to direct their undivided force against Arnold.

Chap.v. The division commanded by this officer 1775. moved in files, at the common signal for the attack, along the street of St. Roques, towards the Saint desMatelots. In imitation of Montgomery, he too led the forlorn hope in person, and was followed by captain Lamb with his company of artillery, and a field piece mounted on a sled. Close in the rear of the artillery was the main body, in front of which was Morgan's company of riflemen commanded by himself. At the Saint des Matelots, the enemy had constructed their first barrier, and had erected a battery of two twelve pounders, which it was necessary to force. The path along which the troops were to march had been rendered so narrow by the rough cakes of ice thrown up on the one side from St. Charles, and by the works erected by the enemy on the other, that the two pieces of artillery in the battery in front, were capable of raking with grape shot every inch of the ground; whilst his whole right flank was exposed to an incessant fire of musketry from the walls, and from the pickets of the garrison.

In this order, Arnold advanced with the utmost intrepidity, along the St. Charles, against the battery. The alarm was immediately given, and the fire on his flank commenced, which, however, did not prove very destructive. As he approached the barrier he received a musket ball in the leg which shattered the bone, and he was carried off the field to the hospital. Morgan rushed forward to the battery at the Chap. v. head of his company, and received from one of 1775. the pieces, almost at its mouth, a discharge of grape shot which killed only one man. A few rifles were immediately fired into the embrazures, by which a British soldier was wounded in the head, and the barricade being instantly mounted* with the aid of ladders, brought by his men on their shoulders, the battery was deserted without discharging the other gun. The captain of the guard, with the greater number of his men, fell into the hands of the Americans, and the others made their escape.

Morgan formed the troops, consisting of his own company, and a few bold individuals who had pressed forward from other parts of the division, in the streets within the barrier; and took into custody several English and Canadian burghers; but his situation soon became extremely critical. He was not followed by the main body of the division; he had no guide; and and was, himself, totally ignorant of the situation of the town. It was yet extremely dark, and he had not the slightest knowledge of the course to be pursued, or of the defences to be

* Charles Porterfield then a Serjeant, and afterwards a lieutenant colonel in the state garrison regiment of Virginia, who was tilled at the battle of Camden, was the first person who crossed the barricade; Morgan himself was the second.

« PreviousContinue »